HISTORY OF OUR CHURCH AND PARISH
St. Hilda’s shared in the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Birmingham by performing a miracle play on the Cathedral Green. Our 40th anniversary was celebrated with a Festival of Flowers, Arts and Crafts during the weekend of the Harvest Festival. Canon J.C.McCallum returned to preach the sermon. Towards the end of 1984 the Rev. Charles Stallard left to become Rector of Droitwich.
Mid-1985 saw the arrival of Rev. Matthew Graham as Vicar of St. Hilda’s, and he was appointed Rural Dean to succeed Rev. John Nelson. This was the second occasion that the Vicar of St. Hilda’s had held the post. Proposed plans for restructuring the West Midlands Dioceses were announced which would have placed the Deanery of Warley in a proposed new Diocese of Wolverhampton. An open meeting of the Deanery Synod showed that there was little enthusiasm and a great deal of opposition to the scheme. A grand piano was purchased for the church to further enhance the strong musical tradition of St. Hilda’s.
1990 was St. Hilda’s Golden Anniversary year, when a range of events took place beginning with a visit by Rt. Rev. Tom Butler who have grown up in the parish near the first church in Rathbone Road. There was a succession of visiting preachers, some former vicars and some who had been ordained from the parish. Celebrations ended with the visit of the Bishop of Birmingham, and the planting of a commemorative tree by the Bishop’s wife after Morning Service. In September 1990, the Vicar, Matthew Graham, was made an Honorary Canon of Birmingham Cathedral. In April 1991, Rev. Adrian Leahy, who had been curate for three years, left to become the Vicar at St. Mary’s Hobs Moat. April also saw a landmark event when the PCC passed the following resolutions concerning the Ordination of Women Measure. ‘This PCC agrees that the General Synod makes provision by Canon for enabling women to be ordained to the office of priest’ and, ‘this PCC further declares that it will accept a women priest as incumbent or priest-in-charge.’ Both motions were carried unanimously. St. Hilda would have approved! In 1995 a new entrance to the Church was built and was dedicated by the Bishop the Rt. Rev. Mark Santer.
The Vicar, Canon Matthew Graham, announced his intention to retire in July 1995. In November, it was announced that the Rev. Michael Dunk had accepted the Bishop’s invitation to become Priest-in Charge of St. Hilda’s. His appointment was affected from March 1996. He was Collated in the November by the Bishop and Inducted in December by the Archdeacon. Also in November it was announced that Barbara Fletcher was to leave St. Hilda’s after her ordination to take up work at Smethwick Old Church. In the same year, a Celtic Cross was incorporated into the design of the garden in front of the church. It is a very useful reminder of the rich traditions of the Celtic church to which St. Hilda belonged and which we have inherited. In 1997, as a result of diocesan policy of grouping together parishes on geographical basis in order to share resources, St. Hilda’s was ‘clustered’ with St. Mary’s Bearwood and St. Mark’s Londonderry.The Rt. Rev. Tom Butler was appointed Bishop of Southwark after seven years as Bishop of Leicester. In January 1999 Rosemarie Dunk was licensed as a reader in Birmingham Cathedral. In 1999, to bring it in line with the Birmingham Council of Churches, now known as Churches Together in Birmingham, the Abbey Council of Christian Churches changed its name to Abbey Churches Together. Its Annual General Meeting was held at St. Hilda’s on November 16th 1999.