Never mind hymn.. look at her! Church doubles congregation by hiring blonde 29-year-old vicar
By PAUL HARRIS
Last updated at 2:14 AM on 25th May 2011
Reverend Stephanie Nadarajah has swelled the congregation at St Mary the Virgin Church in Caterham, Surrey
And it came to pass that the people did flock to the local church in great number.
And the number grew each week. And soon, it became a multitude.
And here they did sit in the vaulted Victorian majesty of St Mary The Virgin, in a leafy land known as Caterham, Surrey.
They had come to hear the Word of the Lord. And more particularly, it seems, to take a peek at the new curate as she spake the Word unto them.
For lo! The latest arrival at St Mary’s was a rather foxy young blonde with a comely smile and a degree in theology from Cambridge.
And whatever it was that Stephanie ‘Steph’ Nadarajah brought to the masses, the Word quickly spread.
In six months since taking up her new ministry, the 29 year-old former NHS manager has seen Sunday congregations double in size from an average 75 to a respectable 150 plus.
Not to mention seeing a few heads turning as she travels the parish in her curate’s garb. ‘The first time I walked down the street in Caterham in a dog collar I was so embarrassed,’ she admits.
‘I thought if anyone spoke to me I would just hand it over and say: “You’re right, I’m not who I claim to be – I picked it out of the wardrobe.” But if people look and say: “Goodness me, that’s not what I expected,” and listen to what I say, then that’s great.’
And her impact on the good folk of Caterham? ‘You’re always treading a fine line between using the person that you are, and what God has given you to do good things in his name – and not to attract all the attention yourself and for it to become a sort of personality cult.’
Steph, who is married to a management consultant she has known since her schooldays, says she does get some ‘shocked looks’ when she tells locals she is the new curate. But one convert praised her yesterday as being ‘just what we need to blow out the cobwebs – a bit of feminine vibrancy’.
The Rev Nadarajah, as she is formally known, took a ‘massive drop’ in salary when she chose the cloth over her high-flying job commissioning work for the health service – but says she couldn’t be happier.
Heaven sent: Sunday service attendance at St Mary the Virgin Church has doubled from around 75 to 150
She held various management posts in the NHS before working as a pastoral assistant in Putney, South-West London.
In common with many churches, St Mary’s was enduring a gradual decline in congregations. Then along came Steph. It couldn’t quite be classed as a miracle, but the pews started to fill again. The Rev Nadarajah herself described it as ‘thriving’. Likewise, contributions to a fund to raise £80,000 for a new church hall began to swell.
Caterham, whose alumni include presenter Angus Deayton, boasts an association with model Katie Price, who has a home in a nearby village. St Mary’s was built in 1866 to accommodate a growing population attracted by the expansion of the railways.
Steph is a far more modern thinker – she has a Facebook page, keeps fit by running, enjoys fine wine and loves shopping. And yes, she is only too aware of what TV’s Vicar of Dibley had done for women in the church. ‘It’s mentioned all the time,’ she said.
‘It did a lot for women’s ministry in making it acceptable for women to be ordained. But let’s make it more ordinary.’
Parishioner Andrew Spencer, 52, welcomed her arrival: ‘It’s great to see an attractive young lady at the church,’ he said. ‘She’s not just a pretty face though – she’s intelligent and a great listener.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1390384/Church-doubles-congregation-hiring-blonde-Reverend-Stephanie-Nadarajah-29.html#ixzz1NK6grQTT