New rector Debbie Frazer rings out change with a peal of her Bow bell

A mother-of-two began her ministry as new rector of the ancient Bow Church in London’s East End last night by peeling the bell amid the evening rush-hour traffic.

It was the first thing The Rev Debbie Frazer did as soon as the Bishop of Stepney gave her the formal blessing at Tuesday’s induction service to begin her ministry at the 700-year-old St Mary’s parish.

Bishop Adrian Newman invited the congregation to place their hands on Debbie as he gave her the blessing, before she was led to the church tower to ring the bell.

Her appointment marks a new chapter for Bow Church following a year in which Rector Michael Peet died after 22 years in the parish and the damage caused by lead thieves who had stripped the roof.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for Debbie,” the bishop told the Advertiser. “The church is slap bang in the middle of the Bow Road, separated from the community by the A11 dual carriageway.

“But she is from a tough inner city parish in Bristol and has the credentials of urban ministry.”

Vicars, rectors and even Catholic priests from all over Tower Hamlets joined 150 parishioners to welcome the new rector.

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Debbie, who arrived from Bristol on Monday, said: “The real challenge is the high deprivation. But you can’t come in with easy answers—I have to listen first.”

Among guests was Lloyds insurance broker Toby Stubbs, Master of the City of London’s Worshipful Company of Grocers which had given financial help for repairs after the �70,000 damage caused last year by the lead thieves. The Grocer’s Company has been connected to the parish since 1873.

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