St John's is a Grade 2* listed building, designed by Philip Hardwicke and completed in 1823. The design is based in St. Paul's in Covent Garden, London, with many internal design features referencing our Patron St. John the Evangelist, such as above the front entrance in the porch are words from St John's Gospel, 'God is spirit and whoever worships him must worship him in spirit and truth.'
The sanctuary is the focal point that draws the attention of both visitor and worshipper. The Baldachino or canopy is gilded with 9 Carat gold. The Greek text above the altar contains more words of St. John's 'The word was made flesh and dwelt among us'. At the base of the altar pillars can be seen the eagle of St John. The chalice and snake represent an attempted poisoning of the saint. The arabesque above the altar is a common ornament for classical buildings and shows the risen Lord with the banner of victory.
Above the font a hanging on the east gallery is the oldest ornament in the church; a royal coat of arms worked in wool cross stitch which was made by the two sisters of Revered Peter How, Rector of Workington, and presented to the church.
The ceiling is decorated with sixteen shields, one group showing the arms of St Mary's Abbey, York, to which the parish belonged until 1544. The arms of the see of Chester to which the parish of Workington belonged until 1856, the arms of the Diocese of Carlisle and the province of York. The light, airy Georgian building is one to be proud of.
St. John the Evangelist is the name given to the author of the Gospel of John, also known as John the Apostle. John, along with his brother James, worked as fishermen for their father on the Sea of Galilee. They were mending their nets when both John and James were called by Jesus to follow him. John remained close to Jesus thrughout his travels round Galilee and beyond, witnessing Jesus's teachings and healings at first hand.
John was one of only three of the disciples who went with Jesus up a mountain to pray, prior to them travelling to Jerusalem where Jesus knew what fate awaited him, and was also present at Jesus' appearance to the dsciples in the Upper Room following his resurection. After this John travelled and was involved in healing miracles, and wrote letters of guidance to the early church. Following the deaths of Saints Peter & Paul, he moved to the Turkish city of Ephesus where he died c. 100AD, believed to be the only disciple not to be killed for his faith, but to have lived into old age. His feast day is celebrated on 27th December.
A native of Plymouth in Devon, Father Robert has been a priest in the Church of England since 1981. He is married to Catherine, who works as a Care Support Worker. They have four adult sons, two of whom – Stephen and Christopher - currently live with them in the Vicarage. The family moved to the North of England in 2002 when Fr Robert came to Lancaster to serve as Professor and Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the then St Martins College in Lancaster.
After a brief time as a School Teacher Fr Robert trained for the priesthood at St Stephen’s House and then served for three years as an Assistant Priest in an Exeter parish, where he and Catherine met and married. He then became a Chaplain and Lecturer at Exeter University, spending the following nineteen years as a University academic, teaching and researching in both Theology and Philosophy in a number of Colleges and Universities. Throughout this period he continued to exercise a self-supporting priestly ministry (which means working for the Church part-time), including twenty years in House for Duty parish ministry. Immediately before coming to Workington in 2015 his full-time work was as a Dean of Faculty and Professor of Theology at the University of Cumbria – a post which he held for over ten years. During this time he was also a House-for-Duty Assistant Priest in a large rural benefice, covering six churches and parishes in the far North of Lancashire.
Fr Robert has served on a number of national Church bodies and committees, including the General Synod. He also works as an Assistant Director of Ordinands in the Carlisle Diocese, supporting those who are exploring vocations to the sacred ministry. He Chairs the Board of Directors of Cumbria Christian Learning, the body which provides Vocation support and discernment for Lay and Ordained Ministry in the Diocese and also Lay and Clergy training and education. Fr Robert is a Canon Emeritus of Chichester Cathedral and an Emeritus Professor of the University of Cumbria.
Since he has arrived he has worked towards growing the congregation and ensuring the building is repaired and maintenained to ensure the future of the church.