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In Kingston for Kingston – an interview with Paul McArdle

You’ve been a key part of King’s Church since its very beginning – what was it like in those early, pioneering days?

It was fantastic. There were 28 of us, and everybody was on the frontline, which I really liked. Everybody was busy doing everything. There was a really close community: everybody was in it together; everybody got the vision; everybody was completely sold out for Kingston – we’d all made a positive, conscious, intentional decision. It was tremendous to know we were all part of a brand new, exciting adventure that was going to make a difference in Kingston.


What aspects of the church’s vision and values have remained constant through all the changes?

The plant was always about bringing a new expression of Christianity to Kingston. The people of Kingston haven’t changed: they still need a saviour. That’s what brought us here in the first place, that’s what keeps us here, and that’s what’s going to keep us here.


You’re spending a lot of time this year focussing on Kingston Community School – tell us a bit about that.

It’s a two-form entry school which will be opening in North Kingston this September. We will start with two Reception classes, then in 2017, we’ll open a Secondary School, too. So eventually we’ll have a complete through-school from Reception through to A-Level.

I’m the Chairman of the Governors, so there’s obviously a lot of work to do to get that ready – to jump through all the hoops with the Government, the Department for Education, and the Education Funding Authority; to hire the head and the staff; to find the premises; and to get the kids!


How can we as a church get involved with the school? What can we be praying for?

There is a lot of work to do still, and a lot of decisions to be made.

– We’ve got a very important meeting with the DfE coming up in June, called the ‘Readiness for Opening’ meeting, where we need to be able to show that we are ready.

– We need to get the building finalised: we’ve got a temporary building on Acre Road, while our permanent building, near Norbiton Station, gets knocked down and rebuilt. It would be great if people could pray that the new building project goes ahead really well and we get a great facility there, but also that the redevelopment of Acre Road goes through smoothly and on time so we are ready for 60 children in September.

– We need to pray for the Christian leadership of the school. One of our selling points is that the school has a strong, Christian ethos, so right from the highest levels there needs to be a strong, clear, distinctive Christian voice that brings the gospel into the daily lives of the children, their families, and the community.

– We also need to pray that we fill all our places. The funding is per head, so we need full classes to be fully funded.

When the school opens there will be lots of opportunities to get in there to lead assemblies, act as teaching support workers, run lunch time and after school clubs. There will be real opportunities for us to get involved, not just to love and care, but to bring a clear expression of the Gospel into that context.

So for now, please pray, but in the future, be prepared to get involved.


And how can we be praying for you?

I’d love this year to be a real growth time for me. It would be great to be able to grow into all the skills I need to help establish the school and then to help run it once we are open. And it would be great to grow in faith, trusting God to do an amazing thing here – it would be wonderful to grow in faith and vision around that.


Five fun facts

Favourite band/artist: This week? Andy Cutting. But next week it will be somebody else, probably.
Favourite vegetable: Onions. No question.
Country you’d most like to visit: New Zealand
Where you went on your honeymoon: Minorca
Last film you saw at the cinema: Still Alice