The Rev. Matthew Woodward
I was born in Perivale, West London on 9thof April 1975, my mother recalls looking out of the window and seeing it snowing. Despite that unseasonable fact I am quite a warm person! I was raised in Ealing in London, and moved to Newhaven in East Sussex on the coast near Brighton at the age of 5. I attended school there and after our family moved to the next town along the coast, Seaford, at the age of 18, I travelled to the USA as an exchange student for a year. I attended Moore High School in Moore, Oklahoma and enjoyed being a member of Marching Band, the school choir, the academic team (my area was US history) and fully taking part in the life of the Methodist church I attended, which was a departure from my experience at homewhere I was raised Pentecostal.
On my return to the UK I attended the London Bible College (now called the London School of Theology) and was awarded an upper second BA hons there. Whilst at LBC I explored a wider set of theological perspective and eventually found myself joining and being confirmed in an Anglo-Catholic Church of England Parish, St Edmund the King, Northwood Hills. The clergy encouraged me to explore my previous vocation to Pentecostal ministry in this new context and I went to work at St Matthew’s Westminster in central London as a pastoral assistant to explore ministry further. I studied for my first Masters Degree, in Theological Education at King’s College London during this time, and also completed a year as a school custodian. Once my vocation was tested and confirmed I trained at Westcott House in Cambridge,where I studied for a Masters Degree in Pastoral Theology. While there my second year placement was at one of the historic colleges of Cambridge, Gonville and Caius college. It was there I was able to experience the tradition of Choral Evensong, and felt fully at home in my new Anglican tradition.
After three years as curate of St John a tHampstead (sometimes known as Hampstead Parish Church) I was appointed as the Priest in Charge of St Saviour Pimlico. After three years, and having achieved a new stability with the people of the parish, I was made the Vicar (similar to a Rector in the Episcopal Church).
I have an interest in inclusive theology, and was involved in setting up the first Inclusive Church website. I believe parishes need to be at the heart of the communities they serve, and that faith should warm the heart and inform the mind.
OK, that is the dull bit of the biography –but it probably doesn’t tell you much about me, so what follows is in response to some questions I've received.
Where would you go for your first vacation in the US and why?
I think I would go for a trip to wine country, because I quite like tasting wines, and love walking in the country. So if I could combine some walking and wine tasting that would be perfect. Hmmm… but I also really like the idea of pursuing a recently explored hobby, paragliding, and I understand that it is possible near to San Francisco.
We hear you play saxophone, how do you play?
I only play for pleasure, but I played both Clarinet and Saxophone in school and church bands. I love the saxophone and have recently acquired a soprano, which I have wanted my whole life. I have not mastered it yet, and it is hard to find a place to really practice at ful lvolume, so some nights you might just wander past church and hear me trying to get a tune out of it in the church itself!
What are your most played iPod tracks?
Well, I will check, but I may edit the list if it is too embarrassing!
OK, here is an honest selection:
Bach - Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould
The Winner Takes it All by ABBA
Run by Leona Lewis
I Don’t Like Monday’s by Tori Amos
Allegri - Miserere Mei by the Choir of NewCollege Oxford
My most recent additions are:
(eek) Livin La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin (that was for running to)
Someone Like You by Adele
Some tracks from Glee (oops – embarrassing)
In the End by Scott Matthew
Whatwould my headstone say?
“See, I told you I was ill!” (No that is a cheat, I borrowed it from Spike Milligan)
Seriously: “Matthew believed God was Love and tried to live in that reality.”
Tell us about coming to the US in the first place and what has kept me coming back?
I was an exchange student in Oklahoma, and that did not put me off! I have loved America since I was a child, reading comic books from an early age and loving US culture. I love the positive attitude of the US and the sense of community that is retained in many of your communities.
What are the funniest language pratfalls I have gotten into in America
The funniest is unrepeatable here, but ask me about it after a glass of wine one evening!
Less funny, but more repeatable was the time I said I wanted to go for a ‘smart’ hair cut and was told that my hair would not make me look more intelligent.