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EAUK Interview

A pastor at the House of Commons

Rose Hudson-Wilkin is responsible for pastoral care of both members and staff of the Palace of Westminster.

SOURCES EAUK AUTHOR Evangelical Focus LONDON 10 MARCH 2015 15:30 h GMT+1
Rose Hudson-Wilkin Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin in her office at the House of Commons / Richard Saker

Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin is the 79th Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Since November 2014, she has been Priest in Charge of St Mary-at-Hill, City of London. She additionally holds the roles of priest vicar at Westminster Abbey and chaplain to the Queen.

Born and brought up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, she is the first black female chaplain to the Commons. In 1982, Hudson-Wilkin travelled to the UK to train at the Church Army college in the West Midlands. She was ordained in 1994, the first year that the Church of England accepted female ordination.



According to the UK Parliament, her main duties and responsibilities are:

  • To conduct daily prayers in the Chamber of the House

  • To conduct a weekly Eucharistic service in the chapel

  • To conduct weddings, marriage blessings and baptisms of members

  • To be responsible for the pastoral care of both members and staff at the Palace of Westminster

In an interview with the UK Evangelical Alliance, the Reverend emphasised the importance of praying for the members of the Commons, so that they may "keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed". 

Baptisms and weddings in the chapel for the Members of Parliament (MPs), Lords, staff and their families keep her busy because most months there are a few, which she must prepare for. But it is not all marriage preparation and prayers, there's also pastoral work. 

“People know where I am. They know my office is there and they don't need an appointment to see me. It is like having a parish. It is a parish – my Westminster parish”, she commented.



When Hudson-Wilkin was appointed in 2010, there were many who questioned it, and they keep criticising her roles even today, but she does not pay attention to it:

I have very little time for those who regularly shout political correctness. They are not living in the real world. The real world that I know is a multi-ethnic and multicultural world and I look to see all parts of society reflecting that.” “Britain is a multi-ethnic society. I would like to see that reflected in all walks of life, and also reflected here in parliament.” she added.

Another challenge is the division between politics and faith, with the secularisation of public life that any institution has to face nowadays. But Rose was optimistic: “I know some say MPs only come to the prayers on Wednesdays to get their seat for Prime Minister's Questions, but on other days of the week, when they do not need to save any seats, people still come in. They say to me: ‘We like to have this quiet before things get rather raucous’. The prayers are valued”.



She believed Christians should not separate faith from life. “You see my take on the Christian faith is not about a holy huddle”, the chaplain explained. “It is about a faith being lived out. If you look at the gospels – and even in the Old Testament – the focus is about people and their lives. Our Lord said: ‘I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly’. If there is something in society that prevents people from having abundant life, then it should be challenged”, she stated.

And challenge it she does. Rose is known for being straight-talking despite living in the world of cautious politicians. “We should be looking after the widows, the orphans, the children. That's what my gospel is about. So I don't see faith as a separate entity to politics, for me it is intertwined.” 

The chaplain urged Christians in the UK to “get off their backsides, not grumbling about what is going wrong in their community”, but actually endeavouring to put things right. “Christians should not always blame government or political parties for not doing the things they want.” 

Besides nursing the spiritual health of British politicians, and her duties  as a vicar, the Reverend also has a family. So how does she fit all this into her day? “Someone once said how do you do it all? I said: I don't think about it, because if I thought about it I would know that it's impossible. So I just wake up and do it”, she concluded.





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