The principal District Offices work together as a leadership team, co-ordinating opportunities and offering resources of finance, personnel and specialised expertise to enable the mission of the Methodist Church to be advanced within the South East.
John Hellyer - District Chair
John Hellyer began his role as Chair of the South East District in September 2006. Following three years training at Wesley College, Bristol he served as a minister in the Bradford (Great Horton) Circuit from 1984-1989 and then moved to Birmingham where he was minister in an inner city area of the Eldon Circuit from 1989 to 1997. He was then the Superintendent of the Mosley Road and Sparkhill Circuit from 1997 to 2006.
John has always been an advocate of the need for the Methodist Church to work ecumenically. His experience in urban areas has also led him to the conviction that we need to be willing to work with people of all faith and no faith for the sake of God's kingdom. Developing ways of working in teams of both lay and ordained people where they work together to share ministry, leadership and responsibility is important to John. He has a particular concern to encourage a culture of life long learning in the church so that Christians are more confident about relating discipleship to daily life.
John is married to Mary, a teacher who currently works as a curriculum manager in a Further Education College. They have three children, David, Jennie and Peter. He enjoys reading detective novels and has recently started to learn about the world of digital photography.
Phillip Luscombe - Assistant Chair (Eastern)
After twenty years spent in teaching and ministerial training in Durham and Cambridge, I am now a member of a team ministry in Ashford with Paul Dean, a United Reformed colleague, working within the South Kent Circuit.
I have thoroughly enjoyed coming into Circuit life again - I previously spent ten years working in the old London SE District and five years in Durham. Some things have changed; many challenges remain constant. I also very much value my role with the District: the Eastern area includes all the Kent churches (and one over the Sussex border, Wadhurst).
I am married to Laurel, and we have a son Ben, who is married and works in London. I remain committed to the importance of rigourous training for all types of ministry, and especially the need to help all worship leaders and preachers be fully equipped for their awesome calling. I also try to pursue my own particular research interests in the relationship of science and theology.
Deborah Cornish - Assistant Chair (Southern)
Although born in Singapore, I was made in Cornwall. John & I were married in Newquay in 1976, we have two adult sons, one daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I was ordained at the Edinburgh Conference in 2006 and, whilst in Scotland, completed my BTh (Exeter) as a long distance student, travelling to Truro for the occasional face to face lecture. Ministry in Scotland involved a lot of travelling, including over 100 miles for preaching appointments and meetings within the Circuit.
Since 2009 I have served in the Herefordshire (S&E) Circuit, with oversight of three churches, and as Superintendent since 2014. Whilst in this Circuit I took the opportunity to study at Queens and was awarded an MA in Applied Theology through Birmingham University.
The things that give me joy are caravanning, baking, eating with friends, and spending time with family. In addition, I enjoy reading and, if I get the chance, a night at the theatre.
John and I are both looking forward to living in Brighton, beside the sea again. I am also looking forward to discovering ways of serving God through the District and within the Brighton & Hove Circuit.
Conrad Hicks - Assistant Chair (Western)
I am returning to British Methodism, where I will be looking after congregations in Aldershot and Farnham as well as having responsibilities in the western part of the District, after 16 years overseas service. I have had the privilege of serving the Methodist Church in Jamaica, Ireland and Mexico. Before that, I was minister in two circuits in the old London North West District.
I have a passion for overseas mission and now have the joy of discovering how God is calling us to mission in these islands. I look forward to learning what God is doing among the Methodist people and our ecumenical partners here in Britain and the ways in which we are being called to future ministry in the service of God's kingdom.
I was born and brought up in Nottingham. I left home to work in a Methodist Hostel for Refugees and International Students in London, before studying Politics and Modern History at Manchester, where I candidate for the ministry.
I am married to Sonia, who is a minister in the Thames Valley Circuit. We have three adult children.
Pauline Newton - District Treasurer
Happily I am old enough to have retired at age 60 so have been able to volunteer from 2010 to 2015 as Trustee Treasurer of a Charitable Company employing ex-offenders, from 2011 to 2016 as a Circuit Treasurer and now from 2016 as District Treasurer. I am not an Accountant (but usefully have a son who is one!) but love working with numbers, finding out how to do things and implementing procedures to meet financial requirements.
I worked for Lloyds Bank for 9 years from 1964 and lived in Cote D'Ivoire at Dabou Hospital for 6 years from 1974 with husband & 2 sons. Since 1980 I have worked with children and young people, mainly as a volunteer but also in paid roles connected with this field of work. I'm currently Line Manager for our church's Children & Youth Work Development Worker, Church Council Secretary and also a grandparent, so there's never a dull moment!
Philippa Read – District Safeguarding Officer
My professional background is in social care across a range of settings with both children, young people and adults; I have worked in voluntary and statutory services in three local authorities around the South East. I have also been part of a ‘family that fosters’ for the past 30 years so have first-hand experience of the realities and complexities of the care system.
I’m a ‘cradle Methodist’; having spent my early years in the Wirral circuit, I have lived in the South East District since my family moved south in the 1980s. I’m an active member of a rural congregation, attending church with my children where I’m a worship leader, steward and Sunday club & Messy Church leader.
My leisure time is spent with my growing family; we enjoy getting out and about around our local countryside and coast. I also run regularly, and enjoy taking part in a range of events. I love to read and bake, but don’t always have much time for either of these!
Prior to taking up this role I worked in the Connexional Safeguarding Team as a Past Cases Review case worker; this was an interesting task with a wide range of scenarios and issues to tackle. I am pleased to now have the opportunity to use my experience and knowledge to undertake the District Safeguarding Officer role, supporting the Church to further promote safer spaces for all.