Revd Vanessa Conant, Rector

Former Bishop of Chelmsford and now Archbishop of York, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, with Revd Vanessa Conant

In July 2015, Vanessa Conant was installed as the first female Rector of St Mary’s and the Parish of Walthamstow. Originally from Hertfordshire, Vanessa earned a BA in History from Lancaster University, worked for several years as a fundraiser for both Crisis and Christian Aid, and later earned a BA in Theology from Trinity College, Bristol, where she trained for ministry. Vanessa was ordained a priest at St Alban’s Cathedral and served her curacy at St Catherine and St Paul, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, before becoming Associate Rector of St Paul’s and St George’s (‘Ps & Gs’) in the city centre of Edinburgh, where she served for four years. Vanessa has a keen interest in the Bible, in Christian social action, inclusion, environmentalism, Judaism, practical theology, community organising and contemplative spirituality. Vanessa is a trustee for the Centre for Theology and Community in Shadwell. A gifted Bible teacher, Vanessa loves to see people grow in their understanding of faith. She is married to Cameron, a writer and comms officer. (

Revd Dave Edmondson, Curate

Revd Dave Edmondson started his curacy at St Mary’s in July 2020

Dave Edmondson began his curacy at St Mary’s in July 2020 after training for ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. Dave was born in South London and grew up in Epsom. Before training for ordained ministry, he was a youth and children’s leader at St Mary’s, Becontree, in Dagenham, East London, and before that, worked with Christian youth charity XLP while studying for his BA at St Mellitus. Dave is passionate about seeing people of all ages come to know the reality that they are loved by God, and he believes that the Christian faith is not just for Sundays, but a transformative way of living. Dave is married to Caitlin, an RE teacher, and they have a daughter, Lydia, and a son, Josiah. Dave enjoys getting outdoors, cooking, eating, and playing and watching sports. A big cricket and football fan, Dave is always up for a conversation about sport. (

Revd Alan Moss, Pioneer Leader
Sarah Moss, Ordinand

Revd Alan Moss and Sarah Moss moved to Walthamstow in the Spring of 2021

Alan and his wife, Sarah, joined us in 2021 after Alan completed his curacy at the Parish of St James and St John’s, Collier Row. Alan will be primarily working on The Drive and Attlee Terrace estates, using the practices of community organising to empower residents to take action on the things that matter to them in order to create positive, meaningful change, and in so doing, help people make the connection between faith and action. Alan will also be connecting new people to St Mary’s alongside developing creative expressions of church. Alan previously planted a church for young people in Romford alongside supporting the Diocese of Chelmsford in its development of digital expressions of church. Alan has a background in welding, a love of tattoos and a passion for sharing the Christian story in new ways. Sarah studied at Trinity College, Bristol and is a Church of England curate who will be based in Waltham Forest and doing her curacy in a neighbouring parish. Sarah worked for years in Community Development, specifically within Local Government, and is also a musician and worship leader. Alan holds a BA in Youth Ministry and an MA in Christian Leadership from St Mellitus College. (

Jacintha Danaswamy, Ordinand

Jacintha Danaswamy is St Mary’s Ordinand, and is currently doing her theological training at St Mellitus

Jacintha Danaswamy is training for ordination in the Church of England at St Mellitus in London while also serving as St Mary’s ordinand. Jacintha’s primary role at St Mary’s is to oversee our Church Growth Project, which aims to help us expand our church engagement with the wider community, to grow as disciples, to grow our church and to deepen our commitment. Jacintha has also been actively involved in our children’s ministry work in recent years, helping to lead all-age services, and previously served as our administrator. Jacintha has a BA in English Literature and Spanish, and an MA in Visual Culture, both from the University of Westminster, is a fluent Spanish speaker and is originally from Ireland. Jacintha is mum to Clara, Violet and Jade and has a family connection to St Mary’s, with her father, Dr Paul Danaswamy, having been a much-loved member of our church for many years. Jacintha loves to read, visit exhibitions, listen to live music and explore the outdoors with her daughters. (

Charnelle Barclay, Community Organiser & Church Planter

Charnelle Barclay first joined us as a Buxton Intern in 2019; since then, she has become our Community Organiser/ Church Planter

Charnelle Barclay came to St Mary’s as our Buxton Intern in 2019 and we haven’t let her go! Charnelle now serves as a Community Organiser and Church Planter, working with Revd Alan Moss and supervising a community organising intern to build community and help residents on the Attlee Terrace and Drive estates take action on the things that matter to them. Originally from Gloucester, Charnelle has a degree in Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick and also works part-time for the Centre for Theology and Community, overseeing CTC’s William Seymour Programme, which trains Pentecostal churches in the practices of community organising. She is passionate about a holistic faith that not only cares for others but also stands up to unjust structures and systems. Charnelle loves dancing and is currently learning flamenco. (

Josie Wilson, Parish Administrator

Originally from West London, Josie moved to Walthamstow in 2017 and became our Parish Administrator in the summer of 2022. She studied psychology at University of Sussex, earned a PGCE from the University of Brighton and was a primary school teacher for 16 years, which she loved.

Josie is married to Peter and has two children, Kit and Sadie. Josie says that, for her, St Mary’s has always been a place of peace and joy, and thought it might be a good place to work. Josie says, ‘The whole team were always very warm and welcoming, so feel very privileged to now be a part of it. I enjoy doing something that helps the local community, and helps me get to know my local community better too. Family life and working life keep me pretty busy, but I also enjoy going out with friends as much as possible and music has always been a big part of my life! Country music and rock and roll are my absolute faves!’ (

Tim Hewitt, Head Gardener/ Community Gardener

Tim Hewitt is our Head Gardener; he took on an expanded Community Gardener role in 2021 thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which allows us to employ Tim for three days per week.

Tim Hewitt has been St Mary’s Head Gardener since 2017; in that time, St Mary’s Churchyard has received national recognition from the Royal Horticultural Society, and through Tim’s successful ‘Burials in Bloom’ project, dozens of local residents now regularly volunteer to care for neglected graves and engage in biodiversity projects in our churchyard, the largest green space in Walthamstow Village. In Spring 2021, Tim also became St Mary’s Community Gardener – a newly-created position supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of St Mary’s £3.37 million ‘Creative Church’ regeneration project. As part of this role, Tim will introduce new opportunities for residents – especially under-represented groups – to learn about horticulture and to engage in community gardening projects in the churchyard. Prior to studying at Capel Manor and becoming a professional gardener, Tim taught English for nearly 20 years at Forest School, his alma mater. Tim is a Board Member for Forest Flora, which supports community horticulture in Waltham Forest, is a Committee Member of Walthamstow’s Chelsea Fringe Festival, and works closely with many local gardening and community groups. (

Jonathan Rathbone, Musical Director

Jonathan Rathbone’s arrangements have been recorded by Trinity College, Cambridge and Voces8

Jonathan Rathbone has been St Mary’s musical director for many years. He got his start as a chorister at Coventry Cathedral and was later a choral scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics. He later studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Jonathan sang with the Swingle Singers for 12 years and was the group’s musical director for eight of those years. He left the group in 1996 to focus on writing, and has since arranged pieces that have been recorded by Trinity College, Cambridge, Voces8 and other well-known choral groups. Jonathan has also written for film and television, but continues to conduct community choirs around London and continues to faithfully serve at St Mary’s, his local parish church. Jonathan is married to Helen, a singer and music teacher, and they have two grown children. (