Of Things Not Seen

A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A LONDON PRIEST

PHOTOGRAPHS BY JIM GROVER

"NOW FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN."  

HEBREWS CHAPTER 11, VERSE 1

THE STORY

‘Of things not seen’ is a photo-essay which tells the story of one year of ministry for Kit Gunasekera, a Church of England priest in Clapham, South London.

‘Of things not seen’ brings to life both Kit’s professional role as a priest and lynchpin of his church community, and his personal faith.  The joys and rewards of having a vocation with a strong calling and a higher purpose are juxtaposed with the everyday challenges of running a church, ministering to a very diverse group of parishioners, and a mission to increase the congregation.

This is the first time that life of a priest has been recorded in this way, making it a unique project.  The photo-essay was completed in November 2015.

THE CAST

Kit Gunasekera

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Kit is the Vicar of St James’, Clapham.

Born in Chiswick in 1972, Kit is of Sri Lankan descent and spent his early childhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Kit found God when he was 17 at a Sunday church service in Holy Trinity, Hounslow.  It was a profound and life-changing experience for him.  He went on to study theology at Ridley College, Cambridge, and was ordained in 2006, following which he was a Team Curate at St Paul’s Church in Brentford. 

He joined St James’, Clapham, as ‘Priest-in-Charge’ in 2009, his first parochial leadership role.  He became Vicar in 2015 when his remit was expanded to include partnering 2 other local churches in Clapham.

Kit is married to Jill, who works for a London-based charity; they live together in the church vicarage, a short walk from St James’.  Kit enjoys playing the guitar and singing, and is an occasional artist.

 

Jim Grover

Jim Grover is a photographer (visit his website here).

After a long and successful International business career (he was previously Group Strategy Director of Diageo PLC, owners of iconic global brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, and Guinness), Jim has increasingly focused on photography over the last 5 years.

Jim’s images have been recognized in various competitions including the ’Sony World Photography Awards’ in 2012 and 2014.  In 2015 he won the ‘Faith Through a Lens’ competition; the judging panel was led by the internationally renowned photographer, Don McCullin CBE.

His photographs have frequently appeared in various publications and online including: The Saturday Guardian Magazine; The Sunday Times and Times Travel Sections; and The Daily Telegraph Travel Section.

He lives in Clapham, South London.  

 

Katy Barron

Katy is a curator, writer and art advisor.

Katy read History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, and Magdalen College, Oxford.   For 10 years she was a member of the curatorial team of the Royal Collection, based in St James’s Palace, London.  She then decided to pursue her long-standing passion for photography and joined Purdy Hicks, one of London’s leading contemporary art galleries.

Katy has curated photography exhibitions for museums, galleries, and festivals, and provides portfolio reviews for photographers.  Her current roles include advising private clients on acquiring and collecting photography.

From over 15,000 of Jim’s images, Katy Barron has selected 40 which distil both Kit’s professional role as priest and lynchpin of the church community, and his personal faith. 

Katy lives in London.

 

St James’, Clapham

St James’ is a Church of England church and community in Clapham, South London, and is part of the Southwark Diocese.

In 2014, St James’ celebrated its 185th anniversary.  The original church was destroyed by bombs on Monday, 16th September 1940; the current church building was consecrated in 1958.

The parish of St James’ totals around 10,000 residents; average Sunday service attendance was 51 in 2015 (with the highest attendance being 90, and the lowest being 29).  The parish is designated by the Southwark Diocese as low income; St James’ currently generates an annual financial deficit. 

Regular worshippers in St James’ reflect the rich diversity of London today with people from African, West Indian, and Eastern European descent amongst the regular congregation.  The oldest regular worshippers are in their 80’s and 90’s, some having lived in Clapham for much of their lives; the youngest was born in 2015.  There is a Sunday School comprising 18 children under the age of 11.

The church is actively associated with various local communities, care-homes, charities, and schools.

St James’ Mission is ‘To Know Christ and To Make Him Known’