New energy and vision for All Saints, New Cross

It was the strangest of years for Father Grant Bolton-Debbage. He began his role as priest-in-charge at All Saints, New Cross, in the midst of a global pandemic. Father Grant tells us of his hopes and dreams for the church and wider community. 


Stepping up on to a makeshift step Father Grant pulls himself up to peer over the fence into the church’s garden. He breezily explains that for some reason the gate is padlocked from within, so the only way to access the garden is by first manoeuvring yourself up and over the fence to open it. Even for a man of his stature this clearly is quite a feat.

During my time with Father Grant it was this tenacity, cheerfulness and sheer determination that left an impression on me. This is a man who is a gift to his church and its neighbours. 

While this is a new role for Father Grant, the church is not new to him. He describes his move there as a kind of home-coming. His grandfather was buried at All Saints, and a photo recently emerged of his mother standing next to the coffin after the funeral, pregnant with her son, Grant.

At that time the people of the Windrush generation weren’t necessarily offered a warm welcome in New Cross. Father Grant is determined that in his time as Priest people of all colours and backgrounds are welcomed into the church and treated with the utmost dignity and respect.  

"I have the power to open doors for those who have had doors close to them previously." 

Father Grant has quite a challenge before him. The church sits on a busy road, and the immediate surroundings don’t offer much in the way of welcome. But the building itself has great beauty and potential. 

Overall the vision is to create a building of dignity, welcome, openness, inclusivity and hospitality. That work has already begun, with a cheery café area that greets you as you enter the building. 

Father Grant’s long list of jobs continues: to create a welcoming and accessible entrance; to provide accessible toilet facilities; to create a door that leads directly from the church to the garden (no more fence jumping for anyone); to develop a kitchenette area that complies with health and safety regulations; to offer an inviting children’s space and to improve the sanctuary and nave areas. 

Clearly Father Grant’s role is not just to project manage a building’s development. He is also pastor to his church family, and the challenge of being able to achieve both of those aims is very real for him. But in his short time at All Saints he has already helped create a deeper sense of community and friendship within the church family. 

As one of the eight church patronages that the Company supports we should be proud of Father Grant and the hope he offers for his church and the wider community. His list of jobs will be accomplished in the coming years. And most importantly, the church will flourish under his pastor-ship.

Susan Barry

Director for Charities