Rev Gisela Raines, Rector

I’ve been Rector of St Paul’s since the end of January 2010.  I started ministry in the Church of England as a Deaconess in 1984 in Southwark Diocese, in the days before women were ordained to the priesthood. My first two posts were job-shares with my husband Bill: a curacy at St Luke’s Charlton, followed by some 4 years as a university chaplain.  We moved from London to Manchester when Bill accepted a post as Rector of Holy Innocents in 1994. I was ordained priest that year, part of the ‘first wave’ of women priests in the Church of England and became Priest-in-Charge of St Christopher in Withington in 1996.  From 2003 to 2009 I was Associate Rector of St Ann’s in Manchester City Centre.  Bill retired from Holy Innocents at the end of 2012. We have two grown-up children.  

One of the questions I am asked most often is: Where are you from? After some 29 years in this country it seems that my Dutch accent has not quite disappeared!

 Gisela has written about her pilgrimage on foot to Santiago: click on the link to find out more.

Important announcement: Gisela recently announced her intention to retire at the end of April 2018. Please see here for more information (scroll down to "announcements"). 


Rev Bob Smith, OLM Assistant Priest

I first attended St Pauls in the Sunday School when I was 6 and lived in Withington all my early life. Though my family I have always had a connection with St Pauls, but I came into ministry late in life after a career working in the Social Services department of Manchester City Council.

In 2008, I was licensed as an Ordained Local Minister (OLM) which means I had paid employment alongside my ministry role which focused on the elderly within the parish.

Both in ministry and work I served the local community and the City I was brought up in, and that fact is always a source of great strength, joy and continued vocation for me. I am married to Anne, and we have a grown up daughter.

I took early retirement from the council in 2011 after 36 years service and moved straight into a chaplain’s role in a Withington Nursing Home, as well as continuing at St Pauls in ministry. Unfortunately, due to illness leading to a disability in 2015, I had to retire from the nursing home, and we moved out of the area to an adapted bungalow.

However, I still continue with my ministry at St Pauls, and try to be there as much as I can, as because of the people, its inclusivity, and being at the centre of the community , it continues to be a great privilege and honour to be part of the team.



Esther Platt 


Picture of Elizabeth the church warden.

Elizabeth Rigby


What is a churchwarden?

The role of churchwarden dates back well over 500 years. It is concerned with the upkeep of   the church buildings and the churchyard, and with the maintenance of good order within them.

In practice this can mean anything from drawing up rotas for the making of tea or the mowing of grass to checking the wiring, keeping official records or, more seriously, ensuring that public worship proceeds undisturbed and the church grounds are kept as a place of peace for all members of the community.

Nowadays we act in most cases on behalf of the Parochial Church Council (PCC), but nevertheless it is our duty to be the Bishop’s officers ‘on site’. To help us we have a number of deputy wardens who look after particular areas such as finance, building repairs, choir leadership, front-of-house services during worship, etc.

Under the leadership of the Rector, together with the Treasurer, the Verger and the Secretary of the PCC, we form a kind of ‘senior management team’. Like all good modern management we try to remain in constant touch with the action at the ‘grassroots’, facilitating the work of the ministry team on the one hand and the members of the congregation on the other. We all look to serve one another and join together to pursue the church’s mission.

Many people don’t realise that churchwardens are responsible to the whole parish, in other words the whole local community. And St Paul’s seeks to be an inclusive organisation. So whether you are a regular worshipper, an enquirer, a casual visitor, a supporter, a user of our amenities such as the Hall… whatever the level of your personal commitment, we hope you will not be shy of approaching us and communicating your ideas where appropriate. We can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can rely on a friendly response!