Meet our new Priest!

Jesus said: ‘I have come so everyone may live and enjoy life to the full.’ John 10.10

Please allow me to introduce myself and my family to you and share some of my hopes and prayers for us here in Carbis Bay, Lelant and the wider community.

van Blerk family

I, Etienne, was born in South Africa and had the privilege of growing up within a loving and supportive Christian family. I served God as ordained minister for the best part of a decade in the Middle East. This is where I also met my wife, Hanan. We both lived and worked together in Lebanon and Jordan before coming to England seventeen years ago – we were accompanied by our firstborn daughter, Kay, who is now studying Fine Arts at Leeds Arts University. Julia, who has just finished her GCSE’s, will be completing her A-level Studies at Penwith College, in Penzance, and is passionate about baking. Steffan is looking forward to entering Year Nine at St Ives School and is a keen footballer. Hanan has more recently worked as a hospitality assistant in our church, and we love making new friends and welcoming them into our lives and home. Of course, Micky, our eight year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is also very much part of the family.

Before moving to Carbis Bay, we lived and worked in Lancashire, where I was School Chaplain, Teacher of Art and serving in our local Deanery. Before that, I was working for the Church of England in Oxfordshire and was Head of Art at an independent school. We are blessed, honoured and humbled by God’s calling to serve the Churches of St Anta and St Uny, including St Uny Church of England Academy and the communities of Carbis Bay and Lelant. We are very much looking forward to getting to know everyone in the Church Family and wider community and becoming part of the people of Cornwall.

Ultimately, I would like to support people in discovering and enjoying an abundant life in Christ through life-long and eternal fellowship with Him and his followers, both as disciples and as part of Christ’s body, the Church. I have an irrevocable calling to serve alongside others, as ordained Anglican priest, and to share in the life of a congregation through prayer, preaching, teaching, leading worship, pastoral care, and leadership, as well as motivating the church community to share in mission and nurturing fellowship at the same time.

When Jesus said in John 10, ‘I have come so everyone may live and enjoy life to the full’, He had us all and all those who were not yet part of his flock, in mind. As Good Shepherd, he was not only willing to lay down his life so we can live, but also do everything else necessary to guide, feed, protect and enable us to come to our full potential in Him. He called himself ‘the gate’ through whom we need to enter to live with Him, and all his followers, and we learned to know his voice to follow Him. Christ cares for and looks after his church and He calls us to love and forgive and look after one another too. This is our inward responsibility.

However, Jesus also said, I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ He is always willing to leave the ninety-nine to go and find that one individual to come and be part of his flock, so this should also be our approach, reaching outward to all who don’t yet know his voice so He can bring them also in – ‘one flock and one shepherd’. In my view, looking outward, or having mission-hearts, is one of the most important diagnostic signs of whether a church is alive and healthy, along with accessible worship, having a clear, growing and prayerful vision, supporting and collaborating with one another, investing in an applied discipleship, and having a strong ownership of creating and being an united community.

I hope and pray, as Priest-in-Charge of Carbis Bay and Lelant, that I will be able to serve God and others with all my heart, mind and strength, by being a leader who listens and learn before leading. So, I would like to take ample time to get to know everyone first, as we serve alongside one another. I would like to see us spend time in prayer, corporately and individually, and encourage one another to be true and faithful followers of Christ – his disciples making disciples. I would like us to ensure we invest in ‘all-age ministry’, where the young people and children are welcomed and served, just as much as we would like to accommodate and celebrate the presence of adults, including men, women, families, and the elderly, whatever our background, gender, ability or age may be. I would like to see us encourage and enable an ‘all-member-ministry’, where we value everyone’s ministry, and where young and old may contribute to the life and service of the Church.  I would like us to plan and pioneer and actively reach out and serve everyone in our Community with the love and Good News of Jesus Christ. May his Kingdom come, and his Church grow!

Saying all of this, I would like to conclude by quoting from Philippians 3:

“We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could…I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I could gain Christ and become one with him…For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead…No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

 My family and I are much encouraged by and very grateful for your warm welcome and the kind commitment of support, especially in prayer, for our future ministry together with you here, taking part in God’s work. The ecumenical body’s support and collaboration are also reasons to thank and praise God. We are committed to love and serve God and you and everyone in the community with all we’ve received so freely from God ourselves thorough-out our lives.

May the Lord bless us and protect us.

May the Lord smile on us and be gracious to us.

May the Lord show us his favour and give us his peace;

and may the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us all always.


Etienne with Hanan, Kay, Julia and Steffan