THE new minister at a Kidderminster church - its first in more than three years - says he has been called to "work with people in need of support around justice issues".

The Rev Andrew Mann-Ray, 34, became the new minister at Baxter Church, in Kidderminster town centre's Bull Ring, at an induction ceremony on Tuesday last week.

His is the first minister to be appointed by the church's congregation since past minister Rev Gerald England left in September, 2010.

Speaking to The Shuttle about his new role, Mr Mann-Ray said: "I always had a real sense God was calling me to minister people in the West Midlands. I have had ministries in Bridgnorth and Brierley Hill, two very different communities.

"I have a real calling to work with people in the margins of society and I have been called to work at a church which is home to a foodbank, which is one of the attractions of working at Baxter. I feel God has called me to work with the type of people in need of support around social justice issues.

"I also want to help Baxter grow once more. When I was asked to minister to the community I wanted to be able to bring hope and growth."

He said it would be important to encourage more young people to attend church and Baxter was a particular challenge to attract more members, as it it was a town centre-based church with a less populated catchment area.

"If that is the way God wants Baxter Church to grow, that is what will happen," he added. "I also think we have to spend time finding out what is attractive about Baxter within the community. I have spent time working as a chaplain and I want to get involved with the town centre chaplaincy, working with Churches Together in Kidderminster.

"I also believe to attract more young people we need to attract more parents and adults."

The church's new minister is from Frinton-on-Sea, Essex but moved to the West Midlands when training as a minister in Birmingham and shadowed Mr England when he was at Baxter Church. Mr Mann-Ray currently lives in Wolverhampton and said one of his "biggest challenges" would be to minister to a community he was not a resident of.

He is married to Helen Mann-Ray and they have a five-year-old son, David.

The induction ceremony, where Mr Mann-Ray's appointment was affirmed, was attended by several councillors, including Kidderminster Mayor John Campion and Wyre Forest District Council chairman Fran Oborski.

The service was led by Moderator of the West Midlands Synod of the URC, Rev Roy Lowes.