At the end of June 2001 the Parish of St Peters joined with the church of St Botolphs to form a new united Benefice of Colchester. The Pastoral Measure to enable this to happen was approved by Her Majesty The Queen on 13th December 2000. The vacancy was advertised in mid February 2001, interviews were held on 24 April 2001, and on the 29th it was announced that Revd Fred Woods, previously Team Rector at Woodley, near Reading had been appointed to the United Benefice.
The installation of Revd Fred Woods as the first vicar to both churches took place on the evening of 2nd October 2001, commencing at St Botolph’s Church and concluding at St Peter’s Church after a robed walk through the town centre.
On 16th May 2005, the Revd Alison Finch was licenced to the churches of St Peter’s and St Botolph’s. While her work was mainly as a chaplain with the Essex Churches Council for Industry and Commerce, for three out of four Sundays and one other day per week she contributed to the ministry of the two town centre churches. She left Colchester on 1 September 2013 to take up a similar post in High Wycombe.
The roofs of both north and south aisles were removed, repaired and replaced in a major campaign of work lasting a whole year from the summer of 2005 to the summer of 2006. This also involved extensive repairs and partial replastering of the ceilings of both aisles. This at last concluded the major structural repairs that had dominated expenditure for over 20 years.
On 22nd June 2008 the new disabled access ramp was used for the first time. This allows wheelchair access from the High Street through the arch under the Corn Exchange building and into the south door to the church. This needs to be set up each time it is used—please contact us in advance if you require wheelchair access outside normal service times.
As during redevelopment the Colchester Garrison had replaced its huge church with a much smaller one, there was insufficient space in the Garrison for large services such as military funerals and parade events. St Peter’s was happy for our building to be used on such occasions, and in February 2010 a formal service of affiliation was held to mark this association.
Revd Fred Woods retired on 30th January 2011, and in January 2012 Revd. Richard Allen joined us on short-term assignment from the parish of St Leonard, Lexden. In April 2012 the Bishop published an advertisement for a full-time Priest-in-Charge for the benefice of St Botolph’s and St Peter’s churches. Interviews were held on 28 May 2012 and Revd. Mark D Wallace, Assistant Curate at Trull and Angersleigh, near Taunton, was appointed to the post, and licensed to the benefice on 20th September in a service that started at St Peter’s and continued at St Botolph’s.
An unexpected legacy from Eirlys Wilcox, Revd Robin Wilson’s former domestic help, meant that it was possible to restore the faces of the clock that projects from the tower. This work was carried out in her memory and completed by S. Michlmayr, clock restorers, in September 2011.
At the start of November 2012 a new central heating boiler was installed, so our welcome is now warmer than before!
In April 2013 the service times were changed to enable to Vicar to minister at both St Peter’s and St Botolph’s churches in the same morning. This coincided with the introduction of children’s classes for the first time in many years.
On 13 July 2014 it was announced that the Revd Aella Gage, Associate Minister at Fordham, had accepted the offer of a position as Associate Minister at St Peter’s Church. He is also licenced to St Botolph’s Church, and was officially licenced by the new Bishop of Colchester in a service held at St Peter’s on 9th September 2014. Revd Gage’s contract ended on 31 August 2020.
There is an ongoing programme of improvements to the church building. In 2017 the main entrance at the west end of the building saw new railings and gates installed, and repairs to the door, steps and surrounding area. In 2023, new kitchen facilities were installed, together with a new accessible toilet, and the existing toilet was completely refurbished. Future alterations are likely to include much better disabled access, and improved circulation space. The planning and the work may take a long time, but should make the building a more welcoming environment in which to meet for the worship of God, and allow for future growth in numbers and the ministry of God’s people.