STOURBRIDGE'S town centre church St Thomas's finally has a priest in charge following a three-year absence.

The Rev Andrew Sillis was officially licensed at a service last Sunday and takes over at the Market Street church from Rev Ron Curtis who retired in October 2012.

Originally from Blackpool, Rev Sillis is eager for St Thomas's to play a much larger role within the community.

He studied environmental sciences at Wolverhampton University and then worked as a manager for an electrical supplies company before being ordained.

Since then, he has served in the Oxford, London and Guildford Dioceses before working in Germany where he was chaplain of the Anglican Chaplaincy of St Boniface, Bonn and All Saints, Cologne.

He is married to Rebecca, who teaches foreign languages, and has two children, Zachary, aged 17, and Hannah, aged 11.

He said: "It was time to come home and I chose Stourbridge because of the warmth and friendliness shown by the people. It just flicked a switch with me.

"I'm hoping to make an impact in Stourbridge by meeting and working together with the council and retailers for everyone's benefit."

St Thomas's is part of a group of churches including St Mary's at Oldswinford and St Michael's in Wollaston which has been operating with a team of priests since Rev Curtis retired.

Now Rev Sillis wants to see the resources at St Thomas's more widely used.

There has already been an application made for renovation work and the installation of toilets.

And Rev Sillis added: "I would like to see St Thomas's operate as a community resource and become open for more spiritual use during the week. We don't make enough of our facilities at the moment."