The Revd Canon Christopher Blair-Fish served seventeen years at St Mark's before moving to Chipstead in February 1973 as a final challenge before his retirement. The Revd Derek Watson (lately Dean of Salisbury) was appointed as his replacement on 4 October 1973, with a view to reuniting the two parishes of St Mark's and St Andrew's. This decision was part of a national trend caused by the steadily decreasing supply of candidates for the priesthood. The rampant inflation of this time also made the cost of maintaining the two parishes much more difficult. The financial resources of the Church of England lost value in real terms, and local churches had to make more effort to fund themselves. At St Andrew's, the Revd Herbert Ockwell had left in 1962, and was replaced by the Revd Arthur Holder. When he left for Australia in December 1974, St Andrew's was cared for by a succession of curates, amongst them John Taylor and David Tonkinson. David became Akela to the Cub Pack, and Chaplain to the whole Scout District of Surbiton. The Scout Group was later consolidated as a Sea Scout Group, taking the additional name 'Sealion' to reflect the dedication of both churches.
Derek Watson became the first Vicar of the reunited benefice on 1 March 1977. It had been decided that St Mark's and St Andrew's would reunite into a single parish, but retaining two church buildings, two Church Halls, and two clergy. St Andrew's Vicarage at 54 Maple Road had been sold, and was replaced by number 1 The Mall. A house had also been bought for the curate, at 33 Cheyne Hill. The two churches retained their traditional characters and styles of worship, while their congregations gradually reunited into one parish community. The joint Parish magazine was renamed "Spire and Tower", to reflect the landmarks of the two churches. The choirs flourished in these years, with many children singing, and an annual Nativity Play was staged, with elaborate props and costumes.
In 1978, Derek Watson left to become Canon Treasurer/Director of Ordinands of Southwark Diocese. He was succeeded by the Reverend David Gerrard, a popular figure both in the parish and the local community. He became member of the local Education Committee, and continued in that role after leaving the parish. Curates during this period included David Head, Brian Lee, and Theo Hull. The Parish was also fortunate to have the services of non-stipendiary priests, including Nigel Kirkup, Barry Nichols, and Thom Braun. As a teenager, Barry Nichols had stood in the ruins of St Mark's as Crucifer when the Bishop came to bless the building site.
David Gerrard became Archdeacon of Wandsworth in February 1989, eventually retiring in November 2004. His successor, the Revd David Jackson arrived from Battersea. His sermons and magazine editorials were enlivened by his wit and scholarship, and the congregation improved its grasp of Greek theological terms. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated so badly that he took early retirement and became Chaplain to the Convent in Ham. During this difficult time, he was supported and assisted by his curates, Gary Swinton at St Mark's and Geoffrey Owen at St Andrew's, and a number of lay readers, including Harry Cornell, Morwenna Gough, Bert Hill, Rickie Hoole, John Kelly and Mike Moore.
The Revd John Tidy who became Vicar on 2 July 1997 had a more exotic background: after many years in parishes in Northern England, he had become Dean of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem in 1992. He broadened the horizons of the parish by his continuing relationship with the Palestinian community, and his involvement with the YMCA. As Chair of the Surbiton YMCA he created a working relationship with the parish which has led to many useful initiatives. St Andrew's Hall hosts a youth club, and the YMCA provides a venue for expanding the scope of our traditional Christmas lunch. He led a parish pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine, and added ABCD (Action around Bethlehem Children with Disabilities), of which he was a trustee, to the list of parish charities of the month. The Revd Val Cory, Associate Vicar, became the first woman priest to serve the Parish in 1998. In 2001 the parish joyfully welcomed the ordination of Gabrielle Ayerst, a non-stipendiary priest who worked for a mental health charity. John Tidy returned to Jerusalem as Dean of St George's in autumn 2005.
Since the turn of the millennium, the parish has been busy in a project of Realising the Vision. This vision, many years in the planning, seeks to re-define our mission, to restore and refurbish our buildings, and above all to increase our service to God and to the community. With the hard work of many in the parish, and the help and support of our architects Initiatives in Design, our MP, local councillors and other community groups, it is now taking shape.
The history of the Parish's recent years is still being written. If you can help by providing dates, facts, memories or photographs please contact the Parish Office