A Letter from your incumbent

News from Rev Carol

As many of you will be aware, last month we said farewell to Revd Charles and Felicity who have taken off for pastures new as they step out on the next stage of their pilgrimage together following Charles’ retirement. Although I was away on leave at the time, Charles and I were in regular contact and I know from him, and from many of you, that their final day in the benefice was a very good and happy ending to their time in Bere Regis and Affpuddle. As you will also be aware, although I have been very much in the background in Bere Regis and Affpuddle up to now, the parishes resolved, together with Wool and East Stoke, that when Charles retired we should become a multi-parish benefice of 3 parishes with me as the first incumbent of the new benefice and a new part-time colleague to join us in due course. A final public consultation has recently taken place about this and the good news is that this all went through without a hitch. I’m am therefore grateful to have this opportunity to introduce myself properly and to tell you a little about the formation of the new benefice and some of our hopes and dreams for the future as we set out on the adventure together.

I am Carol Langford. I am married to Mark and together we have two sons and two daughters in law; Daniel and Nicola who live and work in London and Tom and Lisa who live and work in Poole. We have no grandchildren as yet but we are delighted that Tom and Lisa are expecting their first child in June and look forward to the birth with great anticipation. Mark works for Marston’s Brewery. They’re based in Wolverhampton, Ringwood Brewery is their local brewery.  Mark has a lovely job because he has to teach people how to produce the perfect pint and ensure that the beer his pubs serve is of a high standard which means that tasting is all part of it! Prior to ordination I was a teacher of RE 11-18yrs. At the time of selection for ordination training it was intended that I would remain in teaching and become an associate priest in my home parish. However, God had other plans and as I went along I felt more and more called to parish ministry, a call that was affirmed by the church. I was ordained in Salisbury Cathedral as a deacon in September 2006 and priested in June the following year. We had to leave our home parish and I served my curacy at St Peter’s Church in Parkstone. Not long into my curacy the neighbouring parish of Lilliput went into vacancy so I was seconded to help with cover and to lead the parish forward into the next phase of life. Although the move was envisaged to be a short term thing, in the event I served in Lilliput for 8½ years, as a curate, priest-in-charge and vicar. We moved to Wool and East Stoke when I became the Vicar on Shrove Tuesday 2017. I would describe myself as ‘middle of the road Anglican.’ The Eucharist is very important to me and I love choral singing and traditional liturgy such as BCP Evensong. At the same time I am very aware that this doesn’t appeal to everyone. In the modern day, where so many of the population are non-churched,  I firmly believe one size won’t fit all and that the Church must also be willing to reach out in new and perhaps unfamiliar ways in order to communicate the gospel accessibly. The old doesn’t have to disappear but the new definitely has a place at the table.

In order that everyone was clear about where I am coming from, I led a joint PCC Meeting of the 3 PCCs in January at Bere Regis School to explain and I gave everyone the opportunity to object/withdraw before the final deadline a week later. I’m pleased to report that no-one did (!) and that the new benefice, the Benefice of West Purbeck, lawfully comes into being on 1st March. The Bishop of Sherborne, Rt Revd Karen Gorham, will officiate at a Service to inaugurate the new benefice at 7pm, Wednesday 13th of March in The Church of the Holy Rood, Wool followed by refreshments in Wool School.  At that Service I will be licensed as the Vicar of the Benefice, the Ministry Team, lay and ordained, will be licensed to minister across the benefice. We are delighted that Revd Jenny Alidina will also join us in the team, to be licensed as an associate priest. Everyone is very welcome to come to that Service, in which all of the churches will jointly take part, and we very much hope that you will do so.

For a little while now the Churchwardens of Bere Regis and Affpuddle have been busy working on the Profile for the appointment of our new colleague. I am very grateful to them for their hard work and dedication as this should mean that we will be able to go to advert fairly soon after the new benefice is inaugurated. At the current time I am working with the profile, adding in things that are relevant to the new, wider, benefice so that before too long we should be ready to move forward. In due course, a new part-time colleague will be appointed to join the Benefice Team. He or she will be appointed on a 0.5 stipend basis, working Sunday + 3 days per week. They will be appointed as an associate priest in the team (most people will simply think of him or her as ‘the vicar’ although strictly speaking this is me) with the aim that they will minister across the whole team, particularly to work collaboratively on missional projects, but with a pastoral focus on Bere Regis and Affpuddle.

At the moment I, together with colleagues from Wool and the wider deanery, are covering most of the Services at St John the Baptist and St Laurence churches. When our new colleague joins us I anticipate that we will continue to work across the benefice, primarily based in our own areas but probably leading worship in the other churches at least once each month. There will be some joint benefice services, as indeed there have already been in Bere Regis and Affpuddle on 5th Sundays, and things such as marriage and baptism preparation, Lent and Advent courses will also be able to be done collaboratively. We will aim to grow Lay Worship Leaders, Pastors and Preachers to share in leadership and in Wool we have recently taken a step of faith and rented an office for church use in the village D’Urberville Centre. We hope that this will become a hub for Benefice administration in the future.

One key way that we will attempt to discern God’s mission and how we may join in with this in order to engage with those at present beyond the church or even on the fringes of church life, is that we are to participate in a new diocesan project and become a ‘Thrive Learning Community.’ A group of people, up to 8, from across the benefice will meet in Blandford with other benefices for 4x2 non-residential days over a period of two years. Their job will be to consider ways that the church may grow and develop in order to reach out and build God’s Kingdom in this place.

All in all it is a very exciting time and we look forward to the future with great hope. There are always things we can do to help and get involved with. If any of what I’ve mentioned above appeals to you, admin, the Thrive Course, marriage or baptism preparation courses, leading worship, pastoral care, preaching please don’t be shy but be in touch; God has roles for us all. Most of all, I ask you to commit the benefice and this time in our history to prayer. Please pray for the Church Wardens, for me and for the Ministry Team and for the appointment of our new colleague.

God has great plans for us, he will surely do with us more than we can every hope or imagine.

With every blessing

Rev Carol