A Letter from your incumbent

 

Team Work
 
Last month you will have read an article by Rev Sandra who is to join us in the team as Associate Priest after her licensing in St John the Baptist Church on 2nd October. Behind the scenes, members of the three churches have been very busy making arrangements for the Licensing Service and decorating and cleaning the vicarage ready to welcome Sandra and Graham. Now, finally, we’re ready for them to arrive.  Do come to the Licensing Service on 2nd October and stay for refreshments in the Scout Hut afterwards if you can. 
 
At this point I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and the parishes and worked so hard in so many ways during this time.  In particular I wish to thank all of the Church Wardens, Deputy Wardens and my ministerial colleagues in the team for their support and willingness to undertake additional duties, often at short notice, cheerfully and without complaint. Without all of their help it would not have been possible to sustain ministry, with Services in every church each Sunday, as well as baptisms, funerals, school assemblies, PCC meetings and all the other things of a busy benefice, in the way that we have managed to do these past months.
 
As you know, we’ll be a benefice team and with this we need to establish a workable pattern for everyone with a good and healthy work-life balance; one of the reasons for our becoming a benefice is exactly for this reason.  Revd Sandra’s usual working days will be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday and we ask everyone to respect this please. If the benefice does go on to be extended, the priest in the Lulworths will work on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. This means that there will always be a priest on duty in the benefice, usually two, as I work six days (my day off is Tuesday) and Rev Jenny and Rev Judy will also provide cover as will our other colleagues. Those who work part-time will be able to do so and we can all properly take our day(s) off with everyone knowing when we are (and are not) on duty and available. 
 
As you’ll understand, when a new team is formed things take time to settle and this will be the case with us for the next few months.  Thank you to everyone for bearing with us in the past few months. In two of the churches, Wool and Bere Regis the number of Sunday Services has been reduced (Wool x 3, Bere Regis x 1) and in all three churches some of the times of Services has changed to enable clergy and worship leaders to cover the services and travel from one church to another. With this in mind it has been really lovely to see people moving around the churches when there isn’t a Service they can attend in their own church- this friendship and fellowship is to be very much encouraged. However, I also know that it may come as a disappointment to some that we’re not going to immediately return to the Service pattern that existed before Revd Charles retired. There are a few reasons for this which I explain briefly here:
After Revd Bob Naylor sadly died, Rev Charles hardly reduced his workload at all (only by 1 x 8am Service) despite the fact that both he and Revd Bob had worked together to cover Services and that Revd Charles was only supposed to work for Sunday +2 days. Such a pattern is unsustainable. 
In order to ensure that all of the Services are able to be covered, timing is crucial. It is not possible, for example, for a minister to get from Affpuddle to Wool in time if Services are only an hour or even an hour and a quarter apart. In the main we would wish to model good practice, never rushing from place to place for worship, but having time for prayer and pastoral conversations too.
We need to give Rev Sandra time to settle in and for all of to work together to determine the best times, and forms, of the Services we can offer. This can only be done when we’re all in place.
The Thrive Questionnaires from all 3 churches have produced lots of really good feedback with suggestions for the introduction of new Services, stopping some others, and changing times and locations as well as, in a very few cases, keeping things just as they are. We need time to reflect on all this- the provisional feedback will be given on 29th September at the 10am Benefice Service at Wool.
 
I have said before that our God is a God of surprises. Certainly I have been surprised at what He has brought my way in the past couple of years; I expect you have been surprised at some things too. To be fair, we don’t all always relish surprises or change but if we can see them as God-given opportunities for growth it helps.  Personally, I find it life giving and exciting to see that God is always at work and on the move and I eagerly look forward to seeing what he has in store for us in the months to come.
 
With every blessing,
Rev Carol