The small Rural Parish of Queenhill with Holdfast in S Worcestershire has been in existence for centuries, and services at St Nicholas – a Norman re-construction – take place there on a regular basis.
In two years time, we will lose our Vicar. He will not be replaced, though discussions are taking place about merging our Parish with another. If this does happen, the number of Churches within the Group will be around 10 which means that St Nicholas will be serviced by a stipendiary Priest on an ad hoc basis, if at all.
Whereas the Diocese is committed to keeping our small Church open, the notion that Laymen will be able to take up the slack from Stipendiary Priests is totally unrealistic so St Nicholas will wither after 1000 years as a place of worship, unless something is done about it.
Most decent organisations value the expertise of their trained employees. Not so, the Diocese of Worcester which seems to think that only by building a more streamlined bureaucracy and by axing Stipendiary Clergy will it generate greater efficiencies…and savings.
But the C of E is not a business: it is a complex Charity, aspects of which could run on commercial lines. It would benefit from enlightened leadership and a radical overhaul of its structures.
The present course of action in the Worcester Diocese is unlikely to ensure the survival of its Rural Parishes which are the bedrock of the many Communities that between them constitute the C of E.