Postlebury has 5 churches and a fantastic vicar, Anthony Dickson. All 5 churches have enthusiastic and effective churchwardens, engaging with new people moving in to the villages, offering both BCP and modern language services, both Matins and Holy Communion so that congregations average between 18 and 25.
Fundraising is regular and effective. All churchwardens care deeply about their churches… Nunney has recently replaced the awful 1950s steel roof with a beautiful re-creation of the original barrel-vaulted roof, plus added a new bell. Marston has had its grade 1 windows restored and rebuilt its graveyard wall. Wanstrow is restoring its medieval doors. Whitham needs no work to St Hugh’s magnificent 12C church, built for the lay community just outside the original monastery. Cloford is undergoing the restoration of the magnificent 1676 Horner monument, is re-decorating the nave, and bringing the superb 1840s Bates pipe organ in from a nearby church which is “re-ordering”.
We are a thriving parish.. in no way in need of closing churches and having lay led meetings instead, in people’s sitting rooms.
And yet, the Deanery of Frome has just declared that as 2 of its current priests are retiring (Mells and Beckington, 5 plus churches each), we will go from 7 to 6 stipendary priests… no consultation… no discussion… just a done deal. Either the historic parish of Mells or that of Beckington will henceforth have no priest. We are of course engaging with this decision.
As our vicar, Anthony is 62, he will be retiring in the next few years. We in Postlebury are determined to have him replaced. The PR from the Bishop of Taunton is that post Covid, congregations are down, collections are down, as are wedding fees etc… thus despite the the diocese of Bath and Wells ordaining record numbers of people, we should expect a 25% cut in the number of our priests over the next 5 years… ignoring the fact that parishes such as ours who have paid full parish share over the last few difficult years are in good financial shape.
We need STP’s help here… the centralising of decision making by the COE, the defeatist attitude as to finances, the solution to cut priest numbers rather than to look at how successful parishes.. even rural ones like ours, create that success, threatens the whole church structure and must be fought.. and we are more than happy to do so.
Do you have a story from your Parish you would like to share? You can submit one via our form here.
Rev Dr Simon Thorn · 26 August 2022 at 11:39 am
Diocesan power holders want to strangle rural parishes to death… fewer stipendiary priests means not only savings on stipends, National Insurance etc but also the opportunity to sell the parsonage freehold. It’s happening everywhere.
L Buckland · 27 August 2022 at 5:14 pm
At what point can a group of inspiring parishes like this group, actually make themselves independent ?
If you are raising enough money for these works, and raising the Parish Share AS WELL, then you should be able to manage financially – just wondering why this diocesan ‘management’ is allowed to do this