“Meanwhile, the 17 parishes struggle to reach an agreement on any benefice-wide issues. Just getting representation from 17 PCCs in one room at the same time is an achievement.An equitable division of our benefice’s parish share request around all the parishes is still not agreed upon after years of trying.”
“The story of our parish is echoed around the deanery. Last week, a visitor told me that none of the churches in Wigan were happy. I can believe this. Revolution is in the air.”
It is said that we tend to undervalue that with which we are most familiar but in our small parish (about 150 inhabitants) thanks to the foresight of the Diocese and especially the vision of one Archdeacon, we have learned afresh the importance of the traditional parish system which has, for centuries, given the church a foothold in every community.
“In Leicester Diocese, vicars are being plucked from their local community to go to serve in nebulous vicar banks, known as Minsters. The total vicar count is being reduced by 20%, with this number being compensated with additional ‘Operations Directors.”
“Early this year the future of the Parish was discussed. Church members were told of diocesan plans to extend the Parish boundaries to include Fillongley and Corley, thus adding an extra 4 churches. The diocesan provision to oversee the churches and provide pastoral support to the residents of the villages amounts to half an ordained Vicar.”
“They must visit and speak to the people in Wales, they must study the figures and look at the facts and avoid going down the same disastrous road if they do not wish to kill local community spirit and personal relationships, dry up donations and see church closures and sales which proclaim loud and clear their failure to keep the flame of Christianity alive.”
So, the ‘secrets of our success?’ In summary, a lot of good luck, excellent priests, a close relationship with our neighbouring parish, a priest living in the centre of that parish and overall the sense that we remain in charge of our own destiny rather than being absorbed and diluted within a much larger benefice.
In most cases, PCC amalgamations should be resisted – by politely saying ‘no thank you’ and staying firm, even under pressure to change. Reason: the PCC is the legal entity, and there are no better guardians of a particular church than the local people who attend it and live near it.
The parish consists of a village community set in a rural area together with a number of outlying hamlets. It is served by a parish Church in the village of Sandford (Grade I listed building), a smaller Church at Upton Hellions (now effectively used as a “festival Church”) and a Read more…
Action is needed now, not when they have the time, when they have shut all the parishes and think they are financially and politically viable. By then it will be ”TBL.” What God plans to do in the event that those whom he has called have thrown all their toys out of the pram and the world is achieving its own destruction – aheu!