Published by Communications Administrator on Wed, 21 Feb 2018 13:39

My! Doesn’t time fly. It is coming up to two years since my licencing in April 2016 and just over a year since we became the United Benefice of Newton Abbot and a Team Ministry. Much has been achieved in that time.

 We have appointed our two Team Vicars, become a training parish and had a new stipendiary curate and ordinand join us. Our five Readers have become members of the Team and had their licences extended to cover the whole benefice; they made an invaluable contribution to parish life during the vacancy and continue to be an integral part of our ongoing mission strategy.

We also have four retired priests and a retired deacon who see the benefice as their spiritual home. They have permission from the bishop to officiate at services as and when the need arises. Their wealth of experience and willingness to continue to exercise their calling further enriches an already diverse team. Compared to the situation a year ago, “my cup runneth over.”

Eight Church Wardens, two deputy wardens, three PCC secretaries and two treasurers have been appointed by the three PCC’s to fulfil the various legal and practical responsibilities required of us as the Established Church. Not forgetting the many parishioners who in various ways, both seen and unseen, support the life of this worshipping community.

The office staff at St Paul’s have been brilliant in the way that they have adapted to the new reality of a larger benefice with its new challenges and the associated stresses and strains. Thank you so much Kath, Susanne and Nikki for the sterling work that you do on our behalf and, more particularly, the grace and forbearance that you have shown during this time of transition. God has gifted us with a great team a great team and a firm foundation on which to build going forward.

One of the continued areas of need is that of a Treasurer for the Newton Abbot Parish.  The Church Wardens continue to cover the role in addition to their other duties but this cannot continue indefinitely. Please pray that God will call someone to serve in this vital post and perhaps be prepared to be the answer to your own prayer!

There have also been a number of physical changes to various churches. The most striking of these has been the transformation of St Luke’s church in Milber. What a difference! You would not believe that it was the same building. Congratulations to Fr Nick and the congregation for seeing through what has been a herculean task of restoring the building.  This has been done in a sympathetic way that both speaks to the original vision of its founders and the aspirations of its current members to see God glorified in this place.

New PA systems have been put into both St Paul’s and St Mary’s and, whilst there remain some teething problems to be ironed out and a steep learning curve for those using the equipment, we trust that the sound quality of our services will be markedly improved.

Bollards have been installed in the carpark at St Paul’s, to alleviate the problem of unauthorised parking and the consequential irate paying customers whose spaces have been routinely taken by a variety of interlopers. Whilst this has caused Kath some sleepless nights with nightmares about bollards not working or the possibility of overlooking something important about their operation, the hope is that it all settles down very soon and peace and tranquillity will be restored to the office!

I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to the trustees of the Wolborough Ecclesiastical Charity who have made a significant contribution to these capital projects and have promised additional support for additional works, including the refurbishment of the organ at St Mary’s Wolborough.

Looking forward, the PCC of Newton Abbot is planning for the reordering of the rear of All Saints with an upgrading of the toilets, a new kitchen facility at the rear of the church and an enlarged reception area to welcome guests.

St Paul’s is considering a reordering of the choir and priests vestry to make space for an office and lounge area so that the ministry team has a base and can meet parishioners and visitors who wish to talk in private. We envisage members of the ministry team, both lay and ordained, being available on weekday mornings on a rotating basis.

We are also considering creating a church reception in what is now the storeroom at the rear of the church hall with a window into a newly created and extended entrance area. A window would be cut into the current outside wall to enable people to access the office, whilst continuing to restrict access to the church and church hall itself. It is hoped that this could be manned by volunteers, which would enable the office to continue their work undisturbed by visitors. New storage would need to be created at the rear of the hall; something previously envisaged but not carried out due to lack of funds.

At a pastoral level, we are aware that the potential lack of continuity of oversight due to priests having to cover more than one church has proved somewhat difficult. We have looked at the rotas and are hoping to ensure that a more consistent presence is assured by one of the team being assigned to a particular church and being present at three out of four of the Sunday services. Gareth will cover Highweek, Fr Nick as the vicar of Milber will cover St Luke’s and I will cover St Mary’s and St Paul’s.

Ogwell is something of an anomaly, with two out of four of its services being lay led at the moment. We are reviewing service patterns for St Bart’s as a PCC and will come back with our thoughts in due course. Whilst Joe is resident in the parish, he is of course a curate to the whole benefice. Him living in the village offers some local pastoral cover, but he has pressing training needs of his own and  should not be considered as the local Vicar. Having said that, he will be taking some of the non-Eucharistic services and is exploring, with the wider team, new and creative ways of reaching young families in the village.

I am also exploring with Reader’s the possibility of them considering themselves as more than simply individuals licensed to lead services and preach. That they, and where appropriate their partners, take on the role of lay pastors to add another layer of spiritual support to our congregations. To this end, the clergy and readers will be having two away-days to both revisit our Mission Action Plan with an external consultant and to spend time together in prayer and around God’s word.

The Task and Finish Groups that form part of the MAP are being formed and you have been invited to pray and consider what ministry God might be calling you to and to offer yourselves to the group that most strongly reflects the gifts and abilities that God has given to you for the common good. Those heading up the various groups are already receiving offers of assistance and I would encourage you, if you have not already done so, to make contact with the relevant team leader. They will respond in due course and invite you to an initial group meeting.

Thank you again for your prayers and support and the clergy team looks forward to working alongside you as we seek to serve the purposes of God in our own town and villages by walking in step with His Spirit and establishing His kingdom rule “On earth as it is in heaven.”

 

Every blessing,

 

Patrick

Categories Clergy Updates