PARISH of WIGMORE ABBEY
Interregnum Notes Page 2
Report of the Open PCC meeting WIGMORE ABBEY PCC Note of the open meeting held at St. Barnabas, Brampton Bryan at 7.30pm on 27 September 2021. Present: Rev. Mike Catling (Rector), Ven Derek Chedzey (Archdeacon), Rev. Jane Davies (Rural Dean), David Askew, Serena Askew, Francesca Bingham, Dawn Blakeway, Dee Caulton-Ball, Paul Cooper-James, Hildegarde Cutler, Lydia Davies, Carole Dixon, Michael Dugdale, Alastair Gloag, Carole Gloag, Clive Gurney, Jennifer Gurney, Jan Jones, Hayden Lloyd, Yvonne Lloyd, Roy Major, David Morgan, Trixie Morgan, Andrew Page, Cynthia Preston- James, Jean Richards, Michael Saunders, Val Saunders, Jane Saxby, Phil Simkins, Viv Simkins, Gill Sumner, Michael Sumner, Roma Watkins, David Watson, Robert Wells, Kit Whiteman, Lizzie Womack ... Apologies were received from Susan Harley and Culain and Merry Morris. The Rector welcomed those present and opened the meeting with prayer. The Archdeacon stressed that while all vacancies were different the process for filling them was always a consultative one and he had not come with any concrete answers. Indeed, there was no vacancy until 1 January 2022 (the Rector later pointed out that his final service was on 2 January) and in the next two months it was important to say farewell to the Rector and think about the future including the structure of the parish. Wigmore Abbey was unique in having one PCC but nine churches. However, it was important to note that the power to close a church or parish rested entirely with the PCC. It was always a slow and involved process but, contrary to the impression given by recent press reporting, unless the PCC concurred it could not happen. The Bishop had asked every Deanery to come up with a “deployment plan” which might involve new ways of using clergy within a Deanery to support parishes (for example in one Deanery a nominated priest was taking charge of all baptisms, marriages and funerals). The Leominster Deanery would shortly have two vacancies to cover but the parish would not be left unsupported. It was open to the parish to consider whether it wished to look towards Ludlow (with which it had been linked in the past) and the Deanery would need to talk to neighbouring Deaneries which always happened. There would be another meeting in early spring to gather ideas by which time the Bishop’s view would also have been sought. The “suspension” of a parish allowing the appointment of a priest in charge was a common occurrence during a vacancy but nothing would happen without consultation. The Rural Dean said she was there on behalf of the Deanery to hear what concerns and anxieties the parish might have. They needed to put together a vision for the Deanery and then produce a Pastoral Plan to use the resources of the Deanery to support it. The shapes of Deaneries and benefices had to be discussed by all those involved and the Pastoral Plan would only emerge after consultation with all those involved. It was not something imposed from outside. It was, therefore, crucial that every parish should be represented on the pastoral Committee. At present there was no-one from Wigmore Abbey parish. After brief discussion it was agreed that Dee Caulton-Ball would, once again, represent the parish on the committee. The Rural Dean added that it was a chance to look forward with excitement and enthusiasm and think how the Deanery could support the parish during the interregnum. They were there to help. The Archdeacon reiterated that there was no question of the parish being abandoned. The Rural Dean, together with the churchwardens, covered the role of the incumbent. It might need flexibility (on the venue and nature of Sunday services for example) but the parish would be supported. It could take between nine months and two years to find a suitable incumbent (not everyone would be attracted to such a role) but one outcome of the pandemic and been an increase in enthusiasm for rural posts. Parishes in the diocese were now in a position to short list for posts for the first time anyone could remember. Questions and comments began with a written contribution (text attached) highlighting new uses for some of the buildings, the challenge posed by shrinking congregations (and therefore finances) and the popularity of open-air events. It also regretted the lack of cohesion between the churches within the parish and the weakness of links between the parish and the Deanery and the Diocese. The Archdeacon accepted that there had been a disconnect between diocesan staff and the parishes and efforts to overcome this had been held up by the pandemic. Rural Deans had reported that the Diocese had not supported local initiatives and this was challenging given that the Diocese was working with the smallest diocesan staff in the country. However, that had allowed the use of diocesan reserves to provide over £1,000,000 in financial support for parish clergy so avoiding redundancies. David Watson commented that although there was one PCC there were still nine AGMs. Some years ago he had suggested a single family service for the parish but this had not been taken up. There was a need to cooperate more. The Archdeacon agreed that cooperation between churches was increasingly necessary and was in evidence in several benefices and Deaneries. The only requirement for Wigmore Abbey, as a single parish was to have one (Holy Communion) service somewhere in the parish each Sunday. Other churches could do as they pleased in combination or otherwise. The parish still had a responsibility for the nine communities even if individual churches closed. As had been noted services outside churches attracted some who might be reluctant to venture inside. Others present pointed out that gathered services were also a feature in this parish. Michael Dugdale raised the financial pressures of having to maintain church buildings whether in use or not. The Archdeacon said that, unlike in Europe, there was no public funding for church buildings. One of the local MPs had raised the issue in Parliament and others might be persuaded to do so. Wider community use of buildings was often a way forward. The Bishop was determined not to reduce clergy numbers beyond those already planned. Some posts would not be filled when they were vacated through retirement or other moves (the Rector’s post was not one of them) but these savings would take some years to come through. This left the Diocese with had serious financial difficulties in the immediate future. Six diocesan posts had been cut and the Ludlow office closed but they had accepted that there would be a deficit budget for some years to come which would have to be covered by dwindling diocesan reserves. A parish priest currently cost some £63,000 a year (this was the total cost not the stipend) but it remained a question of when not if Wigmore Abbey would get a new Rector. Dawn Blakeway asked (on behalf of one of her community) whether with a small church and a congregation getting smaller and older it was ethical to keep fundraising and spending money to try and keep it going. The Archdeacon noted that when the County Council discovered during the pandemic that when they needed a network throughout the community the church could provide it. In some cases the Parish Giving Scheme could provide a lifeline as in many communities there were people prepared to support their church, so it was there for important family occasions and festivals such as Christmas or Remembrance Day, without wishing to attend any normal services. Becoming a festival church could be a step toward sustainability. Carole Gloag commented that if Wigmore became a festival church and was, therefore, without regular cleaning it would cost £100 per service to clean which would not be sustainable. The Archdeacon commended the installation of payment machines which could accept cashless donations and some of which could now be used even where Wi-Fi was unavailable. To meet their needs in the pandemic the emergency services had set up contracts with BT and EE to ensure that there was an adequate telephone signal everywhere in the county. Every church should, therefore, be able to tap into a 4G signal. Roy Major asked whether the views being sought were those of the PCC, of individual churches or of individual people and in what timescale they were required. The Archdeacon replied that all of these would be welcome. Formal consultation would begin in the new year. Before then it would be useful to work out what was wanted in a new priest. Alastair Gloag raised the possibility of a job-share and the diocesan reaction to it. The Archdeacon said that you could not advertise specifically for a job share but if a couple expressed an interest in such an arrangement it could certainly be explored. The Rural Dean agreed that while it could be complicated there was nothing formally against it and they would be happy to discuss the possibilities. The important thing was to draw up a parish profile that would attract suitable applicants. It needed to celebrate what was good about the parish and its people. The Archdeacon added that pictures of activities and happy people involved in them were more alluring than those of empty buildings. It was vital to establish priorities for what was wanted in a priest. The Rural Dean offered to have a meeting with the churchwardens to discuss the practicalities of how to proceed and it was agreed this would be helpful. Roma Watkins asked about encouraging young people to become more involved. The Archdeacon said that families and young children would only come if the church offered what they wanted and at present it did not. The world had changed and singing, even in schools, was now quite rare. Most would not be interested in our hymns. Research suggested that young people were happy to pray but did not regard churches as spiritual enough to support them. Another problem was timing. Most participatory sport for the young now happened on Sundays. Breakfast and tea-time services had worked well for some and an experiment with an after- school club on Fridays had been very successful in Devon. The Archdeacon concluded with reassurances that the parish was not on its own and would be fully supported by the Deanery and Diocese during the vacancy and in finding a new incumbent. The meeting closed at 9pm with the Grace.
Local navigation Page 1 2 3
Pages will be added as the process developes
PARISH of WIGMORE ABBEY
Interregnum Notes Page 2
Report of the Open PCC meeting WIGMORE ABBEY PCC Note of the open meeting held at St. Barnabas, Brampton Bryan at 7.30pm on 27 September 2021. Present: Rev. Mike Catling (Rector), Ven Derek Chedzey (Archdeacon), Rev. Jane Davies (Rural Dean), David Askew, Serena Askew, Francesca Bingham, Dawn Blakeway, Dee Caulton-Ball, Paul Cooper-James, Hildegarde Cutler, Lydia Davies, Carole Dixon, Michael Dugdale, Alastair Gloag, Carole Gloag, Clive Gurney, Jennifer Gurney, Jan Jones, Hayden Lloyd, Yvonne Lloyd, Roy Major, David Morgan, Trixie Morgan, Andrew Page, Cynthia Preston- James, Jean Richards, Michael Saunders, Val Saunders, Jane Saxby, Phil Simkins, Viv Simkins, Gill Sumner, Michael Sumner, Roma Watkins, David Watson, Robert Wells, Kit Whiteman, Lizzie Womack. Apologies were received from Susan Harley and Culain and Merry Morris. The Rector welcomed those present and opened the meeting with prayer. The Archdeacon stressed that while all vacancies were different the process for filling them was always a consultative one and he had not come with any concrete answers. Indeed, there was no vacancy until 1 January 2022 (the Rector later pointed out that his final service was on 2 January) and in the next two months it was important to say farewell to the Rector and think about the future including the structure of the parish. Wigmore Abbey was unique in having one PCC but nine churches. However, it was important to note that the power to close a church or parish rested entirely with the PCC. It was always a slow and involved process but, contrary to the impression given by recent press reporting, unless the PCC concurred it could not happen. The Bishop had asked every Deanery to come up with a “deployment plan” which might involve new ways of using clergy within a Deanery to support parishes (for example in one Deanery a nominated priest was taking charge of all baptisms, marriages and funerals). The Leominster Deanery would shortly have two vacancies to cover but the parish would not be left unsupported. It was open to the parish to consider whether it wished to look towards Ludlow (with which it had been linked in the past) and the Deanery would need to talk to neighbouring Deaneries which always happened. There would be another meeting in early spring to gather ideas by which time the Bishop’s view would also have been sought. The “suspension” of a parish allowing the appointment of a priest in charge was a common occurrence during a vacancy but nothing would happen without consultation. The Rural Dean said she was there on behalf of the Deanery to hear what concerns and anxieties the parish might have. They needed to put together a vision for the Deanery and then produce a Pastoral Plan to use the resources of the Deanery to support it. The shapes of Deaneries and benefices had to be discussed by all those involved and the Pastoral Plan would only emerge after consultation with all those involved. It was not something imposed from outside. It was, therefore, crucial that every parish should be represented on the pastoral Committee. At present there was no-one from Wigmore Abbey parish. After brief discussion it was agreed that Dee Caulton-Ball would, once again, represent the parish on the committee. The Rural Dean added that it was a chance to look forward with excitement and enthusiasm and think how the Deanery could support the parish during the interregnum. They were there to help. The Archdeacon reiterated that there was no question of the parish being abandoned. The Rural Dean, together with the churchwardens, covered the role of the incumbent. It might need flexibility (on the venue and nature of Sunday services for example) but the parish would be supported. It could take between nine months and two years to find a suitable incumbent (not everyone would be attracted to such a role) but one outcome of the pandemic and been an increase in enthusiasm for rural posts. Parishes in the diocese were now in a position to short list for posts for the first time anyone could remember. Questions and comments began with a written contribution (text attached) highlighting new uses for some of the buildings, the challenge posed by shrinking congregations (and therefore finances) and the popularity of open-air events. It also regretted the lack of cohesion between the churches within the parish and the weakness of links between the parish and the Deanery and the Diocese. The Archdeacon accepted that there had been a disconnect between diocesan staff and the parishes and efforts to overcome this had been held up by the pandemic. Rural Deans had reported that the Diocese had not supported local initiatives and this was challenging given that the Diocese was working with the smallest diocesan staff in the country. However, that had allowed the use of diocesan reserves to provide over £1,000,000 in financial support for parish clergy so avoiding redundancies. David Watson commented that although there was one PCC there were still nine AGMs. Some years ago he had suggested a single family service for the parish but this had not been taken up. There was a need to cooperate more. The Archdeacon agreed that cooperation between churches was increasingly necessary and was in evidence in several benefices and Deaneries. The only requirement for Wigmore Abbey, as a single parish was to have one (Holy Communion) service somewhere in the parish each Sunday. Other churches could do as they pleased in combination or otherwise. The parish still had a responsibility for the nine communities even if individual churches closed. As had been noted services outside churches attracted some who might be reluctant to venture inside. Others present pointed out that gathered services were also a feature in this parish. Michael Dugdale raised the financial pressures of having to maintain church buildings whether in use or not. The Archdeacon said that, unlike in Europe, there was no public funding for church buildings. One of the local MPs had raised the issue in Parliament and others might be persuaded to do so. Wider community use of buildings was often a way forward. The Bishop was determined not to reduce clergy numbers beyond those already planned. Some posts would not be filled when they were vacated through retirement or other moves (the Rector’s post was not one of them) but these savings would take some years to come through. This left the Diocese with had serious financial difficulties in the immediate future. Six diocesan posts had been cut and the Ludlow office closed but they had accepted that there would be a deficit budget for some years to come which would have to be covered by dwindling diocesan reserves. A parish priest currently cost some £63,000 a year (this was the total cost not the stipend) but it remained a question of when not if Wigmore Abbey would get a new Rector. Dawn Blakeway asked (on behalf of one of her community) whether with a small church and a congregation getting smaller and older it was ethical to keep fundraising and spending money to try and keep it going. The Archdeacon noted that when the County Council discovered during the pandemic that when they needed a network throughout the community the church could provide it. In some cases the Parish Giving Scheme could provide a lifeline as in many communities there were people prepared to support their church, so it was there for important family occasions and festivals such as Christmas or Remembrance Day, without wishing to attend any normal services. Becoming a festival church could be a step toward sustainability. Carole Gloag commented that if Wigmore became a festival church and was, therefore, without regular cleaning it would cost £100 per service to clean which would not be sustainable. The Archdeacon commended the installation of payment machines which could accept cashless donations and some of which could now be used even where Wi-Fi was unavailable. To meet their needs in the pandemic the emergency services had set up contracts with BT and EE to ensure that there was an adequate telephone signal everywhere in the county. Every church should, therefore, be able to tap into a 4G signal. Roy Major asked whether the views being sought were those of the PCC, of individual churches or of individual people and in what timescale they were required. The Archdeacon replied that all of these would be welcome. Formal consultation would begin in the new year. Before then it would be useful to work out what was wanted in a new priest. Alastair Gloag raised the possibility of a job-share and the diocesan reaction to it. The Archdeacon said that you could not advertise specifically for a job share but if a couple expressed an interest in such an arrangement it could certainly be explored. The Rural Dean agreed that while it could be complicated there was nothing formally against it and they would be happy to discuss the possibilities. The important thing was to draw up a parish profile that would attract suitable applicants. It needed to celebrate what was good about the parish and its people. The Archdeacon added that pictures of activities and happy people involved in them were more alluring than those of empty buildings. It was vital to establish priorities for what was wanted in a priest. The Rural Dean offered to have a meeting with the churchwardens to discuss the practicalities of how to proceed and it was agreed this would be helpful. Roma Watkins asked about encouraging young people to become more involved. The Archdeacon said that families and young children would only come if the church offered what they wanted and at present it did not. The world had changed and singing, even in schools, was now quite rare. Most would not be interested in our hymns. Research suggested that young people were happy to pray but did not regard churches as spiritual enough to support them. Another problem was timing. Most participatory sport for the young now happened on Sundays. Breakfast and tea-time services had worked well for some and an experiment with an after-school club on Fridays had been very successful in Devon. The Archdeacon concluded with reassurances that the parish was not on its own and would be fully supported by the Deanery and Diocese during the vacancy and in finding a new incumbent. The meeting closed at 9pm with the Grace.
Pages will be added as the process developes
Local navigation Page 1 2 3