Helene sitting

From the Vicarage in November

Here we are with darker days and longer nights and in the church calendar it is the season for Remembering.

Thursday 2 November at 6pm we have our annual All Souls Service at St Michael’s Milverton where we remember our loved ones who have died. A gentle, quiet service with a prayer tree for our loved ones names, which remains in church for the whole of November and an opportunity to light a candle and share in our losses. Armistice Day is at 11am on 11th November at Milverton War Memorial where a silence will be held and wreathes will be laid. On Remembrance Sunday there are services throughout the benefice.

In church life this year has shown signs of great change, not just in one parish, one benefice, one deanery or one diocese but throughout the Church of England. There have been dramatic cut-backs to clergy numbers, which means that those of us left face major changes in our roles.

This benefice will grow from 4 parishes to 6 next Spring with the addition of Langford Budville and Runnington. Clergy job descriptions are changing from the traditional parish priest model to an oversight ministry supervising and training people to take on some of the traditional “vicar’s jobs”. This will not be easy in our rural parishes where we have hung on to our traditional ways for as long as we could.

Much of this is finance driven. There are some misconceptions about the Church of England and wealth that I feel I should address. The Church Commissioners have money but they choose to spend it on “new” church communities rather than the old parish system. Our local churches are completely funded by ourselves, the church goers and their local village communities are solely responsible for keeping the church work and the buildings going.

Another misconception is that we “give” the diocese lots of money. We pay a parish share to the diocese to pay for a priest, training and for their support. If parishes are unable to pay, they will again see a decrease in priestly ministry.

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