May 2024

What benefit is a Benefice?

A surprisingly large proportion of those coming to see me about a funeral, baptism or wedding are not aware we are seven parishes with one vicar – a benefice.

In feudal times every benefice came with an endowment attached. Not so these days. Together we share the cost of a vicar’s ministry through Gloucester Diocese ‘Parish Share’. The sharing of costs is much like two small rural primary schools sharing the cost a headteacher. Rural multi-academy trusts, such as our own Primary Quest, know the advantages of shared leadership. Teachers from across a group of schools are well supported in the challenging role they perform by multiple sets of colleagues from their neighbouring PQ multi-academy trust schools.

Back in January the churchwardens from our benefice went on a ‘rural multi-parish benefice day’. We reviewed how successful multi-parish benefice had developed, for much energy and vision is generated by sharing ministry. And we reflected on how we have locally created ‘BIG church’, weekly multi-generational church at Ashleworth Church. It is a lovely vibrant community. Parishioners from many parishes discovering what is possible when we unite across parish boundaries.

We are wondering if we can take this further. Churchwardens (who now have their own local churchwardens app) recently met at Benefice Council. They are now planning further united services. To keep things simple, starting in September, we shall have a united service on the first Sunday of each month. This is a change. Our former pattern was a benefice service on the 5th Sunday, held four times a year. Benefice Council feels a first Sunday united service is easy to remember. With the exception of Hasfield Church, which has six festival services a year, in the future, the six other churches in the benefice will host twice a year a united service on the first Sunday of each month, starting this September 1st.

And next year we plan to run five shared Lent lunches, a January benefice Jumble sale raising money for the Parish Share, and a May benefice Arts and Music festival.

Nationally every diocese is rethinking how to meet the cost of ministry. We are learning, as I write to you, how in the Gloucester Diocese the parish share system is to change. In future we are expecting each benefice to pay the full cost of a vicar’s ministry. I shall write more about this soon…

At this point St Ignatius Loyola’s prayer comes to mind. I shall use ‘us’ instead of ‘me’. Thank you for your combined effort on behalf of our living Lord.

 

Dearest Lord, teach us to be generous;

Teach us to serve the as thou deserves;

To give and not to count the cost,

To fight and not to heed the wounds,

To toil and not to seek for rest,

To labour and not to seek reward,

Save that of knowing we do thy will. Amen.

 

June Baptism

12.30pm Sunday 16th at Hasfield Church, Lara Shail, her parents are Lucy and Robert

We offer our prayers and congratulations.

 

June/July Weddings

12.30pm Saturday 22nd June at Staunton Church, Ryan Lanfear and Emily Warner

2pm Saturday 29th June at Ashleworth Church, Silas Winterbottom and Hazel Finch

1.30pm Saturday 6th July at Maisemore Church, Fergus Cannon and Jesica Hain

Many congratulations to our couples on their wedding day.

 

United Service (see vicar’s bit)

11am Sunday 30th June Hasfield Church, Benefice Communion… our final 5th Sunday service

 

And finally two new churchwardens…

Marnie Mitchell and Betty Cole have given to Maisemore Church many years of service. Quite an act to follow. We are grateful to Greg Chamberlayne and Jill Beddoe for agree to be the new churchwardens.

 

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