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Diary of a week in the rural Church of England

20 May 2009


From Mr Christopher Daws

Sir, — It has been a poor week for parish ministry.

On Monday, my wife attended her first PCC. The vicar has a benefice of six parishes, and is run off his feet. After a further stage of reorganisa­tion, the previous vicar is now fully engaged elsewhere, and cannot help with services. There are no retired clergy or NSMs. There is fear that our village will have some Sundays with no services.

When choosing where to live, we decided against a nearby village that was down to one service a month, and were drawn here by the active church with regular services. Already these are threatened. We love go to wonderful Malmesbury Abbey, but our home church is here where we live. Emotion runs high at the PCC.

Then on to Cornwall to my parents-in-law for the holiday weekend. We are drawn there by a recital in church, in the tradition of the previous vicar’s musical leadership. He has moved on, and the parish has been promised a half-time vicar in his place. There is a fear that the lifeblood of the church will ebb away. How can a half-timer possibly replace a full-time vicar who was as busy as anyone overseeing two parishes and three churches?

The continuing reductions in clergy are draining our village parishes dry. Surely it can’t be a shortage of money — as the clergy go, so do the people, and so does the income they contribute. Or do we only look at expenditure to balance the books, and not realise the consequences of cuts for the income side?

A poor week indeed.

Littledene, Park Street
Charlton, Malmesbury
Wiltshire SN16 9DF

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