Priest in Charge: Parish of West Sheppey

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West Sheppey

Priest in Charge: Parish of West Sheppey

We are looking for a priest to work with three Traditional-Central churches on the island of Sheppey

We are looking for a priest to work with three Traditional-Central churches on the island of Sheppey, off the North Kent Coast, to build on the 1400 years of service to the gospel of Jesus, to help us bring the light of Christ to our island, and enable us to be ready to serve the needs of the parish into the future.

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, as you go, make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I commanded you. And look, I am with you every day, right up to the end.Matt 28.18f

Making discipleshas two aspects: making new disciples and deepening the discipleship of those who are already with us.

We expect all disciples of Jesus to share the gospel of the kingdom by their lives and words.This leads to an invitation to become part of the body of Christ on earth, and will have implications for church attendance.

·we will look for ways to build relationships with the communities on the island that enable us to share the gospel.The Ignite programme based at Holy Trinity with St Paul Sheerness is a pattern for this.

·we will look for those who are gifted in evangelism to release the gifts of ministry in all God’s people.

·we will seek to equip every disciple of Jesus Christ with an ability ‘to give a defence to anyone who asks … for a reason for the hope’ we have. (see 1 Peter 3:15)

Disciples of Jesus engage in lifelong learning to grow in their knowledge of scripture and of loving God and loving one’s neighbour.Such learning will result in behaviour change, not merely extra information.Weekday Bible-study groups are growing to meet this need.Lent courses, run ecumenically and the training of Authorised Local Ministers also deepen discipleship.

Disciples of Jesus respond to human need with loving service: the Food Bank is a prime example of this, as is the bereavement support group and the Ignite project, alongside the many simple acts of loving service in the day-to-day lives of Jesus’ followers.

Disciples of Jesus work to transform unjust structures in society. We are a Fair-trade group of Churches and work with Christians Against Poverty. The Rev’d Jeanette McLaren’s chaplaincy also deals with issues of social justice and deprivation.

Disciples of Jesus strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and seek to restore, sustain and renew the life of the earth.We promote recycling, ensure that our lighting is energy-saving, and we are beginning to promote a ‘bring your own mug’ approach to coffee after church.Where possible we buy local/support local.

Our new Incumbentwill be audacious; excited by the continuing changes and challenges of our ministry here on the Island.

·S/he will be able to co-ordinate and direct our various church and outreach activities.

·S/he will be an experienced preacher and a teacher.

·S/he will be comfortable with different styles of worship, valuing liturgy while remaining open to God’s Spirit.

·S/he will have a pastoral predisposition, while valuing and promoting the ministry of those who have other gifts and characteristics

·S/he will be intentional in promoting discipleship in everyone and everything we do as church

·S/he will prioritise growing lay ministry and develop the work of our current ALM’s.

·S/he will be able to support the work of the mission of the laity, enabling and encouraging participation from all three churches to reach out to all communities in the West of the Island.

·S/he will help us to touch the lives and imaginations of more young people by involvement in local schools (particularly the church school): telling the story(ies) of God to fund their thinking and their dreams.

·S/he will have a passion to enable our buildings to serve the mission of the church.

·S/he will be organised and experienced in using digital communication technology.

Our church communities

We are a group of three congregations on Sundays, meeting in three different locations.We have two midweek Communion Services: one in Sheerness on a Tuesday and one in the Island Hospital on a Wednesday.Ignite, based at Sheerness on a Monday evening is the Ignite group Christian community on the Island.

Minster Abbey (the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin with St Sexburga) is the oldest Christian worship site on the island, with its foundation dating from the late 7th Century.It was founded by Kentish Queen, St Sexburga as a Nunnery: a place of prayer and mission.At the highest point on Sheppey, it has been, is still, and should continue to be a spiritual powerhouse.There is a worshipping community which is aging, but ‘up for a challenge’.

We are looking at the possibility of founding a ‘new monastic community’ based at the Abbey Vicarage, to work with the existing church, to live life round the rhythm of prayer and to engage in Christ’s mission to his world, with an emphasis on evangelism and service.

Holy Trinity with St Paul, Sheerness, serves the town of Sheerness as the civic church of the island and is in a prime location to minister to the needs of the town.It has a small, aging and struggling congregation meeting on a Sunday.It is also the venue for the Food Bank and for the new ‘Ignite’ service.There has been proposed the acquisition of a High Street Shop to be a presence for the Church Community during the week.The size of the Church itself would make possible both a worship area and an art space and/or coffee shop.

Holy Trinity Queenborough is the smallest of the three churches and works closely with the community of the independent town of Queenborough.This church is highly integrated with the Queenborough community and is focussed on good community relations and fund-raising for the rebuilding of the church vestry which is in a parlous state.It is a small but growing church with a very friendly feel.It is vital that the vestry problem is solved, so that the Christian community there can move beyond it, to further serve the community and proclaim the gospel in Queenborough, and reach out to Rushenden.

Building Projects: All three buildings need urgent attention.

·Queenborough, for the vestry, as mentioned.

·Sheerness, for the floor subsidence and alterations for community usage of the building

·The Abbey, reinstating the West door as the primary entrance, together with glazing the archway and tower for heat insulation, re-siting the vestry and co-joining the entrances of the church and hall enabling access to toilets.NB The Abbey is a grade 1 listed building and a national monument.

Ministry and leadershipacross the Benefice is currently provided by the following:

·The Rev’d Paul Rush – Associate Vicar, with a ministry and calling to lead in mission and evangelism, particularly with reference to occasional offices.He has considerable experience in training in witnessing, evangelism and apologetics and is a member of the Archbishops’ College of Evangelists.He is currently acting as a de facto substitute incumbent.

·The Rev’d Jeanette McLaren – Sheerness Town Centre Chaplain (half time), reaching out to the Town Centre trading community and to the arts community on Sheppey.

·The Rev’d Cindy Kent (retired with PTO)

·The Rev’d Chris Baker (a student counsellor with PTO)

We have a part time parish administrator, Nestie and two half-time workers, Matt and Helene leading ‘Ignite’ at Holy Trinity Sheerness, a worshipping community of people on the margins of society.The Ignite workers are funded for three years.

We also have the following Authorised Local Ministers (ALMs) who are authorised to lead worship; Claire Beardsmore, Dan Beardsmore, Julie Palmer, Ashley Shiel and Mark Young.

We have another ALM, authorised for pastoral ministry: Rowena Squire.She is key to a bereavement support group that meets regularly.