The people of West Downland Benefice seek a Priest who will work with us to support the mission of every parish in our ‘family of churches’ and to explore new ways of blessing our communities. Our villages are set in beautiful rolling countryside with wonderful walking, cycling and riding routes on the doorstep, but are well-connected by the A34 and M4 and train stations in Newbury and Hungerford. A recently purchased rectory in the desirable village of Great Shefford offers modern spacious accommodation and easy access to the River Lambourn, a site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area for wild birds.
Closing date: 6th November 2022
Interview date: 25th November 2022
Enhanced DBS disclosure required
Our new Associate Minister will be joining us at a turning point in the life of our benefice. The pandemic has ‘taken the roof off’ our church buildings and stirred our imagination and ingenuity as we’ve found new ways to worship together, built new friendships and reflected on the place of faith in our lives. We hope that all those experiences will help us as we seek to rebuild our congregations, support the mission of every parish in our ‘family of churches’ and explore new ways of blessing our communities.
We are looking for a priest with energy and flexibility, equally at home with BCP and All Age Worship, who will help us to deepen our faith and enrich our prayer lives. Ministry across six rural parishes is physically, mentally and spiritually demanding but we offer comfortable housing in inspiring countryside with opportunities for outdoor pursuits and excellent central support from our Benefice Administrator & Treasurer.
To have regard to the calling and responsibilities of the clergy (as described in the Canons, the Ordinal, the Code of Professional Conduct for the Clergy) and other relevant legislation including
● bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making him known to those in your care
● instructing the parishioners in the Christian faith
● preparing candidates for baptism and confirmation
● diligently visiting the parishioners of the benefice, particularly those who are sick and infirm
● providing spiritual counsel and advice
● consulting with the Parochial Church Councils on matters of general concern and importance to the benefice
● bringing the needs of the world before God in intercession
● calling your hearers to repentance and declaring in Christ's name the absolution and forgiveness of their sins
● blessing people in God’s name
● preparing people for their death
● discerning and fostering the gifts of all God’s people
● being faithful in prayer, expectant and watchful for the signs of God’s presence, as he reveals his kingdom among us
In line with our hopes for the benefice we are looking for someone to:
● build on the foundation of neighbourliness in our communities to further develop pastoral care and to encourage discipleship through small groups and one to one conversation.
● promote collaboration between the parishes through joint organisation, pastoral work, events and services so that energy is focussed on ‘ministry outside meetings’
● encourage increased youth involvement in church activities.
● support PCCs as they improve and develop church buildings to be of greater use to the wider community.
We are looking for a Priest with:
The West Downland Benefice came into being on 1 July 2010 with the existing group of Parishes of Brightwalton with Catmore, Chaddleworth, Fawley and Leckhampstead being joined by the Parishes of Great Shefford and Welford with Wickham. The Benefice works in a group with the East Downland Benefice. In addition to the eight churches of the Benefice there are two Norman chapels held by the Churches Conservation Trust and lovingly cared for by members of the Benefice. St Margaret’s church Catmore and St Thomas’ church East Shefford. Covering an area of 50 square miles, the Benefice is bounded by the A338 in the west, the B4494 in the east, the Ridgeway to the North and the A4 to the South. The 8 villages lie in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are surrounded by farmland. The majority of the Benefice population are either employed in agriculture and its support industries, or commute to work in other towns, making the majority of villages dormitory villages. The Benefice Treasurer administers funds from the Parishes to cover all Benefice expenses, including clergy expenses, fees for quiet days, conferences or other undertakings for the development of personal spirituality. Currently there are six PCCs within the Benefice. The Church Wardens, Treasurers and PCC lay chairs meet three times per year to discuss Benefice-wide strategy. Similarly the PCC Treasurers meet to agree the allocation of the Diocesan Parish Share to each parish. There is not as yet an official Benefice-wide council though in 2018-2019 work had begun with the aim of establishing a United Council to better serve our developing vision for a ‘family of churches’ and ensure a more realistic workload for clergy and volunteers. This has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is our intention to integrate our experiences of shared organisation through the pandemic with the work already completed as we restart these conversations in the coming months.