Priest in Charge: High Oak and Hingham, and Great Ellingham (Shellrock) Benefices

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Office Holder

The challenges of the last few years have put a lot of strain on the ability of the diocese to sustain ministry in the many rural communities across Norfolk. A deployment review undertaken in 2020 has led to the need for some pastoral reorganisation across the diocese, in order to create benefices that can be financially sustainable.

So as to help pave the way for uniting these two benefices, the Revd Canon Sue Strutt (PTO) has been working on establishing a pattern of services that is deliverable with the ministerial resources envisaged.

There are undoubtedly challenges in taking on a new benefice of this size, but this seems likely to be the pattern for much rural ministry across the country, and there is a degree of realism among congregations of the need to work together to try to make sure their churches remain faithful and fruitful. Key to this is a collaborative way of working, valuing and appreciating, encouraging and resourcing lay leaders, both office holders (churchwardens etc) and those engaged in lay ministry as LLMs, Authorised Worship Assistants and in other forms of lay ministry beginning to emerge.

This position is, on paper, daunting. There are lots of churches! But there is a well-running structure maintaining services, the sacraments, and pastoral care by committed teams with a vision for growth through evangelism and closer community links.

First and foremost we are looking for someone of deep Christian faith who loves the Lord Jesus. In the 21st century many people in Norfolk, just as elsewhere, are sceptical of the truth of Christianity. As our new incumbent it will be essential that you are a prayerful person who is an inspiring teacher and preacher of the gospel, someone who knows the Lord and lives for Him.

Although we have many different styles of worship, what holds us together is our faith in Christ. We need someone who can appreciate the broad churchmanship that is displayed across the proposed new, enlarged Benefice. In this context you will need to be a collaborative leader and work with those who will share with you in ministry. Being skilled, caring, and able to delegate responsibility to others, including lay people who may be called to share in ministry (in its broadest sense} is required.

We are looking for someone who can work with our rich and diverse ministry team, is creative and able to reach out to people. Children and young people of the combined benefices particularly need outreach, as well as those not attending church. We have a number of activities taking place in different churches and we feel there is an opportunity to expand and share the learning to the best effect.
We hope you will be delighted to live in this special part of rural Norfolk. Some of us are incomers, but others of us have been here all our lives. Someone who is sociable and gets involved in our local communities, including schools, community groups and charities, will be very welcome.

We will need someone who feels comfortable teaching about Christian giving. At the moment we are not paying our way in terms of parish share. We are looking for leadership in this area, so that we could close the gap significantly within a fairly short time.
In a similar vein, if you might have an eye for detail, for church procedures and protocols, that would be very welcome – just to make sure that in our thirteen different worship centres we are doing all the right things!

We have a very broad mixture of musicians with backgrounds of different styles of church music. Shellrock Benefice has an established Benefice Choir, and a Music Group consisting of guitar, flute, tambourine and singers. We need someone to maintain our music and support the musicians of the Benefice. There is an opportunity to develop our ministry of music. Finally a sense of humour, especially when it comes to the downsides of doing our bit for bat conservation, wouldn’t go amiss!

Our greatest wish is for a priest to lead us and work with us in worship, pastoral ministry, and developing a strategy for growth.

Benefice of High Oak and Hingham with Scoulton and Woodrising

In Hingham, our vision is

• Seeking to grow the congregation and work with children and young people

• Stabilising the finances of the parish to be financially secure and independent

• Realising the Facilities Project to encourage the community use of the church

We need to grow and re-establish St Andrew’s Church as a community hub. The town is growing, and with lots of young families, we need to begin to engage with the local community. We are currently fundraising for Phase 2 of the Facilities Project (to instal toilets and upgrade the kitchen). The need for toilets inside the church was first identified in 1984, nearly 40 years ago, and it is finally within reach of becoming a reality. Once we have modern facilities, we see the opportunity to welcome more people into the church for community activities, through new and re-invigorated groups. This will go hand in hand with welcoming people to a new programme of Christian outreach activities.

The rural parishes of High Oak, Scoulton and Woodrising need someone committed to maintaining the pattern of worship and pastoral care in smaller communities with love and understanding.

Shellrock Benefice

Most of our churches are in a rural setting where the priority is to maintain regular worship, to be seen to be present in our communities, and to share our faith wherever opportunity provides.

Each church in the Benefice is supported by members of other parishes in whatever way is needed. There is a Benefice Fellowship Group which meets on Tuesday mornings during term times, and studies a variety of Christian related topics.

However, Gt Ellingham is subject to a large new housing development, still in progress, which is set to double the population within the next five years. This offers an opportunity for the whole Benefice to reach out to new householders; to help establish community and to engage in appropriate outreach activities which will serve the Christian Gospel. We are fortunate in that there is a Federation of two primary schools situated within the Benefice.

We are committed to be open to God’s guidance even if this should require change in our accustomed ways and attitudes. We are also committed to prepare for future generations and to ensure that there will be continuing spiritual leadership in years to come.