First, I would like to thank you for all that you and your Wardens have been doing during the vacancy in your Parish and, in particular, for the work that has gone into caring for the people and places of your Parish during the recent months. A vacancy always presents challenges, but those have been heightened with the unprecedented demands of the Coronavirus pandemic and it has been humbling and wonderful to see the generosity and fidelity of your response. Thank you.
You will be aware that when the vacancies in Pagham and Aldwick arose the Bishop suspended both Livings. This is not a punitive action. Rather, it means that the Bishop can work with me and your PCC’s to review options of pastoral reorganisation as we consider a future pattern of sustainable and expansive ministry.
Of course, we are living in unprecedented times and the challenges we face have made new demands of us. The deployment of our clergy is one such challenge.
However, whilst the financial realities of life are a significant and inevitable factor in our life as a household of faith, the overwhelming priority is the pastoral and sacramental care of God’s holy people, feeding and equipping us all for work of mission and evangelisation.
To that end, the Bishop has discussed with me and the Wardens the idea of a secondment of a final year curate to serve both Parishes, and this is now something that we wish to progress.
Mthr Lucy Sullivan is currently in her final year of curacy in Rottingdean. In order for her to seconded to Pagham and Aldwick she will need to be licensed as an Assistant Curate and we have agreed that she would be licensed to Bosham to ensure that she has appropriate supervision and mentoring from the very experienced Parish Priest there. However, she will not have any ministerial responsibility in Bosham and her entire focus and energy will be in serving Aldwick and Pagham. This will ensure that both Parishes receive priestly ministry sooner rather than later. There is no obligation on Lucy or the Parishes for her to become Priest in Charge of both parishes in a years time, however we hope that this could be the direction of travel if this year goes well for all concerned.
Mthr Lucy will live in rented accommodation in one of the Parishes, and this is yet to be identified. Both vicarages will be rented out to ensure that they are not an additional responsibility for the Wardens and PCC, and so that the income can help address the considerable pressures faced by the Diocese.
Clearly, there will be a need for flexibility and creativity when it comes to reviewing service times. The current prohibition on public worship affords us all an opportunity to review our pattern of worship and plan for how we might re-gather when that is possible. I will work with Mthr Lucy and the Wardens in this. It is a great blessing that both parishes already have active Lay ministry as well as the generosity of retired clergy to draw upon. Part of the opportunity that this secondment presents us with is the time to see how the ministry, mission and outreach can be expanded and strengthened across both Parishes.
I hope that this exciting initiative is one that will be welcomed and embraced, and that you will look forward to welcoming Mthr Lucy in September.
Please be assured of my continued prayer and thanksgiving for you all,
The Venerable Luke Irvine-Capel
Archdeacon of Chichester