Benefice Profile - The Benefice
(Click here for Dymock Parish)
The Area
Picture, Rural Countryside
Gloucestershire is mainly a rural county that includes parts of the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean and the Severn Vale but with large conurbations at Gloucester and Cheltenham. Motorway access is excellent, with an exit to the benefice from junction 2 of the M50, which itself joins the M5 at junction 8. (Return to top)

The market town of Newent, 4 miles from the benefice, has a good range of shops, a supermarket, library and medical centre with doctors etc; the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury, 6 miles away, has similar facilities. There are 4 C of E primary schools in the Benefice and 2 care/nursing homes. Secondary schools are in Newent and Ledbury. (Return to top)

Gloucester city is 12 miles to the southeast with a massive regeneration programme well underway. There are excellent shopping facilities in the centre as well as a number of well-known retail stores and large hospitals in Gloucester and Cheltenham. (Return to top)
The Diocese & Deanery
Picture, Gloucester Cathedral
The diocese covers a large geographic area and has the first female diocesan bishop. It's divided into 2 Archdeaconries, Cheltenham and Gloucester, and 9 Deaneries. The latest outward-looking diocesan vision 'LIFE' was launched in November 2016. (Return to top)

Gloucester Cathedral also has an outward-looking philosophy and is using a recently received multi-million-pound grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund to update the building for the 21st century, including a new piazza for outside services/events, new font and glass entrance, a lift to provide disabled access to the under-croft and new exhibition/education centre on the mezzanine. (Return to top)

The Benefice is in the Archdeaconry of Gloucester and the Deanery of The Severn Vale, the latter has 12 Benefices and 46 parishes in a horseshoe around the north of Gloucester city – the Deanery Chapter meets monthly and includes Clergy and Readers. (Return to top)
The Benefice
Benefice Logo
The Benefice was created in December 2000 by merging the two adjacent Benefices of Redmarley (5 parishes) and Dymock (4 parishes) and is in the extreme northwest of the diocese in an area of outstanding natural beauty, bordering the dioceses of Worcester and Hereford. It has 9 parishes with 9 working churches. There are two Parish Magazines serving the original 5 and 4 Parishes, as we felt merging them into one would make it too unwieldy, and two parishes have a website. (Return to top)
Until this year, Services were held on 3 or 4 Sundays every month in all of them, but this pattern has recently been reduced to match the ministers available. In addition, on the 3rd and any 5th Sunday in a month, there is a united 'Benefice Service' of Common Worship Communion in only one church in turn. There is also a redundant church in the care of English Heritage, managed by the 'Friends of Kempley Churches', where four Services of Evening Prayer are held in the summer. (Return to top)

The buildings are generally well cared for but two have recently identified a significant problem causing stretched finances. In all of them, work required by previous quinquennial inspections has been attended to, with only a few items outstanding. Several of our parishes have completed major repairs in recent years, funded through generous fund-raising, gift-aid and grants.
The benefice is actively involved in all four of its primary schools. As well as after-school clubs our Ministry Team leads weekly assemblies and other in-school activities including, in Dymock, 'Open the Book'. The schools use the parish churches for their Easter, Harvest, Christmas and other events. (Return to top)

Dymock has a good relationship with the Independent Chapel in the village, sharing occasional Festival worship and a 'Pilgrims Group' (8-11 year olds), plus a handful of our members attend the chapel's fortnightly shared lunch/discussion group. The adjacent parish of Newent has a 'Churches together' ecumenical group including the C of E, Roman Catholic, URC, Methodist & Baptist. (Return to top)

Each of our parishes currently maintains its own traditions and its own PCC, but there may be discussion of some parish amalgamation in the future. We are actively seeking an honorary Benefice Administrator to relieve the administration load. (Return to top)
Collaborative Ministry
LMT Logo
Collaborative ministry is important to the benefice, which actively supports 'all member ministry'. The Dymock and Redmarley 'Local Ministry Teams' were at the forefront of the LMT movement, being formed some 30 years ago before the advent of any official scheme. The original two teams merged when the benefice was created but both it, and its award-winning Care Group, have atrophied as members have died/retired and not been replaced. It is currently operating as a Ministry Focus Group still comprised of ordained and lay members, meeting monthly and comprising the Incumbent, Assistant Curate, 3 retired priests, 3 Readers, 2 'Lay Pastors' and some lay members from the congregations. (Return to top)
Church Traditions & Worship Styles
Picture, Communion Rail
There is some variation between the parishes but generally churchmanship can be described as 'central'. Patterns of Worship also vary, using both Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer. We have produced several Common Worship Booklets for different seasons which include many of that book's options, which are used across the benefice where appropriate. (Return to top)

Our membership is currently stable but, as in many places, much of the congregations are older, to some extent reflecting the age range in the villages, but there is active outreach among young people in the schools and a youth-orientated Service.
Several of the churches have a small but faithful congregation and all will try new things when introduced in a sensitive way. The two larger churches have a regular Family Service using permitted options from 'New Patterns of Worship'. There are regular socials, concerts etc around the parishes providing many opportunities to share fellowship, and several of the parishes normally provide refreshments before or after worship. (Return to top)