Benefice Re-organisation
The Need
Benefice Logo
When the parish of Dymock was merged with nine others in the year 2000 to create 'The Benefice of the Leadon Vale', elements of the organisation were changed to suit, but the basic structure was left unchanged - nine parishes with multiple church councils and officers, and this had proved increasingly unsuitable for current needs. (Return to top)

As a result of the 'vacancy' created by the departure of our previous Rector, the opportunity was taken to re-organise the benefice into a more effective structure. The diocese appointed its Senior Interim Minister, Canon Rev'd Dr Tudor Griffiths, to help that review, with the aim of creating a simpler and sustainable organisation. (Return to top)
The Problem
Picture, Canon Tudor Griffiths
Canon Griffiths
As well as the benefice structure needing many officers and creating diverse centres of decision, another problem was maintaining regular Services in the nine separate parishes, as over the years, several members of the long-established Ministry Team had retired, creating a strain on those left. (Return to top)

Canon Griffiths, a priest retired from parish ministry with plenty of experience, joined the Ministry Team and assisted with the leading of Services plus, over several months, visiting all nine parishes, speaking with many parishioners, and becoming familiar with the views of each area. He worked with the then recently formed single 'Benefice Council' to explore possible options for the way forward, which had been tried and proved elsewhere, including leaving things as they were (not favoured by most), to more radical changes of closing some churches and leaving others with much reduced activities. (Return to top)
The Solution
Logo, Life Vision
Gradually a solution emerged that appeared to have the backing of the majority - based on the diocesan Vision 'LIFE'. (click here for information on 'LIFE'). The letters of that word standing for Leadership, Imagination, Faith and Engagement. (Return to top)

The solution proposed would keep open all the churches but reduce the regular Services in all but the two largest to just two a month, and rebuild the long-established, but significantly reduced, Ministry Team of ordained priests and lay leaders with new lay members, suitably trained. (Return to top)
Picture, Signpost Leadership
To maintain two Services a month in each of the smaller churches and relieve the strain on the retired priests, it would be necessary to have more lay-led non-eucharistic Services. The Diocesan 'Lay Worship Leaders Course' was therefore run in the benefice after Easter 2019 for volunteers from the existing congregations and several people from across the benefice volunteered. (Return to top)
Picture, Imagination
It was agreed the benefice would be run with a single Benefice Council, membership of which comprises representatives from our churches and schools - two members from each of the nine churches, a head teacher from one of our four primary schools and one of our retired priests. (Return to top)

The Benefice Council is responsible for setting strategy in the benefice, taking the lead on mission, schools/young people, and administration, with each of the nine churches maintaining its own Parochial Church Council (PCC) as the legal body to oversee its own building, fund-raising and fellowship activities. (Return to top)
Logo, Faith
There is a case for improving the benefice's efforts to support and grow the faith of both individual members and outside churchgoers. It was proposed to create a 'Mission and Worship' group under the auspices of the new Benefice Council to promote and co-ordinate this activity. (Return to top)

For a long time there has been little or no support for any form of conventional 'study group' in the nine parishes. One of the first actions of this new group has therefore been to look at alternative methods of growing faith that have been developed in other churches. (Return to top)
Picture, Jigsaw Parts Engaged
To integrate and work more closely with the the four primary schools in our benefice, extending the good work already being done there, a children's and Families Worker has been employed to liaise with adjacent benefices to share resources to promote sports and family activities. (Return to top)

Other aspects of engaging within the churches of the benefice and with people outside it will be encouraged and investigated as the other aspects of this revised policy are put into effect. (Return to top)