Interim Priest in Charge of the Benefice of Ivinghoe with Pitstone and Slapton and Marsworth

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This benefice consists of three parishes on the eastern edge of the Diocese of Oxford, with the large towns of Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Dunstable and Aylesbury within close proximity. The largest population centre is made up of the two villages of Pitstone (3000) and Ivinghoe (800). The smaller villages are Slapton to the north and Marsworth to the west of the benefice.

The focus of the Interim Priest in Charge role will be to help the benefice to come to terms with a difficult experience over the last few years and, more recently, pastoral breakdown between the churchwardens of the parishes. The role will need a strong leader who is highly emotionally intelligent and able to establish healthy governance systems across the benefice as the parishes seek to work more closely together.

Post Introduction

Based on their work on mission action planning (in 2018), the parishes identified the following strengths, challenges and long-term hopes, in addition to some more specific goals.

Strengths:

  • Good links with the local communities
  • Welcoming church communities
  • Choir/music/bells
  • Events that involve the wider communities

Challenges and opportunities:

  • Developing their work with young people, children and families
  • Growing discipleship among existing and new church members
  • Ongoing financial challenges

Long-term hopes:

  • Working better together as a benefice
  • Continuing with regular meeting for Churchwardens across the benefice
  • Growing the churches

It is hoped that the Interim Priest in Charge will lead a vision process for the whole benefice. It is envisaged that this process will help the churches to articulate a sustainable vision and mission plan for the next five years. The recruitment of a permanent vicar will be based around this vision and mission plan.

Main Responsibilities

The Interim Priest in Charge will:

  • lead the three parishes through a process of reconciliation and change in preparation for a sustainable future where each parish can thrive and fulfil its full missional potential. This will include:
    • listening to the hurts of the past without judgement and helping these hurts to be laid to rest
    • establishing regular meetings with all the churchwardens together
    • enabling the parishes to begin to build better relationships with each other
  • ensure that parish and benefice structures remain healthy
  • lead a vision process across the benefice which will prepare the ground for a new incumbency and for fruitful mission and ministry in the future
  • work collaboratively with deanery, archdeaconry and diocesan colleagues to monitor progress on the objectives for the role
  • be visible and present, and share their time between all three parishes
  • oversee and enable the LLMs in providing pastoral care, mission and ministry across the benefice
  • support and enable the training of the OLM ordinand-in-training
  • share the leading of Sunday and Festival worship across the benefice
The Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will:

  • be a confident, non-anxious presence in the church and community
  • be experienced in conflict resolution, reconciliation and pastoral ministry
  • be self-aware with a healthy work-life balance
  • be a ‘people person’ with excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • be able to maintain a healthy and appropriate detachment from the benefice where necessary
  • have good emotional intelligence and an ability to reflect systemically
  • have experience of mediation or reconciliation processes and will know what a healthy benefice looks like
  • have a deep personal faith and leads by example
  • have a heart for mission

The archdeaconry and diocese will offer appropriate training, mentoring and supervision, to be agreed in discussion with the new appointee.

About Us

The benefice is on the edge of the diocese and borders the Diocese of St Albans. The Grand Union Canal and the ancient Icknield Way both run through the benefice. There are two primary schools in the benefice, a village hall in each parish and several shops and facilities, mostly in Pitstone. The villages are served by several larger towns nearby and secondary education is mainly in these larger communities. There is a fast train line to London from nearby station in Tring and Cheddington.

The churches are all eucharistic and traditional (low church) in their main worship. There are opportunities for the benefice to worship together at regular intervals and each church has some lay-led or less formal worship. During lockdown, there has been weekly online worship led by the Area Dean, a PtO priest or lay led. Engagement with the wider community is good in each parish and there is good families work led by the Licensed Lay Ministers. Each church has its own PCC and finances are handled on a parish basis.

There is a small ministry team of two experienced Licensed Lay Ministers and an ordinand (local ministry) who will work alongside the new Interim Priest in Charge. The team ministers across all the parishes in the benefice. The ministry team have met together regularly during the vacancy with guidance from the Area Dean.

The benefice is part of the rural deanery of Mursley within the diocese. These are exciting times for the deanery as several new appointments have been made in neighbouring benefices, so there is an opportunity here to minister within a new deanery team to develop mission and ministry in this part of Buckinghamshire.

The new Interim Priest in Charge will be committed to furthering the diocesan vision through which we seek to become a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s World – contemplative, compassionate and courageous – and to working with archdeaconry colleagues to re-establish healthy patterns of ministry across the benefice.

For further information please read the Statement of Need. For an informal discussion, contact the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, on 07525 655756.

Apply for this post on the Pathways website.

Closing date: 19 April

Interviews: 11 May

Enhanced DBS Required