Over the last few months, the PCCs of Christ Church and St John’s have met together three times to consider how we can better work together.
The first two of these meetings were looking at the governance of the parishes. We have been considering whether we could be more efficient, and thus achieve more by bringing the two parishes into a formal relationship or by creating a new, combined parish. For the second of these meetings we were joined by Jenny Hollingsworth, the Deputy Diocesan Secretary.
There are no plans to close either of our church buildings, or to stop services in them. However, both churches have a reduced number of members compared with a few years ago, which means that it can be harder to find volunteers to fill key roles. The most obvious example of this is that both parishes currently have only one churchwarden, and at St John’s we have been unable to fill all the vacancies on the PCC.
Therefore we are looking at schemes which would reduce the administrative burden and enable us to concentrate more on mission. We have asked the diocese to provide more details about what a merger of the two parishes would entail.
In parallel to this I have been in discussions with Archdeacon Gavin and the Southwick Estate to consider revising the parish boundaries between Portsdown/Purbrook and Southwick to provide the best ministry to the new houses on the Berewood Estate. Most of that estate currently falls in Southwick parish, but we would like to appoint someone to be based on the estate, who would be part of our ministry team in the two parishes.
If the PCCs see this as a good potential way forward, we will move towards a formal consultation. If it looks like we will be doing this, we will hold further meetings to which all church members will be invited.
At the third meeting of the two PCCs, we looked at how we might develop a shared strategy for mission across the two parishes. For this we were led by Andrew Hargreaves, the Diocesan Mission Development Officer, who encouraged us to think about developing a formal shared Mission Action Plan, so that we can be more effective and accountable in the way in which we seek to reach out to our communities with the good news of Christ.
We will review this in the new year. Before that the PCCs will meet together once more in December, but that will just be for a Christmas social!
Please do pray for the members of the two PCCs in the responsibilities that they have.
Revd Andy Wilson
Vicar, Christ Church Portsdown
Priest-in-Charge, St John the Baptist Purbrook
Curate, Church of the Good Shepherd Crookhorn
Chaplain, Havant & Waterlooville FC