A statement from the Churchwardens
It is now nearly eight months since Ian MacKarill our vicar retired. Many of you have been wanting to know what the next step for our parishes will be. Your churchwardens now have some information about this.
At an Open Diocesan Synod in 2019 Bishop Christine said that over the next few years approximately 15 stipendiary posts would be lost across the diocese as a result of rising costs and falling income. In Alnwick deanery we were told that the next stipendiary priest to leave would not be replaced, and that some reorganisation within the deanery would then be necessary.
All of this was part of the background to the meeting that Ian MacKarill (together with Alison Hardy our Area Dean) arranged between the congregations of the Aln and Coastland benefices and the benefice of Embleton in August 2019. Many of you were at that meeting, and may remember that we were encouraged to think about how our two groups of parishes could co-operate in the future, even though at that time no decision had been made about the future of our parishes once Ian MacKarill had retired.
The churchwardens were told a few months ago that the Bishop was minded to suspend presentation to our parishes. That is to say that the patron of our parishes (the Duke of Northumberland for most of us) would not be able to seek or appoint our next vicar. Then on 9th April we were informed that she has now taken that decision in conjunction with the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee. The formal notice to that effect has been posted in each of our churches.
Clearly this leaves us with some unanswered questions. We are assured that Archdeacon Catherine Sourbut-Groves and Canon Rob Saner-Haigh, chair of the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee, will be helping us as we ponder the future ministry and witness of our parishes.
The prophet Isaiah (in chapter 43) tells us that God is doing a new thing. This new thing took shape as Jesus spelt out his vision of the kingdom of God. We are on the threshold of a new thing in our parishes, and so we ask you not merely to be patient, but to pray that we may each discern what it is that God is calling us to do.
We would like to add that we are very grateful to Barrie our assistant priest, and to Christine, Gail and Ian our retired priests, for their ministry, care and support during this time of change.
Catherine Whyte, Isabel Chalmers, Gill Bland, Nick Naylor, Andrew Willmott, Simon Rippon, Lena Tait and Jimmy Grey.