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St Peter's Church
Willersey Village

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St Peter's Church, Willersey Village.

Sun on St Peter's Willersey     St Peter's Willerseyas the sun sets

Our parish Church is beautifully positioned at the end of Church Street, WR12 7PN and is surrounded by a traditional churchyard.
St Peter's has a fifteenth century bell tower with traditional pinnacles and gargoyles. The little north porch is thirteenth century. The filled up Norman door can be seen on the west side of the Church. The font is pure Norman and the internal pillars and arches are 13th century. These arches are quite remarkable for a village Church. There is also far more detail here. There is level access for most of the Church.

Saint Peter's Church Services.
July 2024 Services

June 2024 Services

Every Wednesday at 11:00am we celebrate Holy Communion with the traditional language from the 1662 prayer book. On the first Tuesday of the month, you can enjoy the wonderful service of Evening Prayer at Saint Peter's from 4:30 to 5:00pm. You are always very welcome at our Church. We hope that the love of God will touch your heart during our services. Do come along and/or drop in for a coffee and a chat from 11:30 to 12:00 noon.

There is a car park at the rear of St Peter's Church, with access from Church Street alongside the Church. It opened in January 2018 with generous support from a local charity and is for the use of those attending services or functions at the Church. It provides a much needed and long awaited facility. It will always be open for those visiting the Church for any reason, but not for overnight parking. It will prove to be especially useful when larger numbers of people attend the Church for eg: funerals, weddings, Christmas, Easter, Harvest Festivals, and Remembrance Sunday etc and will prevent congestion in Church Street.

Our rector, the The Rev'd Scott Watts has now moved on to a new role in Cambridge. The advertisements are out again for the post of Team Vicar to replace Rev Scott; interviews are likely to take place at the end of September 2023.
Currently The Rev Craig Bishop in Chipping Campden will stand in. Things are now settling down in the Benefice after the Vacancy created by Rev Scott's departure. Church services are all continuing in the usual pattern, with the support of retired clergy, lay readers and churchwardens from our own six churches, the wider Benefice and occasionally further afield our thanks go to them all. Messy Church at Honeybourne Village Hall (Bright Sparks Honeybourne) will recommence on Tuesday 11th October. There is to be a joint meeting of the six PCCs later this month, which will include an update on the Vacancy.

Our Church is opened by 10:00am by volunteers on most days and closed by sunset. As of January 2023, thanks go to those who perform this service - Jennie on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, Elizabeth on Tuesday and Thursday and Gillian on Friday.

Every Thursday in our Church.

St Peter's Thursday Welcome Cafe      St Peter's Thursday Welcome Cafe Staff

St Peter's 2024 Easter Cross on the Green opposite The Bell Inn.

St Peter's Easter 2024 Cross

the 2023 Christmas trail here.

August is a family communion month so this month we thought about the bread of life with hymns and headings to reflect this. During the service a basket with different types of bread in each were passed around for members to taste and say what they were. This helped us think about the bread of life.

Mark's talk followed on with the theme and Jesus's quote I am the bread of life.

Thank you to Ken and Caroline for their readings. The prayers followed on still with bread in mind and thinking about the countries of the world where there is hunger famine wars or floods but not enough food to go round. This month instead of saying the Lord's prayer we sang it to the Caribbean tune which was enjoyed and then to end the service a good Welsh tune, Bread of Heaven.

Our next All Age worship is on Sunday the 17th of September 2023 and it will be our Harvest Festival. The service starts at 11:00 o'clock.

Just to say St Peter's autumn clean is on September the 23rd at 10:00 o'clock. Dusters at the ready. There will be a bowl of soup for lunch afterwards so come and flash your duster.

Willersey Flowerbed Sept 2023     Willersey Flowerbed 2 Sept 2023

Carols round the Jubilee Tree Christmas Eve 2023.

Willersey Carols 2023 1      Willersey Carols 2023 2

Willersey Carols 2023 3      Willersey Carols 2023 4

Willersey Carols 2023 5      Willersey Carols 2023 6

Willersey Carols 2023 7      Willersey Carols 2023 8

Willersey Carols 2023 9      Willersey Carols 2023 10

Carols round the Jubilee Tree Christmas Eve 2022.

Willersey Carols 2022 1      Willersey Carols 2022 2

Willersey Carols 2022 3      Willersey Carols 2022 4

Pictures from the Minute's Silence at the Jubilee Tree at 8pm on Sunday 18th September 2022 to mark the death of the Queen.

Willersey Queen Death minute silence 1      Willersey Queen Death minute silence 2

Willersey Queen Death minute silence 3      Willersey Queen Death minute silence 4
                 Photos: Terence Richardson

St Peter's Christmas Star for 2022.

St Peter's Christmas Star 2022 2      St Peter's Christmas Star 2022 1
                 Photos: Pete Kav

The Parish Bids Farewell to the Reverend Scott Watts

Parishioners filled Saint Peter's Church to bid Reverend Scott Watts farewell at his final service of Holy Communion on Sunday, 31st July. Scott started the service with the consistent welcome he has offered congregants; “Come as you are. In whatever condition you come to church, God will welcome you.”

In his sermon, Scott returned to the texts given to him to speak to during his assessment centre for the position of Rector in February 2017. Covering themes that have been central throughout his ministry to us, he referred to the call, in Saint Matthew's Gospel, for us to be ‘salt’ in all the places we find ourselves in order “to be a divine seasoning to everyone and every situation that we encounter in our communities, bringing out their full potential, just as salt does in food. Another central tenet of Scott's preaching has been that the Gospel is right for every season; as an evangelical priest, he has proved that there are more than enough timeless lessons in the scriptures for whatever season and state in which we find ourselves and the world. As soon as Scott's installation had been completed, five years ago, he had tolled one of the church's bells, the number of chimes traditionally signifying the number of years he would be likely to remain in the parish. Scott rang that bell ten times. However, he has not short-changed us. Although he has been with us for only five years, it feels like much longer; a tribute to all he has done for us, our Parish and Church in that relatively brief time. Perhaps those ten tolls were in recognition that we would have five year's service from two people, with all the support we have enjoyed from Scott's beloved wife, Ros.

Scott has been active in our community and committed considerable support and enthusiasm to Willersey's Church of England school. His preaching is evidence that you don't need to do politics or climb on fashionable bandwagons, that expounding on the Gospel is more than adequately enlightening. However, it is his pastoral support to so many who have needed it for which he is likely to be most loved and remembered.

Scott's early ministry included many years as a chaplain in the hospice environment, a hard calling. It is to a similar calling to which he and Ros have returned to their home area of East Anglia. When news of their eventual departure was released, numerous people sought me out, saying things like “Hey, what's going on? You've got to stop him!” My consistent answer has been that we must respect his calling whilst thanking God for his time with us. “The Lord giveth and Lord taketh away.” Their time was a fully-committed and generous loan; Scott told us that he is confident that the Lord will provide and we will prevail. We should work to fulfil that, bring seeds he has planted to fruition and continue to build our Church and its Mission.

After the service, we presented Ros with a bouquet of flowers and Scott with an engraved fountain pen, which he promised will remind him of our parish and parishioners every time he uses it. Then we released them with our best wishes, our gratitude and our love and prayers.

And with that, the churchwardens of six parishes assembled with their rods of office to accompany Rector Scott Watts out of Saint Peter's for the last time.
Robert McNeil-Wilson, Churchwarden

On the evening of Tuesday 19th July 2022 St Peter's six bells were rung from 7.30pm to 8.15pm by six of Willersey's local bell ringing band led by the tower captain Robert Chadburn. This continuous ring was one of two (The second one is on the 31st July) to mark and thank the Reverend Scott Watts for all that he and Ros have done for Willersey and the surrounding communities and to wish them well with the next chapters of their lives.

Willersey Bells Thanking Scott

Picture of Willersey Parishioners taken on June 5th 2022 on the occasion of our Queen's Jubilee.

Willersey Parishioners June 2022

Our Church in Willersey is open every day for quiet prayer.

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting for Saint Peter's was held at 7pm on Monday 23rd May in Saint Peter's Church. These reports for the APCM were issued beforehand. This will enable matters to be dealt with by exception rather than reading out entire reports. This had the added advantage of making it possible for us to end early enough, for those who wish to, to attend the Parish Council's Parish Meeting, which was booked to start half an hour later in the Village Hall.
Here are
The Minutes of the APCM in July 2021
Report from the Rector
Tower Captain Report
Head Teacher Report
Fabric Report
Treasurer's Overview

The full Accounts for 2021 are available on the interior notice board in the Church.

Dear Friends,
I want to let you know about the amazing findings covered in the National Churches Trust's report “House of Good”. The NCT writes:
“For the very first time, our House of Good report quantifies the economic and social value of all church buildings to the UK. Not just the bricks and mortar but the welfare and well being they create in our communities.
In 2020, our ground-breaking report demonstrated that the total economic and social value that church buildings generate in the UK is at least £12.4 billion per year which averages around £300,000 per church. That is roughly equal to the total NHS spending on mental health in England in 2018.
But our latest 2021 research now shows that the annual social and economic value of churches to the UK is worth around £55 billion. This sum, calculated using the latest HM Treasury Green Book guidance, includes the contribution churches make to wellbeing and to local economies.”
For every £1 spent on our churches, the return is over £16 as revealed using a robust and respected evaluation process. But perhaps the findings of the House of Good report aren't that amazing. We know how important maintaining our Church and its lively and living presence, as well as its building, are to the Parish. It is really rewarding to know that our support of it contributes to this huge and real national benefit.
You can find the full report here.
Let's work together to make our part in this great enterprise even more formidable!
Kind regards,
Robert McNeil-Wilson, Churchwarden
Saint Peter's Church, Willersey with Saintbury.

St Peter's in Snow 2022 december

Pastoral Letter May 2022

‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”’
(Isaiah, chapter 6, verse 8, NIVUK)

It seems hard to believe that it was during 2016 that Ros and I felt God calling us to come and serve Him and His people here in the Vale and Cotswold Edge. Towards the end of that year, the post that I am privileged to currently hold was advertised. I applied, was shortlisted, interviewed and then appointed. The rest, as the saying goes, is history! We came here in response and obedience to God's call and have loved every day even the sad, difficult and challenging ones and wouldn't have missed a moment.
As some of you will already know, Ros and I have heard once more the gracious invitation of the Lord to follow Him. This means that we will be leaving the parishes at the end of July after a little over five wonderful years here. I am to be the new deputy lead chaplain of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, based at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. I am, of course, excited about what lies ahead but, equally, very sad to be leaving behind people and places that we have come to love very much indeed. As many of you know, I was a hospital chaplain before I came here and, before that, a hospice chaplain. The call on my life to minister to the sick, dying and bereaved is central to who I am as one created in God's image.
We move on, not because we are in any way unhappy, but because we truly believe, after much prayer and discernment, that this is God's will for the next chapter of our lives and yours, too. Please know that we are praying for you and Ros and I both ask that you pray for us, too. Thank you for all that we have shared over the past five years and for all that we will continue to share over the weeks before we leave.
I have always loved this prayer by Dag Hammarskjöld, a former Secretary-General of the United Nations and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. It is a bold prayer and not always easy to pray. It has, however, very much been on my lips in recent days. Hammarskjöld wrote,
“For all that has been THANKS!
For all that is yet to be YES!” Amen.
With love, Scott


One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me, and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.
I realised that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life.
This really bothered me
and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“LORD, you told me when I decided to follow you
you would walk with me all the way.
But I'm aware that during the most troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed you most you leave me. ”

He whispered “My precious child, I love you
and I will never leave you, never, ever.
During your trials and testings,
when you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you. ”

Margaret Fishback Powers

The process of appointing a new vicar

The pinnacle tower of Saint Peter's church looks across to the Spire of Saintbury which was among orchard trees. Willierseys's tower was built about 500 years ago and rises from the centre of the church. It has huge monsters at the top and on one side a flight of steps leads up to the belfry. In the tower are six beautiful bells. Originally there were three large bells but in 1712 they were melted down and recast by Abraham Rudhall a famous bell foundtry into a peal of 6 bells. This was done not only in Willersey but in many other parishes in the district so that a merry peel might be rung in 1713 to celebrate the signing of the peace of Utrecht. On the large Tenor bell weighing 13 hundred weight the inscription reads “Ring for peace merrilee” ond on the little treble bell are the words “peace and good neighbourhood”. This is one of the characteristic greetings of old folk even today in these western Cotswold parts.

The now filled up South doorway of the church Norman. The porch is 13th century and has on its stones many votive crosses. The font bowl is Norman and the arcade in which it stands has sturdy short piers and arches unspoiled since the 13th century. Far more impressive are the lofty tower arches rising from great clustered pillars. They are enormously thick and so massive that the 15th century builders might have been building for a cathedral instead of a village church. Each pillar has an Angel in stone and the vaulted roof has bosses exquisitely carved.

Rare pieces of mediaeval glass enrich some of the windows. In one is a purple robed magdalenie with flowing hair and opposite her a saint in a blue robe and white headress. Beside them are two grazings stags. A tragedy all will see must have mourned is told in the glass of a window in the chancel to the memory of Charles Augustus Hand, his wife and their baby. All three perished in a storm at sea in February 1862. He was 30 and his wife was the younger daughter of the rector, John Hartland Worgan. We see them in a boat clasping their hands in prayer and in another scene clasping their hands and being lifted up to heaven from the tossing waves.

Those who come through Willersey by car pausing perhaps only to look at the church and pond miss the rare interest of the byway leaving the village from the corner where the road bends towards Broadway. It is a fascinating road. It is narrow and steep with deep ruts worn in the hard oolytic limestone of the Cotswolds by the feet of men and animals. No one can tell how old it is but the experts say that this limestone has been worn down at the rate of two inches a century so putting its age at 10,000 years. It is as old no doubt as the old camp of the top of the hill where about 900 feet up we get a magnificent view of the Cotswolds.

Saint Peter's Flower Festival
Arrangements on the theme of Pieces of Music
All day Saturday and Sunday 26th & 27th June 2021
Arrangements came from Willersey organisations and businesses.

The Duke of Edinburgh
1921 2021

It was with deep sadness that Willersey learnt of the announcement by Her Majesty The Queen of the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away peacefully this morning (9th April 2021) at Windsor Castle. We give thanks for Prince Philip, his unwavering love and support of the Queen, and for his long life of service to our nation.

Duke of Edinburgh      St Peter's Union Jack at Halfmast

“The current trajectory of our Church is a huge mistake and the leadership is out of touch with ordinary churchgoers. It is time to rally the troops. ” George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, August 2021
‘Save the Parish’ is “the last chance to save the system that has defined Christianity in this country for 1,000 years ”.
Please read the attached and click on the link to become a signatory to the letter opposing the plan intended to end the Church of England's Parish system.
Save the Parish.      www.savetheparish.com .

Willersey Remembrance Sunday rededication of the Memorial Cross and Act of Remembrance November 8th 2020.

Some time ago the Historic Churches Preservation Trust changed its name to The National Churches Trust. If you look at Explore Churches on their website you can find a range of old churches in the area, some of which you may not be aware. Annual membership is from £30 and can be arranged on line; this seems a very worthy and necessary cause at this present time of uncertainty.

The Revd. Craig Bishop has posted a new video on YouTube. It's at When Easter is hard.
All of Craig's recent Videos and reflections can also be found on the St James' Church website.
Here is Craig's congregation letter for early July 2020.

The Diocese has asked us to make a few points about virtual services from a safeguarding perspective.
You are free to join with or without a camera.
You may turn off the camera at any point, especially if someone walks in unexpectedly in a state of undress!
Parents of under 18s and those caring for vulnerable adults: please could you drop me a note to say that you re happy for them to appear on screen (and in recordings if we make any).
If you have any safeguarding concerns, please speak to your parish safeguarding officer, or the diocesan safeguarding office. More details can be found Here.

We want to play our part in helping those affected or worried by Coronavirus. If there is anything at all that I or others in the Church family can do to support you - pastorally or practically - please be in touch.
Be assured of my love, prayers and thoughts,

St Peter's scaffolding1      St Peter's scaffolding2

At the time of the virus in 2020, it was quite coincidental that we were having work being done on St Peter's roof.

What is the difference between a rector and a vicar?
Every edition of our Church and Village News contains a message from our rector.

St Peter's in Willersey, St Lawrence with St John the Baptist in Weston-sub-Edge, St Andrew's in Aston Sub-Edge, St Lawrence in Mickleton, St Ecgwin's in Honeybourne, St Peter's in Pebworth, St Peter's in Dorsington and St.Nicholas' Church in Saintbury are all part of the Vale and Cotswold Edge benefice.
Enquiries to the Team Rector, The Rev'd Craig Bishop, The Vicarage, Church Street, Chipping Campden
Tel 01386 841927     admin@stjameschurchcampden.co.uk
The Vale and Cotswold Edge ministry team includes the Rev'd Dana Delap in Blockley 01386 700676 and Rev'd Mark Taylor (email:     tel: 07715 301278 ),
The United Benefice of Chipping Campden, Ebrington and Mickleton is under the care of the Rev'd Craig Bishop.

For more details about our services look on pages 10 and 11 of the appropiate Church and Village Newsletter.

Our Christmas Card for 2019.

Bishop Rachel Treweek at Willersey School

Willersey primary school had a visit from the Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Rachel Treweek, as part of its ongoing 175th anniversary celebrations. She blessed a new mosaic, commemorating the Church of England school's founding in 1844. The mozaic is based on illustrations by the pupils and features the school, the parish's church of Saint Peter and the village's distinctive duck pond. It includes the school's values of “Respect, Friendship, Compassion and Creativity” and is being installed on the school's outside wall. Churchwarden, Robert McNeil-Wilson, said: “Our Bishop being able to be with us at short notice shows that God and our Bishop have smiled on our parish and this important celebration”.

Our Harvest Festival Lunch in St Peter's Church on 15th September 2019 was a great success. Here are two pictures taken in the Church.
One      Two

As of June 2020, one in three Church of England priests are female. There are 6,290 working women priests.
The number of male clergy is now 13,680. As congregations decline, there are now 35 woshippers for every priest.

Go to top      Home Page

Willersey Church Nave    Willersey Church with red sun

Here is a 2018/2019 Christmas message from Bishop Rachael.

St Peter's Churchyard Mowing Rota 2020 (not the erroneous Rowing Motor!) TBA

Some of the dogs at our Pet Service in July 2019 in Willersey.

Dogs at 2019 Willersey Pet Service

At Christmas time in 2021 the tower of St Peter's was lit by a star.

St Peter's has a famous peal of six bells which are rung regularly.

St Peter's is a stone cruciform building, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts, north porch and an embattled central tower, with pinnacles. It is a Grade I listed Church and is therefore judged to be of exceptional interest and the highest architectural merit.

C12th nave with blocked South doorway. C13th North porch. North aisle rebuilt in the C13th. C15th tower. C19th vestry and restoration.
The ancient font, supposed to date from the 13th century, is preserved, though not now in use. There are some remains of 13th or 14th century stained glass. The church affords 250 sittings.
Nave and North aisle: coursed and squared limestone, with angle buttresses and a racking buttress on the North Transepts:coursed, squared and dressed limestone. The communion cloth has the date 1664 woven into it.

In 1897, the living was a rectory, yearly value £275, with residence, in the gift of E. Gibbon esq. of Gateacre, Liverpool, and held since 1891 by the Rev. Charles Oldfeld Bartlett MA. of Exeter College, Oxford. There is a charge by will, of £8, on a farm here, paid annually to descendants of the Pendrell family, who harboured Charles II in 1651 when a fugitive.

St Peter's is largely C14th with significant Perpendicular modifications. It has a splendid ashlar-faced central tower with diagonal buttresses on the lower stage, and an embattled parapet with pinnacles and prominent gargoyles. The church has some Minton floor-tiles. The font is a Norman tub-shaped bowl set on a pillar and plinth of 1905. There is stained glass in the church by James Powell & Sons, 1849; and by Frederick Preedy with portraits commemorating a shipwreck in 1862. The wall memorial tablets in the church are for Rev John Scott, the only son of Rev William Scott; John Scott's wife Grace; Jane Susannah Scott, the daughter of John and Grace; and Mary Combe, the sister of Grace Scott; Rev William Mould and his wife Mary, daughter of William Scott.

Picture of Michael Barnfather oil painting of Willersey Church.

Painting of St Peter's

The Rev Scott Watts and his dog Marigold at the Pet Service in June 2018 in Willersey.

Scott and his dog Marigold

Tell me there's a heaven      Amazing Grace

New Year, New Beginnings 2017/2018

I approach the New Year with a mixture of excitement, anticipation and with a bit of nervousness! I look forward it. I love looking at my new diary, not yet full with commitments, and wondering what events will fill its pages. Some will be happy, things to really look forward to, and some, of course, will be sad.

When I feel that twinge of nervousness, which many of you may relate to, I turn to these words, written many thousands of years ago by the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah,
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart ” Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (NRSV) and those words fill me with hope.

God is Sovereign and whatever the year ahead has in store for us, we can be absolutely confident that God will be with us. This is good news for us as individuals and for our villages and communities. Over the last six months that I've been with you as your Vicar, I have a growing sense that God has good and positive plans for our churches and communities. There is something for us to do, though, and Jeremiah sets it out clearly. We are to be a people who pray and who seek God and His will. And what happens when we do those things? In Jeremiah s words, God will hear us and we will find Him if we seek Him with all our hearts.

In his Christmas Broadcast to the Empire in 1939, a year overshadowed with troubles of the worst kind, King George VIth quoted these words from a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins,

‘And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.’

What wonderful words. Even when we walk into the darkness of uncertainty, we do not walk alone. God is with us that Good News is at the heart of the message of Christmas, the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, so recently celebrated and so fresh in our minds.

So, I encourage you in the year the lies ahead to ‘put your hand in the Hand of God’ and, if I can help and support you in anyway, regardless of whether or not you come to church, please let me know.
I wish you a very Happy New Year.
With love,
Rev Scott Watts Team Vicar

There is a list of Rectors on display in our Church. The list is taken mostly from the Hockaday Abstracts (in Gloucester) and the Bishops' Certificates of Institution (Public Records Office). There are periodic gaps in the list (eg between 1444 and 1553). The first ten listed Rectors apparently all served within the space of two decades! What could the explanation be? Perhaps, that they were actually a succession of religious (monks) visiting to put in periods of service from Evesham Abbey?
This list does give you some sense of the antiquity of St Peter's. Notice also that historically spelling was inconsistent - hence the many spelling variations of Willersey.

Saintbury Church is visible from St Peter's Churchyard.

Here is the order of service for the licensing of Rev Scott Watts, our new vicar in June 2017.

The Bishop of Gloucester came to Willersey to lead the licensing of the Rev'd Scott Watts.

Bishop Treweek and Rev Watts

Safeguarding and St Peter's Parochial Church Council

We have policies for safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable people.
Support is available from the following Diocesan safeguarding officers:-
Judith Knight 07801 750664     jknight@glosdioc.org.uk
Becca Faal      07944 680320     bfaal@glosdioc.org.uk    

Christians in England and Wales now less than 51%.

The number of Christians in England and Wales has fallen to 51% of the population, from the 59% recorded in the 2011 Census.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed just over half the population in England and Wales described their religion as Christian in 2019. This coincides with an increase in the number of those not adhering to any religion, which has grown from 32.3% in 2011 to 38.4% now. Of those with no religion, 53% are aged between 20 to 29 years old followed by those aged between 30 to 39 year old with 46%. Young adults are therefore the smallest proportion of Christians, with only 35% of 20 to 29 year olds adhering to Christianity as their religion. This compares to 60% of 60 to 69 year olds, 74% of 70 to 79 year olds and 81% of those aged 80 and over.
Although the results of the 2021 Census are not yet published, the Office for National Statistics has revealed data showing that no religion was the second most common response.
Reacting to the figures, Dave Male, the Church of England's director of evangelism and discipleship told the Telegraph: “It's encouraging that in an age where people are less likely to [class] themselves as Christian, more than half the pop- ulation still do. We know from research that there is a willingness among younger generations to engage with faith and for people of all ages, the need for to find meaning and answers in life hasn't stopped.”

Welby bids to defuse Church of England's ‘demographic time bomb’

Divisions on ways to modernise an ageing church will trouble the new synod. (Harriet Sherwood, Religion Correspondent, The Guardian, 22nd November 2015).
Discord over a radical programme to make the Church of England “fit for purpose” in the 21st century is set to spill into the open this week when the new synod meets at the start of its five-year term. The Reform and Renewal programme was initiated by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and is being enthusiastically driven forward by a cohort of senior figures who share his zeal for modernising and evangelising the church. However, critics fear that traditional values could be lost amid the speed of change, lack of consultation and a new culture of setting goals and targets. “Some of those driving the Reform and Renewal agenda don t seem to understand the complex nature of the institution they are seeking to improve. In trying to change the church, there is a significant risk of unintentional vandalism,” said Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

The programme which includes the redistribution of financial resources, training and education, and simplifying the arcane governance of the church springs from alarm at the steady decline of congregations over recent decades. “We're in the last chance saloon,” said Pete Broadbent, bishop of Willesden and one of the architects of Reform and Renewal. “All the demographic evidence shows that, unless we do something in the next five or 10 years, we're shot. There are those who say this [programme] is alien and who want to dig their heels in, but we're facing a demographic time bomb.” The evidence was “indisputable”, said John Spence, chair of the church's finance committee and a former Lloyds Bank executive. “Twenty years ago the demographics matched the population as a whole. Now we''re 20 years older than the population. Unless we do something, the church will face a real crisis.”

Among the changes is a redistribution of funding, largely away from struggling rural parishes to churches in deprived urban areas and those seen as innovative and energetic in adapting to social change. “Some dioceses are being funded to do not very much,” said Broadbent. “And some dioceses are underfunded, but are doing an amazing job in trying circumstances. It's about how we divvy up the money to go to places that can use it well and have the greatest need.”
Another key area is recruitment and training. Around 40% of the church's clergy will retire in the next decade, yet fewer people are putting themselves forward for ordination. The church needs to attract recruits, especially those described by Spence as “game changers”, and provide accelerated career paths and appropriate training. The selection of a “talent pool” clergy to be fast-tracked to leadership positions has caused consternation among those accustomed to a system of quiet recommendations for preferment. Their unease has been compounded by bishops and deans being enrolled on MBA-style management courses.
“Bishops are well trained at one level being priests but at another level they aren't fit for purpose in terms of leadership and management,” said Broadbent. “We're running multimillion-pound organisations which need CEO-type roles. Of course there's a spiritual dimension, but people are also called to be managers and leaders. It's difficult to run a diocese if you're just being learned; you need theological skills, pastoral care skills and management skills you need to be multi-talented.”
But, he insisted, “money and business is not the model. We're still meant to be the church of Jesus Christ, but we just need to be more hard-headed and pragmatic about it.We're in the last-chance saloon. Unless we do something in the next five or 10 years, we're shot. Some have expressed anxiety over talk of efficiency, success, targets and data. According to Percy, there are real concerns about “the uncritical use of business principles, which are mostly untested in the church and may not be the most appropriate fit”. Under Welby's leadership, he said, the church was being run by people with an “executive managerial mindset”. Welby is a former oil executive and many in his inner circle have business or banking backgrounds.

Some critics also claim that the Reform and Renewal programme is being driven by a zeal associated with Holy Trinity Brompton, the London church which pioneered the successful Alpha course to attract new blood to the C of E. One of Percy's principal criticisms is a lack of consultation particularly among scholars over the measures. “The feeling in some quarters has been that the exclusion of intellectual voices has been deliberate. They're not wanted because they would slow the work down and cause lots of questions to be asked,” he said. “If you can't value the past, you may then decide it needs to go or needs modification. If you've never taken the time to understand it in the first place, there are risks.”
Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, shared the view that Reform and Renewal “true believers” were not sufficiently reflective. Evangelism with a business-model spin was not the solution. “Rather than stepping back and asking, ‘why are we going down this path [of decline]’, they think, ‘let's preach the message louder, let's keep being more prophetic, and that will somehow attract people’,” she said.
“Well, it won't. It will make the C of E increasingly into a little sect. It will never get back its broader social significance unless it can rethink its whole strategy. The church is in freefall and of course action needs to be taken, but their solution is much too unambitious.”

She advocates increasing lay and community involvement, inclusivity and multi-functional use of church buildings. The synod will debate Reform and Renewal after being inaugurated by the Queen on Tuesday. The previous synod strongly endorsed the programme, but most members of this synod are new, making the depth of support or criticism hard to predict. The main danger, said Broadbent, was of the programme “dying the death of a thousand qualifications. But I hope not a lot of us have staked the future of the Church of England on this.”

A letter from our last vicar.
Dear Friends,

We are now safely installed in the vicarage in Addington and have just reached the point of deciding where to put pictures on the walls, so before any more time elapses I wanted to write to say thank you. Firstly thank you to the many of you who came to my last service in Honeybourne. It was a wonderful experience to see the church so full of friends, there firstly to worship God and secondly to wish us God speed. Thank you too to the many who could not be there but who sent cards to wish us well. It was good to be able to spend time eating together after the service in Weston sub Edge so thank you to those who made that possible I know that these things don t happen on their own! Worshipping together and eating together, what better way could there be to celebrate our common life in Christ and the journey we have made together?

Which brings me to our beautiful gifts: I grew up in Gloucestershire so its countryside is special to me and holds many precious memories of childhood, of parents, of people who have been saints along my journey so it is wonderful to have a book which captures so delightfully the essence of its landscape and life and combined with poetry, another of my loves, could not have been more aptly chosen. One of the things that we have enjoyed learning while being in Honeybourne, has been gardening. We are still amateurs, but have come to appreciate time spent wondering at the beauty of plants, at their determination to flourish and time spent with the soil as a way of getting life in perspective. Here in Addington we have a big garden. It is a good time of year to move because we shall discover over the next few months what is in the garden. Edward's book on Making a Garden will be an invaluable resource as we move through the seasons and as he discovers the joys of retirement. I said at the beginning of this letter that we are in the process of deciding where pictures are to go. We are very much looking forward to deciding on a place for the two wonderful paintings of Gloucester Cathedral, the Cathedral that has played such an important part in our lives. For me that goes back a long way to picnics as a child with my Nan and Mum in the Cathedral precincts, to playing in the Youth Orchestra there and finally, after a gap of many years, being ordained there in 2008 when it became a part of Edward s life too. I love the Cathedral at night which speaks of the unfailing caring presence of mother church and Edward s, The organ plays says all that can be said about the way in which music transcends bricks and mortar and any possible boundary we might attempt to put in place. The picture of the churches in the group will likewise find a special place and be a reminder of the gift that being among you was. Thank you too for the very generous cheque which accompanied these lovely gifts. We shall spend it wisely.

So now, another chapter in our walk with God is beginning for both you and for us. I keep you daily in my prayers as you enter a period of discernment. For us we are in that strange place of belonging but not belonging before my Institution on the 28th April. Last Sunday we worshipped at Southwark Cathedral and we have yet to decide where we shall worship tomorrow. Although it feels rootless it is good to have time to reflect and to pray and I am grateful for these in between days.

May God bless you as you journey together.
With our love and prayers

Debbie and Edward

Deborah Jayne Forman

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