Pictured from left to right: Revd Jill Preece Assistant Minister St J’s, John Bourdon Warden St M’s, Revd Giles Carpenter Vicar of St J’s, Jeanette Goodman Warden St M’s and Revd Ben Sleep Curate St J’s.

A new team is coming together in Eastbourne as part of the Diocese of Chichester’s vision for growth, through what it calls ‘Apostolic Partnerships’.

For those wondering what an Apostolic Partnership is, the Archdeacon of Hastings, the Venerable Edward Dowler, describes them as “partnerships between separate parishes which are established for mutual benefit and support in mission, ministry, organisation and financial giving”.

Having recently reordered the worship space at St John’s Meads and with a new curate and a growing congregation, there was a sense that the church should be actively looking at ways to support the wider church community in Eastbourne as part of the Diocesan vision for growth and St John’s own vision to be a channel for God’s blessing.

Following an initial conversation with Bishop Richard, it was suggested that St Michael’s might be an exciting potential partner. Almost 18 months on, that partnership will be formally confirmed by the new bishop of Lewes, Bishop Will, when he installs Giles, Vicar at St John’s, as Priest in charge and Ben as Curate in charge at St Michael’s on 11th October.

Giles said, “It has been a joy to get to know several of the congregation at St Michael’s through their participation in some of our online worship during Lockdown. Their passion to give sacrificially to serve their parish and their openness to hear what God is saying to His church through the Holy Spirit has given both me and the team at St John’s a sense that we have as much to learn from St Michael’s as we have to give.”

A major factor in the growth at St John’s has been the emphasis on every person having a vital part to play. And, whilst the partnership might initially seem like a stretch of resources, this openness to encourage new people to step into the gaps and to offer them support and encouragement will, in the long run, be the lifeblood of the partnership and of the ongoing health of both congregations.  The intention is that the partnership runs for an initial trial period of 12 months and, subject to support from the diocese and agreement by both PCCs the partnership will enter a new phase with Ben taking on a key role at St Michael’s whilst remaining part of the ministry team at St John’s.

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