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Dear friends

As this bumper edition of the newsletter for August and September goes out I will be only 1 week from beginning my sabbatical or as it is also known study leave. This is something that is made available to Priest’s who have been ordained for a minimum of ten years and must be approved by the Bishop and is normally agreed 18 – 24 months before the period of study starts. The intention is that I will do 3 separate things during this time, the first is that it includes a proper and lengthy holiday, the second an element of pilgrimage and the third some form of study. The main aim is however to break the routine and to both do and be very different during this time. My leave officially begins at mid-day on the 4th August, so after the morning service and I return to parish duties on Monday 4th November. During this time I will, for some of it, be in Ipswich but not available for contact at all.

Julian will take on the role of acting Team Rector and will, with the church wardens keep the team on an even keel and I know that they can rely on your support. When I am in Ipswich please don’t be offended if you see me and I don’t stop to talk. I am grateful to the Bishop for allowing me this time out from my parish duties and in order to repay this ‘gift’ I intend to take the full opportunities and benefits.

Merv and Kay

Following the ordinations to the Priesthood of Mervyn and Kay we are now in a position to be able to explore how best they can be deployed within the team. I have decided that we will return to a model of deployment that was the original intention in the setting up of the team, with some obvious changes and tweaks. Mervyn will hold pastoral responsibility at St Peter’s and Kay will do the same at St Mary’s with Julian retaining this role at St Francis. They will not be Vicars as it is not possible for them to hold legal charge and they are not full time. While we are working out the exact scope of their delegated responsibilities it does provide someone who is the ‘go to’ person on the staff team with particular responsibility for that churches members. This means that they will primarily be based at StPeters and St Marys respectively. The churchwardens will remain responsible for the fabric of the buildings and will hold the legal responsibility with myself and Julian.

Donna

An important part of a stipendiary curates training is the opportunity to go and do a placement or secondment in a different area of ministry. As some of you will recall from my annual report as Team Rector at the end of April Donna will be doing this at the same time I am on Study Leave. She will be filling in for the Reverend Tiffer Robinson in the parishes of Rattlesden with Thorpe Morieux, Brettenham and Hitcham. This does mean that Donna will also not be available from the 1st August until the 18th November and should not be contacted during this period. She will continue to live in SWITM and commute over the Rattlesden Benefice.

Bright Sparks Nursery

By the time that this newsletter is published we will have said our final farewells to Lynne who for the last 6 years as been the manager and has been involved for a total of 16 years. She has been invited to open and manage a nursery for the Ministry of Defence in Germany. An appointment process is underway by the management committee for her successor but as a team we wish Lynne well for the future.

Inspiring Ipswich

Many of you will be aware of the significant investment in the Diocese by the Strategic Development Fund of the Archbishops’ Council. Part of this is the appointment of Archdeacon Rhiannon to lead and shape this. Over the next 6 years there are some serious targets for church growth as we seek to double the number of worshipping communities from 25 to 50 (note this is communities and not buildings), to establish a series of church plants, to increase the number of people exploring faith and to strengthen the existing churches in our town which is one of the most secular in the country.

As a key part of this each church or team have been invited to form a learning community. Ours is made up of myself, Tracy Mudd, Mike Evans, Catherine Kersey, Clive Darley, Tony Rivett, Mervyn Dye and Carole Hickey. As part of the journey we will meet twice each year with other churches in Ipswich to think and pray about where our team needs to be and go to grow together in God. In Number, Depth, Younger and in Influence.

We have been asked to complete a survey of our existing church family and the way we have chosen to do this is to ask you to complete an anonymous questionnaire. There are a series of questions based on the book by Robert Warren called the Healthy Churches Handbook and the 7 Marks of a Healthy Church. For everyone on the Electoral Roll there is a named envelope with a survey inside which we ask you to complete and return by the 18th August. The named envelopes are simply to ensure that we get the surveys to everyone who should have one. If you are not on the Electoral Roll and would still like to complete a survey there will be spare ones in each church. They can be returned in the box in each church, in an envelope to a Churchwarden or in an envelope through the letterbox at St. Francis Church.

The greater the number of responses that we receive the more informed we will be about shaping the future direction of the team will be. If you have any questions or need any help with completing the form then please speak to a member of the learning community who will be happy to help.

Finally….Please be assured of my prayers as we enter the summer and during my study leave and I look forward to returning to the team on the 4th November (but please be gentle with me as it may take me a few days to get back into a routine!

Robert