Finding a new Rector (or possibly a Vicar) - Updates

Candidate to be Interviewed

Dear Friends.

Wonderfully encouraging news !

Late last week, we met a prospective candidate for the position of our new vicar of St Andrew's Parish (based on the expected outcome of the formal separation of St Andrew's and St Mary's which is in process). This person has known Bishop Jo for many years and it was through a wonderful coincidence that they spoke a few weeks ago and our vacancy was discussed.

Fiona and I both met with with him informally for two hours at the archdeacon’s residence, along with Paul Bryer and Alan Jenkins, and then we had much discussion and prayer afterwards. We both agree he has wonderful qualities and gifts and would fulfil well the needs we identified as those required for our new shepherd at St Andrew’s.

He is now scheduled to visit the parish officially, in early June, to meet with clergy and parishioners, and then attend a formal interview.

Best wishes

Michael & Fiona

16th May 2018

Important Updates - 16th April 2018

Two important meetings took place this month :

At a meeting on 6 April, Archdeacon Paul Bryer and Area Dean Alan Jenkins met with the two PCCs from St Andrew’s and St Mary’s to outline what they felt were the two options going forward for the Benefice.

Paul Bryer first reviewed the process to date and stressed that the feedback from the three short listed candidates last month had been very positive. The common mind of the interview panel was that only one was suitable but, after several days of internal struggle, he had turned the offer down for personal reasons. It had been nothing to do with the benefice or the congregation. We should be encouraged.

Paul then outlined the two alternatives he saw going forward as either going out and re-advertising the post with the existing benefice structure in place, or instead carrying out a Pastoral Reorganisation and separating the two parishes (with the possibility of considering a Group Ministry) before searching for a new incumbent.

When the united benefice was set up in 2004, St Mary’s had not been seen as strong enough to continue as a separate parish. He asked if the same were true today. Having carried out a both a Visitation and service at St Mary’s recently, Paul felt the church was in a much healthier position than back in 2004, including the new hall etc.

Alan Jenkins suggested that what might have proved challenging for a potential candidate was the difference in mission and identities between the two churches – perhaps the different purposes of mission in both churches could be best served by a separation.

Once separated, then the post in Cobham would be different from the one previously advertised and the profile of the person different and perhaps easier to find.

In an informal “show of hands” amongst the two PCCs, there was near unanimity in seeking to separate St Andrew’s, Cobham and St Mary’s, Stoke D’Abernon. But the Area Dean made it clear that the poll taken was a straw poll and in no way binding.

Paul Bryer explained, if the PCCs decided to split, the matter would be considered by the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee and, if they agreed, the parishes would be suspended. There would be a period of some nine months (involving the Archbishop of Canterbury because of the time taken to fill the vacancy) and the Church Commissioners, including two periods of six weeks for consultation before the separation was complete.

Group ministry.

If the separation was completed, Paul Bryer suggested it would also be possible to consider a group ministry with St Andrew’s, Oxshott, St Andrew’s, Cobham and St Mary’s  (There must be a minimum of three). Each PCC and finances would be separate, but the three parishes would work together.

The Next Incumbent

Assuming a separation scenario, the Archdeacon suggested that the next stage after suspension of the Benefice (which usually takes about six weeks), might be for the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee to consider whether there were an individual, for example, someone near to completing his or her title curacy (ie in a similar position as was Folli as he neared the end of his time with us) who might be a suitable candidate for vicar for St Andrew’s parish. If so, our parish representatives, would meet him or her. If they were content, then the application process would be the same as before, meeting the parish and interviews except that it would not include St Mary’s and there would be only one applicant. The post would be as Interim Priest in Charge and Incumbent Designate while the parish was suspended and become Vicar when the separation had been completed.

Alternatively a priest with considerable parish experience could be appointed priest in charge for a time limited period. This would give us stability during the period while the parish was suspended and after that while the post was advertised. By contrast with the previous proposal, there would be no question of the priest in charge becoming our vicar once the process of separating us from St Mary’s had been completed.

The third possibility would be that the diocese might not have a suitable candidate to put forward, or the candidate who they put forward was not offered the post as a result of meeting the parish representatives or the parish or the interview panel. In this case we would need to re-advertise and, assuming a suspension and pastoral reorganisation were carried out, we would have a period of perhaps six to nine months before we could re-advertise for the vicar of St Andrew’s.

To proceed with a separation, a decision would have to be made by each PCC to that effect and a request made to the Diocesan Mission & Pastoral Committee to proceed with the suspension of the parishes and the formal process would commence.

The PCCs agreed they would meet shortly to reflect and discuss the alternatives and communicate their decisions to the Archdeacon.


Following on from the meeting with the Archdeacon and Area Dean, St Andrew’s PCC met to discuss the two major points raised at that meeting

           a) Relationship of the two churches (Benefice or separation) and
           b) Next Incumbent – based on the outcome of the structure chosen

a) Relationship

After discussion, the PCC unanimously voted for a separation of the two parishes.
However there was also an overwhelming majority who felt that the discussion and possible implementation of a Group Ministry with St Andrew’s Oxshott, St Mary’s and ourselves should wait until a future date when the parishes were all more settled.

b) Next Incumbent

After discussion, the PCC was unanimous that we should ask the diocese to “headhunt” a suitable candidate for Vicar at St Andrew’s and if they found a suitable candidate, he or she would be presented to the parish as outlined by Paul Bryer earlier in the week in a process similar to the previous ones except there would only be one candidate.

The PCC also agreed that it will revue the parish profile to consider how it should be amended to reflect the fact that it will relate to the St Andrew’s parish only and not to the united benefice.

The results of this meeting will be communicated to the Archdeacon whereupon we understand, once confirmation of the same is received from St Mary’s, the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee will proceed with the suspension of the Benefice and the matter will be considered further by the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee with a view to recommending the separation of the two parishes. There follows an administrative process which can take six to nine months but, depending on its progress, the process of recruiting a new incumbent can run concurrently.

We will continue to update you as we have significant new information – thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

Michael Flaxman, Fiona Lascelles,
Churchwardens, St Andrew’s Cobham.