Parish Reorganisation

The Diocese of Winchester has announced plans to reorganise the parishes of Bransgore and Hinton with the parishes of Sopley and Burley. At the moment, Sopley is part of a benefice (collection of parishes under a single vicar) with Burton; Bransgore and Hinton are in another benefice and Burley is a parish on its own. In the proposed plan, Burton will join with Mudeford; Sopley and Burley will join with Bransgore and Hinton. It is proposed that both of these new groups become parishes, rather than benefices, each with their own vicar. The Burley, Bransgore, Hinton and Sopley parish will also have the assistance of a House for Duty minister. A parish is an independent legal entity with its own committee, wardens, treasurer and other positions, taking responsibility for at least one Church and its designated local area. Under this plan, Burley, Bransgore, Hinton and Sopley would cease to be independent parishes, but would share one committee as a way of simplifying governance. Here is a map of what the new parishes would look like:

The context of these changes is perhaps obvious. The Church of England is under serious financial pressure in the face of national trends and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan allows for the financial saving made by cutting a clergy post. A period of consultation on these plans has now begun. Decisions are still to be made about the nature of the new group of churches: whether they form a parish or a benefice and, if the former, which Church will be the parish Church. Please get in touch or comment below with your responses. If there are a great number of questions, we will attempt to answer them together as soon as is possible.

With every crisis come opportunities. It may be difficult to see where some of those opportunities are at this stage, but we in the benefice of Bransgore and Hinton look forward to welcoming our friends and fellow disciples of Christ from Sopley and Burley parishes. As your vicar, I will work hard to make sure we continue to see the growth and new life we have become accustomed to seeing and to ensure that coming changes make as little difference as possible to our mission and ministry. Please see below for a document detailing the timetable for consultation and reorganisation. The Bransgore and Hinton PCCs have a meeting with the Bishop on the 3rd of March to discuss this, so you may like to submit your thoughts before then.


The Revd Dr Ben Sargent

3 thoughts on “Parish Reorganisation

  1. Commenting on the outline of the proposals of Pastoral Reorganisation
    in the recent briefing paper from Winchester, I conclude that Ben Sargent is to be named in the scheme as the incumbent of the new benefice of Bransgore, Hinton Admiral, Sopley and Burley.
    This is a total of 5 churches/congregations.
    The phrase quart into pint comes to mind !
    It is surely unreasonable to expect one incumbent to pastor 5 separate and different flocks ?
    It is unreasonable for one person to minister effectively each Sunday through the lifeblood of the church which is the Sunday service.
    The new benefices is to be single parishes (with one PCC):
    This may be a good idea in principle, but will it be effective ? being practical, I don’t think so !
    The reorganisation may work in principle, but only when Ben has Deacons and other LLMs’ available for him to call upon to help with his Sunday workload and other responsibilities.
    A point in question, the addition of a HfD post, is yet to be appointed. Why is he/she not in place now ? surely the Burley situation has been known for some time now ?
    So until Ben has help, rather than Ben taking services at the various churches, I suggest congregations without Ministers join with the “mother” church and worship together.
    Ken Pimenta (St Mary’s )

  2. We agree with the comments regarding the difficuly for one Priest to look after all the parishes. Further the PCC will have an almost imposible task of dealing with such a widespread range of parishes.

    Maybe there should be costcutting elsewhere in the diocese to maintain funding at `grass roots level`.

    There must exist the thought that , for each church, fewer services will be led by clergy.

    Gill and John Chudley (St. Mary`s)

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