Diocese of Portsmouth

    Church Commissioners’ decision on pastoral reorganisation plans

    Live | Pray | Serve
    18 July 2019

    THE Church Commissioners have said yes to some proposals to reorganise parishes within our diocese, and no to others.

    The national Church of England body – which is responsible for legal changes to parish boundaries – held a public hearing to hear from those in favour and those against plans to reorganise parishes in three specific parts of our diocese: central Gosport, the Leigh Park estates, and Newport.

    After reading written submissions and hearing in person from a variety of clergy and lay people, a committee representing the Church Commissioners agreed to revised versions of our diocese’s proposals for central Gosport and the Isle of Wight, and said no to proposals for Leigh Park.

    The diocese’s proposals involved creating new teams of ministers – including clergy and lay people – in these three strategically-important areas. The Church Commissioners were asked to agree new parish structures that would enable members of those teams to work together more effectively.

    The new teams would be asked to plant new congregations, inspire and deepen discipleship with those who don't currently attend church, promote evangelism and improve church buildings – as well as maintaining traditional worship. The teams would include traditional parish clergy, church-planting clergy, pioneer ministers and operations managers to serve as part of these teams.

    Proposals to merge parishes in Rowner, Elson and Bridgemary, and to create a new team ministry to serve that part of Gosport had already been approved.

    The Commissioners’ Mission, Pastoral and Church Property Committee decided:

    • That they were minded to accept proposals to merge the parishes of Forton, Christ Church and Holy Trinity, Gosport, and to create a mission hub at St John’s Church, Forton, but wanted the bishop to do more work to develop job profiles for the new posts that would be created as part of any new team ministry.
    • To reject proposals to merge the parishes of Leigh Park, Warren Park and West Leigh.
    • To accept proposals to merge the parishes of Newport Minster, St John’s, Newport, and St Mary’s, Carisbrooke, subject to the removal of St Paul’s Church, Barton, from any new team ministry. Its clergy would also have responsibility for the separate parish of Gatcombe.

    The diocese’s vision in these three areas was due to be supported by £2.71m in Strategic Development Funding from the Archbishops’ Council. That funding would have helped to pay for new appointments as part of these team ministries.

    Because not all of the plans for reorganisation were accepted, our diocese will now need to have a discussion with those from the national Church about what happens next.

    The original proposals were put forward by our Bishop’s Council last October, and involved informal and formal consultations by our diocese last autumn and this spring. The Bishop’s Council agreed revised plans in April, and asked the Church Commissioners for approval.

    The Church Commissioners then wrote to all interested parties, considered the written responses, and its Mission, Pastoral and Church Property Committee heard from those for and against in person, at a public hearing at Church House in London yesterday (July 17).

    At that hearing, Bishop Christopher and others spoke in favour of the proposals, while some of those clergy and lay people affected by the reorganisation plans spoke against. Among the questions being considered were:

    • whether the committee accepted the bishop’s reasons for these proposals;
    • whether there had been full and thorough consultation that had fulfilled legal requirements;
    • whether the committee agreed that team ministries should be preferred to group ministries;
    • whether the bishop was right not to name any of the current clergy as office-holders of the proposed new posts; and
    • whether the proposals would further the mission of the Church of England.

    Details of the committee’s decisions about the various proposals are available via these links:


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