Diocese of Portsmouth

    New interim team rector for Newport and Carisbrooke

    26 March 2023

    BISHOP Jonathan has appointed an experienced priest to be interim team rector of Newport and Carisbrooke with Gatcombe.

    Canon Sarah Chapman will come out of retirement to take charge of Newport Minster, St John’s Newport, St Mary’s, Carisbrooke, and St Olave’s, Gatcombe. She’ll lead a team that includes the current team vicars, the Rev Emma Cooksey and the Rev Steve Sutcliffe.

    She will move into the vicarage at Newport, and will take on this role on a part-time basis from April 4. She is likely to hold this position for at least six months, but no longer than 18 months.

    Sarah, who is now 67, was one of the first women to be ordained priest in 1994, and has served as vicar of St Mary Magdalen Sheet, within our diocese, as well as in Chichester, Winchester and Canterbury dioceses. She and her husband Giles had retired to Portsmouth and were worshipping at our cathedral.

    An interim appointment was thought necessary because of the high profile and strategic importance of this parish to the whole of the Isle of Wight. Part of Sarah’s role will be to develop the future vision for this new team ministry, and work out what kind of person it needs to be its permanent team rector. She will also provide support for the current building project.

    She said: “I am excited to be going there, and I do think God is calling me. I hope that I can provide some spiritual guidance and some leadership. I also wanted to live in the vicarage and walk the streets, so that I can meet people properly, and consult as many people as possible.

    “Much of my ministry has involved spiritual healing and wholeness, and the wellbeing of clergy and laity, and I hope I can bring this to this post. In an ideal world, I’d like to be able to hand over straight to a new team rector – rather than there being another vacancy. So if the right person appears quickly, I won’t need to stay!

    “I was happy to come out of retirement, although I will miss my daily swims each morning at the Hot Walls in Portsmouth. Since retiring, I’ve been given two brand new knees, so I do feel as though I have more energy to bring to the role.”

    Canon Sarah Chapman and Bishop Trevor Willmott

    Sarah worked initially as an occupational therapist. She was ordained as a deacon in 1989 and then as a priest in 1994. As a curate working in Chichester diocese, she was the first woman to celebrate Communion in Chichester Cathedral.

    She continued to work as an OT until her first full-time appointment as vicar of Sheet, near Petersfield, in 1997. She stayed there until 2002, encouraging a number of her congregation to become ordained themselves, before switching to become a vicar in Bitterne Park, in Winchester diocese, for 10 years.

    Sarah was then a chaplain to The Living Well in Kent and diocesan adviser for healing in Canterbury diocese from 2012-19 before retiring to Portsmouth. Among the changes she made there were for a prayer team to be present at every meeting of their Diocesan Synod.

    She is married to Giles Chapman, who chairs our Diocesan Advisory Council for the Care of Churches (DAC) which considers all alterations made to church buildings. Her new appointment now means he’ll have to absent himself from their meetings when the building project at Newport Minster is discussed.

    Detailed plans for the reordering of the inside of Newport Minster are still being developed in partnership with the diocese. They come after the completion of an £800k project to repair the outside of the minster building. The minster has now been removed from the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

    Sarah will be licensed as the new interim team rector in a special service at 7pm on Tuesday 4th April, at St John’s Church, Newport. All are welcome to join her for this service.

    Newport Minster

    St Thomas' Square, High Street Newport, PO30 1SG

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    St John's

    St John's Road Newport, PO30 1LN

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    St Mary the Virgin

    High Street, Carisbrooke, PO30 1NR

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