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The Bishop’s Council has approved plans for an initiative designed to increase the spiritual impact of the Church of England across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, allowing revised proposals to progress to the next stage.

The plans include extra investment in parishes so that £9.65million is spent in parts of Portsmouth, Gosport, Newport and the Leigh Park estates. The aim is to inspire more people to become disciples of Christ through innovative new ways of creating congregations.

Under the plans, the diocese will create new teams of ministers – clergy and lay people – who can plant new congregations, inspire discipleship and ensure effective use of all buildings – as well as maintaining traditional worship.

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The initiative also includes proposals to reorganise parishes, which will release funding to put alongside around £4.9million that the diocese hopes will come from the central Church of England.

The original proposals have been modified since they were first unveiled in the Autumn, to reflect the huge amount of feedback that our Bishop’s Council received during its informal consultation process.

On the Isle of Wight, the original proposals for certain parishes to work together have been altered and replaced by a new arrangement, which came out of consultations with individual churches.

It will involve the parishes of Newport Minster, St John’s Newport, Carisbrooke and Barton forming one new team ministry, with a team rector and 2 team vicars – those 3 clergy will also be responsible for the parish of Gatcombe.

The more rural parishes of Arreton and Newchurch have been removed from the reorganisation plans, in recognition that their circumstances are different.

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If these proposals move forward, the creation of these team ministries means that the existing clergy roles would no longer exist. The current clergy in all 3 areas can apply for the new posts.

Bishop Christopher said:

“The aim is to revitalise the work of the Church of England within our diocese, to inspire greater spiritual depth, ensure a bigger impact on society and to enlarge our congregations. We’ll do that through traditional parish ministry alongside more innovative ways of doing church.

“We believe these plans will give us the foundation to do that. We’re keen to continue to work alongside individual churches to work out what kind of issues people face in those areas, and what kind of ministers we should be appointing to help local people to embrace the Christian faith. That could look very different in each place.”

Those directly affected by these proposals will now be able to give their responses during an 8-week period of formal consultation before Bishop’s Council makes its final recommendation in April. If approved, there is then another formal consultation process with the Church Commissioners, after which a final decision will be made.

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