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First impressions from Shipston
Andrew Coleby - Rector of Shipston Benefice

There's one good thing about spending most of your ministry working in places where the Church is very marginal, sometimes even fighting for it's life: if you then come somewhere like the Shipston benefice, where the Church still has a clear place in the community, it feels like entering a warm bath, after a long and arduous cross-country run.

And so it has felt for me, after a ministry spent largely in poorer urban areas, a new university and the Further Education sector, to then arrive in Shipston.

But of course, even warm baths have their hazards, like falling asleep for instance!

The big challenge to the mission of the Church here is to turn mild support from the community into deep personal commitments.  A lot has already been done in that area here but the task is a big, even a daunting one.

On the positive side, there are huge opportunities for outreach here.  I have been warmly welcomed into the primary school and also, in a different way, into the high school: this despite the fact that neither is a church school.  There are also great church-based things happening for children and young people in Shipston and I’m doing my best to support these.

There is also quite a lot of scope for church-based social action and quite a history of it as well, which I appreciate particularly given one of my former positions was as a Social Responsibility Officer.  There is rather less happening from the centre of the diocese than there was in St Albans diocese in that regard.  The onus is very much on us at the local level to make things happen.  So life is never going to be dull here!

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