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What happens during 'The Vacancy' period when SCAN Parish is without a vicar?

posted 30 Mar 2015, 13:33 by Chloe Woods
What will happen after Mandy leaves?
There was a meeting on Thursday the 19th March to discuss this topic. It was attended by the 
Area Deans, Richard Caddell and Claire Wood, together with Andrew Gear, the Parish 
Development Advisor for Buckinghamshire and about 20 PCC, DCC and other parishioners.

Deanery reorganisation
The meeting started with prayer, and thanks for all that Mandy and Andrew had done. Claire then 
described changes that were happening in the Newport Deanery (The Parish churches in Newport 
Pagnell, Olney, and surrounding villages. The vicar in Newport Pagnell had retired in November, 
and an offer had been made last week to a possible replacement. There is still a vacancy for a 
“House for Duty” priest in Newport, and one in Stoke Goldington, following Janet’s retirement. 
Such posts are difficult to fill. We were encouraged to start the process to replace Mandy with a 
full – time “Priest in Charge”, who would effectively be a vicar, but would have to be flexible as to 
which villages he or she had in their parish. It is likely that there would be alterations in the 
Newport Deanery organisation, because of the above changes. It may be that SCAN would have 
another village attached, or be linked with Newport or even Olney. This will be decided by the 
Deanery Pastoral Standing Committee. We are now entering what is called “The Vacancy”-a 
period without a vicar. A period that used to be somewhat grandly termed as an Interregnum.

What will happen during the Vacancy?
Andrew Gear stated that, legally, the SCAN parish will be run by the Churchwardens, together with 
the Area Deans. The Wardens have written about this in the April SCAN magazine. Andrew gave 
out copies of a booklet entitled “Growing through a Vacancy”, and outlined 15 steps to help this 
happen. He emphasised the importance of prayer and communication. Jan took some bullet 
points in addition to this:
• decide how we are going to pray as a parish - write a vacancy prayer - hand out at services - use it consistently 
• an opportunity to grow as a parish 
• don't put things on hold - don't stop changing
• encourage regular attendance - notice those who are absent
• acknowledge sense of loss
• celebrate what has gone well with Mandy
• acknowledge what has not happened - and perhaps now can
• keep church website up to date (important once advert is out)
• ask head teachers what they consider important in a new incumbent
• Communicate (to wider Scan parish not just church) - perhaps monthly bulletin in SCAN mag?
The Mission Action Plan, Parish Profile and Advertisement
I am leading a group that is building on work for the previous Parish Profile, and Portfolio. This is 
trying to assess where we are as a parish, our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, 
and where we think God wants us to go in the future. This clearly needs input from many people, 
and lots of prayer.

This will lead to a Mission Action Plan, and then to a new Parish Profile, and job advert for our new 
Vicar. These documents will need to be approved by the PCC and Diocese. It was suggested that 
we aim to get the advert out for September, when clergy are more likely to be looking for a new 
post. Andrew said that it is a “Buyer’s market for clergy”, so our advert will have to be attractive, as 
will our website. This timescale should tie in with the Deanery reorganisation.

There were a number of questions and answers at the end of the meeting, which then concluded 
with prayer.
Prof John Fielding, LLM, Scan Parish