Letter from Philip, our Vicar

Dear Friends

On Sunday it was announced that Reverend Michelle and I have been appointed to become the next Vicar of Minehead, sharing the role in the same way as we do here, and moving to Minehead in the summer holidays.  We will be very sad to leave indeed, but are looking forwards to all that the future holds on Exmoor!

In February 2017 I remember putting the finishing touches to an application form that, little did I know, would change my life.  I was coming to the end of my curacy in Honiton, and Michelle and I had only got married two months before.  This was always going to be a big move, as we embarked on a new life together, living together for the first time, and learning how to do ministry together.  When we saw the Parish Profile (the official document that gets produced for prospective clergy that describes the place and role looking to be filled) Michelle and I remember thinking that this could well be the one.  There was something about it that called us to dig deeper.  I went to see my Bishop (who is now Bishop of London – Dame Sarah Mullaly), who had been so supportive of me through curacy and even given me one-to-one interview training!  She read the profile with me and simply said, “you can do this”.  I can still hear those words now.  The rest, as they say, is history!
The 7 years since then have been such a joy.  We have been through so much with you all, and we have learnt so much from you all.  Just personally we have welcomed two children into the world, been through major bereavement and health issues, learnt how to be a married couple with 4 kids between us, how to job share the role of Rector, and much more – and you have helped us in all of that.  Beyond the ‘normal’ work of the parish priest we have journeyed together through major events, particularly how to do and ‘be’ church through the COVID pandemic; but also responding as churches to events in the life of the nation, such as the Platinum Jubilee, deaths of Prince Philip and of Queen Elizabeth II, and the Coronation of King Charles III.  It has been a privilege to lead the churches of the Benefice through all of these, and a joy to be involved in all that you have done and continue to do.
Michelle and I have discerned over the last few months that God is now calling us to a new horizon, not because we are unhappy here (far from it) but because it is time to move on.  This time comes to all parish priests (just look at the vicar board in any of the churches!) and anyone who has sensed God’s call on their lives will know that you turn it down in vain.  God is leading us to be the Vicar of Minehead in the same way that he led us to you.  We are excited to be entering this new, and very different, time of ministry – but we are also incredibly sad to be leaving Two Shires.  Making the announcement in our churches on Sunday was very definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do in ministry, and Michelle and I thank you most deeply for your kind words that you have shared since.
We are not leaving just yet – we will be completing the school year here and likely moving in August, so a bit of time to go!  It will be a busy time of tying up loose ends and as far as is possible preparing the Benefice for Interregnum.  It is going to be a daunting time for all us, but I know that God is with you as he is with us and in our departure are the first steps to new beginnings of the next stage in ministry here in Two Shires.  God is already working with whoever is coming next – so trust in that!
As we embark on this time of transition – which perhaps so appropriately begins now in Holy Week, the ultimate week of transition, you might like to reflect on these words from the Sarum Primer (1514) and well known as an anthem by Walford Davies:
God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be in my end and my departing.
This Easter will be extra special for us, and we hope to see as many of you as possible as we journey through it.
With every blessing for Holy Week;
Philip & Michelle
The Reverends Philip & Michelle Butcher
Rector – Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
The Vicarage
3 Home Farm
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01460 221286
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