All Saints’ Parochial Church Council has learnt that there are no formal objections to the reorganisation of local churches which will see the end of the Leeds and Hollingbourne Benefice and Hollingbourne joining with churches on the north side of the A20 to form a new group of parishes with a Team Vicar living in Hollingbourne. The public consultation period ended on 30th August and two initial objections from outside Hollingbourne that were sent to Lambeth have been withdrawn.
If the two objections had not been withdrawn then the reorganisation of the local Church of England churches would have been delayed until at least December when the appropriate committee in London is next due to meet.
The reorganisation follows the retirement of the Reverend Nigel Fry, Priest in Charge of the Leeds and Hollingbourne Benefice in April 2015, and the departure of the incumbent of Boxley. Under the new arrangements Hollingbourne, Hucking, Thurnham, Detling, and Boxley includiong Grove Green will be joined together while Leeds, Broomfield, and Kingswood will join with Otham and Langley under the existing incumbent at Otham and Langley. The Priest in Charge of the new Benefice will be based at Holy Trinity in Bearsted.
A Parishes profile for Hollingbourne and the other churches along the Pilgrim’s Way towards Boxley. which is shared with the Greek Orthodox Church, will be shortly published and an advertisement for a new incumbent should be published in The Church Times and elsewhere in October with a view to the new Team Vicar moving to Hollingbourne early in 2017.
As part of the new arrangements the existing incumbents in Bearsted and Otham and Langley will have to be relicensed under Church of England rules with the Bishop of Dover present. A similar service will have to be held for the new Team Vicar in Hollingbourne.
The Benefice will also be recruiting a Missioner who will be paid by the Diocese of Canterbury for the next four years and whose responsibilities will include spreading the word in the new housing estates around Langley, Otham, and Grove Green. The Missioner will live in the former Boxley church residence in Samphire Close in Grove Green as the original Boxley vicarage was sold by the church some years ago.
Pictured below (top) is the Hollingbourne Vicarage at the foot of the North Downs which will be offered to the Team Vicar and (bottom) is the house in Samphire Close in Grove Green which will be occupied by the Missioner.