Mission and Ministry
The Churches of the Arrowvale Group of Parishes are at the very heart of the communities we serve. We value greatly the heritage of our buildings and the Christian worship which has been held in them over many centuries, but are constantly seeking ways to make that heritage more accessible and welcoming to friends and neighbours who have little or no Christian experience of their own. We recognise that Mission is the work of both clergy and laity and look forward to our new Rector leading, guiding and inspiring us to reach out to all those around us. The picturesque villages and beautiful countryside in which our church buildings are set means that we have many opportunities to minister to tourists and holidaymakers. Most of our buildings are open to visitors during the daytime and our visitor’s books bear witness to how much people value the opportunity to spend time in quiet prayer or just enjoy the architecture. Guide books and information points are a feature of each of the buildings with Christian literature being available in all. In addition, some of our annual events, such as church summer fetes and cream teas, are keenly supported by both visitors and local parishioners. Throughout the year some of our more suitable buildings are made available to the community for arts events, especially a wide variety of musical concerts, but also dramatic and visual art presentations. Whilst not all of these are directly spiritual in nature, we believe that it is good that human creativity, which is inspired by our Creator God, should be celebrated in God’s House, and that these activities enrich the life of our communities as a whole. For many years we have distributed The Arrowvale Messenger, our well-produced bi-monthly Magazine, free of charge, to as many homes as possible across the Group. This puts details of services and directly Christian material - such as the Rector’s Letter - into the hands of both church and non-church folk, as well as keeping everyone up to date with forthcoming events and news of Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. The Messenger is now well supported by advertisers and all costs are covered and financial reserves are being created to secure future publication. Distribution is carried out by volunteers in each parish to over 1600 homes in the five parishes. We have a tradition of an open baptismal policy, a desire to welcome couples asking for a church wedding wherever possible and a sensitive approach to all who need our help at times of bereavement. Our most important area of local mission has been to our schools and the children of our villages. Much of this work has directly involved our clergy over the years - with the Rector taking school assemblies and guiding school visits to the churches - but we recognise that this is something that can be shared by clergy and laity.We believe it is of the utmost importance for members of our churches to be closely involved in other organizations, events and charities in the community and seek to encourage this. Whilst fundraising tends to make disproportionate demands on our time, we do find that enjoyable, imaginative and creative fundraising events can bring many people, who would not usually come to worship, over the threshold of our churches and demonstrate that Christians are quite normal! Such events, as well as raising much needed funds, help to build up a stronger support base among friends and neighbours which, we hope, will lead on to attendance at church and to helping people in their own spiritual journey. The traditional parish share system is in the process of being changed to a parish offer system from 2017, bringing its own challenges in the transitional period. Finally, on a wider front, we continue to support the Deanery initiative to help train clergy at St Mark’s Theological College in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and give regularly to overseas aid, development and mission charities.
Statement of Need
The Arrowvale Group of Parishes is situated in the County of Herefordshire, but is right on the Border with Wales. It is part of the Diocese of Hereford and the Kington and Weobley Deanery. The Group covers roughly 30 square miles, has a total population of about 3000 souls, and is set in unspoilt, some would say, idyllic, English countryside. The area is still fairly traditional in outlook and character, with largely agricultural surroundings and a continuing regard for “hunting, shooting and fishing” as an integral part of rural life. The population, as might be expected, is a fair cross-section of society, but, as is the case across Herefordshire, the average age of residents is increasing. Sources of employment are in agriculture, associated support industries, together with light industry and professional occupations. Around the benefice you will find a wide range of housing - many fine manor houses and farms, hundreds of black and white cottages, and a number of Housing Association properties and some small scale new build developments. Arrowvale consists of five parishes with six churches, and has been a United Benefice since 1999 when the parish of Lyonshall joined the Group as part of Deanery-wide pastoral reorganizations. No further reorganization of parish boundaries is envisaged or anticipated. There are five benefices in the Deanery and the Clergy and Readers, as well as laity, work well as a collaborative and supportive team. The Arrowvale churches are led, in terms of licensed ministers, by the Incumbent and a Reader, who are assisted on occasion by a resident retired priest. Retired clergy from elsewhere in the Deanery can, sometimes via the Rural Dean, be called upon for help when needed, and, importantly, a number of Sunday services are regularly lead by the laity. Worship style can generally be described as central-Anglican but there is a healthy mixture of ancient and modern liturgy, old and new music, and Eucharistic and non-Eucharistic services, which, we hope, provides something for everyone. The congregations enjoy a fairly traditional approach to preaching and to the Scriptures, but are not afraid to experience new insights and ideas. Friendships with other churches have been historically very warm, and there are good ties with the Methodist chapels in Shobdon and Pembridge. Although the Group’s six churches are fairly diverse in some ways, the congregations work very happily together and support each other in joint events. On “Fifth Sundays,” members from all the churches are given the opportunity to meet together for the Group Service, which moves around the Benefice, and some Festivals are celebrated together rather than as individual fellowships. The church buildings are generally in good order, with Shobdon having full restoration completed in 2012 and Lyonshall having major renewal of the tower roof in 2013. Whilst Pembrige is in the process of major reordering, none of the churches in the Benefice have modern facilities of toilets and kitchens.
The Rectory is situated on a quiet lane on the edge of Pembridge village. It was built in the mid-sixties, and is a fairly spacious five-bedroom house, warm and comfortable, with a moderately sized private garden. There are two first-class primary schools - a Church Aided School in Pembridge and a Community School in Shobdon - and a fine choice of Secondary Schools in the area - Kington, Weobley and Presteigne being the nearest. Kington and Leominster are seven miles from Pembridge in opposite directions and are both well served with shops and some banking facilities. For larger shops, Hereford is very good. Medical service is provided by the Kington Medical Practice. The General Hospital is in Hereford, but there are minor injuries units in Kington and Leominster also. There is an excellent new NHS Dental Centre in Leominster. Lyonshall and Pembridge are well serviced by bus services. The nearest train station is in Leominster and it takes approximately an hour to reach the nearest motorway - which many of us consider a plus point! There is a small private airfield in the valley between Pembridge and Shobdon, so there is some light aircraft noise at times - on the other hand, any clergy with a helicopter, or who enjoy watching small planes and gliders, might see this as another plus point!
St Mary’s, Byton - St Michael & All Angels, Lyonshall -St Mary’s at Moorcourt - St Mary’s, Pembridge St John the Evangelist, Shobdon - St Peter’s, Staunton on Arrow