Clergy ‘stretched thinly’ with departure of town’s rector

The Rev Canon Dr Phillip Bourne and the Rev Robert Chavner

The Rev Canon Dr Phillip Bourne and the Rev Robert Chavner - Credit: Archant

Retired clergy are being called on to plug a gap in staffing left by the departure of two priests from the Sid Valley in the space of four months.

The departures of the Reverend Susie Williams from Sidford in April and the Rev Canon Dr Philip Bourne from Sidmouth last Sunday leaves just the Rev David Caporn as a full-time clergyman in the Valley.

It’s likely to be Easter at the earliest before the vacancies are filled.

The Rev Caporn, of All Saints and Salcombe Regis, who has himself only been in position for 18 months, said: “We have a very capable team of lay and other ordained clergy here.

“It’s very much a temporary situation and we are looking forward to having two new clergy colleagues joining in due course.”

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Retired clergyman, the Rev Peter Budgell, 67, will be taking services at St Giles and St Nicholas in the town centre with the Rev Annita Denny, a non-stipendiary or unpaid associate priest.

He said: “Probably if there was one clergy down it would be easier. Having two churches vacant at the same time means things are stretched thinly.”

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The Rev Budgell was 28 years in a multicultural urban parish in Luton.

Rectors are usually in post for at least seven years but the Rev Dr Bourne is leaving after four-and-a-half years to become a chaplain at St James church in Porto, Portugal, with the Rev Robert Chavner who has previously taken some services and was chaplain to the Sidmouth Royal British Legion.

About 170 people turned up to the Rev Dr Bourne’s last morning service on Sunday.

Churchwarden, Dr Brian Golding said: “The hallmark of his time here has been growth, not so much in numbers but in prayer life and people growing in their faith and much more effective pastoral work.”

The Rev Caporn said: “Philip was very much loved and people appreciated his ministry and I’m sure many people were hoping he would stay longer.”

Divorced Rev Dr Bourne has three sons. The church website in Porto states: “He shares his life with a friend and priest colleague, Robert Chavner, who will be accompanying him to Porto.”

Dr Golding said: “It’s going to be a big challenge that they are going to be undertaking together.”

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