AN INTRODUCTION FROM FR RUSSELL DEWHURST, ADDITIONAL SEQUESTRATOR OF THE PARISH OF BURY, COLDWALTHAM, HARDHAM, AND HOUGHTON
I am writing to introduce myself as an Additional Sequestrator for the parish. I would not be surprised if this title sounds somewhat obscure to you! The parish is currently without a vicar, since Fr Peter Mallinson’s recent retirement. During the vacancy, church life continues and additional responsibilities fall on the churchwardens, Rosemarie Glitheroe and Hugo Merison, who are the elected representatives of you, the residents of this parish. In fact, office of churchwarden is the oldest elected office in the country, predating even the MPs at Westminster. Like many of their predecessors, Rosemarie and Hugo have automatically become ‘sequestrators’ during the vacancy, meaning that some of the things that are normally done by a vicar – such as organising services – now fall to them. The Bishop has appointed me as an additional sequestrator so that I am able to assist them in this. I will also be joining the team of clergy who will be taking services in the parish on a rota over the coming months, and also supporting the churchwardens in other ways.
As readers of The Link will therefore be seeing me around from time to time, I thought it would be helpful if I introduce myself. I studied physics at Oxford (where I was also baptised and confirmed), and after a brief time working as an IT consultant, I went to Cambridge to train for the priesthood. My curacy was in rural village parishes, after which I returned as Priest-in-Charge to a parish in Oxford, and then became Vicar of Ewell in Guildford diocese for 11 years. In 2021 I took a break from stipendiary ministry to study for a doctorate in canon law – that is, the law of the church. I combine my studies with some teaching, writing, consultancy in canon law and IT work. I am also Assistant Priest at St Mary’s West Chiltington, where I live with my wife and son. We were attracted to the area especially by Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve, and the beauty and wildlife of the Arun valley. The Archdeacon of Chichester asked me on behalf of the Bishop if I would consider assisting Bury, Coldwaltham, Hardham and Houghton during the vacancy and I was very glad to say that I could do so. Juggling many other parts of life means the time I can offer is limited, but the hard work and dedication of the two churchwardens means that the rota of clergy is nonetheless already staffed until December, so church services will continue as posted in The Link. Between us, the team of clergy should also be able to cover baptisms, funerals and weddings, clergy will be visiting the schools, and the team will respond to pastoral needs as best we can. The Parochial Church Council continues to be cognisant of the ongoing need for fundraising, both to preserve the wonderful historic church buildings in the parish, and also to support this ongoing ministry.
It was very good indeed to preach for the first time at St John’s Bury the day after the Coronation, then to come along to share in the Bury Coronation lunch. The food was fantastic (I doubt the Royal Family themselves had a better lunch!) and it was so good to meet people from across Bury and the other villages, and to hear a little bit about village life. Thank you for the welcome. Since I was asked by the Archdeacon to take on this role, you have all been daily in my prayers, and continue to be.