Chew Magna hosts first of Bishops’ Autumn Deanery Visits

8th September 2023

People from across Chew Magna Deanery gathered at St John’s Church Hall, Keynsham on 7 September for the first in a series of autumn visits from our bishops. Bishop Ruth was at Keynsham to hear about life in the deanery and reflect together on God’s vision for the communities of the deanery and the wider diocese. 

Bishop Ruth said, “I am so pleased to be here in person to see you all here in Keynsham and the first thing I want to do is to say thank you. Thank you for all that you have done in recent months and years, as we haven’t had many opportunities in recent times to gather and say that in person.” 

Before the discussions started Bishop Ruth took the opportunity to thank Stephen M’Caw who is retiring after six and a half years’ service as Area Dean and 13 years at St John’s. She then commissioned Ian Mills, Priest in Charge at Chew Valley West Benefice, as the new Area Dean for Chew Magna who will serve alongside the Lay Dean, Graham Sage. 

Following a Bible reflection, attendees were invited, as groups, to take time to consider the communities of their deaneries, God’s vision for their places and the kind of church that can help be part of flourishing communities. The groups fed back a taste of their discussions, sharing stories of success as well as the challenges they face.  

Attendees from three churches then shared the news of some positive initiatives they have been involved in, including the Revd Anika Gardner who has seen an increase in families coming to St Francis’, Keynsham after taking the first step of holding a Christmas Crib service. As Anika said, ‘Hope can grow in small places!’ Guy Stobart and Mary Cookson from St Lawrence East Harptree spoke about Project Newton, a building project that is enabling them to reach out and engage even beyond their local community. Revd Fran Smettem from Chew Valley West, shared the impact new children’s choirs were making in their area, saying “It is a blessing both to us and all the children involved.” 

A question-and-answer session followed, during which Bishop Ruth and Adrian Youings, Archdeacon of Bath, answered questions on topics including the role of the diocese, Church of England plans for same sex blessings, and clergy discipline and the work of the Diocesan Advisory Committee on buildings.. 

It was clear that those who came found it valuable to hear from each other as well as hearing from Bishop Ruth about wider issues across our diocese. 

The next deanery visit, will be in Axbridge Deanery on 11 September. 


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