Geoffrey and Angela

News from the Parishes on the start of a new vacancy

The below article is edited from a piece which will be in the October/November issue of the Wychwood Magazine. However, we thought it helpful to explain where we are (September 2023) in the process of seeking a new vicar and what happens in this interim period known as a “Vacancy” or “Interregnum”.


Celebrating beginnings and endings is so important.

When our Vicar Geoffrey told us he was leaving, back in April, we began planning a party for him and Angela to show our appreciation for all they have done for us over the past five years.

Geoffrey’s last few months here went quickly and his farewell party happened on 9th July after the service in Milton Church. The village hall was the perfect venue for a lovely lunch for people from the churches in Milton, Shipton, Fifield and Idbury. After the speeches, we gave Geoffrey and Angela a Wychwood Tree, to remind them of their time here.

The removal vans arrived at the Vicarage a couple of weeks later and they moved to Elmsett in Suffolk. They were sorry to say goodbye but excited to be moving on to the next phase in their lives, in the St Edmunsbury and Ipswich Diocese, to rural parishes not far from Ipswich, where Geoffrey will be their Vicar. Angela starts work as a Teaching Assistant at the Primary school in the village where they are living, when the new term starts.

The Wychwood Tree looks perfect, hanging in their entrance hall, a talking point for visitors as Geoffrey and Angela make new friends in their new home. Geoffrey’s Licensing takes place in the village Church on 26th September and a small contingent from our villages will be there to wish him every blessing in his new ministry.

So what happens now?

It’s business as usual in this Benefice, with the Church Wardens from each parish, Shipton, Milton, Fifield with Idbury, taking responsibility for the smooth running of the churches, with a little help from visiting clergy, and especially Clare, our administrator, Rachel our office volunteer, Revd Anne Hartley, and Revd Karen Rizello our clergy.

 Anne Hartley has lived in Milton for 47 years, married to farmer Mike Hartley who is also Churchwarden at Milton Church. Anne was ordained in 2003, when she became a member of the Ministry Team for all four villages. Now retired, she will continue to take services as needed during the Vacancy. Revd Karen joined the team in February and is keen to get to know people in the area.

A message from Karen

Dear Readers,

I have been asked to write a few words to introduce myself to the people of the Wychwoods.

I moved at the end of last year from the Benefice of Lyneham with Woodhill, in Wiltshirewhere I was Associate priest.

I am married to Peter who I met at University many years ago.  We spent some time in Canada early in our marriage and have travelled a fair bit.  We enjoy travel, theatre, films, festivals and concerts together.

I have served as a Church Warden and have been a member of various PCC’s and Synods in the past.  I have the honour of being a Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral.

I became a vicar after a career in Information Technology.  I trained for ministry at Sarum College in Salisbury.

I have always felt that God has played a major part in my life, at the worst of times and at the best. As this new chapter begins, I am looking forward to getting to know the people of the Wychwoods. Say hello if you see me.

God Bless, Karen.

Karen Rizzello Associate Priest

Karen Rizzello Associate Priest

We call this period without a Vicar, the Vacancy, which may last up to a year. It will be a time of much prayer as we explore the way forward and seek God’s will for the churches here. Your help in this is most welcome. Please fill out the questionnaire outlining the qualities you are looking for in a new Vicar – you will find copies in the churches and an online version Hopefully this time next year we’ll be welcoming a new Vicar with a party to celebrate a new beginning.

Services will continue as usual – see the notice boards at our churches for details. Every person living in these parishes is entitled to a Christening, a wedding or a funeral and these will continue throughout the Vacancy. Any questions you may have can be sent to Clare in the office, [email protected] , or contact Anne on 07770745621

Help and advice from  Bishop Gavin Collins , Associate Archdeacon Jane Haslam and Area Dean David Salter, will be invaluable as we work through the process of finding a new Vicar. We begin by writing the Benefice Profile, a brochure explaining who, what and where we are. We do this under the guidance of the Associate Archdeacon and Parish Development Adviser after a meeting to set out the process and prepare the parishes for the work ahead. We can then advertise the post, receive applications and set up the interviews. We hope to attract a number of applicants so please spread the news where you can.

The interview panel consists of the Bishop, the Area Dean and Lay Chair of the Deanery, together with representatives from each of the parishes. After a day of interviews, visits to the school, preaching in Church, tours of the villages and lunch, when everyone tries to get to know each candidate, a new Vicar will be selected. Hopefully they will accept the post. Then the celebrations begin as we look forward to their arrival, after three months notice is given in their current role, and we plan another party to welcome them to the Wychwoods.

We trust and pray above all that God will guide the process each step of the way and that this will be the right place for the chosen person. We believe that we have a lot to offer, not least beautiful countryside, friendly communities and faithful Churches.

Revd Anne Hartley