Flying Start for New Dorset Benefice

by Gerry Lynch last modified 19 May, 2014 12:38 PM

Former RAF chaplain given rousing induction to Yetminster-centred Benefice serving a remarkable 16 village parishes.

Flying Start for New Dorset Benefice

Bishop Nicholas with new Team Rector, the Revd Tony Gilbert.

St Andrew's Church, Yetminster was filled almost to capacity on Thursday evening 8th May for the licensing, institution and induction, of the Revd Tony Gilbert as Team Rector and the new Three Valleys Team Benefice.

The Three Valleys Team, consisting of the three former Benefices of Gifle Valley, Wriggle Valley and Vale of the White Hart, consists of 16 rural parishes, of which Yetminster is the largest with a population of about 1000. The total population is around 6000 and covering an astonishing 65 square miles of some of the loveliest countryside in England. 

Bishop Nicholas, in his first official visit to Yetminster, performed the formal act of licensing and preached on the major step which was being taken by Tony Gilbert, his supporting clergy and all the people in these far flung parishes. Tony was welcomed by representatives of the three former benefices, churches of other Christian denominations, and leaders of the community. The Archdeacon of Sherborne, the Venerable Paul Taylor, went through the traditional acts of induction assisted at each stage by representatives of the 16 parishes – the giving of the vessels for Holy Communion, the Bible for preaching the word, the filling of the font for baptism, the formal handing over of the church keys (all 16 of them!) and the tolling of the bell; and then installed him in his stall.

A specially formed choir from all the parishes, directed by Eddie Upton, introduced the service with a rousing anthem of praise written by a local man in the 19th Century. Those attending the service were rung into and out of the church on Yetminster's fine peal of six bells. The organ was played by Simon Eadon, who accompanied the lusty singing with great verve and inventiveness. The whole service was a great occasion though not so formal  that laughter and enjoyment did not find their place.

Crowds at St Andrew's, YetminsterAfter the service there was a convivial party in St Andrew's Hall, with food and drink contributed and shared by all the parishes.

Tony Gilbert, who with his wife Nicola and their family is living at Thornford Rectory, will lead the ministry in the new team with the assistance of the Revd Simon Brignall as Team Vicar and a further Team Vicar yet to be appointed. He will also be assisted by the hard working and gifted retired clergy, and the ever helpful and inspiring Brothers of the Friary at Hilfield.

Tony was a Chaplain in the RAF, retiring recently in the rank of Wing Commander. He has considerable experience of working with and directing teams of clergy and we all greatly look forward to having the benefit of his leadership.

Bottom image: crowds gathering in St Andrew's, Yetminster, at the start of the service.

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