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Affirming the Marshland Benefice: authorising new Focal Ministers


As Carolyne and Ian take on the role of Focal Ministers within the Marshland Benefice, theirs is a unique situation in that there are two Focal Ministers working together across a Benefice of four individual parishes. Normally there is one Focal Minister to one Parish. Carolyne and Ian will bring to the Benefice their individual personalities and gifts, which has already shown growth across the parishes.  They both feel it is an exciting time to be working with and facilitating the talents and growth of others within the church, pastorally, also within outreach and mission.

How are you feeling about Saturday?


I’m really excited. We were introduced to the concept of Focal Ministry around a year ago, and given that we were probably doing a lot of this stuff anyway, we could see it was naturally a route we would be interested in taking. Carolyne and I both had to adjust our lives to make space for it, so in some ways this marks the end of something and the beginning of something new, which we’re very excited about.


I’m feeling very good about Saturday and about the whole concept of it, not just as a celebration but as a gathering together with everyone; as the family of God, as the body of Christ. It’s a bringing together of all the four benefices who will hopefully take away something from that service of what we’re trying to achieve in the Marshland.

What drew you to the role of Focal Minister?


What appealed to me was that I could focus on where my gifts lie and drop off the baggage I had associated with church, like the church building admin and all that kind of thing which detracted from you fully focusing on where you’re meant to be.

I’ve been called into various situations throughout my life. God has put me in certain places at certain times. I was licensed as worship leader in 2013, but he’s been knocking on my door since then. I’m a musician, but I use the music as my ministry and that’s the best way I can describe it, really. I know people have benefited from this over the years, but now I am becoming a Focal Minister it will allow me to concentrate on that area, to give out of the best of what God wants me to do.


I’m still very much churchwarden at St Bartholomew’s and Eastoft, but also Secretary to the Deanery of Snaith and Hatfield. Carolyne and I were very much involved in worship and have been for a long period of time, and we both recognised that we felt God had given us something we could pass on to others. We felt that and still feel very strongly about it. There is something going on there and we see it on a regular basis. People seem to benefit from it and that’s been supported by the huge amount of love and support we’ve been given, by the amazing folks in the Benefice. Saturday will very much be the culmination of that love and support as we get we’re moving into this new phase.

Carolyne Storey

How important is it that the Marshland Benefice is affirmed in this way?


We’re part of the bigger picture and God is at work here. It’s the outreach and it’s bringing the Marshland further in. We’ve been working with Sally (Myers, Director of Focal Ministry), Tim (Mitchell, Priest-in-Charge of St Nicholas, Thorne, Oversight Minister for the Mission Area of Flowing Waters, and Area Dean for the Deanery of Snaith and Hatfield) and other clergy who are coming from Sheffield and Doncaster; we’re forging relationships with them. It’s really important to us to put Marshland on the map. Even though we’re out at the farthest end, we’re still part of the whole picture of the family and the body of God.


It would be too easy for the Diocese to forget about the Marshlands. We are a long trip out for pretty much everybody, but we warmly receive everyone. I think over the last 12 months we’ve worked really hard to put the Marshlands on the map within the Deanery and the Diocese.

We have been very blessed, as Carolyne said, by the support of visiting clergy, some of whom are now regular visitors. There are lots more people in the Diocese who know where the Marshland Benefice is, and long may that continue.


I know we’re forging these relationships because of the number of people who are coming to see us. We are not just the Marshland. We are part of the Deanery. We are part of the Diocese of Sheffield.

Ian Bishop

What are you hoping to achieve as Focal Ministers?


I’m hoping we show the love of God to others, show the kingdom of God values others and bring others into the fold. As Ian and I journey together, we hope to bring others along on that journey also.


I would absolutely reinforce what Carolyne said. I think Saturday is going to be about saying God’s equipped us with this and he’s going to be looking to others to open their hearts and souls, and to listen to God and see what it is that you can bring to ministry within the Benefice.

Ian and Carolyne will be authorised as Focal Ministers in the Benefice of The Marshlands on Saturday 27th April at 3pm, taking place at St Mary Magdalene, Whitgift.