Holy Trinity, St John’s and Christ Church: a joint Merton Priory parish
Our three parishes (Holy Trinity, St John’s and Christ Church) are now merged into a single parish under the Merton Priory team ministry. What does this mean for us all? Here are some of the frequently-asked questions - and the answers!
Why is this change necessary?
The Church across this diocese is creating local groups and teams of parishes so that ministers don’t find themselves working alone, and so that resources can be shared in such a way to enable mission.
Does my church benefit from the new arrangement?
We think it secures the future of all three churches as much stronger and more viable units. Cross-fertilisation between the parishes is very positive.
Bishop Richard with Merton Priory churchwardens of Christchurch, St John's and Holy Trinity, and our rector Chris Palmer
Paul Hambling is Team Vicar at Christ Church, Colliers Wood.
Who is my minister?
Your regular minister is the same as before, but you will see a minister from another church from time to time.
Will I always have the same minister every week?
Basically yes but depending on how many clergy are part of the Team at any given time, there will be a degree of flexibility.
Will there always be a Sunday service at my church, or will I sometimes have to go to another church?
There will be a Sunday service in each church (sometimes more than one) but maybe once per year we may have a Team Celebration with just one main morning service. Other Team services, especially in the evening will take place in our churches, initially in an ad hoc way.
Does this mean that there's a danger that one of the churches will be closed?
No, quite the opposite. Small churches can sometimes be vulnerable to the possibility of closure in an era with less church attendance, tighter budgets and fewer clergy, but a Team provides a sustainable way forward for all of us.
What are the other churches like?
Christ Church is near to the Brown & Root tower in Colliers Wood. The congregation is very diverse in terms of age, ethnicity and church background. A newly refurbished hall sits next door. This area is changing a lot. Location see Christ Church Colliers Wood
Holy Trinity is in Wimbledon Broadway, next to the Polka Theatre. The congregation has a high proportion of families with young children and a high turnover of people. The building was re-ordered in the 1970s.
St John’s sits on the edge of the High Path Estate, easily seen from the main road towards Morden out of Wimbledon. It has a small but growing congregation, with many established older people who have worshipped there for a long time, and younger people from the estate and nearby new housing. Location see St John the Divine High Path
What happens to my Parochial Church Council?
Each local PCC has ceased to exist and has been replaced by a new District Church Council (DCC) that deals with all the day-to-day life of the local church including finances and faculties. So the parish has three DCCs and one overarching PCC made up from representatives of all three. This looks at things affecting the whole parish but meets only about 4 times per year e.g putting in place common child-protection or safeguarding policies. Information can go up from DCCs to PCC or down from PCC to DCC.
Who runs the combined Parochial Church Council? How am I represented on it?
The PCC is chaired by the Team Rector and it includes 2 elected Deanery Synod members from each church, 6 churchwardens (2 from each existing parish) and 6 other elected reps (2 from each church)
Does my church lose control of its own governing, especially its finances?
No! Each DCC manages its own finances. The PCC identifies common matters in dialogue with the DCCs. For instance we've commissioned an asbestos survey for each building, getting a better deal that way; or may think of some initiative that we all agree to support. We have decided not to create a single pot of money but we will have to produce one big set of combined accounts at the end of each financial year. We have worked out a funding ratio based on electoral rolls, fairer shares assessments etc for common projects. This which means that with joint costs we’ll each contribute in the ratio 6:2:1 (HT:CC:StJ). This also means that each church will have its own annual meeting but in addition there will be a Team annual meeting.
What is the combined parish be called?
Churches maintain their existing names but the new parish is called Merton Priory Team Ministry. There is no longer any legal boundary separating the existing three parishes.
Are there be more or fewer activities with all three churches involved?
There are more activities with all three involved. We already do joint preparation for Communion or Confirmation. Educational opportunities etc are aimed across all three churches. But from time to time there are activities specific to specific churches.
Does the way we worship in our church change in any way?
Each church remains distinctive, but most probably as we grow together and experience more of each other’s worship, then there may be some change. This is likely to be organic rather than through pro-active change.
What will be distinctive about each church? Will each church have a particular focus?
Each church is already distinctive. We will have failed if we just become an amalgam of the three but we hope we’d be recognisable as part of the same ‘family’.
Does change affect church school places?
Church School Governors decide Admissions Policies not PCCs so the future will be in their hands. There are no church schools in the parishes of St John’s and Christ Church.
Currently The Priory and Holy Trinity church schools state a preference towards those who are regular and faithful worshippers in the parish in which the schools are set (and in the case of Priory, also those from St Mary Merton due to historic links). If this parish preference remains within the admissions policies, then in the new Team parish, families from all three churches will be treated similarly.
But of those qualifying as valid foundation applicants, those living closes to the schools will be the first to be offered nursery/reception foundation places. Most schools keep this under review.
What arrangements are being made for the different congregations to meet on a regular basis and get to know each other?
Big Team events are great but take a lot of work, so we can’t do that too often. But we all should ask ourselves what we can do to help us get to know each other.
How will the clergy work together within the team?
The clergy are working in many ways as a team. There is a weekly staff meeting for review, planning, supervision and pastoral reflection.
Merton Priory PCC charity number is 1134253
Aladdin by MP3 Merton Priory churches drama group, January 2013