RECRUITMENT is under-way to find new priests for the four main churches in March.
All four churches are currently without priests following the recent retirements of the Rev Anthony Chandler as Rector of St Peter’s and St Mary’s and the Rev Peter Baxandall as Rector of St Wendreda’s, who was also looking after St John’s after the departure of the Rev Stephen Taylor in 2008.
However, Mr Chandler has remained as priest in charge of St Mary’s in order to oversee the remainder of the restoration work following the devastating fire.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Ely agreed it was unusual for all churches in one benefice to be without a priest at the same time, but it did not mean parishioners were without pastoral care.
“Church wardens have the legal responsibility for the continuing life of the parish. They are responsible for arranging Sunday worship as well as ensuring that people know where to go to find out about baptisms, marriages and funerals. The Rural Dean works closely with them to ensure the life of the parish continues,” said the spokesman.
In the case of March self-supporting priests the Rev Jenny Webb and the Rev Mike Jones have stepped into the breach at St Peter’s and St John’s.
The March vacancies have been advertised as two positions as there will be a new team ministry established in the town.
There will be a team Rector who will take overall responsibility for the four churches with particular responsibility for two and a team vicar who will be responsible for the other two.
It has not yet been decided how the churches will be joined.
The recruitment process for both positions is well under-way but it could be several months before appointments are actually made.
“It can take several months for appointments to be made, any priest appointed has to give three months notice in their current parish. The interview process is followed by a meeting between the candidate and members of the parish.
“If they do not meet with parish approval then the whole process will have to start again.”
The spokesman added it was not unusual for churches to be joined even if they have had their own priests in the past.
She said: “Allocations of clergy are made at a local level based on a formula the diocese uses. This is based on population, usual Sunday attendance and the number of church buildings in an area and allows for a fair distribution of clergy across the diocese.”