There are very few Society parishes in Bath and Wells (6) and two of those are in vacancy. One vacancy is likely to be filled shortly with a good Society priest, and the appointment process is under way with the other.
Fr Brendan Clover at St John’s, Clevedon, is making a tremendous impact in the parish and community, and gratifyingly numbers have increased significantly on Sundays and during the week. St John’s has had a chequered recent history, and Fr Brendan has made great inroads in the healing process within the church and community.
Fr Andrew Hughes at All Saints and St Saviour, Weston super Mare, continues to hold the Catholic banner high and proud on that part of the north coast, and at Christmas time especially with the fine Bodley building and long musical tradition. Local societies use the church a lot for concerts which are always very popular.
Fr Peter Edwards maintains the Society’s presence in an otherwise wilderness of liberal evangelical parishes in Bath; St John’s is the only Society parish, and is linked with St Mary’s Bathwick, and again is proving an effective witness in the area.
Holy Trinity, Taunton, is the only other Society parish in Bath and Wells, and is the only traditionalist parish in Taunton. A recently-appointed organist has brought new life to the music. Holy Trinity is in the fortunate position to be able to consider the installation of a new audio visual system in the new year which will extend its mission and witness, and in the new year the 6 bells will be repaired and rehung.
Like all parishes/dioceses, Covid has had a serious affect. However, the Society parishes led the way from Easter last year in streaming services and ensuring that people could access, albeit via the ‘net, a daily Mass and a full Triduum. Parishes have continued this practice, although others have caught up! The latest Covid wave is obviously of concern, and there has been much thought about whether or not to continue with all planned services. Covid precautions are taken seriously, as with all churches across the country, but the clergy remain committed in ensuring that people have physical access to the Sacraments; it is the people’s choice whether or not to avail themselves according to their own views, but the option is generally there. There are challenges ahead with reports on ‘Focal Ministry’ as well as redeployment, and of course, like all other dioceses, we will be considering the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ report. Society parishes are well represented in diocesan structures, with membership of synods, Bishops’ Council. Assistant Area Deans and a Deliverance Adviser. As a result, the traditionalist voice can be, and is heard, above the rest!