Latest News on the Vacancy

5th July

It so happened that the Sunday after being announced as the newly-appointed rector of
St Mary’s, Frinton, Rev Funmilayo Vaughan had a rare Sunday off, and came to share it
with us in an 11am All-Age Service.  Her current job is as a curate in a team ministry in
Great Baddow, Chelmsford, which covers three churches: another St Mary’s, St Paul’s,
and Meadgate Church.  Along with fellow clergy there, she is usually busy every Sunday,
as well as during the week.  

On her visit to us, she met many different people who welcomed her warmly into our midst.
We are very grateful to God for her quick appointment, and to CPAS, and Bishop Roger,
Archdeacon Ruth of Colchester, and Area Dean Laurie for their support and guidance.
We are also grateful for the many of you who prayed faithfully
for the person of God’s choice to become our next rector.

We very much look forward to Funmilayo moving to Frinton, but still have to wait
a few more months.  Her farewell service in Great Baddow will be on Sunday 29th September, and her Licensing Service in Frinton will be on Wednesday 23rd October at 7.30pm.
Let’s continue to pray for her, as she prepares to move away from many friends and colleagues, and pray for us as we continue to work together, maintaining everything we do
at St Mary’s, while anticipating this exciting new chapter for us and for Frinton!


11th June

Following the information blackout month of May, during which applications were considered,
and familiarisation visits and interviews took place for our candidates,
an official declaration was made at each service on Sunday 9th June.
Karen Hepworth and Heather Ursell, St Mary’s parish reps. for this process, were
very pleased to be able to read this announcement provided by the Diocesan Office.
It had to be read at both affected churches at the same time.

Announcement from Bishop Roger and Archdeacon Ruth,
to be read at services on Sunday 9th June, 2024

We are delighted to announce the good news that (subject to appropriate checks)
the Revd Funmilayo Vaughan has been appointed Rector of Frinton.
Funmilayo is currently curate in the Great Baddow Team.


Funmilayo says: “I was driving home on the A120 when I received the phone call that
I was successful. ‘Praise the Lord, thank you, Jesus,’ were the words of praise from my lips.
I am truly excited about the wonderful opportunity that the Lord has granted me to be the
next Rector of St Mary’s, Frinton. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.
I received a lovely welcome from members of the church community;
I met a man with a greyhound walking his dog near St Mary’s that I was able to speak with;
I also met a lovely couple with their dog at Fifi’s café.
All these encounters affirm the openness and friendly nature of the people of
Frinton and St Mary’s. I am looking forward to working alongside you
as fellow labourers in the vineyard of the Lord,
as we serve to advance the love and good news of Jesus Christ.  

I will be sad to leave the Great Baddow Team Ministry, and thankful to God
for the training, support, love, and care that I and my dog Moreni
have received from our three parish churches.
In the words of the African proverb, ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child.’
The Great Baddow team ministry has helped raise and prepare me
for this next chapter of my life. Thank you.”

Bishop Roger says: Funmilayo is held in very high esteem in the diocese.
The Bishop of Bradwell, Bishop Adam, said, 
You have a good ‘un there’.
Bishop Guli declared that she was ‘delighted’ to see her appointed to this role
and that we’ve been able to keep her in the diocese.’

We look forward to welcoming Funmilayo into this new role and
ask for your prayers for her as she prepares to move and to take up her new ministry.
Funmilayo hopes to move in September, and we hope that she will be licensed in October.

We also pray for Funmilayo’s current parishes of the Great Baddow Team Ministry,
St Mary’s, St Paul’s and Meadgate Church as they prepare to say goodbye to her.

Karen and Heather say: We add our thanks for the prayers of so many of you.
We sincerely believe that Funmilayo is God’s answer to those prayers.
We all look forward to what God has in store for St Mary’s and all of us.
Thank you for the very warm welcome she has received from many of you.


5th April - Our advert for the vacancy

CPAS Advert


30th March

During March we continued with the process of preparing the Parish Profile to meet the public. That entailed David Wicks and Dominic Gardner adapting the pages of narrative for digital presentation, illustrating them, and adding in various quotes from different church members.
PCC members also had to re-approve the finished article, which they did, unanimously.

It was then sent to our patron, CPAS, and to the bishop and archdeacon of Colchester, +Roger and Ruth, and to our Area Dean, Laurie Bond.  The idea is that the diocese and CPAS immediately start to advertise the vacancy to people they already know might be interested.
PCC voted to also advertise our vacancy in the Church Times, which, at the cost of £1,000,
will continue displaying our advertisement until we have appointed a new rector. 

St Mary’s Parish Profile is now available for everyone to see on our own website too.
Look on our homepage, and or simply download the Parish Profile here.

Various CPAS and diocesan staff involved in guiding us forward in the search will provide provisional dates for interviews, and will meanwhile filter any applications which come through their channels.  The interview dates are confidential, not least because the current churches of any visiting clergy will probably be unaware their incumbent might be on the move.
Right up till the mutually agreed ‘chosen date’ when their church and our church
will announce the appointment, the whole business must be kept as private as possible

That means that in future we might not have as much news to share as you would hope,
but please don’t take that as an indication that nothing is happening.  

Meanwhile, we are very pleased and grateful how well everyone is continuing to support, volunteer, attend, donate, encourage, and serve at St Mary’s.  Please keep it up, as we honour God with our faithfulness. In three weeks’ time we have our Annual Parochial Church Meeting, APCM.  There we will gather to hear something of what has been happening over the past year, and to elect a few people for PCC or Deanery Synod roles.  If you would like to offer to serve in that way, please ask someone to nominate you, using forms in Reception or at the back of church.  If you are unsure whether you are on our current Electoral Roll,
please check that at the back of church.  

You probably already know that our brand new solar panels are now helping to heat the church, although there is still some more work to be done, and a some more money to be raised.  It’s an exciting new chapter for St Mary’s, the result of a huge amount of work by
a small group of people
, for whom and to whom we give many thanks.  

As we pray for the discovery of our new rector, and look forward to that new chapter too,
we thank God for his faithfulness to us all, and
seek to serve him well and together at St Mary’s.


21st February

Over the past month, as churchwardens, Peter and Heather have worked hard on creating our ‘Parish Profile, page by page, describing St Mary’s as it is now, and some of its recent past,
as well as some of our hopes for the future.  We had originally been given the deadline of
21st February, which we knew would come very quickly, but even when we discovered that
we could choose to delay it, we decided still to aim for that date, thinking that:
the sooner we start, the sooner we will finish!

Part of our story in the preparation of the Parish Profile was that Heather believes God spoke to her, when she was beginning to feel distracted by the huge variety of other churches’ profiles.  One night she felt God said to her clearly, ‘Beware Saul’s armour.’   When David wanted to rise to the challenge of fighting Goliath, King Saul had tried to protect him by giving him his own armour to wear.  Then David realised he already had all he needed to do God’s will.  So, the Profile that we have, and has now been officially approved today by PCC, might not be quite like others,
but we pray it will help attract the person of God’s choice to St Mary’s.

The profile included input from a wide range of St Mary’s people, through the network of action groups, homegroups, and other small groups.  The first consultation asked for suggestions of attributes we might look for in a new rector.  From the responses, we narrowed down the range from Angel Gabriel status to someone more human, whom we truly want to be
the person of God’s choice, someone who …

... is evangelical, and believes in the authority of the Bible and
the good news of personal salvation through Jesus Christ.

... values and uses the gifts of prayer, and the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

... genuinely embraces the value of traditional and modern styles of worship, 
and will be able to maintain both.

... says, and puts into action, the principle that ‘everyone is welcome.’

... engages comfortably with children and families,
and will reach out to them in the community.

... enjoys a collaborative style of leadership.

... prioritises pastoral care, and is wise and kind.

Given the importance of Frinton Mission in our area, and therefore FACT too, openness to sometimes worshipping and working with people from other denominations is also important.

The second consultation focused on St Mary’s as a church community.  People gave responses describing aspects of church life for which they are particularly grateful to God, as well as examples of what they believe is currently working well, and, importantly, areas where we would like to do better in future.  We know our new incumbent will want challenges to address
as well as to help maintain the things that are going well. 

At PCC, as well as approving the Parish Profile - now in the hands of Dominic Gardner and David Wicks to prepare for public use online - the two people who will represent St Mary’s in the selection of the new rector were also nominated.  Peter and Heather were pleased to be elected as St Mary’s representatives, and promised they would prayerfully do their best to represent all the people of the church.  They will eventually be part of the interview panel, which will include either Archdeacon Ruth or Bishop Roger, representing the Chelmsford Diocese, and either Rev Mat Ineson or Rev Graham Archer, representing our patron, CPAS.  Eventually!

The Parish Profile will soon be available on our church website,
for anyone, including prospective rectors, to read. 
Please pray for the right person to connect with us, in God’s perfect timing.


22nd January

As planned, we were visited by Revd Mat Ineson, as our patron, Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) representative. (Graham Archer, whom we had expected, was unable to be with us after all, although we might see him in future.) Mat first met and spoke with our Standing Committee, explaining the role of CPAS in the appointment of a new rector to St Mary’s. We were able to ask him questions, as well as answer his about St Mary’s. After this we broke for a light lunch with him, then we followed on with a full PCC gathering.

As expected, Mat talked us through the process of ‘vacancy’ stage by stage. He made things very clear including that as our sole patron, the CPAS is very much on our side. He said he was impressed with what he had witnessed at St Mary’s and reassured us that CPAS would do everything in its power to find the right person to take on the mantle of rector of Frinton. 

Your two churchwardens have been busy consulting and collating many and varied views from the congregation as to the skills and attributes we would ideally like to see in our new rector, and people’s views on what the church is like now, and what we hope and pray for in the future. This consultation process is a part of the creation of the all-important ‘Parish Profile’ document which will be used by our patrons to help advertise our post. CPAS will be responsible for its wide circulation to all potential applicants and will advise us how we can be prepared. 

We are endeavouring to have the parish profile completed by our next PCC meeting, due on 21st February. It’s a tall order as PCC members will be asked to proofread and feedback during its preparation, and our ‘illustrators’ will need time to add those details. We will do our best! The 21st February meeting will also be known as the ‘Section 11 meeting’ which is necessary by law, and where the PCC will be required to approve and sign-off the parish profile document. This Section 11 meeting is also needed for the election of the two parish representatives who will eventually join the archdeacon and patron in the final interviewing process.

We are very grateful for all the prayer support and commitment from so many individuals and groups in St Mary’s, including a monthly time of prayer for everyone who would like to be involved, 7-8.15pm at Heather’s house (9 Winchester Road) on every ‘first Friday,’ starting 2nd February. Prayer underpins all we are doing, wanting every decision to be guided by the Spirit of God. 

We are also grateful for the outstanding team of preachers and leaders we have helping keep St Mary’s alive, and for everyone who helps maintain the wonderful church we are all part of here. We have a long way to go before our new rector moves into the rectory, but as promised from the outset we will keep you as informed as we can of progress along the way.

Keep on Praising JESUS!  


14th January

Having said thank you and farewell to Don and Karen, they would probably be the first to tell us how important it is for us now to pull together and encourage each other during this time of vacancy – or interregnum as it’s also known. Let’s make it a higher priority than ever, to keep coming to church, and to look out for other people too; check up on them if they are missing. Thank you to those who have already offered to do something extra to help at St Mary’s!

We, as your churchwardens, are ‘on the case,’ together with our excellent PCC. We are liaising with the Chelmsford Diocese and with the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) our patron. CPAS is the organisation which, in time, will supply us with candidates to consider as Don’s successor. We will keep you posted throughout the process.

Before Christmas, Bishop Roger and Archdeacon Ruth met with PCC to discuss our own current situation and hopes for the future, and to explain the diocese’s position, including their willingness to help if they can. In January, next week, a rep from CPAS, Mat Ineson, will visit us, and again meet with PCC to go through the same things, but from the patron’s point of view.

Probably your burning question now is, ‘How long will we have to wait for a new rector?’ We simply don’t know! It will take at least six months for anyone to be appointed, but more likely up to twice as long as that. Meanwhile, we are very blessed to have a great team of leaders and preachers to help us through the vacancy time, as well as many of you who help in so many ways.

Be assured that we are earnestly doing all we can, towards our common goal. We are working on the ‘rector profile’, a shortlist drawing on the huge number of suggested ideal characteristics and gifts we have received from our congregation! And on the ‘parish profile’ – a much larger project – which will attempt to provide prospective candidates with an idea of what St Mary’s and Frinton are like, and what would be our hopes and prayers for the future.

We know that God Answers Prayer (GAP), so another important step for the duration of the vacancy will be to hold a special monthly prayer meeting, to focus on both the way forward in our search, and on what will be going on in St Mary’s during that time too. This new prayer time will be held at Heather’s house, 9 Winchester Road, 7pm to 8.15pm on the first Friday of every month, starting 2nd February. Everyone will be welcome.

Our usual monthly prayer meeting will also continue, on the third Monday of each month, in Rooms 3&4 at church. That will be to pray for the church as well as other prayer concerns. If anyone else would like to host another prayer meeting during the vacancy, please let Peter or Heather know. As we depend on God to show us his way forward, we need as much prayer as possible, in church, in groups, and praying on our own. You could pray for any and all of the above and use the two written prayers on this ‘Our Next Rector’ page (link here). 

And remember, in John Wesley’s words,

‘The best of all is, God is with us!’



A message from Don and Karen …

            Dear St Mary’s.

We would like to thank everybody at church for the wonderful send-off
we were given last Sunday. We were overwhelmed by the appreciation we received,
across the board, and for the very generous gift we were given. 

Our prayer for St Mary’s is for new life and new growth
in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of His Holy Spirit.

May God bless you all,

Don & Karen