Much-loved Havant-area clergy could lose their jobs if £9.65m diocese shake-up is approved

MUCH-LOVED church leaders could lose their jobs if a £9.65m plan to ‘revitalise’ the city’s diocese is approved.

Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 7:17 pm
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 10:00 am
Rev Canon Karina Green

The proposals would see the cash injected into Portsmouth, Gosport, Havant and Isle of Wight parishes to build ‘innovative’ new congregations to draw more people to Christ. 

But they could come at a cost to religious leaders in east Hampshire – where it is proposed parishes at Leigh Park, Warren Park and West Leigh are merged. 

As a result the roles of Leigh Park and Warren Park vicar Jonathan Jeffrey and West Leigh vicar Karina Green would cease to exist, with a ‘team rector’ role and a ‘team vicar' role created to serve all three areas instead. 

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Reverend Jonathan Jeffrey outside St Francis Church, in Leigh Park. Picture: Vernon Nash (180400-014)

More than 690 people have joined a Facebook page set up in a bid to save the pair’s jobs. 

The Rev Jonathan Jeffrey, who serves at St Francis Church in Leigh Park and St Clare’s Church in Warren Park, said: ‘It is clear the community values what is already being done here and there has been a huge outpouring of love, support and and a sense of value for me and Karina. 

‘I truly value this community because not only is it my home, but it is where I feel called by God to be. 

‘Leigh Park as a whole is a fabulous place and I want to be part of its fabulous future.’ 

While Rev Jeffrey said the shake-up would mean the future is ‘dynamic, funded and resourced’, one Facebook user said the Diocese of Portsmouth had ‘torn the heart out of the community it was trying to reach out to’. 

Rev Canon Karina Green, who leads St Alban's Church in West Leigh, said the changes were ‘not pleasant’ but she would apply for one of the new roles. 

‘It would be sad to have to go, but who knows,’ she said. 

‘I have had amazing support from from everybody. 

‘I want the right thing for the community and I do think it would make a lot of sense being one parish.’ 

After an informal consultation period, the diocese confirmed the proposals were approved by The Bishop’s Council this month – however no concrete decisions have been made. 

An eight-week formal consultation into the plans is now open to those directly affected by them, before the The Bishop’s Council makes its last recommendation in April. 

It will then be up to the Church of England to hold a final consultation, before making a final decision. 

A Portsmouth diocese spokesman said ‘anyone would be able to apply’ for the new roles created if the proposals are accepted. 

‘But no final decision has been taken yet on whether we will be creating any new jobs, so we haven’t yet drawn up precise job descriptions for each new role,' he said. 

‘If these proposals are ultimately approved, then discussions will take place about the scope of each new post, and then we’ll have a better idea of the kind of people we’re looking for.’ 

The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, said the plans would give the diocese the ‘foundation' to ‘inspire greater spiritual depth’, have a ‘bigger impact on society’ and ‘enlarge congregations’. 

In Gosport, they propose to link the parishes of Bridgemary, Elson and Rowner to create a new team ministry and merge Forton, Christ Church and Holy Trinity. 

Meanwhile in Portsmouth a total of £2.18m has already been allocated to the refurbishment of St Margaret’s Church and the employment of two pioneer ministers at St Luke’s Church in Southsea.

The cash will also boost the ‘consolidation’ of work by Harbour Church in Portsmouth and its two new congregations, at St George’s Church in Portsea and St Alban’s Church in Copnor.