Pretty villages 'promote our idyllic area' in bid to woo new priest

John Walker, churchwarden at St Mary’s The Virgin Church, Peldo

John Walker, churchwarden at St Mary’s The Virgin Church, Peldon, who has spearheaded the campaign - Credit: Nick Strugnell

Picturesque villages are aiming to woo a new priest - with a multipronged marketing campaign designed to "promote our idyllic area".

The Benefice of West Mersea with East Mersea, Peldon and Great and Little Wigborough is said to be "full of character" and boasts some of the most spectacular sunsets and river views you'll ever see.  

West Mersea boasts some of the most picturesque views you'll see anywhere

West Mersea boasts some of the most picturesque views you'll see anywhere - Credit: Stacey Belbin

Its population is growing and the church is flourishing, as people flock to the area to make the most of its picturesque sights. 

Yet despite the obvious beauty of the surroundings, the Benefice has not been able to find a full-time rector since October 2018.

As such, it is going above and beyond to show why the parishes are the best places to live and work - with a website and videos to promote the benefits of the area, as well as the "thriving" church.

St Peter and St Paul's Church, West Mersea

St Peter and St Paul's Church, West Mersea - Credit: Benefice of West Mersea with East Mersea, Peldon and Great and Little Wigborough

John Walker - a retired marketing director and churchwarden at Peldon, who is the driving force behind the campaign - said: “We are lively parishes with plenty going on and we didn’t want to face another year without a leader, so we took matters into our own hands.


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“We decided to advertise this great job and promote our idyllic area.

"I called in favours to get the videos made, drone footage filmed, copy written, photography shot, the webpage designed and to push the vacancy on social media.

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"The churchwardens and members of the Parochial Church Council wrote their own video scripts, so they reflect the wonderful variety of communities across the Benefice.

“Our rural and island parishes are forward-thinking and don't believe in standing still.

"Recent initiatives include a community space at Great Wigborough, exciting plans for an interactive history hub at Peldon and a Porch Pantry at West Mersea offering a mini foodbank to those in need."

The campaign is being supported by the Bishop of Colchester, The Right Reverend Roger Morris, as well as Archdeacon, The Venerable Ruth Patten, and retired priests.

14/05/18
The Bishop of Colchester, The Right Reverend Roger Morris, on top of Peldon Church tower, S

The Bishop of Colchester, The Right Reverend Roger Morris, on top of Peldon Church tower, St Mary the Virgin - Credit: Nick Strugnell

Bishop Roger added: “The Benefice of Mersea with Peldon and The Wigboroughs is one of the jewels in the crown of our episcopal area.

"Great people, great location and a real job of mission to do.

“The population of Mersea Island has grown by over 20% in recent years and the church is flourishing.

"At West Mersea, a massively talented group of people have created a lively, modern praise service, tapping into the musical skills that are there.

"There are all kinds of other gifts as well, including the people who put all this together.”

Alan Brook, one of two wardens at West Mersea said: “There is a thriving and lively community here on Mersea Island and the church, in the heart of the village, plays an important role.”

Alan Brook, churchwarden at St Peter & St Paul's Church, West Mersea

Alan Brook, churchwarden at St Peter & St Paul's Church, West Mersea - Credit: Benefice of West Mersea with East Mersea, Peldon and Great and Little Wigborough

Stacey Belbin, who runs Lady Grace Boat Trips from the island, added: “For me, Mersea is the centre of the universe - there's nowhere I'd rather be.

"It's full of character and characters! It's an area full of adventure and discovery, with the most spectacular sunsets and picturesque views across the River Blackwater."

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