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Friday, 12 November 2010

Thriving team ministry at Holy Spirit Parish, Costa Blanca, Spain

The Anglican parish of the Holy Spirit in Costa Blanca has eight congregations and is one of the largest in the diocese in terms of numbers on the electoral roll. It is staffed along the English model of "team ministry", adapted to our circumstances in Europe. The parish is served by 3 priests: the senior chaplain is Fr Peter Edwards, whose role is parallel to a team rector in England, his team includes Frs Robin Carter and Brian Griffiths, whose roles are similar to those of team vicars. In addition there are a number of retired but active priests with Permission to Officiate, as well as a reader, Mr Stephen Carden. An effective team is essential to the oversight and care of this parish which covers a huge area between Valencia and Alicante. The clergy can easily clock up over 35,000 km a year in the course of their pastoral duties. The three chaplains are below, left to right, Fr Griffiths, Fr Edwards and Fr Carter.

Although many of the regular worshippers are on the older end of the age profile, some of the congregations have active programmes for children, including a Saturday club at the congregation in La Fustera. There are also programmes of outreach to nursing homes and hospices. The opportunities for growth and new members often arise in the course of work done by the clergy and readers at the time of bereavement and funerals. These can be key opportunities for members of the families of the bereaved to begin to ponder matters of faith and consider connecting to the community of the Church, where they find spiritual care, friendship and support.

Ecumenical relations on the ground are very important and the clergy maintain good working relations with the Roman Catholic clergy, whose buildings we use, as well as wider links with Orthodox priests and Protestant pastors. Fr Juan Bautista, parish priest of Nuestra Señora de la Almudena, Benidorm, joined us for the confirmation service held n Saturday 6 November, and is pictured above left.  Among those confirmed Mr Bill Worrall (pictured below), a lively new disciple, aged 93!

Also during my weekend pastoral visit, after one of the Sunday Eucharists an impromptu celebration was held for another young parishioner,  Mary Robinson (below), on her 90th birthday!

The parish website is here. 

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