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Bradford area churches ‘will not lose out in merger’
The rector of the newly combined parish of Bradford on Avon Holy Trinity, Westwood and Wingfield has moved to reassure parishioners they will not lose out by sharing a cleric.
The Rev Joanna Abecassis, 58, has been the parish priest at Holy Trinity since March 2010, but has now legally become the rector for a new benefice, also taking in Westwood and Wingfield.
Services at Holy Trinity, St Mary the Virgin and St Mary will carry on as before and Dr Abecassis will continue to live in the vicarage in Woolley Street, Bradford on Avon.
She said: “This is a big change for me and a big change for them, but I am reassuring everyone that things will be the same.
“Just because I don’t live there does not mean I don’t care. I am always on the end of the phone or email and I will support them at events or if people are sick.
“Holy Trinity has always been on its own and now they are now sharing me with others. Holy Trinity has on average a congregation of 100 people, in comparison to 30 in Westwood. “I am passionate that we do not get into the situation that Holy Trinity is what it is all about. It is not true, but it will be something that people will feel.”
“But I cannot be everywhere at once and will have to have someone to take the things I can’t be at.”
Westwood and Wingfield has had its own rector, Ron Lowrie, for 25 years, but Dr Abecassis had been working with him and the parish for months before taking over.
Dr Abecassis said: “I believe we can do things better together. We all have our strengths and can learn from one another. It is very important to let each individual have their own identity. She was formerly team vicar for eight churches in Totnes, Devon, and vicar of Cornworthy and Dartington.
She officially took on the benefice last Friday, but was joined by the Bishop of Ramsbury in a celebratory service in Westwood’s St Mary the Virgin church on Monday evening.