The Benefice of Stour Vale is now a group of seven Church of England (Anglican) parishes, which was originally formed out of two groups of four in 2002. (Stour Row church was closed for worship on 1st November 2015 and is now joined with Stour Provost). Situated in a rural part of north Dorset, in the Blackmore Vale, near Gillingham and Shaftesbury, we are in the Blackmore Vale Deanery, part of Salisbury Diocese – you can see where we are on this map.
The parishes have kept their independent status, but are in the charge of one priest and come together on feast-days and at other times when there is one service only (e.g. Good Friday), and, sometimes in the past, Rogation Sunday.
A United Benefice Service is held at East Stour on the third Sunday of each month, and in each church in turn on fifth Sundays of the month, whilst in other weeks parishioners enjoy worshipping in their own churches. (All, though, are welcome at any of the services regardless of where they live. Should the style or time suit you better at a different parish to one you live in – that’s fine.)
Many services are lay-led, either by a “Licensed Lay Minister” (LLM or Reader) or by Lay Worship Leaders who are commissioned to conduct a “Service of the Word” (including Morning or Evening prayer, otherwise known as Matins and Evensong – but not Communion services except Easter & Christmas when there are Communion by Extension services).
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