Essex churchgoers in YouTube appeal for new vicar

Filming the video in the churchyard Parishioners hope their video will help attract a new vicar to Woodham Ferrers and Bicknacre

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Essex parishioners without a vicar for 16 months have taken to YouTube in the hope of filling the vacancy.

The villages of Woodham Ferrers and Bicknacre have had no vicar since the Rev Mary Cottee retired in June 2011.

After receiving no interest in the post, parishioners made their own video appealing for applicants.

Churchwarden Nick Kitchen said: "We're looking for somebody with enthusiasm who is flexible and willing to get involved in the community."

The video, posted on YouTube, features a cardboard cut-out vicar officiating at a wedding, a baptism and a school assembly.

The parish has two churches, St Andrew's in Bicknacre and St Mary's in Woodham Ferrers.

Detached house

Currently it has to "borrow" retired clergy and vicars from neighbouring parishes to officiate at some of its services, with volunteers organising other events.

"For the people running the church it's hard work," said Mr Kitchen.

Cardboard cut-out vicar The new vicar will not be paid but will be given use of a four-bedroomed detached house

"I'm in a full-time job and it's difficult to juggle. People end up doing too much."

The position is for a "house for duty" associate minister who would not get paid but would be given use of a four-bedroomed detached church house in return for working two days a week, plus Sundays.

So far, only five people have downloaded an application form for the job but nobody has yet returned it.

"The fact that it's unpaid certainly doesn't help. You immediately cut out those that need to make a living out of being a vicar," said Mr Kitchen.

'Indian takeaways'

But he said the job had other compensations.

"The churches are definitely unique in their style of worship and the way we run our services," he said.

"These are fantastic villages and wonderful communities. We're well located and close to London, Maldon and Chelmsford for commuting.

"We've got great local facilities: pubs, parks and quite a bit of open land in Bicknacre. We've got a small village shop and Chinese and Indian takeaways."

Parishioners decided to make the video, which has now been viewed more than 5,000 times, after a meeting between churchwardens, the rural dean and the Bishop of Bradwell.

"Someone suggested it and we thought it wasn't a bad idea. Everybody needs a laugh and it's nice to show church people aren't dull," Mr Kitchen said.

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