Our Benefice of 5 Churches in 5 different village parishes, lies between the Northamptonshire towns of Wellingborough and Kettering, in the Wellingborough Deanery.
The Benefice was first created in the 1960’s with the 3 Churches of All Saints’ Great Harrowden, St Mary’s Little Harrowden and St Mary’s Orlingbury. In 2005, All Saints’ Church Pytchley and St Peter’s Church Isham joined the benefice under one Rector. The Vicarage is situated in Little Harrowden.
This is a rural area and the villages are mostly surrounded by farmland, although Great Harrowden encompasses an area of housing on the edge of Wellingborough. There are a few small companies, but no major employers. A number of people work wholly or partly from home. Only Isham has a shop, and Orlingbury has a coffee shop, but the villages share 4 pubs between them!
Isham and Pytchley have Church of England primary schools and Little Harrowden has a primary school with strong links to the Church. All the schools have good OFSTED reports and the Rector takes services at all 3 schools.
Working as a Benefice
Much work has been done to bring the parishes together into a benefice that works well and provides mutual support. All the parishes are committed to making the benefice work and appreciate the benefits of sharing services and activities with other congregations. Some examples of how we work as a benefice are:
- Administration: we share a part time administrator, who is based at the Vicarage and assists the Rector with benefice administration, arranging services, completing returns and producing our newsletters. There is a benefice photocopier based at the Vicarage.
- We worship as a benefice on the third Sunday each month when the congregations come together for a shared Benefice Communion service, which is rotated round the Churches.
- Weekly there is a benefice 8am Morning Prayer service at Little Harrowden on Wednesday
- Great Harrowden holds a monthly Taize Service for the benefice.
- We hold shared benefice services to celebrate special festivals e.g. Ascension Day, Ash Wednesday and Advent, and Orlingbury and Pytchley hold an annual service for Pets.
- Bible Study Groups: there is Benefice Group which meets monthly in Orlingbury.
- Lent Groups: each year there are study groups during Lent.
- The Benefice runs courses as need e.g. Alpha, Marriage preparation and Christianity explored, as well as Confirmation classes.
- Little Fishes, the benefice group for Mums and Tots, meets weekly on Mondays at St Mary’s Little Harrowden for a mini service, activities, chat and snacks.
- The benefice Mothers’ Union meets monthly in one of the Churches and plays an important role in supporting families preparing for baptism.
- St Mary’s Little Harrowden hosts a monthly benefice Men’s Breakfast for discussion and a ‘full English’
- The churchwardens of the 5 parishes meet 4-5 times per year with the Rector, to discuss the administration of the benefice and to share ideas and issues.
- The benefice has shared policies for Safeguarding, Baptism and Health and Safety.
- We have a benefice website at www.5churches.co.uk which links the five churches providing shared information about the parishes.
- We have a shared newsletter called Connect 5, which is delivered free to all households in the Benefice every other month and includes Church and Community news.
- All the Churches run social and fund raising events and support each other