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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 13:00 UK
The church is blooming in Essex
Oliver Rogers
Oliver Rogers
BBC online reporter

Sheep St Osyth
Sheep help to keep the grass down in St Osyth churchyard

BBC Essex's year-long online blog following two parishes in Essex has brought new readers to their traditional church magazine material.

All Saints' in Chafford Hundred near Grays and the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Osyth have both been writing entries on the BBC Essex website.

BBC reporter Oliver Rogers has been following the progress of both parishes and draws together some reflections.

Both areas are different, one being by the seaside and the other more urban.

"I've been to visit both parish churches and have started to gain an insight into their workings and to know some of the people who make the churches function in their area.

"We've had a noticeable success with the online blog, in that some of the recent postings have been looked at by over 100 people.

"Clearly, this is not just local parishioners taking an interest, but others from outside.

Lots to read about in the localist of local blogs!
Oliver Rogers on 'Tale of Two Parishes'

"Along with the parish-pump politics we've try to find local stories and to draw out themes. In St Osyth, the Revd Martin Flowerdew left for a new parish and they've been going through the process of appointing a new vicar.

"Meanwhile in Chafford Hundred, All Saints' is a new church recently opened in 2008. They've been building a multi-faith congregation and developing the grounds of the church.

"Revd Alex Gowing-Cumber is not a traditional vicar, he goes to U2 concerts and Christian rock festivals. With tattoos up his arms and with long hair, he is far removed from most people's ideas of a Church of England priest.

Revd Alex Gowing Cumber (L)
Revd Alex Gowing Cumber (L) is hoping to grow his church congregation

"St Osyth is the very essence of a parish church, at the end of the month they will hold their annual flower show. Sheep live in the churchyard keeping the grass down!

"In Chafford, the big event was a diversity day celebrating the roots of the local population and encouraging people to use the services provided at All Saints.

"All Saints houses air cadets, scouts, and young offenders groups along with GP drop-in surgeries and a Sure Start centre. It is very much about using the building as a multipurpose community centre in the church.

"That's not to say St Peter and St Paul does not have a place at the heart of St Osyth.

"They had new bells in 2004 (something Chafford doesn't have) and they print leaflets at this time of year to communicate with the influx of tourists and holidaymakers to the caravan parks around the village.

"In St Osyth, visitor numbers to the church go up during the summer months, reflecting the large numbers of extra people in and around the area.

"Coming up in the blog we will be finding out how both churches celebrate the harvest festival.

"In September, All Saints' will be having a push on recruiting young people for the Sunday school.

"So, lots to read about in the localist of local blogs!"

Latest posting from St Osyth

Summer months keeps parish busy
08 Aug 09 |  Religion & Ethics
In pictures: Two Essex parishes
18 Aug 09 |  TV & Radio


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