A female vicar is to be made a canon at a special service to be held at Chichester Cathedral next year.
Reverend Moira Wickens, who has been in charge of the Fishbourne and Apuldram parish for just under a year, received a letter inviting her to take up the stall of Bracklesham at a ceremony to be held on February 11.
She has been given the post to recognise the work she has done with her vocational role within the diocese.
Rev Wickens said: “I have to say I’m not sure I deserve it, there are lots of people who do lots of work. I thought it was a joke when I got the letter, it was such a surprise.”
Since being ordained in 1994, Rev Wickens has spent all of her ministry in the Chichester Diocese, Posts have included Saltdean and a school on the Whitehawk estate in Brighton which she described as a real learning curve and very good experience. She then went to Kingston Buci in Shoreham before taking up the reins from Rev Clive Ashley in Fishbourne.
“It is very different, there is a real sense of community in Fishbourne,” said Rev Wickens.
“It has its own identity and I love the countryside; although we weren’t far from the countryside it wasn’t quite the same.
“I love it here, I love the people in the church, they are so talented and gifted and good and it is a real joy being here.”
Rev Wickens said Apuldram was very different, and that St Mary the Virgin Church was one of the ‘hidden gems’ of the diocese.
Her work was to build on the job done by her predecessor, and she has led the popular Beer and Carols event at The Bulls Head pub in Fishbourne.
Her commitments include holding services at the Apuldram Centre and maintaining and extending links with Fishbourne CoE Primary School which she said was very important.
“My main emphasis is to encourage people to use their gifts and talents. We have set up a space for children in the church, rather than just slotting them in, to make Fishbourne Church a good place where families can come.”
She is also incorporating experience gained during her vocational role to help people in the parish.
“I am using that to encourage people to find their vocation whatever that might be whether work or different roles in the church,” she said.
Rev Wickens – who is not the only woman to be made a canon in the diocese – will be among six members of the clergy to be made canons.
These include Jeremy James taking up the stall for Eartham, while the Sidlesham stall will be taken up by Martin Onions.