After ten years without a full-time minister, Revd Catherine Butt will become the new vicar in September. She will be bringing a “transplant team” with her from St Mary’s Bletchley. This is the culmination of much thought and planning, including changes to parish boundaries and a new vision for this congregation.

Announcement for: St Frideswide Water Eaton and St Marys Bletchley
8th January 2017

This morning we are pleased to be making the following announcement.

  • In consultation and with the unanimous agreement of
  • The Church Wardens and PCC of St Frideswide Water Eaton,
  • The Church Wardens, PCC and Rector of St Marys Bletchley,
  • The Bishop of Buckingham,
  • Archdeacon of Buckingham and
  • Area Dean of Milton Keynes

It has been decided that St Frideswide’s Water Eaton will welcome Rev Catherine Butt as their new Incumbent with a permanent Transplant Team of people from St Mary’s Bletchley to assist the present church in fulfilling its mission and ministry.

The proposed start of this new chapter of life at St Frideswide will be in the early Autumn of 2017.

Meanwhile St Mary’s Bletchley will assist St Frideswide parish during it ongoing interregnum.


There are huge mission needs and opportunities in the Water Eaton area. Our Area Dean, Tim Norwood, has been working with the church over the past three years as an “interim minister”. He has provided Sunday cover, developed lay leaders and helped the church think about the future.

During this time, we have identified four key areas for which additional ministry would be essential:

  1. The building up of the congregation for mission
  2. The development of mission in and around the building
  3. The Lakes Estate, and
  4. The Eaton Leys development

The appointment of a new minister and the arrival of a team will take the church forward in new ways…


Transplanting proposal to St Frideswide’s Water Eaton
from St Mary’s Bletchley
Written by Rev David McDougall

The Transplant Proposal

It is proposed that the Rev Catherine Butt becomes the new incumbent of
St Frideswide’s Water Eaton and is joined by a team of lay people from St Marys Bletchley to assist that church in fulfilling its mission and ministry.

  • The number of team sent would be not more than the number of the present St Frideswide’s congregation.
  • The transplanted team would be permanent members of St Frideswide’s
  • St Frideswide’s would remain a totally independent Anglican parish.

What is Transplanting?

Transplanting is when a gifted ordained leader and some central church members are permanently sent to an Anglican church which needs long term ministry assistance. This fresh injection of leadership and members enable the church to fulfil its ministry to the local area. The original members of the transplanted church often become encouraged as they begin to see their church fulfil its purpose and are often spiritually renewed themselves.

When to Transplant?

When a church has declined to the point where it is struggling to fully function and serve its local parish.

What are the essential elements needed to Transplant?

  1. An Anglican church in difficulty willing to explore the possibility of a transplant.
  2. There needs to be an experienced church planting Vicar from a numerically strong hub church able to manage the consultation and appointment process.
  3. An ordained Vicar able and willing to lead a Transplant Team from the sending hub church.
  4. A strong Anglican hub church willing to offer a transplant team.
  5. The backing of the Bishop, Archdeacon and Area Dean is essential.

What is the process of a Transplant?

  1. The sending church needs to understand what church transplanting is and want to do it. They need to have an available leader and enough people to lovingly give away.
  2. The diocese needs to agree to and support a church who wishes to transplant.
  3. The Church Wardens and PCC of the church in difficulty and the sending church need to formally be consulted and agree with the proposal of transplanting.
  4. The sending church confirms a leader to implement the transplant.
  5. The sending church identify a team of people to enable the transplant.
  6. The transplanting leader and team meet to prepare for the needs and sensitivities of transplanting.
  7. A launch event and licensing marking the new chapter of that churches life. This needs careful planning to include both the existing members and the new members of that church.

Is there a track record of success in Transplanting?

Transplanting is happening to great effect in many places all around England. It has been spearheaded in recent years by London churches such as Holy Trinity Brompton and St Stephens East Twickenham. Transplanting happens successfully across deaneries and across diocese. There have been transplants from London to Brighton and Birmingham in recent years. Churches which were otherwise struggling have been given a visionary leader and some committed church members of the sending church and have seen the transplanted church come alive.

I personally have had experience both of overseeing transplanting and leading one myself. In 2002 Kim and I transplanted from St Stephens East Twickenham to St Saviour’s Sunbury. We were there 12 years and saw the church grow from 35 – 300 in those years, with many unchurched people coming to faith, being baptised and growing in their discipleship.

What lessons have been learnt in Transplanting?

  • Sending church leadership that is mature and experienced in ministry.
  • Being sensitive with the existing church members of the church being transplanted.
  • Making sure the transplant leader is fully provided for and has a support structure.
  • Making sure independence is agreed and evident from the start of the transplant.
  • Having a generosity of spirit in every way towards the transplanted church.
  • Sending only people who are aware of the sacrifice and cost of the task

Bishop Michael Colclough and Transplanting

Bishop Michael Colclough a former Bishop of Kensington in the London Diocese described the reason for transplanting to me in the following way:

“David will you go and rescue a church which is in trouble. They are losing the war and need both a fresh commander and troops to help them win it – are you willing to do that?”
In response to this call I took 35 adult and 15 children and went to help St Saviours Sunbury win the war!
Although I would never choose the language of war and armies – the way Bishop Michael put it made transplanting very clear to me and all the people that I eventually worked with in that church.

What is the difference between Transplanting and Planting a church?

Transplanting is when a leader and team are sent into an already existing church which is facing challenges to survive.

Church planting is usually when a new church is started either inside an Anglican parish or into another Anglican parish by that Incumbents/PCC permission and or through what is known as a Bishops Mission Order (BMO).

At this present time, the following people have been consulted and agree with this proposal:

  • The Rt. Rev Alan Wilson the Bishop of Buckingham
  • The Rev Guy Elsmore Archdeacon of Buckingham
  • Rev Tim Norwood the Area Dean of Milton Keynes
  • Rev David McDougall the Rector of St Marys Bletchley
  • Mrs Janet Aldridge Church Warden of St Frideswide Water Eaton
  • Mrs Kay Dimarco Church Warden of St Frideswide Water Eaton
  • Mrs Chris Hayter Church Warden of St Marys Bletchley
  • Mr Oliver Hermes Church Warden of St Marys Bletchley
  • Rev Catherine Butt Associate Vicar of St Marys Bletchley

Possible time line:

Announcement 8th January
Gather and prepare transplant team Jan-June 2017
Licensing service: September 2017

Print Friendly, PDF & Email