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A Mission Community in the Diocese of Exeter


The Shirwell Mission Community comprises eight Churches in seven rural parishes in North Devon:

Bratton Fleming;  Challacombe;  East Down & Arlington; Kentisbury;  Loxhore;  Shirwell and Stoke Rivers.  

The Mission Community

The Mission Community lies within the Shirwell Deanery and covers an area of just under 50 square miles with a population of approximately 2600.


The parishes extend north east of Barnstaple to the Exmoor National Park and the Somerset border.


The Rector is Revd Rosie Austin, who lookes after the six parishes. She is assisted by a curate Revd Martyn Tyrrell, two retired clergymen, Rev Chris Tull from Challacombe and Rev Mike Miller from South Molton. 


Rosie lives in Bratton Fleming, the largest of the parishes and placed centrally within the Mission Community.


Martyn lives in Shirwell, the second largest parish.


All enquiries for weddings, funerals and baptisms should be made to Rev Rosie Austin:

Telephone 01598 711962


Click to open the April edition of the Church News magazine
Click to open the April edition of the Church of England Devon magazine
Click to open the May edition of the Church News magazine

The Rector's Ramblings for May 

Sacred celebration

On Friday 8th May we will be celebrating the 75-year anniversary of VE day. Three days of celebration had been planned over the weekend to reflect something of the atmosphere of celebration following the end of war in Europe. We can only imagine the sense of relief that must have been felt after years of fear and grief. We see pictures of great crowds of people partying on the streets, looking forward to the homecoming of those serving abroad. The road ahead was to be long and hard – but there was that special moment – I would say sacred moment – of remembrance as well as joy.

But the public celebrations this year have of course been put on hold as we remain in lockdown, and instead people are being encouraged to consider how we can mark this day, for instance making and displaying bunting. And we are being asked to raise a toast at 3pm on 8th May, saying, ”To those who gave so much... thank you.”


The toast is meant for the heroes of WW2, wherever they came from and however they served. My mind is drawn to all those we are calling ‘heroes’ today. On Thursday nights, my heart is lifted each time hearing the calls, claps and cheers for the heroes of the NHS. I add my cheers (and extravagant saucepan drumming) to thank those working in our residential homes, those visiting the vulnerable in the community, home and child carers, nurses, doctors, porters, administrators, refuge collectors, teaching staff, social workers, farmers and food suppliers, funeral directors and crematorium staff, retailers ... the list goes on and on. There are so many people to thank – those who have gone above and beyond to keep us safe and the vulnerable cared for. 

We yearn for the time when we can emerge from our homes and celebrate once again as a community. But the reality is that we will emerge gradually and at different times. It will be a long time until we feel back to normal, if normal ever returns. 

I’d like to think that in this time we have found new ways of valuing the communities we are an important part of. We have discovered neighbours we had never talked to before. We have shown gratitude to the real heroes of our times – who were often working long hours for low pay long before we applauded them. 

The road ahead might be hard – but the time will come when we can remember together all those we have lost, help those in need to get back on their feet, and celebrate what it means to be community. I would say this will be a sacred moment. Sacred, because it will be a moment of recognising ‘God with us’. That won’t be the moment God turns up. I think it may be the moment that we realise that he has been with us all along, walking alongside us as with the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) in their time of grief and distress. It will be the sacred moment that we recognise him as the love which binds us all. 






If you have a concern about the safety of someone or the actions of someone working with children or vulnerable adults, please speak to someone:


The names and contact details of the Parish Safeguarding Representatives are:

Bratton Fleming:   Terry Squire Tel: 01598 710526  
Challacombe:   Carole Huxtable Tel: 01598 763217 
East Down with Arlington:   Linda Watt Tel: 01271 882376   
Kentisbury:   Margaret Purchase Tel: 01598 763207  
Loxhore:   Mike Matthews Tel: 01271 850550 
Shirwell:   Averil Richardson Tel: 01271 850537
Stoke Rivers:  Rev Rosie Austin  Tel: 01598 711962



The link to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team’s contact details -


The following organisations offer helplines: 
 NSPCC: 0808 800 5000 • Childline: 0800 1111 • Stop It Now: 0808 1000 900 • NAPAC: 0808 801 0331 • Samaritans: 116 123 • Family Lives: 0808 800 2222 • National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 • Action On Elder Abuse: 080 8808 8141