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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 Preb. Rosie Austin, who lookes after the six parishes. She is assisted by a curate Revd Martyn Tyrrell, two retired clergymen, Rev Preb. 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 Preb Rosie Austin:

Telephone 01598 711962


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The Rector’s Ramblings - February 2021


I wonder how you are all feeling as we hear news of a continuation of the lockdown? Disappointment, fear, anxiety? Or are you more optimistic and hopeful, especially more people are vaccinated? For me, there is a mix of emotions, a roller coaster dependant on the news I’ve heard or the conversations I have had. 


As vicar, I particularly worry and wonder about how our churches will emerge from this time. Will we be even more fragile than we were before, or will we emerge having discovered something new about what it means to be church?


I want to share a couple of verses which struck me from a Bible study this morning on Isaiah 42:1-9. It’s a wonderful passage to reflect on, so I invite you to read it slowly and let it feed you!


The first phrase which stood out for me as I read it prayerfully was this: “a dimly burning wick he will not quench...” (verse 3). In my more pessimistic moments I imagine our churches as those dimly burning wicks. All that we have held dear has been stripped back. We have closed our church buildings and we cannot meet together in person to encourage one another. But yet this does not tell the whole story.


The second phrase was from verse 5... “the Creator of the heavens... who gives breath”. We have been praying and reading the Bible together as well as meeting for our zoom and telephone services, and been joined by people new to our churches. We have been reaching out in new ways to care for our community. We have learned how to worship as different churches coming together and got to know one another better. In so many ways we see that God’s gentle breath is on us.  We recognise that it is not our breath but God’s which will gently blow to brighten the flame.


We acknowledge the loss and the pain and the grief of these times. We have been in the midst of it. But we also cling onto the hope that as we come back together we will have learned more deeply the value of community, lived out a compassion for all in need, discovered our worth – and just maybe, found our voice to call out for justice in our world.  


The journey of Lent is intended to allow for time for prayer and reflection. The story is itself a journey of pain and sorrow. But Lent points us towards the good news of new life found in Jesus, just as much as buds on branches and the snowdrops beginning to appear. 


In this time, let’s reflect on all that we value about our church life together but also consider what God is saying to us in this time. And let’s look forward with hope to that promise of new life ahead. Let’s allow the breath of God to fill us again. I pray that God’s breath would blow upon us, in his gentle and unexpected ways, and the fire which grows would be one which draws a new generation to its light. 


Many blessings, 



Ash Wednesday and Lent Course


Our journey through Lent begins with a short reflective zoom/telephone service at 7pm on Wednesday 17thFebruary. I am also hoping to post onto the website (or post out) a few reflections which can be used on a walk or in your own home during Lent.


Also during Lent I would like to invite you to join me in following a Lent Course which comes from our Diocese. It focuses on our experiences of this pandemic, and asks us to consider how our faith might inform how we respond to this and what the Bible might tell us. The course will be held over zoom – which can be joined by telephone too. Each session will last a maximum of an hour and take place on Mondays through Lent at 8pm, taking the place of Martyn’s Journey with John for this time.  


More details can be found here:


If you are not on our postal list or on our email list and would like to be, please let me know.


Rosie 01598 711962



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 with Stoke Rivers:   Terry Squire Tel: 01598 710526  
Challacombe:   Carole Huxtable Tel: 01598 751310
East Down with Arlington:   Linda Watt Tel: 01271 882376
Kentisbury: Rev Rosie Austin    Tel: 01598 711962   
Loxhore:   Mike Matthews Tel: 01271 850550 
Shirwell:   Averil Richardson Tel: 01271 850537



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


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