The Revd Lynn Purvis-Lee (above)was inducted as vicar of Penhill Benefice in July, 2014. The following article was written by Neil Piper for the December 2014 issue of the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter:
Early career -
Lynn is from County Durham, most recently living at Crook, although she is originally from Consett where she spent her early years. Most of her career has been in County Durham, initially spanning a whole range of jobs from a clothing factory for Marks and Spencer to working in healthcare and physiotherapy.
Eventually the call to the ministry led her to enrol at Cranmer Hall Theological College in Durham and there she gained a degree in theology. Her first curacy was at St. Elizabeth’s in the Parish of Great Aycliffe.
Hospital chaplaincy -
This was followed by her appointment as chaplain to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust where she was mainly based in Stockton. A lot of the work was very emotionally demanding, following an end of life care pathway for those who were terminally ill. After twelve years there, training staff and ministering to the dying, and giving a high degree of staff support, she really did feel ready for a change.
Lynn is married to Alan who she met when he was giving financial advice at a seminar for clergy and church people. They married a year later in 2012. He still works as a financial consultant, travelling around much of the north of England.
Between them they have four grandchildren, varying in age from 5 to 23 years. They try to make it a priority to spend quality time together and they do enjoy walking and exploring the local area.
Parish ministry -
Not having much experience of parish ministry, Lynn felt at a disadvantage when she applied for the Penhill position. In some ways this might have been a good thing, not coming with any preconceptions about running a parish. Since then it has been a very steep learning curve, and in some ways mirrors the similarities of an amalgamating diocese. There are so many new things to grasp and lots of people to get to know.
Lynn and Alan moved into the vicarage at Carperby just before she took up office and it has been pretty hectic ever since, but enjoyable. It is already apparent to Lynn that some things are going to have to change. There are seven churches and eleven villages in the benefice so it has become an impossible task for the vicar to be everywhere at once.
Penny Yeadon is the associate vicar, and her support is invaluable but she is non-stipendiary and has a full time job elsewhere. There are retired clergy and lay readers but they are not always available.
Preparing for change -
Lynn believes in encouraging people to travel between villages, such as having a service in just one church on a Sunday. This reduces the repetition of lots of services and enables parishioners to get to know each other across the benefice. Working together, rather than in isolation, is very much the theme for the future.
There will be other changes too – more lay-led services, more things for children to do. Already there has been a very successful harvest festival for the BAWB (Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton) collaboration of schools.
And a Light Party (alternative to Hallowe’en) was very well attended (even though some still came dressed as ghosts and ghouls!). Photo of the Light Party by Christine Gard.
Lynn has felt that there is a thirst for change; that we are tired of the old and want something new. Certainly there is an air of excitement and anticipation in the parishes rather than fear and trepidation. Whilst acknowledging that we can’t please all of the people all of the time, it is quite obvious that, whilst being sensitive to people’s feelings, Lynn has a steely determination to move forward and make changes.
Her lively personality, great sense of humour and open candour will go a long way towards drawing people to come alongside her and carrying through the ambitions she has. We wish her well in her ministry.