Bridge Benefice - Sturminster Marshall

St Mary's

Sturminster Marshall

Bridge Benefice - Kingston Lacy

St Stephen's

Kingston Lacy

Bridge Benefice - Shapwick

St Bartholomew's


Sunday 24th January 2021

Dear Friends in the Bridge Benefice,

I hope you are keeping safe and well.

Sunday 24th January

On Sunday 24th January we have a zoom Morning Worship service at 9.15am.  You are all welcome to join us.  Please contact me for the log-in details.  If you are unable to join us for this service, you can join in with our hymn, which is below.

On Wednesday 27th January at 9.00am there will be a Zoom service of Morning Prayer.  The log-in details are the same as above.

Looking ahead

On Sunday 31st January there will be a pre-recorded online service.  Details will be available on this page from Saturday 30th.

Here is the Pew Sheet for this week.

January Gratitude

Thank you to everyone who has shared their reflections on what they are grateful for as they look back on 2020.  These thoughts can be found here.  I missed out Anne Tillin's beautiful contribution to this, so I thought I'd include it here for us all to enjoy.  Thank you, Anne.

Reasons to be cheerful

Sun slanting through grey veils of fog
Spent winter grasses bejewelled with crystals of ice
Three grey herons, motionless among the bare black branches
A pair of swans paddling silently against the grasping current

Love and care of family, friends and neighbours
Reaching out across the void of isolation to connect with others
The rosy glow and crackle as the fire warms the room and the heart
The joy of beautiful music, a good book and the peace of a starlit night

Bags of Hope

Last week I mentioned that the Lower Stour have been organising Bags of Hope.  I'm delighted that Christine and Helen subsequently offered to organise them for Sturminster Marshall.  During this week St Mary's, Stur, received a £200 grant towards this.  This covers 10 bags of children's activities, food and toiletries, given to families who are eligible for free school lunches as extra support during this difficult time.  I spoke with the acting head teacher of Sturminster Marshall First School and ideally they wold like to receive 20 bags.  So if any of you would like to contribute towards another bag (£20) for a family, please could you transfer the funds to St Mary's bank account.  Please label your contribution "Bag of Hope".  St Mary's PCC; a/c 00176844; 30-99-68.​

Deanery Reorganisation - Update

As I think you know, St. Mary's  in Sturminster Marshall is joining Red Post Benefice.  It has been agreed that from 1st May, Rev Justin Pottinger will start to lead the church.  Between now and then he will continue to take some Sunday services and some Wednesday morning services.


I will continue to minister in St Stephen's and St Bartholomew's after 1st May, and there is no fixed date yet for when the handover will take place between myself and Rev Susie Allen.  As soon as I know, I will let you know. 


I am very grateful to Jan for all her hard work and support as clerk to the Benefice over many years.  Jan has decided to retire from the role and will be leaving on30th  April.  I'm sure you would like to join me in thanking her for all she has done to enable the Benefice to run smoothly.  Her quiet organised manner and her extensive knowledge of the role has been an asset to the Benefice.


Red Post Benefice will take over the admin support to St Mary's from 1st May and the administrator and office team at Wimborne Benefice have kindly offered to do the same for St Bartholomew's and St Stephen's.  This is not an interim measure - it is the same admin support which will be available once these churches join Wimborne Benefice.  I think it is excellent that they are happy to start then, as it will give the churches an opportunity to get to know them and vice versa, before the official handover.


I know that some people are anxious about the changes ahead, whilst others just want to get on and get everything sorted now.  There's a wide spectrum of thoughts and reactions amongst the congregations.  Personally speaking, I will be sad to 'lose' the Bridge Benefice but I am sure that all three churches will flourish in the new set up. 

I look forward to seeing you for worship on zoom this week.  Sunday's reading is the wedding of Cana, when Jesus​ turned the water into wine.

With my continued prayers,

God bless,



Our wonderful choir of 30-odd singers learnt, rehearsed, performed and recorded individually in their own homes; our readers and priest were filmed in our three churches; Adrian, our brilliant video editor, worked tirelessly to put it all together.  And all to create this year's Online Service of Lessons & Carols.  It is still available: watch it here.

About the Bridge Benefice

These three beautiful villages are situated between Wimborne Minster and Blandford Forum in the county of Dorset and in the Diocese of Salisbury.  Each village has its own church, with lots going on, but we also enjoy getting together for joint services and social events.


The photo at the top of the page shows White Mill Bridge, where the three parish boundaries meet.  There has been a mill here on the River Stour for centuries.  Now in the care of the National Trust, it is well worth a visit.


To find out more about what's going on across the Benefice please explore our website further.

We also work closely with our neighbouring parishes in the Lower Stour Benefice: Spetisbury, Charlton Marshall and Lower Blandford St Mary.  In fact, we share a priest-in-charge, Rev Carolyn Couzens. 

The communities of Sturminster Marshall, Kingston Lacy and Shapwick produce a monthly magazine, The Bridge, which is delivered to over a thousand households in the area.  You can read the January 2021 edition here.

December's edition is still available here.

Coronavirus update

We are now in Tier 3.

Sadly our churches are closed during January.

Details of our online services will be posted here.

Please check back regularly.

The church is still active in the community and we are still praying.

If we can support you in any way, please do contact us:

or 01258 858353

May you know God's blessing and peace.


Rev. Carolyn Couzens


Our Monthly Service Rota

1st Sunday


Joint Family Communion

with choir


2nd Sunday


Joint Parish Communion

with choir


Morning Prayer


3rd Sunday


Joint Parish Communion

with choir


Family Service


4th Sunday


Joint Parish Communion

with choir


5th Sunday

Joint 6-Parish Communion






In the Bridge Benefice we take our responsibilities concerning the safeguarding of children, young people, and vulnerable adults very seriously, and we try to ensure that we always work in accordance with best practice.  To view the Safeguarding Policy of each of our churches please visit their webpages.

For any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Safeguarding Officer,

Mrs Anne Tillin.


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