The ecclesiastical parishes of Lavenham and Preston St Mary, three miles apart, were joined together by an ‘Order in Council' as The Lavenham Benefice in 1995.
We support one another in a variety of ways, each church with its own tradition, identity and special atmosphere complementing the other. As a result the parishes themselves are all the stronger and more effective in their ministry and mission, individually and together.
The benefit to everyone is that we can do far more together ‘as a benefice' than each on our own. For example, the more rural setting of Preston St Mary lends itself perfectly to the Rogationtide ‘blessing of crops', and the intimacy of a candlelit Advent service. Lavenham, far larger, hosts many concerts and offers light lunches on Saturdays throughout Lent.
We strenuously seek to avoid competing services and events, and many from one village like to travel to the other and enjoy a different setting and different event.
By an ‘Order of the Diocesan Bishop' in 2010 weddings and banns may take place in either church interchangeably. A similar informal arrangement exists for those seeking baptism.
We have separate PCCs (Parochial Church Councils) and each church has its own Churchwardens. Although financial accounting is separate for each, we are allocated from the diocese a ‘benefice quota' which we divide between us using a mutually agreed formula. On the same basis, the working expenses of its ministers are shared.
Lavenham and Preston St Mary each have a parish magazine: ‘Lavenham Life' and ‘Preston Parish Paper', and both have well used Village Halls.