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Sheep Rev Ali Morley.JPG
Sheep Rev Ali Morley.JPG
Church News

Vicar's flock includes real sheep

Vicars are used to caring for their flock - but this church is looking after real sheep alongside its congregation.

St Mary's Church in Brading on the Isle of Wight initially welcomed six sheep to be kept in a meadow next door. First arriving last November, it was a way of keeping down the cost of grass-cutting in the churchyard but also showing the church's commitment to ecology and conservation. 

Now the six ewes have given birth to lambs with more on the way. The vicar, Rev Ali Morley, who has experience in animal husbandry, look after them with the help of volunteers from the church. 

Diocese of Portsmouth


Rev Ali said: "We were incredibly lucky because we have a field next to the churchyard that we could put the sheep in - just 0.6 of an acre. I've got some experience, but people came out of the woodwork and we ended up with a very experienced team of volunteers. Now the six ewes have given birth to six lambs, with another four to six on the way. So there are a lot of late nights and early mornings looking after our sheep.

"The sheep we bought were the beginning of an amazing process that is taking us into animal husbandry, and allows great connections with the local school and community. Allowing pupils to see lambing, for instance, is a great way to teach them about nature. 

"Of course, they are also amazing visual aids as we talk about all the stories in the Bible about sheep. There is no doubt in my mind, and in the mind of our church, that we are following our Good Shepherd, Jesus, on an amazing new journey."



Rev Ali leads four churches in Brading, Yaverland, St Helens and Seaview, on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight known collectively as the Haven Benefice. 

The congregation at St Helens Church has already been presented with an award for their commitment to green issues and the church hall at St Mary's Church was turned into a market during the lockdown selling Fairtrade and ethical products. 

Before the pandemic struck, St Helens met once a month on a Sunday afternoon for an eco-church service, which had an environmental theme, and a practical task to help sustainable living. They planted trees and set up a plastic bottle refilling station to reduce single-use plastics.

The Rev Ali Morley said: "It is also about taking science seriously, engaging with contemporary theology, rediscovering hidden treasure from the past and finding a way to speak of God that is relevant in our witness to the world. And, of course, it is rooted in the life, teachings and meaning of Jesus - seeing him as the unparalleled teacher of peaceful and ethical living."

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