The Team Rector, Canon Thomas Woodhouse has moved to take up a new appointment in London.  From the 2nd September the Rectory telephone will no longer be connected.  From the 14th September Thomas will no longer be responding to Dorchester and The Winterbournes related emails.


The Revd Claire McClelland, Team Vicar with responsibility for St Peter’s and The Revd Jean Saddington, Team Vicar with responsibility for The Winterbournes and Compton Valance can help with your enquiry (click on their names to get their contact details).


For general enquires relating to St Mary’s Church ring Ellie Stephens on 01305 263391 or Trudy Tabone on 01305 246126.  For general enquiries relating to St George’s ring Yvonne Lee on 01305 268179 or Paul Briggs on 07919 693949.  For St Andrew’s, West Stafford or Monkton click on the links for contact details.


Dorchester and the Winterbournes Team Ministry is your local Church of England uniting nine worshipping communities:

St Thomas a Beckett, Compton Valence;
St George, Dorchester;
St Mary the Virgin, Dorchester;
St Peter, Dorchester;
St Andrew, West Stafford;
SS Simon and Jude, Winterborne Herringston and Winterborne Monkton;
St Mary, Winterbourne Abbas;
St Martin, Martinstown;
and St Michael, Winterbourne Steepleton.

We are a community that attracts all kinds of people from across the town of Dorchester and six villages, Christians united by our common faith in Jesus Christ. We are a diverse and welcoming team of Christian communities, committed to prayer, service and growth. You are very welcome to join us in any of the things we do, and we welcome all enquiries.

Almighty God, the source of our joy, you gladden our hearts as we journey towards the heavenly city.
Deepen within us a desire for peace, that celebrating our differences and rejoicing in all we hold in common,
your people may prosper and come to praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This month

Some Questions You Might Ask

         Is the soul solid, like iron?
         Or is it tender and breakable, like
         the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?
         Who has it, and who doesn’t?
         I keep looking around me.
         The face of the moose is as sad
         as the face of Jesus.
         The swan opens her white wings slowly.
         In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
         One question leads to another.
         Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
         Like the eye of a hummingbird?
         Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
         Why should I have it, and not the anteater
         who loves her children?
         Why should I have it, and not the camel?
         Come to think of it, what about the maple trees?
         What about the blue iris?
         What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?

         What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves?
         What about the grass?

                                                                                                                  Mary Oliver

Poets are able to capture in words and images ideas which escape even the most able of philosophers. In this poem Mary Oliver considers the question of the soul by reference to what she knew best – her poignant observations of all that is going on in the natural world. She has described her work as an attempt to ‘listen convivially to the world’. In this poem she listens and watches for the answers to questions about the soul, by seeking after all that is not human.

Classical Christian theology tells us that a soul is a particular feature of humanity, not of animals; this poem questions that idea and even makes it seem a faintly ridiculous suggestion. She sees in the face of the moose the same sadness that she sees in Jesus: perhaps at the folly of humanity and our neglect and lack of care of the natural world – I wonder what sadness she means?

Why should a human mother have a soul and not the anteater... and what about the trees? And the little stones... surely few of us have not been moved by a visit to the enormity of Chesil beach made up of so many tiny, perfectly round and smooth pebbles. The natural world is full of wonder for Mary Oliver (and for us) – how could it not be utterly infused with the presence of God? What about the grass? Enjoy the wonder around all us this autumn and in it know God’s blessing.

Revd Claire McClelland, Team Vicar, St Peter's Church


Our message to you

You are welcome, whatever your beliefs, even if you find organised religion irrelevant.
You are welcome, whatever your lifestyle.
You are welcome, wherever you may be on your faith journey; believer or agnostic, conventional Christian, or questioning sceptic.
We look forward to receiving the ideas and experiences you can bring.
We welcome the infinite variety of human beings and hope that our shared witness to Christian faith will not leave anyone feeling unwanted or unloved.
We think that the way we treat each other is even more important than the dogmas we hold.
We think it is vital to take seriously the intellectual and emotional problems many people have with the Christian faith.
We think Christians must be concerned with global issues of injustice and suffering.
We recognise that our ignorance far outstrips our understanding and that there is great value just in asking questions as well as in finding answers.
We recognise that our faith involves discipleship and a consciousness of all that is bad and promotion of all that is good.
Our hope is that anybody visiting our churches will feel welcome.