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About the Benefice

The Benefice consists of the small town of Dulverton and four other parishes. The overall nature of the community is very rural with agriculture and related processes still playing an important role.  The overall population is about 5,000 people. We are fortunate to be living in such a beautiful area. 


All of the parishes are located in the Exmoor National Park.  Dulverton is the only town within the National Park. Each of the remaining four parishes are made up of a principal village with surrounding small settlements which traditionally had small scale livestock farms as their core economic activity. 


There have been christian communities in this area for more than 1500 years. Some parts of the church buildings go back to the 12th century. In the current times, congregations are smaller in number.  Nonetheless, the churches and their members are fully engaged in community life and actively live out the christian values. For more information on the individual parishes, go the page Our Parishes


Our vision is that all members of our communities are able to experience lives full of authenticity, fulfilment and meaning. Christian faith and practice has a key role to play as individuals seek to demonstrate lives marked by love, truth and goodness. We endeavour to relay the abiding truths of the Christian Gospel in a way that is relevant to modern life and the complex challenges that beset our current world.  We want to help people on their path to faith and to encourage mutual help in this great endeavour so that people do not struggle on their own.


Our hope is that all of us should grow together through mutual support and companionship, and through the strengths that come from Christian paractice including worship, sacraments and service. At the same time we want to be open to new expressions of God's presence and activity in the life of community and our individual lives.


Our five parishes are linked together through a common conviction that the Christian Gospel is God's abiding explanation for the purpose of life. The fullest expression of the Perfect Life is demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ who is both human and divine. Not only is he the Perfect Life but he is also the Saving Life through whom we are able to address the selfishness and weakness that is the human condition.

As we seek to live out the Christian Gospel, we take as our guides and enablers the Biblical scriptures, the teachings of the early Church Fathers, the creeds, the example of the saints, the sacraments, the proper use of reason and the ever present reality of God's Spirit. 


Each of our five parishes is a separate legal entity whose existence is precribed in law and ultimately by Acts of Parliament. The responsibilities and powers of each parish are defined by the Church Measures.  In addition, each Parochial Church Council (PCC) has the status of a charity. This means that they must follow the principles and rules laid down by the Charity Commission.

Each PCC meets periodically throughout the year to decide on how best to run the church and to provide advice and support to the Rector.  PCC members are jointly responsible in law for the decisions made. The Rector and the Church Warens are accountable to the Diocesan Bishop as to how they carry out their responsibilities.

Each PCC must produce an annual report and an annual financial statement.  Both these documents must be approved by the Annual General Meeting (AGM) that can be attended by all those on the Parochial Role. The AGM appoints the elected officers and the PCC members for the coming year. The annual financial statement is reviewed by an independent examiner appointed at the previous AGM. Copies of the two documents are sent to the Diocese.


The Church of England is committed to the safeguarding, care and nurture of everyone within our church community so that all can flourish in faith and know the love of God. We all have a responsibility to care for one another, and to keep people safe from harm, and it is especially important that children and vulnerable adults are protected.

Our work is based on the following six safeguarding commitments, agreed on by the bishops of the Church of England in 2017;

  • Promoting a safer environment and culture.

  • Safely recruiting and supporting all those with any responsibility related to children and vulnerable adults within the Church.

  • Caring pastorally for victims/survivors of abuse and other affected persons.

  • Responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation.

  • Caring pastorally for those who are the subject of concerns or allegations of abuse and other affected persons.

  • Responding to those that may pose a present a risk to others.

The person appointed as our Safeguarding Officer is Steve Ford.  You are able to contact him on telephone 01398 323016 or via email by clicking HERE.

Our Staff Team

Our benefice is very fortunate to be served by four staff members who provide the pastral, administrative and musical leadership througout the Benefice.  As a team, they bring significant amounts of experience and skills in leadership, pastoral work, music and administration.  Please do contact any staff member if there is siomething you would like to discuss.  You can find their contact details below.


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The Revd Dowell Conning is the Rector of the Benefice. He was appointed in  2021. He has theology degrees from Oxford and London. He is married to Jackie.

You can contact Dowell on 01398 322867 or by email by clicking HERE. 


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The Revd Louise Southgate was born and raised in rural South Western Ontario, in Canada and raised in a very strong Christian family, 

Louise has spent most of her working life in education, where she taught Religious Education. She also worked in private business and as a self-supporting minister. After her ordination Louise will continue her current part-time role as a Work Coach within the Civil Service. 


You can contact Louise on 01398 341553 or by email via


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Gary Cooper is our Musical Director at Dulverton, and cares for all things musical in our Benefice. He heads up our choir of adults and children, and also brings together singing talent from across our benefice of five parishes for our occasional United Benefice Worship on the fifth Sunday of the month. Gary will be able to help you through your musical thoughts and decisions for weddings and funerals and well as other musical enquiries. He does all this whilst supporting his wife's musical career and helping her to home school their three children. 

To listen to some of his recordfings please click HERE The Bach Goldberg theme is particularly fine.  

You can contact Gary on 07419 212354 or by email clicking HERE.

Diocese and Anglican Church

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The Rt Revd Michael Beasley

Bath and Wells Diocese

The five parishes of the benfices are part of the Anglican Diocese of Bath and Wells. The Diocese consists of 500 parishes situated throughout Somerset, North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset. The Diocese provides spiritual oversight, guidance and administrative support to all of these parishes.

The five main decsion-making bodies in the Diocese are the Bishops and Diocesan Synod, Bishop’s Council, Board of Finance, Mission and Pastoral Committee and the Board of Education.
Our five parishes are accountable to the Diocesan Bishop - the Right Revd Michael Beasley. Bishop Michael gives a 5 minute talk on his vision for the Diocese in a YouTube video that you can view by cicking HERE.

For further information about the Diocese click HERE.

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Church of England

The Diocese of Bath and Wells is one of the 41 Dioceses that make up the national Church of England. With over 16,000 churches to date and 42 cathedrals on the UK mainland, the Church of England continues to serve every region of the country. The Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion which is a worldwide family of churches in more than 160 different countries. 

For further information on the Church of England click HERE.
The Most Revd Justin Welby

Map of the Benefice

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