by Bishop Pete (notes from Deanery Synod)
In my address to the Diocesan Synod in November, I argued that the prospects for realising, by 2025, our vision of a generous and flourishing Diocese is urgently threatened (as is every Diocese in the Church of England by a four-headed beast. To put crudely, it’s ABCD:
a) adult attenders at worship across the Diocese week by week are still falling;
b) in most parishes & for the Diocesan Board of Finance, budgets are in deficit;
c) in many places church buildings and structures are not what we would choose;
d) The demographics of our congregations and leaders are not as diverse as the communities we serve and we are over-dependent on the contribution of older members.
The Church is not a business enterprise. It is always ‘a sign, an agent and a foretaste of the coming kingdom of God’. As such, it always looks beyond itself and beyond its own
interests to those of the whole world; and as such it depends utterly on the grace of God for its fruitfulness and effectiveness.
Goals: To recruit & resource a community of 2025 members who will: i) say the Lord’s Prayer daily; ii) say the Diocesan Vision Prayer daily; and iii) to pause daily before God at 20.25 to seek the renewing power of God’s Spirit for the Diocese.
There are two aspects to this. i) To release parishes from the current constraints of ever-increasing administrative demands and inherited rules, structures and buildings which are no longer well fitted for mission; ii) to liberate untapped potential of individual disciples and whole congregations; of buildings (for wider community use); and to make the most effective use of our church schools, universities and the largest churches.
Questions: i) How can Church House ‘make mission easier’? ii) How can the Diocese assist centrally with heavy lifting in eg data protection, building projects, risk assessments etc; iii) do we need a comprehensive buildings audit?
A disproportionate number of our most faithful adult attenders, our most generous and reliable givers and our lay and clergy leaders are of retirement age. The next 7 years
represent a window of opportunity to make the most of their extraordinary wisdom, courage and generosity, while they are still active in worship and mission. A key challenge is to ensure that these Simeon and Anna figures are enabled to play a full part in ushering in the infant Jesus for the next generation. But the need for rejuvenation goes beyond age
demographics to the Diocese itself: we need to bring to birth baby-congregations and to nurture vocations among more diverse future leaders.
Goals: i) to plant 25 new congregations in each archdeaconry; ii) to recruit a rolling cohort of 25 diocesan interns; iii) to nurture 25 Black and minority ethnic ordinands; iv) to achieve 25% lay and clergy leaders aged under 40.