“A local network of churches, inspiring, influencing and leading mission and ministry”. This is the vision of a programme called “Developing our Deaneries” which is changing the ways in which groups of churches work together across our diocese.
It's a well kept secret!
Deaneries play an important part in the life of the local church – and where they don't, they could!! The parish and the benefice are the main focus for the local church, but there are also times when a wider vision, larger resources, broader perspectives and recognised local leadership are needed if we are to engage with the ever changing contexts and challenges around us. Our diocesan vision of ‘Generous Churches: Making and Nurturing Disciples’ can't be fully delivered through the parishes working alone. If the Church is to respond to the challenges and opportunities that surrounds us, and be resourced effectively to do this, then breathing fresh life and purpose into our deaneries is essential.
Very few parishes have sufficient resources to engage with the larger issues in their area - a deanery is able to provide a more varied range of resources and a sense of a ‘critical mass’ for wider initiatives. It can provide opportunities for parishes to come together and support one another in a more realistic and local way than is possible across the diocese as a whole, lifting the horizon of clergy and lay people beyond the parochial into wider issues and opportunities. Deaneries can encourage more effective mission and ministry in parishes by sharing ideas and building supportive relationships. Possible areas of co-operation include working with schools, children and families; delivering more focussed training opportunities; developing local chaplaincies etc. The vision is always one of enabling parishes, not of imposing something from the top down.
Of course the extent to which this might happen in practice depends very much on local circumstances; there are exciting opportunities to build on what is already working well and to enhance mutual support and engagement in God’s mission.
So how will it work?
Deaneries with this renewed awareness will be characterised by three overlapping and complementary purposes:
Enabling Mission – Supporting Relationships – Resourcing Ministry
A Leadership Team in every deanery will take over the formal responsibilities of the Deanery Standing Committee but will also be looking to develop local opportunities and networks. By joining up people, ideas and resources more can be attempted and achieved than when we work in isolation. The members of the Deanery Synod will have a significant role, both within and also between meetings, in shaping and communicating the Deanery Plan. This will put some flesh on the bare bones of the challenges which the diocese has set before all of us for the next five years, the three goals of:
· Reaching the people we currently don't
· Moving to growth
· Establishing sustainable finance
(from Transforming our Diocese 2016 http://dioceseofyork.org.uk/uploads/attachment/2933/diocese-transforming.pdf)
We all have different abilities, gifts and experiences to contribute to the life of the whole Church. The Deanery will work at its best and encourage everyone's participation if these are shared. Deanery Synods are elected every three years and 2017 is one of those years! So if you want to share in this process of transformation then make sure that your name goes forward at your Annual Church Meeting (APCM) this Spring!