I hope you're having a good Lent and finding time for yourself in the business of Church life. I've just got a few notices to circulate to Deanery Synod members before Holy Week begins...
The Diocesan Year Book
As most of you will know, we've been working with the Diocese to attempt to correct/amend the year book. I met with the Diocesan Secretary on Monday and we talked through all the issues that had been raised. We received over fifty suggestions for changes, and I hope most of them will appear in next year's book. Assuming all goes to plan the Mission Partnership will no-longer be known as "The Milton Keynes Deaf Church" and the minister of Spurgeon's Baptist Church will no-longer receive all the mail for St Frideswide's.
The Diocese have also welcomed the suggestion that the names of Chaplains could appear in the Deanery section. At the moment they are only listed in a section at the back.
These things may seem insignificant but they are important to some - and they can be symbolically important.
The season of annual meetings is fast approaching, so please make sure that you send in any changes so that next year's year book will be as accurate as we can make it.
Thanks for all who contributed to this project and sent in comments. I'm sure it was worth doing.
Deanery Share Rebate
Peter Green tells me that he was able to send in the two-tenths of the share required by the diocese before the end of March. This means that we will get a small amount of rebate - which will help pay our overall share - since we are still looking at a big shortfall this year. This will be a difficult year for many of us financially, so this achievement is worth celebrating. Please thank your treasurers for the extra effort that they may have made to pay early. In difficult times every little helps.
Deanery Strategy Group
At the January meeting of the Deanery Synod we commissioned a small group to do some work on our deanery strategy. Members of this group agreed that they would meet four times between February and September and would attempt both to review the existing Deanery Plan and help the deanery produce a new one.
They met in February and spent some time reviewing our current Deanery Plan: A Framework for the Future. I've attached a letter which sets out their conclusions - which you may wish to look through for yourself. Do you agree with their initial comments about the life and work of the deanery over the past few years? What would you like to add?
This is going to be fairly long process and the group will meet again on 23rd April to look at the Diocesan Vision: Living Faith. I'm sure it would be possible for others to join us on that evening, so please let me know if you're interested.
The Strategy Group hopes to bring an initial report to the next Deanery Synod at which this will be the main discussion item. There will be more opportunities for engagement as this project develops.
It is important however to strike a balance between involving people and giving them another huge burden. We will therefore try to make this a light and low key process - with regular opportunity for involvement, feedback and engagement.
One way that churches could engage with this process would be to answer four questions that may give us a sense of where the deanery is going. The Deanery Strategy Group would therefore like each church, parish or partnership to answer the following four questions if time allows:
1. How does your church community relate to its local area?
2. How are church members engaged in Christian service in the church and the world?
3. What relationships does your church community have with other churches/Christians?
4. What are your hopes for your church/parish over the next five years?
It would be particularly useful to know if there have been any changes or developments over the past two or three years. A brief answer would be fine and it would be really great if you could send us a response before the next meeting on the 23rd April if you can.
Quinquennial Inspection Scheme
As you know, we've been trying to sort out this scheme and have agreed that the financial element will be wound up. Our hard working Deanery Treasurer, Tony Stanyer, is now in possesion of the books so we are well on the way to sorting this out. He and Jenni have begun the process of setting up a new scheme - without a financial element - so we should have good news at our next Synod meeting. I am hopeful that we should also be in a good place to return money to churches that have paid in.
I'd also like to remind you that there will be a Mission Shaped Intro course starting on April 20th. This will be an opportunity to learn more about mission in contemprary culture. I've attached the flier.
When most Christians hear the words "fresh expressions" they tend to think about trendy services with coffee, candles and young people. There's nothing wrong with coffee, candles or young people, but it's important to remember that what we now call "fresh expressions" is really what Paul was talking about when he said, "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." The fresh expressions process begins with listening and loving service, moves on to community and discipleship and ends with Church. It's about mission rather than worship.
It would be really good to encourage people to think more about how they might do mission in their community, so please advertise this course and encourage people to come along. It might even be fun.
Have a good Easter and a well earned break if you are able to take one.
All the best - -
To find out what I'm up to, please visit my blog which can be found at www.timnorwood.name
See: www.mkdeanery.org, www.wvep.org