“This is about developing leadership using all the resources available to the local church. It would involve consolidation in some parishes and new work in others to build up shared ministry in teams, with appropriate training and support.”Anglican Ministry in Milton Keynes
The Anglican Church understands ministry in three dimensions:
Diaconal: A call to loving service, with particular emphasis on practical care, administration and witness to the vulnerable or marginalised.Although these dimensions of ministry are visibly expressed through the ordained offices of deacons, priests and bishops, they are often exercised through different individuals in particular contexts. These official roles should be seen as the visible expression of the ministry that the whole people of God is called to fulfil.
Priestly: A call to nurture the believing community through service of the Word, intercessory prayer, reconciliation and sacramental action.
Episcopal: A call to “oversee” the church, speaking to it and for it, empowering others in ministry and tending its development as an authentic expression of Christ’s body.
Many of our lay people are willing to play active roles within the church community. We believe that it is important that we continue to develop ways of training, authorising and supporting lay people who are called to service in the Church. We observe an increasing tendency for lay people to be involved in leading worship, preaching, administration and pastoral care. This should be regarded as a good thing and the deanery must continue to look for ways to encourage the positive development of lay ministry.
All baptised members of the Church in Milton Keynes are called to serve Christ within the church family and also in the communities where they live and work. This calling is crucially important and we should always remember that the deanery exists to enable a local ministry of loving service and Christian witness to happen.
Ordained, Licensed and Authorised Ministry
We believe that ordained, licensed and authorised ministry is important for the task of nurturing and sustaining the Christian community in Milton Keynes. Our “professional” ministers are trained and authorised by the Church and have a particular role to play.
One key role that they have is the nurture of disciples and they are specifically called to do this through ministries of word and sacrament. We need high quality preaching and meaningful sacramental services.
Our ordained, licensed and authorised ministers are also called to be a visible presence in the world. We recognise that it is impossible for them to be in all places at all times, but there is value in identifying the right occasions for there to be an “official” presence.
The Changing Role of Incumbents
Incumbent clergy have a particular role to play and this role will become increasingly important during the time of transition in which we find ourselves. We recognise that the population of Milton Keynes is rising while we can no-longer sustain the high ratio of stipends to members that we have enjoyed in the past. At the same time the numbers of non-stipendiary ministers are rising and we are encouraging a more collaborative approach to ministry.
Incumbents are called to a priestly ministry within their community but will need to share this calling with others. We expect to see more local teams inour parishes and these teams will include an increasingly diverse collection of people; ranging from associate clergy to youth workers and administrators.
Incumbents will inevitably need to exercise a more episcopal role, acting as those who oversee the work of their churches, speaking to them and for them, empowering others in ministry and tending their churches’ development as authentic expressions of Christ’s body. This role is expressed theologically in the concept of the “cure of souls” which they share with the bishop.
This more episcopal role will be particularly important as the numbers of stipendiary clergy decline while the numbers of Christian communities rise as a result of God’s mission. It is important that we release incumbents from some of their existing duties so that they can fulfil this evolving call. It is also important that we enable them to continue to express their priestly and diaconal calling in appropriate and sustainable ways.
The challenge for us in Milton Keynes is to work towards a sustainable model of Christian ministry. We need to be financially sustainable, but we also need a sustainable approach to ministry in which each individual has a clear and achievable role. Working towards this new model will begin with a re-think of the duties and responsibilities that incumbents take on.
Filling Gaps or Responding to Call
In the past there has been a tendency to see non-stipendiary and associate ministers as people who can fill in the gaps left when “proper vicars” are unavailable. The same issues have also shaped the development of volunteers and authorised lay people.
It is increasingly important that we see ministry as the call of the whole people of God, recognise the distinct role of incumbents and also help those who are called to ministry to respond as full members of their local team.
Local Shared and Supported Ministry
In the next section we will look at the need to create vibrant Christian communities. The Local Shared Ministry project group is looking for ways to support this through mentoring. They would also like to encourage and approach to ministry which is:
Local: Ministry is primarily derived from the local community
Shared: Lay and ordained Christians share leadership and ministry
Supported: Local Christian communities are supported by the wider church
While the Local Shared Ministry approach may not be suitable for every
parish, this concept of local shared and supported ministry may be helpful in
The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
- Continue to provide a Training Officer who will help train and nurture local church members and authorised ministers.
- Continue to follow our ten year transition plan which aims to establish a sustainable level of ministry in Milton Keynes Deanery by 2018. (See Appendix B)
- Map the deployment of ministers in Milton Keynes with respect to incumbents who have an oversight role and the local teams who work with them. This information will be increasingly important as we think about future deployment of stipendiary and non-stipendiary ministers.
- Continue to reflect on the changing role of incumbents.
- Explore approaches to vocation which start with gift and call rather than our needs.
- Continue to look for ways to develop Christian ministry. This should be a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.