Friday, 24 July 2009

Blogging on...

I've been a fairly infrequent blogger over the past couple of weeks. It's been a mad season of fetes - combined with end of term work and pre-holiday deadlines. I've got my head down today, working on some Scripture Union notes for September 2010... It's a daft life!

On the plus side, we're looking forward to Shakespeare in the Park this evening. If all goes well, I'll post a review tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Anniversary Run

Quick anniversary 5k
Tim: 28 mins
Isla: 29:45 mins


Today is our 15th Wedding Anniversary. Fifteen years ago we had no roof over our head and were looking for a place to live in Maidstone. We spent the next five years in Maidstone, Cambridge and Slough. We've spent two thirds of our married life in Milton Keynes... Isn't it funny how things turn out...

Well, here's to us - and to the next fifteen! Where will we be by then?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Long day... Got up early to work on the new CtS web site. Hoped for a break between 9 and 10 but Liz turned up - she'd got the venue for team space wrong so we had our monthly supervision session early... I was therefore a little late for the communion at Holy Trinity Wolverton - or rather I was two minutes early...

The afternoon involved some more work on fresh expressions publicity and a coffee with Andrew Gale the new chaplain of Oakhill STC...

The evening involved a Mission Partnership Exec meeting and I finished the day with a major redesign of the FXMK Web Site - finishing the day as it begun - ish...

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sports Day

Sports Day at Christ the Sower today! An afternoon standing around waiting while watching our children stand around waiting to run along the track and then wait around again... Fortunately, rain stopped play after each of ours had done something, so we were released an hour early! Hooray - and back to work - after a quick coffee...

Spent the morning in Bletchley waiting for the car to be serviced. Found a table in Ikea and sat down to do some work with a free refill glass... The only way to work!

This evening I'm meeting the Finance Committee for our first look at the 2010 share allocations. I've printed off a number of sheets, including my fantasy 2018 spreadsheet - in which we not only break even but overpay by £10,000! All I need is to do in order to achieve this is to persuade a couple of parishes to increase their parish share by 10% per year for the next nine years...

The more realistic projections leaves us short by 50K - the reality will hopefully be somewhere in between...

Fewer Bishops - more clergy?

There is a big debate in the press at the moment about suffragan bishops and this debate has drifted down to daily mail reading church members. The argument being put forward is that we have too many bishops and they cost too much. If we got rid of all the extra suffragan and assistant bishops we would have more clergy. I decided to look at the numbers to see what would happen if we followed the sage advice being offered...

Point 0ne: There are 77 suffragan and assistant bishops in the Church of England. If we got rid of them all, we would save a small amount of money, which would be nice, but money isn't the big issue when it comes to appointments.

Point two: The big issue about clergy appointments is the number of clergy available to appoint. It takes at least five years to train a vicar and we are not training new full-time clergy as quickly as the baby-boomers are retiring. According to figures that I have heard, we will have lost another 20% of full-time clergy by 2013 due to retirement. This means we will 2730 fewer clergy in 2013 than there were in 2000 when I started work in Milton Keynes. That's an overall drop of 29%. This is not policy, it's demographics.

Point three: Our suffragan and assistant bishops are very busy and are probably working too hard. In theory, their work could be taken on by a team of clergy who share their responsibilities, but this means taking more time from the local church. Assuming that four vicars could do the work of one bishop by giving 25% of their time to the role - which is probably unrealistic - we could cover their work, but this would result in more stress for local clergy and less time for parochial work.

Conclusion: Yes, we could sack suffragan bishops. This would provide 77 extra vicars - which would not quite replace the 2730 we're loosing because of "natural wastage". We would also increase the stress of at least 308 clergy and loose at least 77 vicars worth of time for the local church...

These are just the numbers. If you think it makes sense, that's up to you.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


I did the 9:30am service at St Mary's this morning and consciously went fishing. I talked about church membership, confirmation and baptism and invited people to talk to me after the service if they were interested in exploring any of these possibilities. I may have one taker for confirmation...

At 11:00am we had the baptism for Alex. We decided to drop the Gospel reading since a story about the beheading of John the baptist didn't seem appropriate at a baptism with John as the father...

The afternoon was spent with Becky and co at her 40th birthday party in Grange Farm. Good party! All tired...

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Team Away Day

The Watling Valley Ministry Team had a half day away as a team today at the Well to talk about our purpose. It was a good discussion and we produced four draft purposes:
  1. To provide spiritual leadership - which is all about theological reflection, guidance and accompaniment rather than control - recognising that leadership is shared by the whole community.
  2. To nurture discipleship - which includes members of the team itself - since we all need to grow as people of God.
  3. To maintain the authenticity of worship - which is a key role for ordained and incumbent clergy who have responsibility for the conduct of worship on behalf of their denominations.
  4. To provide mutual support for one another.
We also began to talk about values and how an understanding of our purpose may affect the way we meet.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Equal best!

Managed 5k in 24 min 40 seconds - equalling my previous best. Had some in reserve for the end, but not enough...

Sunday, 5 July 2009


8:00am and 9:30am in Wolverton, 11:00am Patronal Festival in Shenley, 2:00pm Baptism in Loughton... busy day...

I was struck this morning by the rich themes that could be drawn out of the readings, particularly the Gospel reading which told the story of Jesus' visit to Nazareth and the sending out of the twelve, coupled as it were with the selection of David as King by the elders of Israel and Paul's 'confession' about the thorn in his side.

I could really have done with a longer slot if I were going to explore some of the interesting aspects of ministry that these readings suggested. In each case I had enough time for a 'sound bite' - which I'm sure was right, but I could have spoken for thirty minutes rather than three times for ten... Where do we find the space in this kind of programme for deeper thought?...

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Saturday - Not quite the last fete day...

June is a rather busy month with multiple fetes on every Saturday - particularly if you're involved in lots of different groups and organisations. We had the music centre fete in the morning, followed by the St Mary's fete in the afternoon...

The evening was fun with an informal barbecue with the Solloways and Rowcroft-James's...

Deanery News

Dear all,
Summer is now upon us and we are all enjoying, or enduring, the heat. I hope you are able to make the most of this season and can find time for rest and relaxation. Here are a few key notices which I need to circulate:

Living Faith in Milton Keynes
A draft Deanery Plan was launched at the Deanery Pastoral Committee on Wednesday 1st July. It was produced after six months of reflection and discussion and reflects a great deal of thought. It will be discussed at Synod on the 23rd September, but the deadline for comments will be the end of October. We intend to put a the new plan to the Synod for formal ratification on January 27th 2010. This time-scale has been lengthened so that there is plenty of time for people to comment and contribute to our thinking so that we develop a really useful strategy for mission and ministry.
There are ten hard copies for each church, but you can download an electronic copy from - You can also view the draft plan on-line and make comments.
Please do have a look. We hope that this process will give us more clarity about our work together and the way we can support each other in mission and ministry.

Tim Clapton
Our development Chaplain, Tim Clapton, has decided to move to London but will be working with us part-time over the coming year to help us think about his future. For more details, please see his newsletter, or follow this link: Tim Clapton.

Mission Shaped Ministry
We are hosting a major regional mission course next year which is a huge opportunity for us in Milton Keynes. For more details about the course visit: msm. To book a place call or email Peter Ballantine.

Deanery Secretary
We are looking for a volunteer to act as Deanery Secretary. The Deanery has a part-time administrator who works two hours a week. This is really helpful but we also need a lay volunteer to focus on minutes and agendas so that things run smoothly. For more details, please download the Deanery Secretary Job Description.

Deanery Lay Chair
We are also looking for a new Deanery Lay Chair now that Paul Bright has completed his term of office. We will miss Paul since he had built up a great deal of wisdom and experience. Over the next couple of months we will be asking people to nominate a new Lay Chair, so please share any thoughts you may have. For more details, please see Lay Chair's Responsibilities, Lay Chair in Milton Keynes Deanery or download the Diocesan Handbook for Area Deans and Lay Chairs.

Fresh Expressions
Looking ahead to the Autumn, a small group has been formed to develop CafeChurch in Milton Keynes - starting in the City Centre working with Christ Cornerstone. If you'ld like to be part of this project, please let me know.
There will also be a FEAST Day on Sunday September 27th between 4:00pm and 7:00pm which will be an opportunity for networking, conversations and tasters. I'll send more details out soon but do pop it in your diary if you think it may be for you...

Have a great summer, all the best,
Tim Norwood

Lay Chair in Milton Keynes Deanery

As Paul Bright comes to the end of his time as Lay Chair, we need to look for someone to take over. The position of Deanery Lay Chair is a very significant one in any deanery and we need to find someone who has wisdom and clears gifts in leadership and administration. It is however a role within a team, and we don't need someone who can do everything by themselves.

In Milton Keynes we have developed a 'Deanery Leadership Team' which includes the Area Dean, Associate Area Dean, Treasurer, Secretary, Ecumenical Officer and Chapter Clerk. This team shares responsibility and is supported by a part-time Administrator, paid for by the Diocese. Although the Deanery Leadership Team was only set up a couple of years ago, it has already made a huge difference, helping deanery officers to work together and support each other in shared tasks and leadership.

We need to find a good Lay Chair who will join this team and share responsibility with others. This person needs to be an elected member of the 'house of laity' so must be an existing member of Synod. Please think and pray about this and consider who you feel is called to become our next Lay Chair. I will be writing to Synod members soon to ask for nominations.

Lay Chair's Responsibilities


As part of the team sharing in the episcope with the Bishop, the role of the Area Dean and the Deanery Lay Chair, working together, is:

  • to lead and unite the deanery
  • to foster the well-being of the deanery's clergy and people
  • to foster the development of the mission of the Church in the deanery, diocese and beyond.

Duties of the Lay Chair under the Synodical Government Measure 1969

1. To act as joint Chair of the deanery synod with the Area Dean, ‘they shall agree between them who shall chair each meeting of the synod or particular items of business on the agenda of the synod (see CRR23(1)a), and to chair meetings of the deanery house of laity. It is appropriate for both synod and standing committee that the chairing of meetings should alternate between the Area Dean and the Lay Chair, or be shared. The Lay Chair is ex officio chair of the deanery House of Laity.

2. Jointly with the Area Dean to call meetings of deanery synod and to determine the date and places of such meetings with the deanery standing committee.

3. In the terms of the Pastoral Measure 1983, (s)he is to be consulted as an interested party on all matters of pastoral re-organisation.

Overall objectives of the Lay Chair

1. To encourage the deanery laity to participate fully in the planning and running of the affairs of the deanery, and especially to encourage attendance at synod meetings.

2. To facilitate a two-way channel of information between the deanery laity and the wider Church.

3. In order to discharge these responsibilities, (s)he may convene occasional meetings of the house of laity. Some Lay Chairs find it helpful to share regularly in worship at all churches within their Deanery, to get to know churchwardens and PCC Treasurers in their deanery and, by invitation, to meet PCCs.

Guidelines for non-statutory responsibilities

The Deanery Lay Chair is expected

  1. To attend institutions and licensings and to welcome new clergy on behalf of the laity of the deanery.
  2. To respond to the notification of a vacancy in the post of Area Dean and to make recommendations regarding the nomination of a new Area Dean.
  1. To be an ex-officio member of all deanery committees.
  2. To conduct together with the Area Dean, the Visitation of the parishes (see p9) and to check presentment forms in advance of the Archdeacon’s Visitation.
  3. To respond to requests made by the Bishop or by other appointing bodies, for information and advice about deanery appointments.
  4. To make arrangements for the assessment of parishes for the payment of Parish Share. They should help the deanery standing Committee to apportion and collect the Deanery Share, and to encourage parishes to pay their contribution on time. They are expected to support the Chairman of the Diocesan Board of Finance in communicating with parishes in their Deanery, and with educating them on Christian giving and the financial facts of Church life. The deanery may appoint a Parish Share Committee.
  5. To encourage parishes in speedy return of accounts and other requests for membership and attendance returns.
  6. To be responsible for ensuring that the regular programme for Quinquennial Inspections of each church in the deanery is carried out, through either the deanery standing committee or an appointed deanery Quinquennial officer.
  7. To be available with the Area Dean to visit each parish in the deanery, by arrangement, to meet the incumbent and other staff, both lay and clerical, and the PCC to discuss matters of common pastoral concern.
  8. To work with the Bishop and the Deanery Pastoral Committee to ensure that the wider mission needs of the deanery are taken into account. These will supplement, but not replace, the parish’s own representations. However, if a Vacancy Meeting is convened, both the Area Dean and the Lay Chair will be invited to attend.
  9. To share with the Area Dean in the spiritual and strategic leadership of the Deanery by developing its strategy for mission in and to the community it serves. They should foster the corporate life of the deanery and encourage local initiatives appropriate to the work of the Kingdom of God in their area.
  10. To be fully briefed about the proceedings of Synod. Lay Chairs are encouraged to stand for election to Diocesan Synod.

Tim Clapton

Note from Tim Clapton:

The Development Chaplain and the Future

Contract End - October 2010

There are now only 18 months left of my contract so we need to start considering priorities for these final months and what will happen once we reach October 2010. What is important is that we consider carefully possible funding after October 2010 and what that person will do.

We will need to make a strong argument for another post and such future work must respond to our local mission aspirations. So it is important that I spend time in the next four months researching the needs and aspirations of the local church and putting together a solid proposal and budget for a future post. All this work will need to be completed by February 2010. Beginning in August I will be visiting most of the clergy and key lay people in the urban area of Milton Keynes and finding ways also to listen to other Christians in MK. From this research I will bring a set of proposals to the various committees in Mission Partnership and individual denominations in Milton Keynes. After considerable discussion a firm proposal will be submitted to the Milton Keynes Anglican Deanery Pastoral Committee and Diocese.

Tim is 'Moving Forward'

For some time now I have been considering how I might explore some work/ministry options and do some study etc and yet also continue my work here in Milton Keynes until the end of my contract in October 2010. This has now taken some shape and I/we can make 'an announcement' . In July I will be moving to London to pursue some interests and opportunities which have yet to be agreed fully so I cannot make an announcement about that at the moment. But it has been agreed that I will continue the Development Chaplaincy role half time. From August 1st I will be present in Milton Keynes each Monday morning until late on Tuesday night and be available on the phone and email at other times. I will continue the work here conducting the research which will lead to a strong proposal for the work beyond October 2010. It has also been agreed that I help resource local churches in what is being increasingly called "Community Mission". More of that later.

For now Dear Reader it is with excitement that I write to you and I hope you will join me in prayer for this new kind of living. Although I will be leaving Milton Keynes, (and I will miss you and the town badly), - this is an exciting venture for me. You can be assured of my continued commitment to the churches here in MK and our ministry together. I will be needing a few weeks in July to move house and sort out the arrangements in London so I may not be around from the middle of the month.

If you know of anyone who would like to rent a three bedroom Victorian terraced house, good order, in a great location for the train station and at a reasonable monthly rent - they may contact me ! (how about that for a shameless piece of advertising ? )

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Mission Shaped Ministry

A year to be equipped in planting and sustaining fresh expressions of church

sion shaped ministry, a national ecumenical course backed by the Church of England, Methodist Church and other denominations and aimed at helping people to establish fresh expressions of church across the country, is ‘gathering momentum and exceeding all expectations.’ The one year part-time course launches in Milton Keynes in September 2009. Already over 1,000 people nationwide are or have been on the course, which focuses on new areas of outreach that engage with those outside the reach of the traditional church. Students include youth leaders, church council members, readers, ministers, home group leaders and anybody wanting to reach out in new ways.

Norman Ivison of Fresh Expressions confirmed that msm was designed to help those starting or thinking about new ways of being church. ‘Even in an area where traditional churchgoing is often seen as being strong, churches are still reaching less than 10% of the population most weeks. msm can give you the tools you need to reach those well off our radar’ he claimed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has also offered his support: ‘The next big step in taking fresh expressions of church forward is making the right kind of training available in every part of the country. The mission shaped ministry course looks set to make a major contribution here and I’m delighted to commend it.’

Bishop John Pritchard says, ‘We need a variety of shapes of church to connect with people in today's world. mission shaped ministry will help those trying to do imaginative things to create new Christian communities and to make disciples. I heartily support this exciting new initiative.’

Locally the course is being headed up by a team which includes Tim Clapton (Milton Keynes Development Chaplain), Tim Norwood (Anglican Area Dean of Milton Keynes), Peter Ballantine (Milton Keynes Mission Partnership Training Officer), Keith Beech-Gruneberg (Director of Studies for the Oxford Diocese) and Tim Woolley (Methodist District Director of Mission). We have already booked Stuart Murray-Williams, Graham Cray and Jenny Ellis as speakers.

In other regions, clergy and lay people are training together in teams. They then identify opportunities and possibilities in their communities and networks and go home each month ready to try new things.
Dates and Times:

September 16th 2009
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Introduction / The Mission of God

September 23rd 2009
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Mission Context and the Mixed Economy

September 30th 2009
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Vision and Call

October 7th 2009
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Missional Values

Residential with Graham Cray
4th to 6th December 2009
At Feldon Lodge, Hemel Hempstead
Team Roles,
Preparation for Mission,
Research and Mission Audit,
Learning Networks and Share,
Leadership, What is church?

Saturday 6th February 2010
with Stuart Murray-Williams
9.30am-4.00pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Gospel and culture,
setbacks and failure

Saturday 6th March 2010
with Jenny Ellis
9.30am-4.00pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Spirituality, Discipleship

Wednesday 28th April 2010
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Growing a FX to maturity

Wednesday 5th May 2010
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury

Wednesday 12th May 2010
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury

Wednesday 19th May 2010
7:30pm to 9:30pm at Christ Church, Stantonbury
Reflecting back and sending out
The course also offers participating teams the opportunity to make the most of a mission coach, someone who will come alongside them and help them establish new ways of being church. The course will cost £230 for individual participants, but £200 each for groups of two and £180 each for groups of three or more. The fees include the full cost of the residential. It would be good for local churches to support those who take part, both financially and with prayer.

For further details, please contact:

Revd Tim Norwood (Area Dean of Milton Keynes)

Revd Dr Keith Beech-Gruneberg
(Director of Studies, Diocese of Oxford)

Revd Tim Woolley (Methodist District Director of Mission)