Monday, 23 May 2011

Chelmsford South Deanery Vision

Chelmsford South Deanery 
Chelmsford South Deanery stretches from Boreham and the southern half of the town of Chelmsford, all the way to South Woodham Ferrers and Ramsden Bellhouse. It encompasses 21 churches in 18 parishes. We have been involved for several years in creating a vision document, with the experience of Exeter Diocese being influential and with every PCC having been consulted at least twice; the four points below are the fruit of this consultation.

1. A Vision for Every Member
*We believe that every member needs to be equipped to live in his or her neighbourhood, family, social groups and workplace as a full-time Christian, serving his or her communities and telling of God’s love.

To equip every member to do these things, God gives his church gifted people. Our eyes and hearts have particularly been drawn to Ephesians 4; we believe that God will provide the ministry gifts of 
- Visionary Leaders,
- Prophets to speak truth to power,
- Evangelists to spread the good news,
- Pastors to care and include all, and
- Teachers to make sure young and old alike develop into the likeness of Christ.

Our synod in spring 2010 showed what a range of gifted individuals we already value within the deanery, including clergy, readers, pastoral assistants and evangelists, but also those recognised by our local churches and commissioned to minister under supervision. As part of this team of gifted people, there will be some ordained ministers; and of these, some will receive a stipend. Generally speaking, we believe that in 2016 every group of 180-200 active Christians will need the services of a full-time priest - not to do the work of mission and ministry for them, but to equip them to do that work of serving their locality and telling of God’s love. We are suggesting that we will need 10.5 stipendiary ministers in 2016 (down from 13.5 in 2009), and a smaller number thereafter. Our “deanery roadshow” is rolling out across the deanery with the aim of encouraging “whole-life discipleship” and vocation in the broadest sense possible; our deanery synods also have this focus.

*We believe that every member needs to be part of an intimate Christian group, whether a formal group or a set of friends. Smaller parish churches already constitute this intimate group.

2. A Vision for Pastoral Communities
*We believe that every member also needs to be part of a larger group in which the fullness of the ministry gifts listed above is put into practice. We call this larger group a pastoral community, though terms such as “cluster” or “collaborative unit” would work just as well. A pastoral community is a dynamic grouping of smaller communities; it is served by a collaborative team of ministers, paid and voluntary, clergy and lay, licensed and unlicensed. A large parish church (no doubt made up of a network of teams, friendships and small groups, formal and informal) might be a pastoral community in its own right; a small parish church would need to join together with other churches to enjoy the fullness of the ministry gifts God gives in a pastoral community.

Pastoral units will be of different sizes, but contain at least 180 regular members and be able to provide
  • leadership and envisioning with all five of the “ministry gifts” of Ephesians 4 in evidence
  • regular public worship
  • collaborative ministry
  • teaching, preaching, training, nurture, growth, and lifelong learning for Jesus’ adult disciples
  • teaching, training, nurture and growth for children and young people who are disciples of Jesus
  • evangelism in the community as a clear priority
  • involvement in and service to the local community, with a particular care expressed for the poor, after the example of Jesus Christ
  • effective pastoral care available to all in the community who need it
  • being partners in mission with other groups / churches inside & outside the Diocese
  • the provision of appropriate and realistically sustainable buildings
  • the necessary administration to support this work
In a pastoral community, no one church and no one incumbent, be they stipendiary or self-supporting, is preeminent (though a chairperson for pastoral community meetings will be appointed). In spring 2011, the parishes of Chelmsford South Deanery chose to group themselves into four pastoral communities:
  • The Chelmer Crouch Group (7 parishes from Boreham to South Woodham Ferrers)
  • The Great Baddow Team Ministry (one parish comprising three churches)
  • The Reservoir Pastoral Community (5 parishes around the Hanningfield reservoir)
  • Moulsham and Galleywood (3 parishes)
(One parish is still deciding which pastoral community to join). In June, the Standing Committee will be able to recommend numbers of ministers for each of these pastoral communities into the future.

3. A Vision for Sovereign Parishes
*We believe that parishes should retain as much control as possible over the shape of mission and ministry in their locality. Pastoral communities are not a replacement for parishes, they are simply a tool to help parishes help each other, and we are not looking for legal reorganisation for their creation. No clergyperson can be compelled to follow this scheme – nor would we wish it to be entered into reluctantly. We would ask that deanery clergy freely choose to include responsibilities to the pastoral community in their role descriptions. Where possible, we would hope that Readers and other accredited ministers would work in a flexible way to meet needs, and they are included in the new deanery vision.

4. A Vision for the Deanery Itself
Leadership in the deanery is offered by Andy Griffiths (the Rural Dean), Christine Horton (the Lay Chair), Carol Smith (Assistant Rural Dean), Canon Harry Marsh (the Treasurer), Lee Batson (the Chapter Clerk), Richard Cecil (the Secretary) and a team of others; we try to model the kind of collaboration of people with different gifts that we are urging throughout the deanery. In the context of God’s desire to shower us with blessing; in the context of full-time Christians, pastoral communities and sovereign parishes; and in the context of God’s love for the world, we are clear about the function of the deanery itself. We express it in twenty words:

We look to God for power
to equip every member
to serve South Chelmsford
and to tell of God’s love.”

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