During February and March this year, Bishop Peter Hancock and Bishop Ruth Worsley have been spending an evening in each of the diocese’s 19 deaneries to explore the local missional context in detail look at the aspirations and challenges within each area.
Events in Shepton Mallet, Midsomer Norton and Yeovil deaneries are to take place this week. Exmoor’s session was postponed due to the snow and is to be rescheduled.
The events are being billed as ‘Deanery Synod Pluses’ as our Bishops asked that the invitation be extended to local agencies, charities, schools and businesses – all those working to serve and work for the good of our communities.
As part of the evening, many of the sessions are taking an in depth look at the Deanery Mission Plan, which all deaneries were tasked with preparing in 2017.
The Ven Simon Hill, Archdeacon of Taunton says, “The events have been excellent. Our rural deans and those attending have been pleased to hear directly from the Bishops and to meet and chat with representatives of staff teams based in Wells. Some great conversations have started and seeds sown for new ways of working together.”
Ilminster Deanery took the theme of “What matters? Who cares?” for their meeting. Listening and understanding each others’ stories as a way of building local partnerships were at the very heart of the session. The local mayor, the area’s largest employer, a churchwarden, a chair of school governors, a local Department of Work and Pensions representative and a local farmer were asked to start the conversation giving a 5 minute address that spoke of the challenges facing the area and how we might work together.
Quantock Deanery held their session in Crowcombe Village Hall. Revd Ben Flenley who is the new rural dean there says, “The deanery mission planning process encouraged us to bring together all the different parish and benefice plans in one place. It’s hugely encouraging for me as a new rural dean and to everyone involved that this really is a bottom-up exercise, not something imposed from the top. In terms of the synod event, people were impressed that support staff from the diocesan offices had made the journey.”
Quantock lay chair , Sally Bult adds, “One outcome of the deanery mission plan is that we are consolidating our resources and energy as a deanery, focusing on one area of need in our communities each year, so that we can have most impact. We are proud of our small deanery; it means we can be a big family.”