Diocesan Synod has backed the principles behind a report on the deployment of lay and ordained people which seeks to encourage a wide variety of ministries to flourish across the diocese.
Synod welcomed the direction of travel of a report from a group tasked with the work, which was established last year and sought views on the future shape of ministry across Somerset.
The group met for the final time just before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of its initial recommendations will need to be revisited as a result, the Archdeacon of Taunton, who chaired the group, told synod.
Embedded at the heart of the report is the concept of focal ministry. Focal Ministers are local leaders of their churches, usually ministering as part of a small team. As local representatives, they provide a focus for both the local congregation and the wider community.
Focal Ministers are the ‘go to’ people in a particular local congregation who, with ministerial support, provide leadership and oversee the mission and pastoral care in each church. The detailed nature of their role will vary from place to place and will reflect the nature of both the church and it’s community.
To find out more about how focal ministry is already working in some parts of the diocese, watch this short interview with Tracey Richbell, village chaplain in West Buckland.
Archdeacon Simon said: “It is clear that one of the effects of the current crisis has been to generate some radical thinking as to how we do church. Church will be different when the current crisis comes to an end and there will need to be an assessment of what this means for deployment.
“The current crisis has forced some stark choices but also some imaginative responses in mission and evangelism for living out the Gospel. The importance of locality, neighbourhood and community are even more evident in this time of crisis. A love of neighbour has in many places engendered a sort of focal ministry and this is something to be built upon as we seek to release God’s people for God’s mission across Somerset.”
The seven principles below have been set out by the group as principles which should be used to underpin deployment decisions. Some tools to help parishes and deaneries explore how focal ministry might look in their area will be shared in the New Year, but in the meantime these principles are offered to assist when and as discussions on the future shape of ministry occur.
The seven principles for deployment:
- Mutuality of ordained and lay undergirds all deployment. Lay and ordained vocations may be lived out in a variety of ways.
- Different needs and responses in different contexts should be recognised. Churches of different membership sizes require different types of leadership and inherited church, fresh expressions, chaplaincy and pioneering should all be valued.
- The principle of ‘No one alone’ for both clergy and laity is essential. Mutual care and support in leadership is important and the building and sustaining of teams is imperative.
- Each ministerial post should be one where it is possible to ‘serve with joy’.
- There is a commitment to learn from experimentation and put this learning into practice. The fear of failure should not inhibit experimentation.
- Deployment decisions will contain an element of being responsive and flexible and are not excessively constrained by guidelines.
- Support will be provided to help people inhabit new focused roles and there is attentiveness to safeguarding.
If you would like to read the report in full, please email the Communications team.