THE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERS OF DEANERY MISSION AND PASTORAL COMMITTEE
Deaneries have an increasingly important role in the diocese of Oxford. They are seen as the most appropriate unit for discussions about mission and deployment. In Buckingham Archdeaconry, deaneries have been encouraged to undertake Mission planning. This process must continue as we address the threefold questions:
1. What is the mission of God in our locality (parish/team/deanery)?
2. What ministries are needed to fulfil this mission?
3. What resources are needed to fulfil these ministries?
The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee needs to consider all aspects of mission planning as well as to look at issues around clergy deployment. In particular, the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee is expected, as clergy posts become vacant, to take a view as to whether and how these posts should be filled.
The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee will oversee the development of the Deanery Plan which must be agreed by Synod. The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee will then make recommendations and decisions on the basis of the plan.
The Deanery Pastoral Committee, therefore, needs to hold a number of guiding principles in tension.
- The mission thinking of the Deanery, as expressed in the Deanery Plan.
- The traditions, needs and aspirations of particular parishes.
- The concern for new areas of housing development and fresh expressions of church and develop ways in which both can be integrated into a pastoral framework.
- The need to remain faithful to parochial commitments which guarantees a worshipping and witnessing presence in every community in the Deanery and, indeed, in the Diocese.
- The financial implications for the Deanery and the Diocese.
Role of the Deanery Pastoral Committee
The basic role of a Deanery Pastoral Committee is therefore:
1. To consider the whole mission strategy of the deanery
- To determine God’s Mission within the deanery will need a wider consensus than a small Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee can provide, but the committee should oversee the process of discernment, through consultation and prayer, of what the spiritual priorities might be.
- There should be a realistic assessment of current mission and ministry in the deanery taking into account the balance of existing resources, such as people (including their leadership and skills) and buildings (churches and halls etc.), against the perceived mission and pastoral needs of the whole community. Here it is important to include ecumenical partners as well as representatives from all the Anglican churches in both the assessment of those needs and how far they are being met.
- It is very easy to be creative about everyone else’s church. It is equally easy when on the receiving end of someone else’s creativity to feel hard done to or that decisions have been made over your head. Therefore it is vital that Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committees involve individual churches in thinking about change, especially the changes that directly affect those churches. This can be done by inviting leaders from those churches to Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee meetings or going to meet with the leaders or the PCC. Parishes may be asked to make a presentation but leave for discussion. The more engaged in the thinking the more likely people are to go with the proposals.
2. To monitor the development and application of the Deanery Mission Plan
- Once good information has been obtained, the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee makes a judgement as to whether new structures or resources are required to meet specific needs or whether there is scope for development of the existing pattern. There may be a need for radical change, or simply to build on what is there by doing certain things differently or better. In all these cases, the mission priorities and proposals would be established by the deanery, and expressed through the Deanery Mission Plan. But subsequently every assistance would be given by diocesan personnel to achieve the necessary stated objectives.
- The Deanery Mission Plan will evolve as people and communities change, so it is essential that the scope and effectiveness of the plan should be kept under constant review.
3. To advise the Diocesan Pastoral Committee on matters of clergy appointments
- When a post becomes vacant the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee needs to discuss whether and how this post should be filled, taking on board the guiding principles mentioned above and the those of the Deanery Plan. It needs to communicate this advice to the Archdeaconry and Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committees which then, in turn, advises the Bishops on appointment matters.
- One of the key issues facing Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committees is the general ongoing decline in clergy numbers. Therefore, Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committees must take a realistic and creative view of the future context for mission and ministry in the area and be mindful of this when offering their advice to the Archdeaconry and Diocesan Pastoral Committees.
4. To maintain close liaison with Deanery Synods and PCCs/DCCs
- It is important that the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee does not operate in isolation, but rather connects very strongly to the Deanery Synod and to individual PCCs and DCCs. There is a clear danger for a degree of mistrust on the part of individual parishes that other people are deciding their future on their behalf. It is important that this is mitigated as far as possible by good, clear feedback to Deanery Synod and ensuring that deanery representatives in turn feed this back to their own parishes. That way we get informed and engaged discussions at different levels in the Deanery.
Membership of the Deanery Pastoral Committee
The Deanery Pastoral Committee will be made up of the following members:
- The Deanery Officers: Area Dean, Lay Chair, Treasurer, Chapter Clerk,
- 5 lay member from Deanery Synod.
- 3 clergy elected from Deanery Synod.
- Expert witnesses may be invited to attend but will not have a vote.
The commitment of Deanery Pastoral Committee members is follows:
1. To attend meetings (generally three times a year) to look at current and emerging pastoral reorganisation and clergy deployment issues.
2. When doing that, to take a clear and informed view of the mission task and try to ensure that deployment supports mission planning and thinking.
3. To ensure an appropriate balance between representing individual parish thoughts and interests on the one hand, but not being unduly bound by them on the other. Although Deanery Pastoral Committee members are members of individual churches they are not there just to represent the interest of their church but, rather, to act in the best interests of the Deanery.
4. To be good advocates for deanery mission planning and thinking.
5. To pray about God’s mission in the Deanery and see how best we engage in that.
DMPC Roles in the Diocese of Liverpool – February 2008
Constitution and Procedure for Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee in Diocese of Oxford – January 2009
MK Deanery Pastoral and Standing Committee – March 2010
MK Deanery Synod – July 2010