The Deanery Leadership Team consists of the six deanery officers. We’re missing a secretary at the moment, and that is proving to be a real issue, because we don’t have someone who can keep an eye on minutes and agendas. We are very busy though…

Vacancies
After a relatively stable period, we have had to face a number of vacancies – all at the same time!

In Woughton we have been working closely with the trustees, the ministry team, the PCC and the church councils to appoint a new Rector to replace Cathi Williams. This has been an opportunity to rethink the post. The new incumbent will be co-leader of the team, and will focus on prayer and spirituality, relationships and community engagement. We’re very excited about the possibilities but a first round of interviews didn’t produce a suitable candidate. In the meantime there are lots of services to cover…

In Watling Valley we have had a more straightforward vacancy following the departure of Dave Bell. A new minister has now been appointed and a name will soon be announced. This new Team Vicar will be responsible for St Mary’s in Shenley Church End and will have a particular focus on Adult Discipleship. Since the new year, members of the ministry team have faced added pressures due to illness or bereavement. This has obviously resulted in more gaps in service plans…

The departure of Peter Ballantine from the Stantonbury Team created a gap at St Andrew’s Great Linford. We are delighted that the new Baptist minister, David Lewis, has taken on some responsibility for this congregation, but we have also been working with the parish on the appointment of a House for Duty minister. The profile for this post is nearly ready to go…

The diocese has approved the appointment of a mission post for the Newton Leys area. The profile for this post is being worked on and an interview date has been set for April…

Meanwhile, I’m still working as the acting of incumbent of Water Eaton while the Deanery Mission and Partnership works toward a long term plan…

Deanery MAP
And in other news… the deanery has been working towards a new Mission Action Plan which is already reflected in the way we work…

Keeping God at the Heart
Prayer and theological reflection need to be absolutely central to everything we do, but it’s all to easy for “stuff” to get in the way. It is therefore very intentional that I agreed to chair the prayer team for the mission partnership. This group has been focussing on on-line resources but there is more to be developed. Revd John Bradley, who died in December, was a key member of this team.

I’ve also been meeting with John Robertson and Brenda Mosedale at 8:30am on weekday mornings to pray at Christ the Cornerstone. We feel that praying together is crucial to our life and work.

You may also have noticed that we have been giving significant time at deanery meetings to spirituality. This is a strategic choice and we think it will help shift our culture and agenda.

Building Relationships
We have also been continuing with our Deanery Lunches. These bring together six “leaders” each week for conversations that can be very deep. There is no agenda, but it is great to see the impacts these simple events have.
We have also organised a chaplains’ evening, and are working on an event for church wardens.

Building Capacity
We now have a vocations team that is working together to support and encourage people who are exploring ministry. This group organised a Vocations Breakfast in October and it has been great to see a few more people coming forward.

At St Fridewide’s we have two people who are being authorised to lead extended communion. Six sessions have been organised to help prepare the congregation for this.

Initial discussions are taking place for a new preaching course under the coMPass banner in September. We are hoping that this will provide a great opportunity to encourage more authorised preachers.

Working Together
The Citizens:mk alliance has become a really significant in our work on social justice. We are proud to have been involved in the Living Wage campaign which has had a real impact on the lives of low paid workers in the city. There were two living wage breakfasts in November including one high up in the Pinnacle with local business leaders.

During the past few months I have taken a more active role with Citizens, and have helped organise a number of events. It feels like a good use of my time, since we can see the impact in terms of social impact, positive relationships and growing leaders.

I have also been chairing the Weaving Trust group which has created a really powerful method for building relationships between ordinary people in very different communities. Since the summer, we have organised events with MK Muslim Association, St Frideswide Church, the MK Dons and Thames Valley Police. There are more events in the pipeline, which is a wonderful response to recent events.

A lot of time has been spent on the Refugees Welcome campaign, and there is now a good sense of partnership between Milton Keynes Council, the Red Cross and our very active group. It has been really important for us to engage with this agenda because we can make a difference.

MK Deanery plays a key role in the Churches’ advertising project. For the fourth year in a row, we ran a radio advertising campaign based on the Christmas starts with Christ material – supported by the use of Facebook and our own web site at ChristmasMK.com. This was very time consuming but we have reached tens of thousands of people and are still regarded as their flagship area by ChurchAds.

Being good Stewards
We are looking carefully at communications and plan to experiment with a ‘termly’ newsletter called, ‘The Signpost’. This will probably be linked to a new method for distribution of the Door.

And also…
I attended the Shared Ministry Network conference in Manchester with a group from St Fridewsides. This was a good opportunity to engage with this agenda at national level while also gaining ideas that we can use back here.

David and I have had various meetings to attend, including the annual meeting of area deans in lay chairs in the Diocese of Oxford. This meeting marked the start of a big discussion about lay ministry…

There have also been various baptisms, weddings and funerals to cover – from various parishes…

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