The Deanery Leadership Team consists of the six deanery officers. We’ve been missing a Deanery Secretary for some time. We’ve found this difficult because we didn’t have someone who could focus on how we use our processes to achieve our aims. It’s therefore great news that Steve Snook from Bletchley has stepped forward for this appointment. We’ve been working with him over the past few weeks and can already see how he could help us to develop our work…

That’s for the future. Looking back over the past few months, there has been a lot going on…

Church Wardens Evening

David Thom, our Lay Chair, organised a really successful evening for church wardens in February. This provided an opportunity for people to meet each other, and was particularly helpful for new church wardens. There was a challenging quiz about rules and regulations, during which we all learned something! There is enthusiasm for a similar event next year, although there are questions about the best time of the year for this…

Collecting Information

Linda Kirk, our Deanery Administrator, had a lot of work to do to make the Church Wardens Evening happen. It took nearly a hundred emails to work out who all the wardens (and equivalent church officers) might be! This might sound crazy, but it’s a feature of the complexity of Milton Keynes and the speed it takes for information to flow through our various systems. Linda has continued to work hard on gathering basic data during the past few months. It’s tough and often unpopular work but incredibly important. Is there any way we can improve the process?

Daily Prayer

Tim Norwood, our Area Dean, has been praying with ecumenical colleagues each weekday morning at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone. They’ve been using a simple liturgy with space for Bible readings, reflection and intercession. This has been a really exciting experiment and has also created space for useful conversations. Are there other opportunities for similar prayer and Bible-based reflection in local areas across the city?

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Tim has continued to work with the Refugees Welcome group. We were delighted to say that two families of Syrian refugees arrived in April and are now settling in to life in Milton Keynes. The work is progressing thanks to a partnership between MK Council, the Red Cross and Citizens MK. We are doing much better than other areas in the South East. Two families may not sound much but it has taken a lot to achieve! One of the key issues has been the identification of private landlords willing to rent out their properties to refugees. We’ve also had to look at ways of fitting out houses and providing support. We’re currently reviewing the process after the first arrivals and will be streamlining this for the next round. One church has already offered to kit out one of the houses, while others would like to fund-raise for furniture. How can we encourage other churches to offer help to these vulnerable people?

Weaving Trust

https___img_evbuc_com_http%253A%252F%252Fcdn_evbuc_com%252Fimages%252F15432567%252F98264925971%252F1%252ForiginalTim has also been chairing the Weaving Trust campaign. At Weaving Trust events, ordinary people from different communities meet each other in 1-to-1 conversations. These have been incredibly significant and it’s been great to see a growth in social cohesion in MK at a time when hostility and suspicion have been growing across Europe following terrorist attacks and an ongoing refugee and migration crisis. Over the past few months we’ve held events with Dentons, Q:Alliance and St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church. There will be a massive Weaving Trust event on the 28th January 2017 as part of the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes. What can we do to help our church members engage with different communities?

Deanery Lunches

We have continued to run our popular weekly Deanery Lunches at which six “leaders” meet each other for deeper conversations and the sharing of ideas. Over the past five months these events have ranged from first meetings, to major strategic conversations. The only frustration has been that we often have people drop out at the last minute, which is annoying when we’ve had to turn other people away to keep the numbers down. Sometimes there is a good reason, but if people let us know early enough we could invite someone else. We could do more to tighten our management of this, but it’s already a time-consuming task. Do we invest more time in chasing people to achieve a worthwhile result, or trust them to turn up or send appologies as soon as they can?

Deanery Chapter

Keith Straughan, our Chapter Clerk, organised a Chapter meeting with Bishop Alan in March. This was well-attended and gave the Bishop an opportunity to talk to us about the future of ministry. The next Chapter event will be on July 12th at St Mary’s Shenley.

Vocations Team

Our new vocations team is continuing to develop its work and is meeting regularly with Caroline Windley, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Members of the team have met potential candidates for licensed lay ministry and ordination. They are also planning another vocations breakfast. We can now respond very quickly to approaches from candidates since there is a team of six vocations advisers. Contact Tim of you have anyone you’d like us to meet.

Vacancies and Arrivals

sharongt-1-e1460381851477It was great to welcome Sharon Grenham-Thompson as Team Vicar in Watling Valley parish. It’s always nice to get to the end of a vacancy and celebrate the beginning of a new era for both church and incumbent. Unfortunately, we failed to appoint a new Team Rector for Woughton so we’re currently having a third round of interviews. We are also awaiting news about the House for Duty post at St Andrew’s Great Linford…

Pioneer Minister for Newton Leys

We did manage to appoint a minister for Newton Leys. Details will be announced soon, but we look forward to welcoming a new “Vicar” for this growing area some time in September. This will be the first of the new Development Posts that the diocese has made available. We hope to apply for two further posts in other large areas of new housing. It won’t be our first pioneer minister of course, since we previously worked with the URC to create a similar post in Walton.

Easter: Where do you stand?

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We’ve been working with ChurchAds over the past few years on their campaign “Christmas Starts with Christ”. Our group has been keen to expand the work, so last year we ran our first Easter campaign. ChurchAds picked up on our enthusiasm and this year launched “Where do you stand?” – a campaign focussed on the questions raised by the cross and resurrection. There was a national campaign, but not material we could use. We did however run our own campaign using this tag line, with a radio ad co-written by Tim and Liam from Heart FM. This was a big step forward for us, since it marked a new relationship with the radio station, and makes us a producer of material that other people will be able to use elsewhere… “Where do you stand?” will be a national campaign again next year.

Linda and Tim typed up church events for the EasterMK web site. This is very time consuming, but helps present a united and positive face to the wider world. It also works towards our vision of “MK: A City Alive to God”. How can we capitalise on this work?

Community Asset Transfer: Trinity Centre

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As Area Dean, Tim is a trustee of the Trinity Centre in Fishermead. This building is owned by the Borough with a ninety-nine year lease of part of the building to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance who then lease it back to the Trustees with an understanding that the building can be used by Trinity Church. The building is then looked after by the Management Committee… Sounds complicated? It’s further complicated by the fact that MK Council now wants to let go of the building under a programme called “Community Asset Transfer”. Tim and the other trustees have now submitted a bid to gain local ownership. If we can pull this off it will safeguard the Trinity Church/Centre for local residents for many years to come. It’s a complicated legal learning curve, but is really significant for the future…

St Frideswide, Water Eaton

For the past few years, Tim has been giving a quarter of his time to the St Frideswide congregation. Our hope has been to use this input to explore a new plan for the development of this high priority parish. Huge progress has been made recently and we’re now exploring proposals to change boundaries and appoint a new Rector. It’s wonderful to have got to this point, and we’re really hopeful that this will be an exciting new beginning.

Deanery Deployment Plan

This is closely related to our work with the DMPC on a new deployment plan. We organised a special meeting to discuss this and a draft has been produced…

Coming up…

There’s no time to talk about other things that are bubbling away…

  • Discussions about a new model for Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP) constitutions using the Charitable Incorporated Institution (CIO) model…
  • Tim is secretary of the National Deaneries Network which is organising a big conference in October…
  • We’ll be working with Citizens MK on a training course for churches using the model of community organising…
  • Church inspections are underway…
  • The Mission Partnership has a new logo for “A City Alive to God”…

This has been a brief survey of work being undertaken by the DLT. We hope this gives you a sense of what’s going on in MK Deanery…

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