Report of Milton Keynes Deanery Synod
held on 22 February 2017

This was the last Deanery Synod of this triennial and the main thrust of the meeting was to review some successes and outline plans for the next triennial.
Successes

There were brief presentations (1 slide – 3 minutes, and they really were that quick) on the following successes;

  • Make Lunch
  • Advertising
  • SACRE
  • Church without walls
  • CoMPass
  • Water Eaton

Make Lunch: Did you know that in MK one in five children live in poverty? i.e. in a household where the income is £16,000 or less? Working with the Food Bank, 696 children were given lunch over the past half term break. The initiative is growing and continued support is appreciated.

Advertising: It is important to remember that these campaigns are aimed at people who are not Christians and do not attend church. Whenever questions are raised it is important to use the opportunity to engage in discussion.

SACRE: This is the committee responsible for the delivery of Religious Education in schools, which is one of our primary mission fields. The group meets once a term, now at twilight so that teachers can attend. There are two vacancies on this committee and Paul asked for two people from the Deanery to join this key and successful group.

Church without walls: This was the Deanery’s first pioneer post. MK Deanery provided the house and we should still regard it as “our project”. The church is community-based and uses community spaces for worship and meetings. It is very successful, with 40-50 people attending Sunday services (50% under 10).

CoMPass: This is the vehicle by which Mission Partnership (MP) delivers adult education about faith and mission across the Deanery. More people are aware of CoMPass and some are now coming back for more training.

Water Eaton: After 14 years at St Mary’s, Catherine has been appointed Vicar of St. Frideswide’s and shared the good news about how work on her move is progressing. The mission is to take a small group of people from St. Mary’s Bletchley and transplant them to build up St. Frideswide’s. Both congregations are excited about the future.

The Future

What challenges and opportunities will the next three years bring?

The Area Dean gave a presentation looking back at key events in Milton Keynes’ history since the 1970s, and looking ahead at the future of the Deanery.

From 2005-2014 we were effectively bankrupt and needed to change. We had to re-think ecumenical relationships, and shift focus from maintenance to mission. Tim reminded Synod that those ten years were necessarily focused on sustainability.

We now need to look at ways we can work together, maximizing resources and do something useful. This is about the Deanery, not the churches. We are trying to create partnerships with others not trying to do everything ourselves. ‘Refugees Welcome’ is an example of this, and we helped to kick this off. It’s also about being good stewards of the resources God has given us.

We are now in a good position to take on the new challenges facing the Deanery. This is a really significant time for MK, and we’re now working beyond the original plan for the city. Plans are afoot to develop a whole new region, with 27 different planning districts from Oxford to Cambridge. The Government has already announced plans for a major East/West rail link. Their plan will be ready this autumn, ahead of the Council’s plan in spring 2018. These plans will be shaping our discussions over the next 3-15 years, and Tim has been asked to speak about this to the Archdeaconry Mission and Pastoral Committee (AMPC).

The key messages for the future were:

  • Bishop Steven plans to ‘invest disproportionately in MK’
  • We must learn from the past
  • We need a praying community.

The Agenda for 2017 – 2020 will focus on:

  • Church Growth – the biggest part of the Agenda. Some strategies are already in place, not just for new areas but also existing areas.
  • The Common Good – to grow, but for a purpose – the good of everyone.
  • Developing Leadership.
  • Being a Blessing to others – how we as a city can do this, and look beyond MK
  • Resources for Mission – we will need more if we are to grow (having spent years reducing). These need to be independent of external funding.

One of our key challenges is how to reach the city without vicars (Growing Leaders course?).

Deanery Elections

As always there was a bit of Synod housekeeping.

The Lay Chair reminded everyone that this was the last Deanery Synod meeting of this triennial and that churches need to elect Deanery Synod reps at their APCMs. Candidates must be prepared to serve for three years and be active participants. Information on the election of Synod reps can be found on the Deanery Website. He also commented that MK was one of the lowest contributors of meaningful statistics, and urged everyone to improve this situation.

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