“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1)

Apparently we’ve just had the mildest Winter since 1910, but I don’t think my builder would agree after 3 thwarted attempts to lay a patio in sub-zero temperatures!  It still feels like we’re in the grip of Winter, though the meteorological calendar says Spring arrived today.  Actually there are 2 official start dates: meteorological seasons being based on the weather and the calendar, and astronomical seasons varying depending on the Earth’s orbit of the sun.  Astronomically speaking, we’ve got until 20 March for Spring to make an appearance.  Meanwhile I’ve still got my heating on!

The church too has its own calendar, with its cycle of liturgical seasons beginning in November on the first Sunday in Advent.  At this time of year, with Pancake Day heralding the season of Lent yesterday, thoughts will be turning to Easter and the promise of eternal life offered by the Cross.  On a practical level, churches will be organising their annual meetings, which, according to the Church calendar, must be completed before the end of April.  With this in mind, David Thom (Lay Chair) has prepared a most useful guidance leaflet giving details of all the information which needs to be included in the Annual Return and sent to Diocesan House Oxford by the end of May.  Milton Keynes is one of the poorest contributors for meaningful statistics, which has a serious knock-on effect when it comes to things like the Parish Share, as this can be affected by the Deprivation Indices.  We really hope to improve on this record in 2017.  You will find this downloadable guide in our growing library of information documents (Annual Returns).  Please remember you need to send copies of the Annual Returns to me at the Deanery also!

Coinciding with that, this year we also come to the end of another 3-year cycle in the church’s calendar, with the last meeting of this Synod having taken place just last week (see “What’s the Agenda?”).

This means that as well as the usual annual elections, parishes will also be electing new Deanery Synod members to start in July, and Synod in turn will be electing a new Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC), and so the seasons turn.  Milton Keynes has a unique set-up, which can be somewhat confusing for our ecumenical partnerships.  However, the Deanery Leadership Team is here to help with guidance and advice!  We’ve been working hard at this, so do please read the guidance sheet “Election of Deanery Synod Members”, which is also available as a download under Information/Document Library.  I look forward to receiving a deluge of information for the Deanery!  Meanwhile, I’m just going to turn up the central heating…

Linda Kirk, Deanery Administrator

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