The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership. It meets as a Standing Committee (who plan the agendas) and an Ops Team (who run projects and actions).
Deanery Synod sets some Priorities…
The first two Deanery Synod meetings of the year have focused on Tim’s “Deanery Organising” project. This has been an experiment to see if the methodology of Community Organising can help Synod move from discussion about issues to positive action.
It’s been an interesting project with some very lively meetings. One byproduct of the process has been the launch of a new Deanery Finance Team. Synod has also agreed to prioritise three mission projects, linked to Mental Health, Affordable Housing and Domestic Abuse.
The project is continuing, but has already produced some interesting lessons in how Deaneries might become more missional.
The Diocese of Oxford is pressing forward with a new common vision, which involves six key strategic areas. One of these is to “Celebrate and Bless” Milton Keynes.
There has now been a number of meetings and a serious proposal is taking shape… The working group met on 2nd July to discuss potential goals. These are going to be presented to Bishop’s Council on the 11th July. It’s a bit early to say what this will mean for the Church in Milton Keynes, but we should know more soon!
The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) has also been working on goals for the next few years. There will be huge overlap with the Diocesan strategy, but there are specific priorities that the DMPC will be focusing on. These will be presented at the next Synod meeting for discussion.
Extend the Welcome
Tim has been very active in the welcome of Syrian refugees, both in Milton Keynes and across the UK. On 29th June, he was joined by others from Milton Keynes at an event in London which celebrated the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and called for this scheme to be extended.
The guests of honour at the event were one of our Syrian families, who spoke movingly about their life in Milton Keynes and the need for the UK to take more refugees fleeing from conflict. The event was also co-chaired by a young Syrian from Milton Keynes. It is worth noting that we have achieved a lot.
There was also a World Refugee Day event in Campbell Park.
Tim feels that this work is important because it says something about the kind of society we want to live in.
Affordable Housing for Milton Keynes
The number of rough sleepers has been rising in Milton Keynes, but there is also a hidden housing crisis. This is driven by a growing gap between rich and poor, rising rents, and uncertain employment.
According to the Community Foundation, the number of homeless households in MK that include children or pregnant women has increased by 128% since 2013. It is now 5.7 out of every 1,000 households – compared to an average of 1.9 across the UK.
Developers are required to build a certain amount of “affordable” housing, but this is defined as costing 80% of the normal market rate. In Milton Keynes, this is out of reach for many people.
Tim has therefore been working with a small group to investigate the possibility of starting a Community Land Trust in Milton Keynes. A Community Land Trust is a legal entity which can hold land on behalf of the local community – making it possible to provide homes at a “Living Rent” linked to the real cost of living.
This project is in its early stages, but has already attracted a lot of interest.
Building Links with the Villages
Milton Keynes Borough includes a number of villages. Although they are not part of Milton Keynes Deanery, it’s important for us to build a positive relationship with the wider area. Tim led worship in Moulsoe on Easter Day – and went back for a baptism in June. There are a number of other links between rural and urban clergy and congregations. As the city grows, it will be important for us to think beyond our borders and look for ways to be a blessing to others.
Such a lot going on…
Over the past few months, we’ve been dealing with:
- the new GDPR legislation which has required us to look at our data
- a new structure for LEP constitutions based on the model of a CIO
- a new system for share allocation
- a review of Cornerstone Church by the denominational Presidents
- a new Deanery relationship with Citizens MK
- provision of ministry in Woughton after the departure of Heather Pollard.
It’s certainly never dull in Milton Keynes!!!