Making a Bigger Difference with Thames Valley

Citizens from across the Thames Valley area will be gathering on the 11th June. This assembly will not happen at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone – as originally planned – but online using Zoom.

This will be a significant event, marking the launch of Thames Valley Citizens – which will link community alliances in Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading. 

This is a high priority for Milton Keynes Deanery, and is supported by the Diocese of Oxford, as part of the “Making a Bigger Difference” priority.  The Bishop of Oxford will be speaking, and the agenda will reflect issues that have been agreed by local people.

The aims are to:

  1. Bring key leaders from MK, Reading and Oxford together to take action together as part of Thames Valley Citizens;
  2. Enable civil society institutions across the Thames Valley to reflect together on the challenges they face because of Covid-19, encourage solidarity, and begin to envision what a more just post-Covid Thames Valley could look like;
  3. Celebrate the contribution made by local government, NHS, police and emergency services, listen to the Covid-related challenges they face now and in the future, offer the support of civil society, and seek their support to make the Thames Valley a more just place post-Covid.

We need to get as many people to come to the event as possible, because “turnout” demonstrates our interest.  Three of our parishes are members of Citizens MK in their own right, but we have committed to bring a further forty from the rest of the Deanery.  Please register here if you want a Deanery ticket.

11th June 2020 from 6:30 to 8:30pm

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Church of England is continuing to update guidance for parishes. All clergy and churchwardens should read the guidance concerning present practice. The Diocese is in regular communications with the National Church and local statutory authorities. If or when the situation changes, then new guidance will be immediately sent to all email contacts. 

If you have specific questions or concerns not covered in the guidance, please in the first instance, contact your archdeaconry office.

In Milton Keynes, the official community response is being managed by Community Action, while the Community Foundation has launched an appeal fund.  Please follow these links:

And please pray for the NHS, the Council, key workers and our local charities.

Updated on 28/3/20

Preaching on a regular basis?

Is God calling you to share in the ministry of your Local Church by Preaching on a regular basis?
We are going to launch a Deanery Preaching Team on March 24th 2020.  This will be a way of supporting Anglican “Authorised Preachers” in Milton Keynes. It will also enable us to share lay preachers across parishes in the Deanery.  Bishop Alan has given us permission to do this.  We hope it will be encourage more people to step forward as preachers – and allow parishes to help each other when there is a shortage of preachers somewhere in the city…

For more information about “Authorised Preachers” read on…

Emerging patterns of Ministry
As the church grows and responds to needs of mission and ministry, more and more people are becoming involved in leading worship, and in preaching. In the light of these welcome changes, the Bishops are looking to respond to many requests for greater local flexibility combined with appropriate Anglican order. So, in seeking to encourage and support both new and more established preachers, the diocese is committed to equipping all those engaging in this important ministry – whether in formal worship contexts, giving a talk at a Family Service or anything in-between.

Why Authorised?
Preaching has always been at the heart of the life of the church and a focus for its unity and its mission. With this comes a significant level of responsibility. This kind of ministry is not something you do on your own, but as part of a team of ministers led by and accountable to your Incumbent.
While the ‘cure of souls’ is shared between your Incumbent and the Bishop, your Incumbent will have been discerning a preaching gift in you and encouraging you to develop this. The Bishops wish to be linked with you in a real way as you begin to share this ministry in the church. They wish to offer you encouragement and support by giving you their blessing and authorising you to such ministries.
Authorisation is needed because preaching in Anglican churches is governed by Canon Law and normally restricted to those who hold a bishop’s licence. So, while someone who preaches once or perhaps twice on a very occasional basis is fine, if you preach more often or more regularly than this, formal authorisation is needed in order to remain legal.

What will Authorisation mean?
To begin with, you would receive a letter from the Bishop giving you permission to preach in your parish or benefice for an initial period of up to two years. This means you can preach legally while also engaging with some initial training. During this time you would become part of a team of ministers led by your Incumbent, to whom you would also be accountable.

Is training provided?
Absolutely! Preaching matters; and we owe it to each other to fan the flame of God within us and nurture the gifts and skills with which he has blessed us. However, the requirements for those authorised to preach are consciously designed for maximum flexibility and minimal burden.
The Bishop’s initial authorisation releases you to begin the training you need to do. Essentially, this amounts to:

  • attendance at an approved preaching course (We are doing one in Milton Keynes in the summer!)
  • a 1500 word assignment on preaching
  • three sermons, with constructive feedback on these from a selection of people in your church.

Sometimes training is best undertaken before starting a new ministry; but it can often be more beneficial when you have a little experience already under your belt. In this way you can learn from your experience and, also, at the same time, apply your learning to your experience.

Our new Deanery Preaching Team will meet three times a year for mutual support and learning. We will help each other to meet the training requirements and work through any issues.

After initial training
On successful completion of training requirements within this initial two-year period, the Bishop’s authorisation then becomes renewable on a regular basis, every few years. While further training is not required for future renewals, ongoing learning is certainly encouraged.
All authorisations (whether initial or renewal) are also dependent upon you holding a valid Enhanced DBS Disclosure, and upon completion of appropriate Safeguarding training (currently the ‘Leadership’ safeguarding module which replaced ‘C3’ in 2020).

How does all this fit in with the Parish?
While it is the Bishops who authorise you to preach in your parish, they do so only at the specific request of both Incumbent and Church Council. The Bishop will need to know that you have this level of support and that you will be part of a team with other ministers in your church. This team may also include associate or retired clergy, for example, or Licensed Lay Ministers. These will all have undergone significant training and, often, will be licensed to minister in various ways, not only in the parish but also more widely within the diocese.

What next?
Talk to your church leader and together contact us to explore the best way to take things forward. Further information, and an Authorised Ministry Handbook is available on the diocesan website at:

https://www.oxford.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Is-God-Calling-You-Preaching-v9.0-Jan-2020.pdf

If you’re ready to go and have no further questions, ask your incumbent if they are happy to write to your area bishop once PCC agreement and safeguarding requirements are in place.

For more information, please contact us at admin@mkdeanery.org

Meet the Candidates

There will be a General Election on December 12th.  As Christians we are called to play our part as members of society.  For some, this means standing for election, but all of us have an opportunity to engage positively and vote.  We are therefore organising an Assembly with our partners in Citizens MK.  This will be an opportunity for us to talk about the issues that our members are most concerned about, to listen to what the candidates have to say, and to ask questions.

It’s really important that we get as many people there as possible, so that we can show how much we care.  The issues that our members will raise will be:

  • Mental Health – the top priority identified by MK Deanery
  • Climate Change – a Diocesan priority and a big concern for local schools
  • Refugees – which has been a big priority for us as churches since 2015
  • Hate Crime – which is a big issue in our diverse city
  • Fair Work – which is about the way people are treated by employers

If you want to know more and book a ticket, please see Eventbrite

This is an important opportunity to speak to people who may have the power to make a difference.  We want to have a positive relationship with the MPs in Milton Keynes – whatever party they may belong to.  This will be a way to build that relationship so that we can work together with them for a better MK!

World Refugee Day

You are Welcome!

Thursday June 20th: To celebrate World Refugee Day meet us at 6pm at the MK Rose in Campbell Park for a short ‘gathering’. Deputy Mayor Andrew Geary to attend.

 6.30pm onwards at MK Gallery event space (short, accessible walk from the Rose) for informal celebration, conversation, nibbles and soft drinks.

Come to both or either.

Action Counters Terrorism: Awareness eLearning

ACT Awareness eLearning will provide nationally recognised corporate CT guidance to help industry better understand, and mitigate against, current terrorist methodology.

The following eLearning Modules are available:

  1. Introduction to Terrorism
  2. Identifying Security Vulnerabilities
  3. How to Identify and Respond to Suspicious Behaviour
  4. How to Identify and Deal with a Suspicious Item
  5. What to do in the Event of a Bomb Threat
  6. How to Respond to a Firearms or Weapons attack
  7. Summary and Supporting Materials

You will be provided with your own corporate URL link and PIN to immediately access the online version.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register?

To register please visit: https://ct.highfieldelearning.com/

Celebrate and Bless Milton Keynes

“Celebrate and Bless MK” (CBMK) is a strand of the Common Vision being developed by Oxford Diocese. It reflects Bishop Steven’s desire to focus a greater degree of attention on the “city” of Milton Keynes at a key point in time as it transforms from large new town to high-impact regional centre. We have a strategic opportunity to act in a way that celebrates all that has been achieved while blessing the first-fruits of new growth.

Download the Proposal: Download

Download a summary: Download

The current proposal sets out some of the unique opportunities and challenges that exist in the city at this time – while offering a vision for mission that addresses the challenge of MK50. It is particularly important that the Church of England engages with our partners in other denominations as we develop strategies and new ideas – particularly where we have covenanted to travel together.

The main focus of the paper is on church growth – and we see this in terms of depth, impact and numbers. It is important that we respond to the rapid and continuous growth of the city, and this will mean the nurture of new Christian Disciples who will serve the common good and seek an ever-deeper relationship with Christ. We want a more Christ-like church which is able to meet the challenges that the city will face over the next fifty years – particularly amongst those who are disadvantaged or left behind.

In order to drive this growth, we will seek to invest in prayer, leadership and learning. We want to increase the number of worshipping communities as a way of reaching more people and serving the needs of the city.

Our specific need is for seed-money to fund leaders who will grow worshipping communities. Milton Keynes Deanery had previously been asked to reduce the number of ministers deployed here while the population continued to grow. We therefore developed more sustainable patterns of ministry and invested (where possible) in new worshipping communities. We believe that there is now a need for fresh investment if we are to meet the immense challenge that the future presents.

We will be asking the Diocese of Oxford and the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) to seed-fund posts that increase our local leadership capacity. This investment will help us to grow existing churches and plant new worshipping communities. We intend that this investment will be split between full-time, part-time, ordained and lay ministry.

There are four options that we want people to consider. These will affect the balance of investment between different new posts:

The next stage of our local process will be to engage with a very wide group of people – including our ecumenical partners, parishes, and leaders. We want to know what people think about the direction of travel set out in this document and how they might want to engage with this agenda.

We are asking five questions at this stage:

  1. What do you find positive in this proposal? Which ideas would you encourage us to pursue?
  2. What do you find challenging, uncomfortable or unclear? What issues would like us to think about?
  3. Is your parish/partnership likely to put in an application for additional investment? If so, can you let us know what ideas you might have?
  4. What learning needs do you have in your church/parish?
  5. Which of the four “options” do you think we should adopt? Why do you think it’s the best option?

We are on a tight time-scale, so we want your feedback by Palm Sunday 14th April 2018. Please send feedback to CBMK@mkdeanery.org or fill in the online feedback form.

A proposal will go to Bishops Council which will hopefully become part of a bid for funds from both the Diocese and the National Church. It is possible that national money will be released through a Strategic Development Fund grant which will need to be match-funded by the Diocese.

In the Summer/Autumn of 2019, we will go back to parishes and encourage applications for specific projects. We will work with parishes to help identify the best opportunities for new development, and we will firm these proposals up by the end of the year.

It is hoped that some resources will be released in 2020, but the full amount may not be available until sometime later.

Thank you for taking the time to read this paper. We appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing your ideas. Please keep praying for Milton Keynes as we seek to build a more Christlike church here for the sake of God’s World.

Tim Norwood (on behalf of the Steering Group)

DLT Report – March 2018

The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership. The Standing Committee meets monthly to manage the regular meetings of the Deanery.

Without doubt, the biggest thing on the horizon for the Deanery is the Diocesan strategy for Milton Keynes: Celebrate and Bless MK (CBMK for short). This has been developing over the past two years, but is now becoming more concrete. There is now a definite proposal on the table which is out for consultation. Please take advantage of this opportunity, because there are some real opportunities for new mission and growth.

CBMK will focus on growth in depth, impact and numbers. There will be an emphasis on prayer, training for leadership and funds to kick-start new posts. There should be opportunities for most of our parishes to benefit directly in some way, so please don’t miss out.

The key question that is being asked between now and Palm Sunday focusses on the balance between lay and ordained ministry. Where should the bulk of new funding go? These are crucial questions that need careful thought, so please let us know what you think…

The new school in Eagle Farm

The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) has been focussing on how we can find a pioneer minister for Eagle Farm. They have put forward a proposal for a new post as part of our existing ministry numbers. This has the support of the Archdeacon, and will now go forward to the Archdeaconry Mission and Pastoral Committee (AMPC). Assuming this is successful, the new post should start in 2020.

The new pioneer will build a new worshipping community on the very Eastern corner of the city, with a focus on St Mary’s School – which is being moved from Wavendon village to Eagle Farm. A team has already been formed to lead this work.

Please pray for the team and the appointment of the new pioneer.

Rev Neil Popham at his licensing service

On January 31st Neil Popham was licensed as Interim Minister in the Stantonbury Team. Neil will be serving as the minister of Bradwell Church and leading a review of Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership. This is an exciting post which will help shape the mission of SEP over the coming years. Please pray for Neil and the team as they start this work…

Revd Martha McInnes has started work as the new chaplain of Willen Hospice. Martha was formally welcomed at a service at Willen church on the 17th January. Please pray for her and the other staff at the hospice.


Work is continuing on our three Deanery Priorities. The “Understanding Mental Health” group has been making huge progress on research and has built strong relationships with key agencies and power-holders. The “Sanctuary” group is developing some ideas about how churches can make a difference. There is no “Affordable Housing” group as such (yet) but Tim took part in a video project which will be part of an exhibit in the new Art Gallery.

There has been an exciting development in our work with refugees. A house has been offered for “community sponsorship” in Wolverton. “Community Sponsorship” is a new approach to welcoming refugees which puts a local community group in the driving seat. It has huge potential – partly because it creates better community links for the family as they arrive. A group from the Wolverton churches has already formed and is working towards an application…

At the time of writing, it’s still not clear when, how, or even if, the UK will be leaving the EU. There are calls for prayer from all the Christian denominations in the UK and materials available. Please pray for unity, peace and a focus on the common good.

Call to Prayer

The Presidents of Churches Together in England, together with our partners Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, are calling the churches to prayer as we approach the date when the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union.

From Wednesday 27th March to Sunday 31st March the Presidents urge churches in our nation to find ways to pray, and to enable church buildings to be opened for any in their communities seeking a space for prayer. Churches Together in England supports every opportunity for local churches to pray together and urges Churches Together Groups and other expressions of Christian unity to take hold of this moment to pray together for our nations.
 
This builds on other calls to prayer from member churches over recent months and reflects the increasing urgency of the moment as Brexit approaches.
 
In particular, we suggest that as the Presidents of Churches Together in England and other church leaders meet to pray at 10.30 am on Saturday 30th March in central London, churches throughout the nations may wish to join in similar expressions of prayerful concern for the future of the peoples and nations in the British Isles and Ireland, and beyond, during that morning.
 
Rev’d Dr. Paul Goodliff
General Secretary, Churches Together in England
26th February 2019

Lent Book Club at Christ the Cornerstone

This Lent we will be reading the book, Following the Way of Jesus, by Bishop Michael Curry, Episcopal Church USA. Join us.

Kindle Edition [Amazon] £6.72 Paperback [Amazon]- from £5.95

RETREAT There will be a retreat for discussion of the book, including quiet time and Holy Communion on Saturday 6 April 2019 10.00 am – 3.00 pm. at St Michael’s Priory, Willen. There are limited places; if you would like to come please book a place with our administrator as soon as possible. mark.okor@cornerstonemk.co.uk

“Bishop Michael Curry leads off this volume with a clarion call to join the Jesus Movement. A team of the church’s brightest stars follow up with reflections on the practice of ministry in light of the movement: Rob Wright on adaptive leadership, Broderick Greer on racial justice, Anthony Guillen on multicultural ministries, Megan Castellan on evangelism, Nora Gallagher on loving the earth, and Kellan Day on ministry with young people. Michael Curry closes with a word on making the world whole. Christians have been following Jesus together for some 2000 years – these leaders help to illuminate how we follow him in our time.” ___________________________________________________________________________________

300 Saxon Gate West, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES www.cornerstonemk.co.uk T 01908-237777 E mark.okor@cornerstonemk.co.uk https://www.facebook.com/cornerstoneMK