“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.
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:
What do you find positive in this proposal?
Which ideas would you encourage us to pursue?
What do you find challenging, uncomfortable or unclear?
What issues would like us to think about?
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?
What learning needs do you have in your church/parish?
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
“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.” ___________________________________________________________________________________
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Would you like to make a positive contribution to benefit older people?
Spiritual well-being – rather than religious affiliation or belief – as a universal need is a cornerstone of MHA’s positive approach to ageing and we aim to provide the highest quality care and support for older people of all faiths and none.
We are looking for a person who is in good standing with their faith community to take the role of chaplain (a lay person or an ordained minister). They will build good working relationships with local faith communities and take on pastoral care, spiritual and worship aspects of life.
An empathetic understanding of spiritual aspects of ageing and dementia, demonstrated through experience of providing pastoral care and, ideally, leading services, is essential.
Learn more about the support and friendship MHA Chaplains provide to our 7,700 residents across the UK by watching our ‘Care of the Spirit’ video.
MHA has provided dementia care services at Westbury since 1989 in partnership with the local Primary Care Trust and Council. Westbury Grange was MHA’s first home to provide a high quality service specifically for older people with dementia.
With an emphasis on person-centred care, Westbury has specially trained staff to build relationships and ensure that each individual can choose how they wish to spend their time and express themselves.
Small-group living creates a homely environment where everyday living skills can be continued, and safe access to outside areas encourages people to continue enjoying fresh air and being outdoors.
I know this can be a busy time of year, with an endless round of events, preparation and activity. Many people are trying to get things done before going on holiday, so there’s a flurry of last minute activity. Others are travelling – or trying to travel. For many of us there are sad or happy memories to deal with…
In the midst of all this, I know that you’ll be singing carols or telling the Christmas story again. I’m reflecting on how important it is to keep Jesus at the centre of what we do, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year – whatever is going on around us…
It is Jesus who proclaims that the Kingdom of Heaven is near – a message of transforming hope in a broken world…
It is Jesus who shows us how to live with integrity and love – and challenges us to follow his lead…
It is Jesus who sends the Holy Spirit so we can be what God want us to be – a gift of grace not a job list…
It is Jesus who points the way to reconciliation and a new beginning…
It is Jesus who walks with the refugee, the homeless person, the hungry and the lost…
It is Jesus who call us forward into a new year…
Whatever you are doing this Christmas, I pray that you will be drawn deeper into the life of Jesus – both in the Church and in the World.
Many blessings to you!
Looking ahead to 2019, there are a few things coming up…
Celebrate and Bless MK: The Diocesan strategy for Milton Keynes will be taking shape. There will be significant discussions at Deanery Chapter and Deanery Synod, so make sure you engage…
Milton Keynes has become a significant centre for work on Community Organising. Since we set up Citizens MK in 2010 we have learned a lot about how community organising can help us make a difference in our city. We’ve brought diverse communities together, welcomed refugees, got businesses to sign up to the Real Living Wage and spoken out about Hate Crime. It’s been exciting to make a difference rather than just talk about making a difference…
Community Organising is good for serving our communities, but there is also a lot of evidence that it can help grow churches – in depth, impact and numbers. In London, there has been a lot of work on “congregational development” and a number of churches have been recognised as “Resource Churches” because of the way they have used organising to grow their congregations.
The Centre for Theology and Community in East London is based at St George-in-the-East where Fr Angus Ritchie both teaches and practices community organising from a Christian perspective. There’s a great YouTube video that tells their story:
One of the important strands that have shaped Community Organising in the UK and US has been the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. These remind us that it is the values that we hold that shape our action. Churches therefore have something to offer beyond an extra pair of hands. The ten principles of Catholic Social Teaching are:
Dignity of the Human Person
Common Good and Community
Option for the Poor
Rights and Responsibilities
Role of Government and Subsidiarity
Stewardship of God’s Creation
Promotion of Peace and Disarmament
Global Solidarity and Development
Bishop Adrian Newman spoke about Catholic Social Teaching at the National Deaneries Network Conference this year. Bp Adrian was Bishop of Stepney and a trustee of Citizens UK. His parents also lived in Milton Keynes in their later days. His talk is one of the most downloaded videos on the NDN web site:
During the past year, Fr Angus and Bp Adrian have been working with Matthew Bolton (now Executive Director of Citizens UK) to run a series of three symposiums on the three quinquennial goals of the Church of England:
Serving the Common Good
Growing the Church
I was lucky enough to be at two of these – alongside people from MK and Oxford Diocese. It was encouraging to hear how churches have been addressing these challenges using the techniques and principles which are at the heart of organising. From my perspective, I am encouraged by the fact we have a model which is rooted in theology, while presenting a radical alternative to the managerial-leadership model often assumed as the only option for growing churches…
In Milton Keynes, we have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to the potential of organising as a tool for Church growth. I’ve been using some form of organising for over twenty years and really love the insights that I’m learning from the Citizens family. I use the skills I’ve learned every day, and am a big fan. I am struck by the model of “pastor as organiser” and it’s the way I try to operate. Most of the time it wouldn’t be obvious to others but I know how significant it has been for me.
John Robertson has been running a course called “Leading for a Change” which follows the pattern of a two-day course in Community Organising. This course has been specifically designed to equip lay leaders, and the feed-back has been pretty good. A key element to this course is the concept of Salvation History and the way God invites us to join him in a mission of transformation – both within the Church and the World.
I’m really keen that we take these ideas to the next level. Milton Keynes is already a leader when it comes to organising in the UK, but I’d like us to be a front-runner when it comes to organising for church growth. I think this is something that we could excel in – and offer to the wider church.
I suspect some people think this is just another “initiative” or short-lived “fad” but I genuinely believe that there are important lessons from organising which would help us build a more Christ-like Church.
The affordability of housing is one of the biggest drivers of social problems in the UK today.
A shortage of genuinely affordable housing means that young people have to stay with their parents until they’re in their mid-thirties, working families need to use food banks and more people are becoming homeless. This leads to greater inequality, reduced opportunities and a whole range of problems for individuals and society as a whole.
The Biblical story has a lot to say about “home” and “hospitality”. The story of Israel is a story of a people who are promised a safe place where they can thrive and prosper – but it is also to be a place of hospitality for the orphans, the widows and strangers – those who are marginalised or left behind.
We have made affordable housing one of our top priorities as a deanery. This could seem like a huge issue that is beyond our reach, but there are things that we can do – particularly if we work with others.
Working through Citizens MK, our Area Dean, Tim Norwood, has helped to set up a project group who are aiming to set up a Community Land Trust in Milton Keynes. For more information, see MKCLT.org
Tim is currently looking for church members who will join the team and embed Christian values of hospitality and social justice at the heart of this project.