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

Vacancy: Chaplain at Westbury Grange

Chaplain

Westbury Grange, Newport Pagnell

Permanent – Part Time – 15 hours per week.

Salary: £21,205 pro rata; Actual: £8,596.00

Closing date: 17th February 2019

Benefits: Pension, Holidays 28 days holiday (inc. bank holidays) pro rata, Childcare Vouchers, Life Assurance, Discount Scheme and DBS provided

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.

To apply, please go to the MHA Website www.mha.org.uk or   Application Form

If you require more information, please contact Westbury Grange direct on

Tel: 01908 210322  or Sue Coleman at: Sue.Coleman@mha.org.uk.

Happy Christmas

It’s all about Jesus!

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!

Tim

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…

Deanery Lunches:  There is another round of Deanery Lunches (and an evening meal) coming up. Book now for January 15thJanuary 24thJanuary 31stFebruary 11th, or February 28th

Affordable Housing: I’m currently looking for people who will be willing to help with the Community Land Trust. There’s a new article about this on the web site

Understanding Mental Health: You may also want to check out the latest update from the UMH Team

Organising for Growth: You are probably aware that I’m fairly keen on Community Organising and see it as a useful tool for churches as they seek to grow in depth, impact and numbers.  There’s a brief article about Organising for Growth on the web site, and we have a training day for Church leaders on March 25th.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg of course. There is so much going on in Milton Keynes, so I hope you have a quiet-ish New Year and a very blessed 2019.

Organising for Growth

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:

  1. Dignity of the Human Person 
  2. Common Good and Community 
  3. Option for the Poor
  4. Rights and Responsibilities 
  5. Role of Government and Subsidiarity 
  6. Economic Justice  
  7. Stewardship of God’s Creation 
  8. Promotion of Peace and Disarmament 
  9. Participation 
  10. 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:

  1. Serving the Common Good
  2. Growing the Church
  3. Re-imagining Ministry

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.

Affordable Housing – MKCLT

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.

Report – October 2018

The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership.

Celebrate and Bless Milton Keynes

The Diocese is working on a Common Vision which includes seven big strands of work. One of these is to “Celebrate and Bless Milton Keynes” – on the basis that it is the fastest growing city in the four counties. A working group was formed by the Archdeacon – and consisted of people from MK and elsewhere.

In July the working group (known as WG6) presented some initial thoughts to Bishop’s Council. These were warmly received, with a specific encouragement to develop a funding bid. Bishop’s Council also encouraged the Working Group to involve more lay people and ecumenical partners.

The report can be found on the Celebrate and Bless page on our web site. 

The big themes of the report were the rapid changes that are taking place in Milton Keynes with further expansion, the Oxford Cambridge Arc and deepening poverty. The report also argues that Milton Keynes is under-resourced for mission.

The working Group made a number of key proposals, including:

  • An Archdeacon of Milton Keynes with a focus on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Arc
  • Learning Centre for Pioneer Ministry, Community Organising and Mission
  • At least three “resource” churches that are planting and supporting new worshipping communities
  • The provision of new missional posts equivalent to eight full-time ministers (or more)
  • Partnerships for the Common Good
  • Involvement in Milton Keynes University

Many of these will need to be explored further by the Diocese or the Deanery.  Some of them will require external funding, so there will be more work to do.

We have set up a Steering Group and three new working groups to
develop detailed plans and proposals…

The three new working groups will be:

Learning:To create a unique learning environment to equip the church of the future in mission – and draw up plans for how that learning environment will be created.  John Robertson is chairing this group with the help of Keith Straughan and Alison Drury.

Growing: To draw up plans for a programme which will enable us to a) plant or grow new and sustainable Christian communities in Milton Keynes, and b) build up existing churches so that they can plant and support new Christian communities in Milton Keynes.  These plans will need to include criteria for determining which projects to invest in and how they will be assessed.  Paul Oxley will be chairing this group with the help of Ruth Maxey and David McDougall.

Funding:To coordinate the creation of a bid for Strategic Development Fund (or other) investment. This will require input and involvement from the other three working groups.  Steve Snook will be chairing this group with the help of Kevin Lovell.

It’s going to be a long-term project, so don’t expect to see anything happen quickly.  We hope to have a developed plan by summer 2019!! In the meantime there will be lots of opportunities for consultation and conversation.  Please take advantage of these opportunities when they come!

We were visited by Alan Cruickshank, the Senior Strategy Consultant for the Church of England.  He wanted to see what was going on in Milton Keynes, and how the national church can help.

He picked up a conker from outside Christ the Vine Church.  He said it was going to sit on his desk at Church House Westminster as a reminder to pray for the Church in MK – which can often be small and toughened by difficult circumstances – but its waiting to burst forth into new life.  I hope you will keep praying for the growth of the Church in MK over the coming year!

I hope you had a good summer – it does feel a long time ago now!! One of the highlights of my summer was the Greenbelt Festival near Kettering.  I lead a team from Citizens UK to promote the work of Citizens across the country and talk about community organising.  The best moment was seeing a woman from London hear the news that her group was going to receive its first family of Syrian refugees.  It’s great to see words become action!

On a related theme, I had planned to step down as chair of Refugees Welcome following the vote at Deanery Synod.  I hope you don’t mind, but it seems a bit early to step back from this work.  We have now received sixteen families into Milton Keynes, but the journey toward integration is much slower than we’d hoped – and there are opportunities to do more, if we are willing to seize them!

There is work moving ahead as a result of our Deanery Synod priorities. We plan to focus on one of them at each Synod meeting. The November meeting will look at Mental Health.

Every two years, there is a national conference for Anglican Deaneries.  I’m on the steering group for the National Deaneries Network, so was heavily involved in organising the event.  

It was a really good conference and you can see the various talks on YouTube.  There are downloads and links on the NDN web site.  

We are not doing a major Christmas campaign this year, but will be encouraging churches to make use of the resources produced by the Church of England.  This reflects the change in priorities that came from Deanery Synod and the advertising strategy emerging from DMPC.

As always, there is so much else we could talk about:

  • Sanctuary Training
  • LEP Constitutions and Sharing Agreements
  • CLT funding
  • Ecumenical Reviews
  • Church Inspections
  • Annual MOTH service
  • Council of Faiths
  • New Communities
  • and so on…

Please pray for the Church in Milton Keynes, that we would continue to grow in depth of relationships, clarity of purpose, and the fulfilment that comes from making a real difference.

#FollowTheStar

The Church of England has launched its national campaign for Christmas 2018. It uses the hashtag #FollowTheStar and there is a range of material available for churches to use, including books, apps and images.

“For many of us, Christmas brings up so many emotions, memories and expectations. We have one nativity story, but it can seem like we all have very different Christmases.
“For you it might be a time of joy and togetherness. Or perhaps it’s all about planning and to-do lists. Many others can find it a sad and lonely time – nagged by the feeling that your Christmas is not like those ‘perfect’ ones we see in the media.
“But just like the unexpected assortment of people who were invited to meet the baby Jesus, #FollowTheStardoesn’t ask you to be perfect. It says: come just as you are to take the life-changing Christmas journey.”

Archbishops Justin Welby & John Sentamu

For more resources, see the Church of England web site. They can be used with or without the CofE branding – at the request of MK and Cumbria!

#FollowTheStar