‘WithIN’ – A Conference on Everyday Faith: Tuesday 8 October 2019

This conference is a Watling Valley Ecumenical Partnership (WVEP) initiative in conjunction with the Diocese of Oxford and HeartEdge/St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The name “WithIN” refers to being WITH God, IN the world.  The keynote speaker will be the Revd Sam Wells.

The day session will start at 9.30am with worship led by the St Martin’s Singers, and will end between 5-5.30pm.  An evening session has been planned for those unable to attend during the day.  This will start at approximately 6.30pm with worship by Testament, and end by 9.15pm.  It is hoped that exhibitions and stalls will be available for folk to look at between 5 – 6.30pm.

As well as having a keynote speaker, there will be a variety of workshops to choose from, looking at the various aspects of everyday spirituality and aiming to be practical, accessible and fun. There will even be a workshop that teachers may find useful.  Workshop leaders include  Barry Lotz, Ruth Maxey, Jonathan Evens (HeartEdge, St  Martin’s), Charlie Kerr (Diocese), and Tina Molyneux (Diocese).

WVEP expects the day to be free, although donations would be welcomed. Tea/coffee/Lunch will be provided, as well as light refreshments in the early evening.  Lunchtime will include ‘Great Sacred Music’ with Sam Wells and the St Martin’s Singers.

Booking is via Eventbrite. All are welcome, and WVEP hopes to encourage a wide range of participation.

Please advertise this event as widely as possible!

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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.

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Understanding Mental Health (UMH): Report for 28 March 2019 Deanery Synod

Where we Started: I was looking back recently at the initial notes those on our table made a year ago before UMH met to form a group. I found it interesting to see we are still engaging with all those initial ideas, but I thought it worth reminding ourselves of 3 in particular:-

1. Make church a place where people feel SAFE; feel they BELONG, feel ACCEPTED; and feel is HOSPITABLE.

2. Equip ourselves – our churches – to be BETTER LISTENERS.

3. TALK ABOUT IT (Mental Health) – in context of whole self – the theology of mental health.

I really like the closing thought, which was to “Decide where to focus our efforts. We can’t do it all, but we can do something if we work together.”

What We Asked of You: I don’t think anyone would disagree with points 1 and 2, and in fact I’m sure we all want that across the board for anyone coming to church, not just for those with MH issues. No 3 seems to be more challenging. Our request for each church to bring our project to its PCC and to get feedback about whether their church was ‘mental health friendly’ (and if so, in what way), has highlighted some difficulties. Some misinterpreted the question, feeling uncomfortable about asking people about mental health or targeting only those with known MH conditions, when actually we wanted to know what congregations felt their church’s ATTITUDE was to Mental Health. Nor are we setting ourselves up as experts, or expecting you to be. We had hoped to collate the feedback to give you tonight. However, the response in general has been poor, and few churches or LEPs have engaged with us, never mind got a clear understanding of what we’re asking. In fact only 3 members of the clergy responded out of 27, so thank you to Catherine, Sharon and Matt. I found that really shocking to be honest. I think it’s difficult for lay members to do much without clergy support, but we’ll see how things develop. The members of UMH – all busy people – have invested many hours of their own personal time in this project over the past year – myself included. I’m not doing this as part of my job! I believe everyone in the group is happy to continue to do this as we feel it’s what God wants and as long as it is produces fruit eventually. God has clearly shown he’s opening doors for us, such as being invited through a WI friend of mine to join the Campbell Centre group, and finding when we got there that the Secretary is a member of Sts Peter and Paul’s Church in Newport Pagnell! A new member has also now joined the group as result of our presentation at the last Synod -Iola Samuels from St Martin’s Fenny Stratford – so we’re delighted she’ll be joining us at our next meeting.

Where We Were: Even last March there was the recognition that this subject is vast. The more we’ve learned since, the more overwhelming and urgent it seems to become, and the more we see the cross-over into other areas such as homelessness and addiction. Moreover, other areas of community are affected. The Police now spend 90% of their time dealing with calls concerning Mental Health – and this after only 45- 60 minutes’ training. How does that leave them adequately prepared to deal with the issues, or time to do other police work? What knock-on effect is this having?

What UMH Has Been Doing: We’ve made great strides in our research and have continued to strengthen our relationship with the Campbell Centre and build trust, primarily via the User and Carer Improvement Group, in which Gill and Linda have now been accepted as members instead of onlookers, so we are able to contribute suggestions and help influence improvements in care while we work towards identifying where we can best offer future help through our churches.

In January a member of the Quality Care Commission (QCC), who was carrying out an inspection of the Campbell Centre, joined the group. Kingsley Akuffo, the new Service Manager, has also attended several meetings, though sometimes the managers’ meeting clashes or over-runs. Therefore from June onwards the meeting day is going to change to ensure managers are able to attend.

Gill and Linda have also finally managed a meeting with Re-Think and this is a charity we might be able to partner with in the future.

Separately, through Citizens:MK (of which the Deanery is a member), Gill has met up with Patrick Gillespie, the Interim Service Director for MK Mental Health Services at Central and NW London Foundation Trust (CNWL). Unfortunately we’ve just learned that his temporary term has ended and a new Service Director is being sought, which is a bit of a setback for all concerned, not least because of the time this may take. A few weeks ago we managed to arrange a meeting of the UMH team (including Tim), with the Campbell Centre team. Sadly there was an emergency, so it ended up with just 4 of us with Mark Sanderson, an Associate Practitioner and Chair of the User and Carers’ group. Nonetheless we learned a great deal. They have been trialling what they call a Recovery College, which consisted of 18 sessions on a variety of topics. It has not been particularly well attended, but this was most likely due to inadequate advertising, coupled with the bus route being changed due to road works. If this Recovery College is rolled out, (which it may not be, due to a lack of response), it is certainly an area we could engage with, not least through helping to advertise it, or offering venues for it to take place.

We were aware that the Point was to close imminently and that The Mix Drop-In was actively seeking an alternative venue. However, they turned up one day to find The Point padlocked, and no notice had been given! Thankfully it has temporarily re-opened, as the number of attendees for a couple of hours on a Monday has now risen to over 90. The high numbers are worrying in and of themselves, as many people with MH issues do not like large crowds or noise. However, it’s the only thing of its kind available, for a few hours once a week, and I understand one of the main draws is having a member of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau there. As well as that they have 3 qualified support workers, and I was told that a member of The Samaritans attended recently, though the Council has just cut the position of the fully-trained MH Social Care Assistant, so it’s a case of ‘win one, lose one’.

We believe our churches are ideally placed to hold similar Drop-Ins, and it would be amazing if we could have one or more open and welcoming on each day of the week across MK. So this is another area we’re keen to get involved with, and it’s been hard not to just jump in with offers of help. However, we’re mindful that the right structures and support need to be in place first, and our help needs to be appropriate and sustainable. To this end our intention is to raise awareness, offer training, and ensure we have consistency in volunteering, otherwise we could do more harm than good. Hopefully we will be able to say more on this in July.

Since the last Synod Linda and Hilda have done a mapping exercise, drawing the parish outlines on a map, and putting different coloured dots to signify what we understand churches are doing, and identify where there might be potential for involvement.

UMH has also continued to hold its own meetings, one of which took place at Cornerstone following Citizens:MK’s Delegates’ Assembly in February. We were expecting to meet up with Alison Webster, Social Responsibility Adviser for Oxford Diocese, to discuss training and draw on her considerable expertise, but unfortunately she was ill that week.

Where We Are Now: UMH was elected by you as the highest concern to your churches. To be clear, the intention was never to set ourselves up as a Counselling Service, or as experts in dealing with the more serious MH conditions. However, we could make a huge difference if we could offer places of safety, refuge, belonging and understanding, even to those with depression, loneliness, and isolation, which can themselves lead to homelessness, or addictions such as gambling, or drug, alcohol or food misuse, or internet/phone addiction. (I learned from Mark that there are now detox centres to help those addicted to their mobile phones…)
UMH is not asking for your support – quite the opposite. We’re saying we’re here to help you if in fact you are ready to accept the help the Deanery is offering, and which you’ve said is a priority for your church. We’ve therefore decided to extend the deadline for feedback to the end of May, and to offer more specific help, because I believe some churches do wish to get involved but don’t know how to begin to get the information we’ve asked for. (Please consider this during the time of worship.)

Where We Go From Here: I thought what we’d asked for in November would be easy to achieve – one conversation a month with one person at church. After asking you to do this, I realised that in some churches this would mean only getting feedback from 3 people – hardly a cross-section viewpoint! So it was tempting to ask more of you. However, as even this first goal has not yet been achieved, we’d like to offer the St Frideswide’s model as an achievable way of carrying out the request.

St Frideswide’s Model: Prior to the PCC meeting following the November Synod, we sent an email to PCC members explaining the Deanery context, what we hoped to achieve, and asking them to think about the answer to the question before the meeting. At that meeting we made virtually the same presentation, and members then discussed the question in pairs, then gave feedback. They were then tasked with asking the same question of their spouse/partner/significant other, plus one other person, before sending feedback (in writing) to Gill or I. We tried to get the views of a cross-section of age groups and backgrounds, with a potential total feedback of at least 40 people. If you would like one of us to come to one of your PCC meetings and talk about UMH and what we are trying to achieve, I’m sure this can be arranged.

Summary: People turn to a variety of sources to help them cope with the stresses and strains of daily life, such as bereavement, loneliness, anxiety and depression, debt, bullying, etc, but these can lead to addiction and suicide. That’s not what God intended. He is clearly at work amongst us, judging by the opportunities we have been presented with. UMH will soon be ready to assist those churches who choose to join in. It just depends which way we move forwards when assessing risks vs opportunities, and who is ready to step out in faith.

Linda Kirk (on behalf of UMH)
27 March 2019

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Conducting Occasional Services at HMP Woodhill After November 2019

The Rev Canon Alan Hodgetts (Managing Chaplain at HMP Woodhill) is retiring in November of this year. He is wondering if there are clergy in the Deanery or wider MK area who might have an interest in conducting occasional services at 10.30am on Sunday mornings after this date. If so, he is more than happy for you to email him directly at alan.hodgetts@hmps.gsi.gov.uk with an expression of interest.

There are 2 levels of clearance: A basic clearance will allow 3 visits per annum and the priest/minister would be supervised; A full clearance would allow several visits and more flexibility.

Expenses would be paid and for retired clergy a ‘sessional’ arrangement may be possible.

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Understanding Mental Health (UMH): Update for Deanery Synod, 28 March 2019

Where we Started: I was looking back recently at the initial notes those on our table made a year ago before UMH met to form a group. I found it interesting to see we are still engaging with all those initial ideas, but I thought it worth reminding ourselves of 3 in particular:-

1. Make church a place where people feel SAFE; feel they BELONG, feel ACCEPTED; and feel is HOSPITABLE.

2. Equip ourselves – our churches – to be BETTER LISTENERS.

3. TALK ABOUT IT (Mental Health) – in context of whole self – the theology of mental health.

I really like the closing thought, which was to “Decide where to focus our efforts. We can’t do it all, but we can do something if we work together.

What We Asked of You: I don’t think anyone would disagree with points 1 and 2, and in fact I’m sure we all want that across the board for anyone coming to church, not just for those with MH issues. No 3 seems to be more challenging. Our request for each church to bring our project to its PCC and to get feedback about whether their church was ‘mental health friendly’ (and if so, in what way), has highlighted some difficulties. Some misinterpreted the question, feeling uncomfortable about asking people about mental health or targeting only those with known MH conditions, when actually we wanted to know what congregations felt their church’s ATTITUDE was to Mental Health. Nor are we setting ourselves up as experts, or expecting you to be. We had hoped to collate the feedback to give you tonight. However, the response in general has been poor, and few churches or LEPs have engaged with us, never mind got a clear understanding of what we’re asking. In fact only 3 members of the clergy responded out of 27, so thank you to (named – those who did). I found that really shocking to be honest. I think it’s difficult for lay members to do much without clergy support, but we’ll see how things develop. The members of UMH – all busy people – have invested many hours of their own personal time in this project over the past year – myself included. I’m not doing this as part of my job! I believe everyone in the group is happy to continue to do this as we feel it’s what God wants and as long as it is produces fruit eventually. God has clearly shown he’s opening doors for us, such as being invited through a WI friend of mine to join the Campbell Centre group, and finding when we got there that the Secretary is a member of Sts Peter and Paul’s Church in Newport Pagnell! A new member has also now joined the group as result of our presentation at the last Synod -Iola Samuels from St Martin’s Fenny Stratford – so we’re delighted she’ll be joining us at our next meeting.

Where We Were: Even last March there was the recognition that this subject is vast. The more we’ve learned since, the more overwhelming and urgent it seems to become, and the more we see the cross-over into other areas such as homelessness and addiction. Moreover, other areas of community are affected. The Police now spend 90% of their time dealing with calls concerning Mental Health – and this after only 45- 60 minutes’ training. How does that leave them adequately prepared to deal with the issues, or time to do other police work? What knock-on effect is this having?

What UMH Has Been Doing: We’ve made great strides in our research and have continued to strengthen our relationship with the Campbell Centre and build trust, primarily via the User and Carer Improvement Group, in which Gill and I have now been accepted as members instead of onlookers, so we are able to contribute suggestions and help influence improvements in care while we work towards identifying where we can best offer future help through our churches.

In January a member of the Quality Care Commission (QCC), who was carrying out an inspection of the Campbell Centre at the time, joined the group. Kingsley Akuffo, the new Service Manager, has also attended several meetings, though sometimes the managers’ meeting clashes or over-runs. Therefore from June onwards the meeting day is going to change to ensure managers are able to attend.

Gill and I have also finally managed a meeting with Re-Think and this is a charity we might be able to partner with in the future.

Separately, through Citizens:MK (of which the Deanery is a member), Gill has met up with Patrick Gillespie, the Interim Service Director for MK Mental Health Services at Central and NW London Foundation Trust (CNWL). Unfortunately we’ve just learned that his temporary term has ended and a new Service Director is being sought, which is a bit of a setback for all concerned, not least because of the time this may take. A few weeks ago we managed to arrange a meeting of the UMH team (including our Area Dean, Tim Norwood), with the Campbell Centre team. Sadly there was an emergency, so it ended up with just 4 of us with Mark Sanderson, an Associate Practitioner and Chair of the User and Carers’ group. Nonetheless we learned a great deal. They have been trialling what they call a Recovery College, which consisted of 18 sessions on a variety of topics. It has not been particularly well attended, but this was most likely due to inadequate advertising, coupled with the bus route being changed due to road works. If this Recovery College is rolled out, (which it may not be, due to a lack of response), it is certainly an area we could engage with, not least through helping to advertise it, or offering venues for it to take place.

We were aware that The Point at Central Milton Keynes was to close imminently and that The Mix Drop-In (which meets there once a week on a Monday) was actively seeking an alternative venue. However, they turned up one day to find The Point padlocked, and no notice had been given! Thankfully it has temporarily re-opened, as the number of attendees for a couple of hours on a Monday has now risen to over 90. The high numbers are worrying in and of themselves, as many people with MH issues do not like large crowds or noise. However, it’s the only thing of its kind available, for a few hours once a week, and I understand one of the main draws is having a member of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau there. As well as that they have 3 qualified support workers, and I was told that a member of The Samaritans attended recently, though the Council has just cut the position of the fully-trained MH Social Care Assistant, so it’s a case of ‘win one, lose one’.

We believe our churches are ideally placed to hold similar Drop-Ins, and it would be amazing if we could have one or more open and welcoming on each day of the week across MK. So this is another area we’re keen to get involved with, and it’s been hard not to just jump in with offers of help. However, we’re mindful that the right structures and support need to be in place first, and our help needs to be appropriate and sustainable. To this end our intention is to raise awareness, offer training, and ensure we have consistency in volunteering, otherwise we could do more harm than good. Hopefully we will be able to say more on this in July.

Since the last Synod we have done a mapping exercise, drawing the Deanery’s parish outlines on a map, and putting different coloured dots to signify what we understand churches are doing (according to the exercise we did at the November Synod), and identify where there might be potential for involvement.

UMH has also continued to hold its own meetings, one of which took place at Cornerstone following Citizens:MK’s Delegates’ Assembly in February. We were expecting to meet up with Alison Webster, Social Responsibility Adviser for Oxford Diocese, to discuss training and draw on her considerable expertise at that meeting, but unfortunately she was ill that week. We are hoping to engage with her on another occasion.

Where We Are Now: UMH was elected by you as the highest concern to your churches. To be clear, the intention was never to set ourselves up as a Counselling Service, or as experts in dealing with the more serious MH conditions. However, we could make a huge difference if we could offer places of safety, refuge, belonging and understanding, even to those with depression, loneliness, and isolation, which can themselves lead to homelessness, or addictions such as gambling, or drug, alcohol or food misuse, or internet/phone addiction. (I learned from Mark that there are now detox centres to help those addicted to their mobile phones…)
UMH is not asking for your support – quite the opposite. We’re saying we’re here to help you if in fact you are ready to accept the help the Deanery is offering, and which you’ve said is a priority for your church. We’ve therefore decided to extend the deadline for feedback to the end of May, and to offer more specific help, because I believe some churches do wish to get involved but don’t know how to begin to get the information we’ve asked for. (Please consider this during the time of worship.)

Where We Go From Here: I thought what we’d asked for in November would be easy to achieve – one conversation a month with one person at church. After asking you to do this, I realised that in some churches this would mean only getting feedback from 3 people – hardly a cross-section viewpoint! So it was tempting to ask more of you. However, as even this first goal has not yet been achieved, we’d like to offer the St Frideswide’s model as an achievable way of carrying out the request.

St Frideswide’s Model: Prior to the PCC meeting following the November Synod, Gill and I (both members of St Frideswide’s) sent an email to PCC members explaining the Deanery context, what we hoped to achieve, and asking them to think about the answer to the question before the meeting. At that meeting we made virtually the same presentation, and members then discussed the question in pairs, then gave feedback. They were then tasked with asking the same question of their spouse/partner/significant other, plus one other person, before sending feedback (in writing) to Gill or I. We tried to get the views of a cross-section of age groups and backgrounds, with a potential total feedback of at least 40 people. If you would like one of us to come to one of your PCC meetings and talk about UMH and what we are trying to achieve, I’m sure this can be arranged.

Summary: People turn to a variety of sources to help them cope with the stresses and strains of daily life, such as bereavement, loneliness, anxiety and depression, debt, bullying, etc, but these can lead to addiction and suicide. That’s not what God intended. He is clearly at work amongst us, judging by the opportunities we have been presented with. UMH will soon be ready to assist those churches who choose to join in. It just depends which way we move forwards when assessing risks vs opportunities, and who is ready to step out in faith.

Linda Kirk (with members of UMH)
28 March 2019

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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

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Learning to ‘Disagree Well’

I had no idea that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, did a New Year’s Message, but I happened across it yesterday. I encourage you to listen to it, if, like me, you haven’t ever previously done so (or even if you have!). It’s only 4 minutes long, well worth a listen, and can be found at (https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bwfrnk/archbishop-of-canterburys-new-year-message-2019).

It was an excellent message, and in a very timely manner addressed issues which have been troubling me lately, and which are so relevant to a few of the situations I’m aware of here in MK (and I’ve no doubt in many other Deaneries also), ie the need to work at relationships, and in some cases the need for reconciliation.

The main thrust of the message is about how the Church is like a family, and like a family, not everyone gets on well together. In diverse communities such as those we live in today, “we are struggling with how to disagree well”. There’s the rub! It’s very easy to disagree, and disagreement itself is not the problem. It would be a very boring world if we all thought the same way! The challenge (and what Jesus calls us to do) is to disagree well – and still maintain a relationship.

Though members of the community Archbishop Justin has established at Lambeth Palace come from very diverse backgrounds and cultures, they are ‘united by their faith in Jesus Christ’. However, it’s not their own faith which holds them together. Like the disciples (who, I suspect, often drove Jesus up the wall), they are united by something bigger than their own differences – Jesus’s friendship.

“I have called you friends. I chose you.”

It turns everything upside down, just like when we studied the Lord’s Prayer recently and talked about ‘Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’. It’s not WE who are bringing this about: it’s God.

For most of my life, I’ve observed how many people want to be seen to ‘be friends’ with everyone. (Notice I said ‘seen’ to be!) I guess this is part of the human need to belong. It’s not just Christians: I’ve seen it amongst non-believers and in the workplace too. The result of this is that they end up sitting on the fence and not dealing with things because of trying to stay friends with those on both sides, and in the end often end up pleasing no-one anyway. Meanwhile, this tends to lead to gossip and back-biting because effectively they are being two-faced, and not living out truth in their own lives. If not sitting on the fence, they dissolve into the background, burying their heads in the sand and hoping any problems just go away without their intervention, because they don’t want to stick their necks out and stand up for what’s right. The sad thing is that people who don’t rock the boat are often the ones who get on in life and rise up the ranks. (I’m particularly thinking of people I’ve known in other organisations here.)

This need to superficially appear to be friends with everyone seems more pronounced in a Christian setting than other organisations though, because Christians know they are commanded to ‘love one another’. It’s no good just pretending to love people though, or acting as if we’re friends with everyone. We might convince others, but God knows what’s in our hearts, so who are we trying to kid? God will be the judge in the end.

Matthew’s Gospel (Matt: 5:24) addresses anger and reconciliation, and says “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there….first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Yet I’ve not witnessed many Christians taking this seriously. If they did, things would be very, very different.

God wants us to grow more Christ-like. This is also the message from Archbishop Justin and Bishop Steven. Neither waging personal wars against one another, nor pretending to love one another, nor refusing to get involved, is constructive or results in becoming more Christ-like. Dealing with the situation and learning ‘how to disagree well’ brings growth and allows spirituality to flourish.

The other thing I’ve noticed through the years, not just in England but other countries too, is that people who make themselves indispensable build their power to the point that no-one can risk losing them or their support in the community, so they are basically allowed to take control and do as they please. I’ve seen it across the board, from organists, to those with financial power. One thing we learnt on the Reconciliation workshop was that the imbalance of power is what causes the warfare. I’ve seen this abuse of power so many times, and it changes everything. Whenever there’s a challenge, there are people who won’t take the risk of dealing with it for fear of upsetting the person wielding the power, particularly in Christian settings. Moreover, those who stand up to this kind of unfairness and injustice can be the very ones who end up being persecuted, told to worship elsewhere, or end up moving to another church to escape the politics – or even leaving the Church altogether. In my own circle of family, friends and acquaintances as I’ve moved from one country to another, by far the biggest obstacle keeping them away from Church has been the vitriolic nature of some Christian relationships they have witnessed.

It’s taken me more than 20 years to learn that there are horrible people to be found in all walks of life, and the Church is no exception. (Romans 3:23, “All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.”) The difference is the expectation that in the Church we will find Christ-like people. It will never be so until we learn to forgive one another and love one another, and if we can’t do that, then at least learn to ‘disagree well’.

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£18,454 Raised in 2018 Alone!

A magnificent £18,454 has been raised by Pat and Neil Hodges through their quizzes and other fundraising charitable events this year. What a brilliant total! However, added to the grand total since Neil started keeping records in 2011, they have managed to raise an eye-watering £103,685.

The bulk of the money has been raised from quiz nights in Simpson Village Hall, but some has come along via Church events and quiz nights in the MK area that Simpson folk attend and support.  A long list of charities have been helped through these events, many of them local, including humanitarian, medical, environmental and children’s causes, but also animal charities, plants for the village, a water bore project in Kenya helping thousands of people to get fresh water, the arts, the RNLI and medical detection dogs.  Some of the money raised has also gone to St Thomas’s Church.

Modest as always, Pat reflects that it has been a joint effort with all those who bake, supply raffle prizes, make teas, set up and most importantly come along and support the events. However, we all know that without Pat and Neil’s hard work, initiative and leadership, not to mention the amount of time they dedicate to these events, they simply would not happen.

Pat gives credit to others who have also held fund-raising events in the village, but she doesn’t have details of the proceeds of these.

For the past 2 years, MK Deanery has also benefitted through the Deanery quizzes Pat and Neil have organised, which has enabled us to work with Citizens:MK. We are indebted to Pat and Neil, not just for the money raised, but also for the fun we’ve had in the process.

A huge thank you must go to Pat and Neil for their generosity of time and their commitment to helping others in need.  Over and above that magnificent fundraising total, it’s the community itself which benefits from their caring and involvement, and no amount of money can buy that.

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Advertising Strategy

Milton Keynes Deanery has been an active partner in Christian advertising in Milton Keynes. We have worked with Church.Ads and helped build a network of churches and partners in our city. We have been commended for the number of churches involved, the amount of money raised, and the impact we have had on non-church people.

This reached a peak with the production of professional quality radio adverts in 2017 – recorded in London with the support of a national funding charity.

Our strategy is changing for two big reasons: firstly, the investment in digital communications by the Church of England at national level is resulting in the decline of the ecumenical approach pursued by Church.Ads; secondly, Deanery Synod voted not to prioritise our radio work for the next few years in favour of other projects…

Our Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) discussed advertising strategies in September. They decided that advertising is best done at local level – although some churches may need support with this. They also felt that cross-city messaging is still worth doing, but may need further thought. They will come back to this at future meetings.

This means that we will not be leading an inter-church advertising campaign this year, but will be encouraging churches to think locally and use helpful resources like #FollowtheStar.

We think this reflects national and cultural shifts, and we hope churches will take advantage of the opportunities they have to reach out.

I hope to run a training session in November.

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APPEAL FOR SUPPORT FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN BRITISH SCHOOLS?
If so, you might be able to do something about it by joining your Local Authority committee that oversees religious education in Milton Keynes.

Each local authority has a SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education). More can be found through the following websites:-

Milton Keynes SACRE: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/schools-and-lifelong-learning/information-for-schools/sacre

National SACRE website http://www.nasacre.org.uk.

RE is in danger of being sidelined by government pressure on schools to give increasing attention to the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, whilst other subjects which enrich life such as the expressive arts, other humanities and religious education get squeezed out. However local children are crying out for time given to the more enriching subjects including religious education, ethics and morality. The success of MK Youth SACRE, headed up by an award-winning RE teacher at Denbigh, Shammi Rahman, indicates the importance that children place on spending school time on areas of faith and belief.

MK Deanery is looking for two individuals to join the other two Anglican reps. (You do not have to be an Anglican, just be approved by the Deanery Synod as Anglican reps!) The commitment is to attend our once termly meetings which last for only an hour and a half during “twilight” hours. SACRE is made up of reps from other faiths, teachers and local councillors.

For more information, please contact me, Rev Paul Smith (Chair of MK SACRE). We always invite interested reps to attend one of our termly meetings to see what we’re like before deciding whether to join!

Contact details: Tel: (1908) 606689. E-mail: paul.a.smith.mk@btinternet.com

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