Election of Lay Representatives to Deanery Synod

Although delayed this year due to Covid-19, it is now the end of a triennium (3-year cycle) and time to elect lay members of Deanery Synod at your parish’s AGM/APCM. A guidance leaflet is available to help you to do this. It is available under the Information tab of this website, entitled “Information on the Election of Lay Members to Deanery Synod”. I hope you find it helpful, but if you have any questions which are not answered by the document, please contact me on admin@mkdeanery.org.

Linda

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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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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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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.

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Understanding Mental Health

Understanding Mental Health (UMH) is one of the 3 top priority projects selected by Deanery Synod members following the meeting in May. 

The team comprises members from 4 churches, but as 3 of these are in ecumenical partnerships, 17 churches are effectively already involved, as well as the Chaplaincy at MK University Hospital.

Much work has already been done over the past 9 months defining a strategy for the next few years, as well as continuing to do research and build relationships with other groups.  (The strategy document is available for downloading from the Documents section of this website, under the ‘Information’ tab.  This gives details of the group’s vision, Mission Action Plan (MAP) and Objectives.)

At the recent Synod meeting on 14 November, churches were asked to provide details of groups and services they already offer which people with mental health issues could engage with.  UMH hope to use this information to create a directory which can be accessed across Milton Keynes by churches and other groups.  In the meantime the team will be looking at specific goals for the next few months.

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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.

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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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Challenging the Church on Fossil Fuel Investment

Bishop Steven appeared on the Today programme on 5 July to talk about the Oxford Diocesan Synod amendment on fossil fuel investment, which is being debated at General Synod TODAY.

The Issue: Should the Church of England continue to invest in fossil fuel companies in the light of the Paris Agreement on climate change?

In 60 seconds…

Where we invest affects the credibility of the leadership we offer as a church. We believe that the Church of England should not be profiting from fossil fuel investment that’s misaligned with global climate targets.

During a motion being debated NOW at General Synod, the Diocese of Oxford will call on the Church to begin to divest from any fossil fuel company which ‘is not on an unequivocal path by 2020 to aligning its business investment plan with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change’… We think that gives plenty of time for the fossil fuel companies we invest in to make serious changes to their plans and intentions.

(For further information, please see Bishop Steven’s blog on this important topic at https://blogs.oxford.anglican.org/should-the-church-of-england-continue-to-invest-in-fossil-fuel-companies/?utm_source=Diocese+of+Oxford+Mailing+Lists&utm_campaign=e1004ee304-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_07_04_41_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e6b832234-e1004ee304-339831409)

You can also find further information on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dioceseofoxford/posts/1761701897254458?hc_location=ufi

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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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Deanery Organising: Priorities

Synod has given some very helpful guidance on the projects that MK Deanery will prioritise over the next two to three years. We have limited resources, so it is very wise to focus. We will have more impact if we concentrate on a relatively small number of key issues.

The top three priority projects are:

  1. Mental Health
  2. Affordable Housing
  3. Domestic Abuse

In each case, we’ll have a project team, a team leader and a member of staff assigned to work with them. We will encourage the team to build partnerships with other groups and organisations, and we will promote this work through our various channels of communication. I think we should be able to make a big difference!

These projects will run alongside a number of parish and deanery “development” projects involving church planting, boundaries, deployment and so on… The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee has a very full agenda of its own.

We are also pleased to have a new Deanery Finance Team who will be presenting their proposals for a new Share Allocation Scheme at the July meeting of Synod.

Communication and Young People were raised as issues, but we don’t have the capacity to run big projects at this stage. We will carry out a review of our strategy in both areas over the coming year. Perhaps something big will emerge in future.

The issue of refugees and migrants is an important one for us as Christians in Milton Keynes. We live in a diverse, multi-cultural city at a time of global crisis. It’s important that the Church speaks up for all those who are marginalised, whether they are homeless, hungry or displaced. God calls us to see all people as our neighbours. 

Although we will not have a priority project that focuses on refugees, we will continue to work with Refugees Welcome and the Red Cross. We will encourage churches to engage with refugees – and consider Community Sponsorship as a way of helping families.

On this issue, there will be an act of remembrance on World Refugee Day (20th June) at 6.30pm. More information about this soon…

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