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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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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DLT Report – July 2018

The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership. It meets as a Standing Committee (who plan the agendas) and an Ops Team (who run projects and actions). 

Deanery Synod sets some Priorities…

The first two Deanery Synod meetings of the year have focused on Tim’s “Deanery Organising” project. This has been an experiment to see if the methodology of Community Organising can help Synod move from discussion about issues to positive action.

It’s been an interesting project with some very lively meetings. One byproduct of the process has been the launch of a new Deanery Finance Team. Synod has also agreed to prioritise three mission projects, linked to Mental Health, Affordable Housing and Domestic Abuse.  

The project is continuing, but has already produced some interesting lessons in how Deaneries might become more missional.

 

Celebrate and Bless…

The Diocese of Oxford is pressing forward with a new common vision, which involves six key strategic areas. One of these is to “Celebrate and Bless” Milton Keynes. 

There has now been a number of meetings and a serious proposal is taking shape… The working group met on 2nd July to discuss potential goals. These are going to be presented to Bishop’s Council on the 11th July. It’s a bit early to say what this will mean for the Church in Milton Keynes, but we should know more soon!

 

DMPC Goals

The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC)  has also been working on goals for the next few years. There will be huge overlap with the Diocesan strategy, but there are specific priorities that the DMPC will be focusing on. These will be presented at the next Synod meeting for discussion.

 

Extend the Welcome

Tim has been very active in the welcome of Syrian refugees, both in Milton Keynes and across the UK. On 29th June, he was joined by others from Milton Keynes at an event in London which celebrated the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and called for this scheme to be extended.

The guests of honour at the event were one of our Syrian families, who spoke movingly about their life in Milton Keynes and the need for the UK to take more refugees fleeing from conflict. The event was also co-chaired by a young Syrian from Milton Keynes. It is worth noting that we have achieved a lot.

There was also a World Refugee Day event in Campbell Park.

Tim feels that this work is important because it says something about the kind of society we want to live in.

 

Affordable Housing for Milton Keynes

The number of rough sleepers has been rising in Milton Keynes, but there is also a hidden housing crisis. This is driven by a growing gap between rich and poor, rising rents, and uncertain employment. 

According to the Community Foundation, the number of homeless households in MK that include children or pregnant women has increased by 128% since 2013. It is now 5.7 out of every 1,000 households – compared to an average of 1.9 across the UK.

Developers are required to build a certain amount of “affordable” housing, but this is defined as costing 80% of the normal market rate. In Milton Keynes, this is out of reach for many people. 

Tim has therefore been working with a small group to investigate the possibility of starting a Community Land Trust in Milton Keynes. A Community Land Trust is a legal entity which can hold land on behalf of the local community – making it possible to provide homes at a “Living Rent” linked to the real cost of living.

This project is in its early stages, but has already attracted a lot of interest.

 

Building Links with the Villages

Milton Keynes Borough includes a number of villages. Although they are not part of Milton Keynes Deanery, it’s important for us to build a positive relationship with the wider area. Tim led worship in Moulsoe on Easter Day – and went back for a baptism in June. There are a number of other links between rural and urban clergy and congregations. As the city grows, it will be important for us to think beyond our borders and look for ways to be a blessing to others.

 

Such a lot going on…

Over the past few months, we’ve been dealing with:

  • the new GDPR legislation which has required us to look at our data
  • a new structure for LEP constitutions based on the model of a CIO
  • a new system for share allocation
  • a review of Cornerstone Church by the denominational Presidents
  • a new Deanery relationship with Citizens MK 
  • provision of ministry in Woughton after the departure of Heather Pollard.

It’s certainly never dull in Milton Keynes!!!

 

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DLT Report: March 2018

Christmas Starts with Christ – and a costume…

We took the lead on the Christmas Starts with Christ campaign in Milton Keynes once again.  The project team included some new partners from the city – and beyond.  This year we raised enough money to spend £2,572.81 on airtime, and were also given a grant from the Jerusalem Trust to write and produce three new adverts – which were used as far away as Shetland! For a brief report, click here.

The radio adverts were linked to a tentative social-media campaign on the theme “Where’s Jesus?” The idea was to create images of Jesus in unlikely places – reminding people that Jesus was born for all – not just the “important” people. Tim was called back from sabbatical to put on the costume. The role required a beard, and a willingness to look very silly!

 

Setting Goals…

Our Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee has been working on a set of goals for the next three years. They’re keen to focus on mission and church growth. The conversations have been making huge progress, but they’re not quite there yet. They hope to have something ready for the next Synod meeting in May…

 

Celebrating and Blessing Milton Keynes

In the meantime, the Diocese is thinking about how they might “Celebrate and bless our largest, fastest growing city” (which is Milton Keynes, if you’re not sure…) There have been two meetings of the working group so far, and various MK people are on it, including Tim Norwood, David Thom, Paul Oxley, Sharon Grenham-Thompson, David McDougall and John Robertson. It’s early days still, but this conversation is vital as we look to the future. In the meantime, the National Infrastructure Commission has published its report into the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc. This new mini-region is going to be a big feature in our lives over the next few decades, so it’s crucial that we start thinking about how we respond.

 

MK people are also on other Diocesan working groups, including “Making a bigger difference in the world and serving the poor” (Tim) and “Planting new congregations and churches everywhere we can” (David McDougall). It’s great that Milton Keynes is contributing to the wider agenda!

 

Refugees Welcome

The good news is that we have now welcomed twelve families into the city through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. This is an amazing achievement, but many of the families are coming to the end of their initial period of support. There’s a need to think about continuing support for language, employment and social engagement. We held a “Do something Big” summit in February which has led to a few significant offers. This is an area we need to keep working on…

 

New agenda for Citizens MK

Three of our parishes are currently members of Citizens MK and the alliance has set four goals for 2018. These are: 

Members of Christ the Cornerstone have taken a particular lead on “Mental Health” and “Fight Against Hate”. Tim is working with the “House the Homeless” team and is pulling together a campaign to develop a Community Land Trust for Milton Keynes. This is a mechanism for providing permanent genuinely affordable homes and could be a really exciting development. For more about CLTs see the National Community Land Trust Network.

The next big event is the Sleepeazy with the YMCA on March 16th.

 

And in other news…

  • Ian Herbert is now Rector of Woughton
  • Tim Norwood spent three months on Sabbatical
  • Ross Northing is now on Sabbatical
  • We’re starting a series of three open Synod meetings which will use community organising to turn dreams into action…

 

Organising Prayer

Tim’s new book, “Organising Prayer” is now available. It can be ordered online from Lulu and will be available for sale at Cornerstone. It costs £2.50 and contains the morning prayer outlines used at Cornerstone at 8.30am from Monday to Thursday.

 

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MK Deanery: Draft Agenda for 2017-2020

1. Church Growth
• Pioneer Ministry in New Areas
• Lay-led Fresh Expressions
• Re-planting struggling congregations
• Filling in the Gaps
• Building up Resource Churches
• Looking beyond the original borders…
• Local Training and Vocation

2. The Common Good
• Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom
• Ecumenical Partnership through Mission
• Interfaith relationships through shared agenda
• Action and discipleship go together
• Partnerships work!

3. Developing Leadership
• We need more leaders!
• There will be fewer “vicars” available
• Leaders need to be nurtured and supported
• Different models?
• Training and Vocation
• Community Organizing?

4. Being a Blessing Beyond MK
• Milton Keynes is growing! Tipping point?
• A Blessing not a Burden
• New mini-region – “Heart of England”
• New Development Corporation
• National Leadership
• Rural Areas?

5. Resources for Mission
• From Sustainability to Investment
• Need for new resources as city grows
• Need for new resources to fulfil our vision
• Risk: Return to dependency?
• Planning: How do we manage our share and budget?

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DLT Report – February 2017

The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the six Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership.  At the end of the current Synod, it’s good to look back at the past three years, and see how our Deanery Plan has guided our activity…

Keeping God at the Heart

There has been a new emphasis on prayer over the past three years. In terms of projects, we helped the Mission Partnership launch a Prayer Page on the their website, with daily reflections, a cycle of prayer and links to Facebook.  This work is being picked up by a different team now…

A year ago, Tim started meeting others at Cornerstone at 8.30am for daily prayer (Monday to Thursday).  This has become an important part of the day for those who come – and is something he’d like to encourage in other parts of the city…

We are now including a significant section of prayer and reflection at every Deanery meeting, including Dwelling in the Word at Synod. Deanery Chapter is now meeting for a monthly Chapter Communion, which includes an opportunity for ministers to pray together.

There is more that can be done in prayer, but the past three years have shown the value of putting prayer at the heart of our planning.

Building Relationships

Good relationships are essential for effective mission together.  We’ve therefore also put relationships right at the heart of our planning over the past three years. Deanery Lunches have been particularly effective, since they bring six leaders together each time for deeper conversations.  We’ve tried to find good ways to bring people together, but it’s not easy…

In January, Pat Hodges ran a Deanery Quiz for us.  This raised money for mission, but also brought people together socially.  A couple of weeks later, the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) had a meeting about church growth – but shared a Burns Supper first!  If we are to serve God effectively, we need to invest time in building relationships, because God calls us to be a body not a business meeting.

‘Communications’ are crucial to building relationships.  We need to know what’s going on and how things fit together.  In December we launched The Signpost, our new magazine/newsletter.  The plan is to use this as a way of keeping people informed and increasing involvement…

Building Capacity

We want to do more mission and become more effective in our ministry, but we’re limited by our ‘capacity’. This is about the number of people involved, how well trained we are, and what kind of support we might need…

John Robertson has made this a big priority for the Mission Partnership, the charity that aims to bring churches together for Mission in Milton Keynes. We have supported (and benefited from) the COMPASS Courses that were started about three years ago.  These aim “to build capacity for mission by helping you find new or renewed excitement, depth and confidence in Christian faith”.

There have been courses on the Bible, prayer, the environment and ethics.  We’ve also been running a clergy leadership programme based on action learning sets and mentoring.

This term we’ve launched a new lay leadership course, using the methodology of community organising.  We’ll be watching to see what impact this has on the life of our churches.  Tim and John have been running this course with help from CitizensMK.

Tim is also leading the first COMPASS Preaching Course which started in February.  This will have input from a whole range of experienced preachers who will share their expertise and equip people to serve in our churches. Sixteen people have signed up to this eight session course which will be running until May.

Katharine Crowsley is running a couple of Mission Shaped Intro courses this term and hopes to run a Mission Shaped Ministry Course next year.  These courses will be invaluable in the growth of pioneer ministry and fresh expressions.

COMPASS has been a valuable programme so far, so if your church hasn’t got involved yet, you won’t know what you’re missing!

Working Together

Over the past three years, we have been encouraging city-wide projects that focus on particular mission needs or opportunities.  Rather than try to do everything together, or do everything ourselves, our policy has been to look for effective partnerships led by those who feel called to make things happen.  This has been a really effective approach and the results have often been spectacular:

The MKChurches advertising project has had national impact.  This year we produced three radio adverts of our own which were used by groups elsewhere in the country…

The Refugees Welcome group, which started as a CitizensMK campaign, has now become an independent charity.  There’s a new logo and a new Chair of Trustees.  This month saw the introduction of the first regular Supporters Meeting, held at Whaddon Way Church, which demonstrated huge support for what we’re doing.  We were also invited to run a stand in the foyer at The Stables, promoting our work alongside the concert that night called the Transports.  See the updates for more…

We’ve been involved in the Weaving Trust project since it started.  This project aims to build better relationships between the diverse communities of our city.  In January there was a massive Weaving Trust 50 event at Christ the Cornerstone Church to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the city, attended by the Mayor and representatives from 50 different groups.  There was also a very moving event at the Prison in December.  Weaving Trust will continue under the leadership of Alan Bainbridge and seems set to be going from strength to strength…

A lot of the work we do in Milton Keynes is made possible because of the partnerships that underpin it.  The Mission Partnership plays an important role in providing training, communications and financial infrastructure. CitizensMK provides a powerful set of community partners and a methodology for acting together.  We’ve been involved in CitizensMK since it was launched in 2010.  Three of our parishes are full members.  Tim is one of the Co-chairs of the CitizensMK leadership group and was elected Co-chair of the CitizensUK council in January.  Our investment in “community organising” is helping us to make an impact on the city.  In February 2017, CitizensMK adopted three new campaigns, so we look forward to seeing how the work will develop…

Over the past three years there has been a number of other mission projects, including our work with funerals and weddings – plus a number of initiatives led by particular churches or parishes…

Being Good Stewards

The mission of the Anglican church in Milton Keynes is what should drive us as a Deanery, but this requires us to be good stewards of the resources that God has given us.  Our mission should drive the way we use our resources – not the other way around.

Our Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee has been meeting regularly and working hard to make things happen.  In the past three years we’ve had new appointments in Watling Valley, Stantonbury, Woughton and Bletchley.  We’ve another Pioneer Minister and we’re hoping to recruit more…

At the January DMPC meeting, we began a serious discussion about the expansion of Milton Keynes, so expect to hear a lot more about this…

In the meantime, we are delighted that Catherine Butt will be moving to Water Eaton in September with a team from Bletchley.  This is an example of the kind of creative thinking that we’ll need as we prepare for the future…

The February meeting of Synod will be the last one of this three year cycle. When we meet again in July it will be a new Synod and there will be elections for a new DMPC.

 

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DLT Report – October 2016

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

Church Inspections

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The summer is always dominated by the annual Church inspections which we carry out on behalf of the archdeacon. Each church has to be visited once every three years, and there is a list of questions that we have to ask the churchwardens. It can be really useful for new wardens, because it gives them an idea of what their role might involve. It’s also a good way of maintaining good links between churches and deanery officers. Our Deanery Administrator, Linda Kirk, spends a lot of time booking the inspections – which often involves finding out who the new churchwardens are. The Area Dean, Tim Norwood, visits roughly half the churches each year – usually with one other DLT member. We’ve just finished this year’s inspections, and are currently processing the results…

Refugees Welcome

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Work has continued on the Refugees Welcome campaign. During the summer we welcomed three new families to Milton Keynes through the United Nations relocation scheme. National government provides the money to pay for accommodation, but Refugees Welcome MK has coordinated the preparation of the houses, and is working closely with the Red Cross to help families integrate. Members of our churches donated furniture and money (through the Church of Christ the Cornerstone) and volunteers helped prepare the houses. The next round of arrivals will probably be later in the year…

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Christmas Starts with Christ

We have already started our planning for Christmas. We held a meeting to review the Easter advertising campaign and think ahead to December… This year we have commissioned three radio adverts that will be produced for us by Heart FM. This is a big change on previous years when we’ve used material produced by Church Ads. They no longer have funding for this, so our adverts may well be used elsewhere. Watch this space…

Weaving Trust

The EU referendum was followed by a rapid change in government. We have a new Prime Minister, and are now waiting to see what Brexit will actually look like. One of the unfortunate consequences of all this has been a rise in hate crime and “everyday racism”. There were a few emergency meetings organised by Citizens to gauge the impact on local communities, some of whom feel that their right to be here is being questioned. The language used about immigrants has clearly damaged trust between groups of people in our city.
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In this light, the Weaving Trust campaign has become even more significant. We’ve had a number of events over the summer which took place in the Council Offices, the Quaker Meeting House, the Synagogue and Downs Barn Church. This has been a significant project for Tim, but he’s now planning to hand over leadership of the campaign group to somebody else, so he can concentrate on new work.

More about Weaving Trust

Churchwardens

By popular demand, we organised a second Churchwardens evening. Our Lay Chair, David Thom, hosted a night of information, discussion and cake. We hope to do another event like this next year, probably soon after the next Churchwarden elections have taken place

Deanery Chapter

There was a Deanery Chapter meeting in July, organised by our Chapter Clerk, Keith Straughan. Over the past few years few years we’ve only had three Chapter meeting each year, because attendance can be patchy otherwise, and people have so many other commitments. There is a desire for more frequent events, so the DLT have been asked to look at a monthly Eucharist and sandwich lunch. This is being discussed and may start in January…

New Start for Water Eaton

St Frideswide’s Church in Water Eaton has been without an incumbent for ten years. It is the most deprived parish in the Diocese, according the Church Urban Fund figures, but it has not been possible to appoint a stipendiary minister. A team of self-supporting clergy have resourced the church through a Local Shared Ministry Scheme, and Tim has been providing interim ministry for the past three years.
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After a great deal of work it is now time for a new start. The boundaries have been changed so that the parish will incorporate the new developments in Eaton Leys. The Deanery and Archdeaconry have also agreed to support a new full-time post with a major emphasis on community engagement. Significant changes are underway and we hope to advertise in the new year. Please keep praying for this church and the congregation as they look to the future…

St Frideswide Web Site

The MOTHs

The national memorial for the Memorable Order of Tin Hats is behind the library in CMK. Tim once again acted as “padre” for the MOTHs at their national memorial service in September. This is always a moving event.
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Watling Valley, Whaddon Way and Newton Leys

In September we welcomed three new ministers. Steve Summerfield was inducted as minister of Whaddon Way Church – in a service led jointly by Tim and the Baptist Area Leader. The new Methodist circuit Superintendent, Dawn Saunders, will be giving half of her time to Watling Valley. Ben Thorpe will be leading a project in Newton Leys. It’s exciting to see new things happening in these places, but keep praying for Woughton, Great Linford and Water Eaton where we hope to appoint new clergy soon…

And also…

There’s so much more happening in MK Deanery, but we can’t cover it all in detail:

  • Tim has been supporting churches with Sunday services, weddings and baptisms…
  • We have a new proposal for the Rector post in Woughton and a new profile is being drawn up…
  • Tim is now covering the “Community Engagement” brief for the Mission Partnership…
  • We have a new Archdeacon…
  • There will be a preaching course in Spring/Summer
  • John Robertson is working on a lay leadership training programme using the methodology of “community organising”
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DLT Report June 2016

The Deanery Leadership Team consists of the six deanery officers. We’ve been missing a Deanery Secretary for some time. We’ve found this difficult because we didn’t have someone who could focus on how we use our processes to achieve our aims. It’s therefore great news that Steve Snook from Bletchley has stepped forward for this appointment. We’ve been working with him over the past few weeks and can already see how he could help us to develop our work…

That’s for the future. Looking back over the past few months, there has been a lot going on…

Church Wardens Evening

David Thom, our Lay Chair, organised a really successful evening for church wardens in February. This provided an opportunity for people to meet each other, and was particularly helpful for new church wardens. There was a challenging quiz about rules and regulations, during which we all learned something! There is enthusiasm for a similar event next year, although there are questions about the best time of the year for this…

Collecting Information

Linda Kirk, our Deanery Administrator, had a lot of work to do to make the Church Wardens Evening happen. It took nearly a hundred emails to work out who all the wardens (and equivalent church officers) might be! This might sound crazy, but it’s a feature of the complexity of Milton Keynes and the speed it takes for information to flow through our various systems. Linda has continued to work hard on gathering basic data during the past few months. It’s tough and often unpopular work but incredibly important. Is there any way we can improve the process?

Daily Prayer

Tim Norwood, our Area Dean, has been praying with ecumenical colleagues each weekday morning at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone. They’ve been using a simple liturgy with space for Bible readings, reflection and intercession. This has been a really exciting experiment and has also created space for useful conversations. Are there other opportunities for similar prayer and Bible-based reflection in local areas across the city?

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Tim has continued to work with the Refugees Welcome group. We were delighted to say that two families of Syrian refugees arrived in April and are now settling in to life in Milton Keynes. The work is progressing thanks to a partnership between MK Council, the Red Cross and Citizens MK. We are doing much better than other areas in the South East. Two families may not sound much but it has taken a lot to achieve! One of the key issues has been the identification of private landlords willing to rent out their properties to refugees. We’ve also had to look at ways of fitting out houses and providing support. We’re currently reviewing the process after the first arrivals and will be streamlining this for the next round. One church has already offered to kit out one of the houses, while others would like to fund-raise for furniture. How can we encourage other churches to offer help to these vulnerable people?

Weaving Trust

https___img_evbuc_com_http%253A%252F%252Fcdn_evbuc_com%252Fimages%252F15432567%252F98264925971%252F1%252ForiginalTim has also been chairing the Weaving Trust campaign. At Weaving Trust events, ordinary people from different communities meet each other in 1-to-1 conversations. These have been incredibly significant and it’s been great to see a growth in social cohesion in MK at a time when hostility and suspicion have been growing across Europe following terrorist attacks and an ongoing refugee and migration crisis. Over the past few months we’ve held events with Dentons, Q:Alliance and St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church. There will be a massive Weaving Trust event on the 28th January 2017 as part of the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes. What can we do to help our church members engage with different communities?

Deanery Lunches

We have continued to run our popular weekly Deanery Lunches at which six “leaders” meet each other for deeper conversations and the sharing of ideas. Over the past five months these events have ranged from first meetings, to major strategic conversations. The only frustration has been that we often have people drop out at the last minute, which is annoying when we’ve had to turn other people away to keep the numbers down. Sometimes there is a good reason, but if people let us know early enough we could invite someone else. We could do more to tighten our management of this, but it’s already a time-consuming task. Do we invest more time in chasing people to achieve a worthwhile result, or trust them to turn up or send appologies as soon as they can?

Deanery Chapter

Keith Straughan, our Chapter Clerk, organised a Chapter meeting with Bishop Alan in March. This was well-attended and gave the Bishop an opportunity to talk to us about the future of ministry. The next Chapter event will be on July 12th at St Mary’s Shenley.

Vocations Team

Our new vocations team is continuing to develop its work and is meeting regularly with Caroline Windley, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Members of the team have met potential candidates for licensed lay ministry and ordination. They are also planning another vocations breakfast. We can now respond very quickly to approaches from candidates since there is a team of six vocations advisers. Contact Tim of you have anyone you’d like us to meet.

Vacancies and Arrivals

sharongt-1-e1460381851477It was great to welcome Sharon Grenham-Thompson as Team Vicar in Watling Valley parish. It’s always nice to get to the end of a vacancy and celebrate the beginning of a new era for both church and incumbent. Unfortunately, we failed to appoint a new Team Rector for Woughton so we’re currently having a third round of interviews. We are also awaiting news about the House for Duty post at St Andrew’s Great Linford…

Pioneer Minister for Newton Leys

We did manage to appoint a minister for Newton Leys. Details will be announced soon, but we look forward to welcoming a new “Vicar” for this growing area some time in September. This will be the first of the new Development Posts that the diocese has made available. We hope to apply for two further posts in other large areas of new housing. It won’t be our first pioneer minister of course, since we previously worked with the URC to create a similar post in Walton.

Easter: Where do you stand?

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We’ve been working with ChurchAds over the past few years on their campaign “Christmas Starts with Christ”. Our group has been keen to expand the work, so last year we ran our first Easter campaign. ChurchAds picked up on our enthusiasm and this year launched “Where do you stand?” – a campaign focussed on the questions raised by the cross and resurrection. There was a national campaign, but not material we could use. We did however run our own campaign using this tag line, with a radio ad co-written by Tim and Liam from Heart FM. This was a big step forward for us, since it marked a new relationship with the radio station, and makes us a producer of material that other people will be able to use elsewhere… “Where do you stand?” will be a national campaign again next year.

Linda and Tim typed up church events for the EasterMK web site. This is very time consuming, but helps present a united and positive face to the wider world. It also works towards our vision of “MK: A City Alive to God”. How can we capitalise on this work?

Community Asset Transfer: Trinity Centre

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As Area Dean, Tim is a trustee of the Trinity Centre in Fishermead. This building is owned by the Borough with a ninety-nine year lease of part of the building to the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance who then lease it back to the Trustees with an understanding that the building can be used by Trinity Church. The building is then looked after by the Management Committee… Sounds complicated? It’s further complicated by the fact that MK Council now wants to let go of the building under a programme called “Community Asset Transfer”. Tim and the other trustees have now submitted a bid to gain local ownership. If we can pull this off it will safeguard the Trinity Church/Centre for local residents for many years to come. It’s a complicated legal learning curve, but is really significant for the future…

St Frideswide, Water Eaton

For the past few years, Tim has been giving a quarter of his time to the St Frideswide congregation. Our hope has been to use this input to explore a new plan for the development of this high priority parish. Huge progress has been made recently and we’re now exploring proposals to change boundaries and appoint a new Rector. It’s wonderful to have got to this point, and we’re really hopeful that this will be an exciting new beginning.

Deanery Deployment Plan

This is closely related to our work with the DMPC on a new deployment plan. We organised a special meeting to discuss this and a draft has been produced…

Coming up…

There’s no time to talk about other things that are bubbling away…

  • Discussions about a new model for Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP) constitutions using the Charitable Incorporated Institution (CIO) model…
  • Tim is secretary of the National Deaneries Network which is organising a big conference in October…
  • We’ll be working with Citizens MK on a training course for churches using the model of community organising…
  • Church inspections are underway…
  • The Mission Partnership has a new logo for “A City Alive to God”…

This has been a brief survey of work being undertaken by the DLT. We hope this gives you a sense of what’s going on in MK Deanery…

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DLT Report January 2016

The Deanery Leadership Team consists of the six deanery officers. We’re missing a secretary at the moment, and that is proving to be a real issue, because we don’t have someone who can keep an eye on minutes and agendas. We are very busy though…

Vacancies
After a relatively stable period, we have had to face a number of vacancies – all at the same time!

In Woughton we have been working closely with the trustees, the ministry team, the PCC and the church councils to appoint a new Rector to replace Cathi Williams. This has been an opportunity to rethink the post. The new incumbent will be co-leader of the team, and will focus on prayer and spirituality, relationships and community engagement. We’re very excited about the possibilities but a first round of interviews didn’t produce a suitable candidate. In the meantime there are lots of services to cover…

In Watling Valley we have had a more straightforward vacancy following the departure of Dave Bell. A new minister has now been appointed and a name will soon be announced. This new Team Vicar will be responsible for St Mary’s in Shenley Church End and will have a particular focus on Adult Discipleship. Since the new year, members of the ministry team have faced added pressures due to illness or bereavement. This has obviously resulted in more gaps in service plans…

The departure of Peter Ballantine from the Stantonbury Team created a gap at St Andrew’s Great Linford. We are delighted that the new Baptist minister, David Lewis, has taken on some responsibility for this congregation, but we have also been working with the parish on the appointment of a House for Duty minister. The profile for this post is nearly ready to go…

The diocese has approved the appointment of a mission post for the Newton Leys area. The profile for this post is being worked on and an interview date has been set for April…

Meanwhile, I’m still working as the acting of incumbent of Water Eaton while the Deanery Mission and Partnership works toward a long term plan…

Deanery MAP
And in other news… the deanery has been working towards a new Mission Action Plan which is already reflected in the way we work…

Keeping God at the Heart
Prayer and theological reflection need to be absolutely central to everything we do, but it’s all to easy for “stuff” to get in the way. It is therefore very intentional that I agreed to chair the prayer team for the mission partnership. This group has been focussing on on-line resources but there is more to be developed. Revd John Bradley, who died in December, was a key member of this team.

I’ve also been meeting with John Robertson and Brenda Mosedale at 8:30am on weekday mornings to pray at Christ the Cornerstone. We feel that praying together is crucial to our life and work.

You may also have noticed that we have been giving significant time at deanery meetings to spirituality. This is a strategic choice and we think it will help shift our culture and agenda.

Building Relationships
We have also been continuing with our Deanery Lunches. These bring together six “leaders” each week for conversations that can be very deep. There is no agenda, but it is great to see the impacts these simple events have.
We have also organised a chaplains’ evening, and are working on an event for church wardens.

Building Capacity
We now have a vocations team that is working together to support and encourage people who are exploring ministry. This group organised a Vocations Breakfast in October and it has been great to see a few more people coming forward.

At St Fridewide’s we have two people who are being authorised to lead extended communion. Six sessions have been organised to help prepare the congregation for this.

Initial discussions are taking place for a new preaching course under the coMPass banner in September. We are hoping that this will provide a great opportunity to encourage more authorised preachers.

Working Together
The Citizens:mk alliance has become a really significant in our work on social justice. We are proud to have been involved in the Living Wage campaign which has had a real impact on the lives of low paid workers in the city. There were two living wage breakfasts in November including one high up in the Pinnacle with local business leaders.

During the past few months I have taken a more active role with Citizens, and have helped organise a number of events. It feels like a good use of my time, since we can see the impact in terms of social impact, positive relationships and growing leaders.

I have also been chairing the Weaving Trust group which has created a really powerful method for building relationships between ordinary people in very different communities. Since the summer, we have organised events with MK Muslim Association, St Frideswide Church, the MK Dons and Thames Valley Police. There are more events in the pipeline, which is a wonderful response to recent events.

A lot of time has been spent on the Refugees Welcome campaign, and there is now a good sense of partnership between Milton Keynes Council, the Red Cross and our very active group. It has been really important for us to engage with this agenda because we can make a difference.

MK Deanery plays a key role in the Churches’ advertising project. For the fourth year in a row, we ran a radio advertising campaign based on the Christmas starts with Christ material – supported by the use of Facebook and our own web site at ChristmasMK.com. This was very time consuming but we have reached tens of thousands of people and are still regarded as their flagship area by ChurchAds.

Being good Stewards
We are looking carefully at communications and plan to experiment with a ‘termly’ newsletter called, ‘The Signpost’. This will probably be linked to a new method for distribution of the Door.

And also…
I attended the Shared Ministry Network conference in Manchester with a group from St Fridewsides. This was a good opportunity to engage with this agenda at national level while also gaining ideas that we can use back here.

David and I have had various meetings to attend, including the annual meeting of area deans in lay chairs in the Diocese of Oxford. This meeting marked the start of a big discussion about lay ministry…

There have also been various baptisms, weddings and funerals to cover – from various parishes…

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