Citizens from across the Thames Valley area will be gathering on the 11th June. This assembly will not happen at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone – as originally planned – but online using Zoom.
This will be a significant event, marking the launch of Thames Valley Citizens – which will link community alliances in Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
This is a high priority for Milton Keynes Deanery, and is supported by the Diocese of Oxford, as part of the “Making a Bigger Difference” priority. The Bishop of Oxford will be speaking, and the agenda will reflect issues that have been agreed by local people.
The aims are to:
- Bring key leaders from MK, Reading and Oxford together to take action together as part of Thames Valley Citizens;
- Enable civil society institutions across the Thames Valley to reflect together on the challenges they face because of Covid-19, encourage solidarity, and begin to envision what a more just post-Covid Thames Valley could look like;
- Celebrate the contribution made by local government, NHS, police and emergency services, listen to the Covid-related challenges they face now and in the future, offer the support of civil society, and seek their support to make the Thames Valley a more just place post-Covid.
We need to get as many people to come to the event as possible, because “turnout” demonstrates our interest. Three of our parishes are members of Citizens MK in their own right, but we have committed to bring a further forty from the rest of the Deanery. Please register here if you want a Deanery ticket.
11th June 2020 from 6:30 to 8:30pm
The Buckingham Historic Churches Trust (BHCT) has given grants of over £1,000,000 towards the repair and restoration of over 300 churches of all denominations in the County since its foundation in 1957, and continues to do so at the rate of some £60,000 each year. Indeed several churches in MK Deanery have benefitted from some generous grants from BHCT.
The annual ‘Ride & Stride’ is its main fundraising event, held on the second Saturday in September. This year it will therefore take place on Saturday 14 September. As part of this year’s activities there will also be a horse ride in Milton Keynes a couple of weeks later on Sunday 29 September. The horse ride will take the same route as last year, starting at Campbell Park and passing four listed churches in the Ouzel Valley before returning to Campbell Park. Entry has been opened up to a larger number of clubs this year, so the Bucks Historic Churches Trust is hoping for a much larger number of participants.
The BHCT needs to find quite a number of marshalls to help around the course. If anyone can help out, or if you can suggest anyone who might be willing to help, please ask them to get in touch with Nina Newton, the Deanery ‘Ride & Stride’ organiser for Milton Keynes, at email@example.com.
If you’re new to ‘Ride & Stride’ and would like to get contribute in other ways (such as sponsoring a walker or rider on Saturday 14 September) or just need further information, here’s the link to find out more – https://bucks-historic-churches.org/.) Anything you can do to support either event would contribute towards the restoration and repair of our beautiful churches.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration and sponsorship forms. You can read more on Facebook on the bussheltermk page and the Willen Sleepout page on Virgin Money Giving is available for making donations.
Rev Dr Paul Smith, Team Rector of Stantonbury and Willen parish LEP will be taking part himself in support of the MK Bus Shelter, both to help raise awareness, as well as to offer some financial support. He says,
“I would like to invite you to sponsor me. Any amount, however small, will be welcome. It is very easy, as you can go online and pledge your chosen amount. Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulSmith385.”
If you could download the Willen Church sleepout poster and display it in your church too, that would be really appreciated!
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!
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.
The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership.
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
- A 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.
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.
The Church of England has launched its national campaign for Christmas 2018. It uses the hashtag #FollowTheStar and there is a range of material available for churches to use, including books, apps and images.
“For many of us, Christmas brings up so many emotions, memories and expectations. We have one nativity story, but it can seem like we all have very different Christmases.Archbishops Justin Welby & John Sentamu
“For you it might be a time of joy and togetherness. Or perhaps it’s all about planning and to-do lists. Many others can find it a sad and lonely time – nagged by the feeling that your Christmas is not like those ‘perfect’ ones we see in the media.
“But just like the unexpected assortment of people who were invited to meet the baby Jesus, #FollowTheStardoesn’t ask you to be perfect. It says: come just as you are to take the life-changing Christmas journey.”
For more resources, see the Church of England web site. They can be used with or without the CofE branding – at the request of MK and Cumbria!
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.