Making a Bigger Difference with Thames Valley

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:

  1. Bring key leaders from MK, Reading and Oxford together to take action together as part of Thames Valley Citizens;
  2. 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;
  3. 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

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Church of England is continuing to update guidance for parishes. All clergy and churchwardens should read the guidance concerning present practice. The Diocese is in regular communications with the National Church and local statutory authorities. If or when the situation changes, then new guidance will be immediately sent to all email contacts. 

If you have specific questions or concerns not covered in the guidance, please in the first instance, contact your archdeaconry office.

In Milton Keynes, the official community response is being managed by Community Action, while the Community Foundation has launched an appeal fund.  Please follow these links:

And please pray for the NHS, the Council, key workers and our local charities.

Updated on 28/3/20

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Preaching on a regular basis?

Is God calling you to share in the ministry of your Local Church by Preaching on a regular basis?
We are going to launch a Deanery Preaching Team on March 24th 2020.  This will be a way of supporting Anglican “Authorised Preachers” in Milton Keynes. It will also enable us to share lay preachers across parishes in the Deanery.  Bishop Alan has given us permission to do this.  We hope it will be encourage more people to step forward as preachers – and allow parishes to help each other when there is a shortage of preachers somewhere in the city…

For more information about “Authorised Preachers” read on…

Emerging patterns of Ministry
As the church grows and responds to needs of mission and ministry, more and more people are becoming involved in leading worship, and in preaching. In the light of these welcome changes, the Bishops are looking to respond to many requests for greater local flexibility combined with appropriate Anglican order. So, in seeking to encourage and support both new and more established preachers, the diocese is committed to equipping all those engaging in this important ministry – whether in formal worship contexts, giving a talk at a Family Service or anything in-between.

Why Authorised?
Preaching has always been at the heart of the life of the church and a focus for its unity and its mission. With this comes a significant level of responsibility. This kind of ministry is not something you do on your own, but as part of a team of ministers led by and accountable to your Incumbent.
While the ‘cure of souls’ is shared between your Incumbent and the Bishop, your Incumbent will have been discerning a preaching gift in you and encouraging you to develop this. The Bishops wish to be linked with you in a real way as you begin to share this ministry in the church. They wish to offer you encouragement and support by giving you their blessing and authorising you to such ministries.
Authorisation is needed because preaching in Anglican churches is governed by Canon Law and normally restricted to those who hold a bishop’s licence. So, while someone who preaches once or perhaps twice on a very occasional basis is fine, if you preach more often or more regularly than this, formal authorisation is needed in order to remain legal.

What will Authorisation mean?
To begin with, you would receive a letter from the Bishop giving you permission to preach in your parish or benefice for an initial period of up to two years. This means you can preach legally while also engaging with some initial training. During this time you would become part of a team of ministers led by your Incumbent, to whom you would also be accountable.

Is training provided?
Absolutely! Preaching matters; and we owe it to each other to fan the flame of God within us and nurture the gifts and skills with which he has blessed us. However, the requirements for those authorised to preach are consciously designed for maximum flexibility and minimal burden.
The Bishop’s initial authorisation releases you to begin the training you need to do. Essentially, this amounts to:

  • attendance at an approved preaching course (We are doing one in Milton Keynes in the summer!)
  • a 1500 word assignment on preaching
  • three sermons, with constructive feedback on these from a selection of people in your church.

Sometimes training is best undertaken before starting a new ministry; but it can often be more beneficial when you have a little experience already under your belt. In this way you can learn from your experience and, also, at the same time, apply your learning to your experience.

Our new Deanery Preaching Team will meet three times a year for mutual support and learning. We will help each other to meet the training requirements and work through any issues.

After initial training
On successful completion of training requirements within this initial two-year period, the Bishop’s authorisation then becomes renewable on a regular basis, every few years. While further training is not required for future renewals, ongoing learning is certainly encouraged.
All authorisations (whether initial or renewal) are also dependent upon you holding a valid Enhanced DBS Disclosure, and upon completion of appropriate Safeguarding training (currently the ‘Leadership’ safeguarding module which replaced ‘C3’ in 2020).

How does all this fit in with the Parish?
While it is the Bishops who authorise you to preach in your parish, they do so only at the specific request of both Incumbent and Church Council. The Bishop will need to know that you have this level of support and that you will be part of a team with other ministers in your church. This team may also include associate or retired clergy, for example, or Licensed Lay Ministers. These will all have undergone significant training and, often, will be licensed to minister in various ways, not only in the parish but also more widely within the diocese.

What next?
Talk to your church leader and together contact us to explore the best way to take things forward. Further information, and an Authorised Ministry Handbook is available on the diocesan website at:

https://www.oxford.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Is-God-Calling-You-Preaching-v9.0-Jan-2020.pdf

If you’re ready to go and have no further questions, ask your incumbent if they are happy to write to your area bishop once PCC agreement and safeguarding requirements are in place.

For more information, please contact us at admin@mkdeanery.org

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Meet the Candidates

There will be a General Election on December 12th.  As Christians we are called to play our part as members of society.  For some, this means standing for election, but all of us have an opportunity to engage positively and vote.  We are therefore organising an Assembly with our partners in Citizens MK.  This will be an opportunity for us to talk about the issues that our members are most concerned about, to listen to what the candidates have to say, and to ask questions.

It’s really important that we get as many people there as possible, so that we can show how much we care.  The issues that our members will raise will be:

  • Mental Health – the top priority identified by MK Deanery
  • Climate Change – a Diocesan priority and a big concern for local schools
  • Refugees – which has been a big priority for us as churches since 2015
  • Hate Crime – which is a big issue in our diverse city
  • Fair Work – which is about the way people are treated by employers

If you want to know more and book a ticket, please see Eventbrite

This is an important opportunity to speak to people who may have the power to make a difference.  We want to have a positive relationship with the MPs in Milton Keynes – whatever party they may belong to.  This will be a way to build that relationship so that we can work together with them for a better MK!

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Thoughts Following the Funeral of the Late Bob Cross

Last week I attended the funeral of the late Bob Cross, Churchwarden for many years at the Cross & Stable Church, Downs Barn , and also for Stantonbury and Willen Ecumenical Partnership (SEP) as a parish. Bob was also a member of Deanery Synod for many years, and through that became a personal friend and a source of encouragement.

Thanks must go to Rev Dr Sam Muthuveloe, recently licensed as Minister at the Cross and Stable Church, and also to Rev Peter Green, retired minister and also member for retired clergy on Deanery Synod, for arranging and leading the service, which was both moving and uplifting, and recognised the manifold ways in which Bob had sustained and influenced the congregation and the partnership over a great many years, as well personally.

Different things will move different people, but the one of the things that stood out for me was the way in which Peter turned to coffin and personally thanked Bob at the end of each of the points he made. It was a moving tribute to their deep and abiding friendship and drew in those present to make it a communal offering of thanks for a life well-lived.

Dr Sam’s explanation of the reasons for coming together for a funeral service was something I had not actually heard in a service before, and I felt was of enormous value and comfort to the family and mourners alike, and gave everyone something to think about, or hang on to, in days to come, particularly the emphasis on grieving.

Bob’s brother Jim decided to speak only of the way in which Bob had had a major impact on his life, starting at an early age when their father left to fight in the war. I don’t think I was alone in wishing he had had time and opportunity to tell us more, and this is something I feel is only just starting to change compared to other countries I have lived in, where opportunities besides the funeral service and wake for coming together to remember and reminisce are a valuable part of the grieving process.

I was startled and fascinated in equal measure to hear about how Bob and Jim learned how to shoot a real gun – at ages 6 and 4 respectively (relating this immediately to my own grandson who is 4 years old!). I never knew that Bob went to Sandhurst, and through the eyes of his family saw what a successful and amazing life he’d led. However, Bob’s success was hardly surprising in light of what else we learned, which was of the courageous way in which, aged only 6, Bob protected his little brother by standing up to his grandfather for what he felt was right. That was the one thing which spoke to me of the way Bob lived his life: with courage, fortitude and integrity.

Bishop Steven encourages us through the Common Vision process to learn to listen to God and to one another to become the kind of Church we are called to be: more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous. I see many examples of the wonderful ways people express compassion for one another in their daily lives, and there seems to be a greater sense of the value of contemplation in listening to God and to one another in a world filled with loneliness, increased isolation and mental health distress. The call to be courageous, to stand firm for what you believe in no matter what the personal cost, was demonstrated by Jesus and led to the cross. From a very early age Bob showed he was not afraid to live his life with that kind of courage.

Rest in peace Bob, knowing you have run the good race. You will be greatly missed.

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Annual ‘Ride & Stride’: Saturday 14 September 2019

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 ninanewton1632@gmail.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.

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Willen Church Sleepout to Help the Homeless: Saturday 14 September 2019

The church of St Mary Magdalene is hoping others will join them in highlighting the problem of homelessness in our city with the Big Sleepout event which will take place overnight NEXT SATURDAY, 14 September outside Willen Pavilion.

Please email willensleepout19@gmail.com 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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please advertise this event as widely as possible!

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World Refugee Day

You are Welcome!

Thursday June 20th: To celebrate World Refugee Day meet us at 6pm at the MK Rose in Campbell Park for a short ‘gathering’. Deputy Mayor Andrew Geary to attend.

 6.30pm onwards at MK Gallery event space (short, accessible walk from the Rose) for informal celebration, conversation, nibbles and soft drinks.

Come to both or either.

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