To Love Christ
Make Him Known
How might they look?
In October 2013, Diocesan Synod passed a motion charging the Deanery
with the following task regarding the proposed new Diocesan Ministry Strategy:
in dialogue with parishes, the Bishop and ecumenical partners,
to explore the local implications of the Strategy, including the shape
of possible Mission Communities, and to report back to Archdeaconry and
Diocesan Mission & Pastoral Committees."
Our Deanery Mission Community Shaping Group (which includes members from
our ecumenical partners) has now explored 'the local implications of the
Strategy, including the shape of possible Mission Communities', and this
leaflet is part of our dialogue with the parishes in the light of that
exercise. The feedback we receive from this dialogue will inform our report
to the Archdeaconry and Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committees, which
must be submitted by 18th September.
A Reminder of the Background
The background to his exercise is that numbers of available Clergy will
drop by 25% over 10 years (from 2013). The concept of mission communities
is an attempt by the Diocese to manage that decline in clergy numbers
whilst maintaining, or perhaps even enhancing, our capacity for mission.
The basic idea is that the church becomes less clergy-dependent by engaging
in fully developed every-member ministry, which will include a greater
emphasis on lay ministry and self-supporting ordained ministry ("SSM").
It will also involve greater investment in 'pioneer' ministry - ministry
specifically focussed on outreach to those parts of the community we don't
reach through our current ministry structures and patterns.
We decided to begin by identifying the shape of possible Mission Communities
by facing the reality of what stipendiary ministry we can afford and then
assessing the local implications of the strategy on the basis of that
likely reality. At current figures, our existing parish offers would give
us a ministry budget of £301,711, whereas our current ministry costs
(if all our vacancies were re-filled) amount to £442,000, based
on Diocesan figures. Clearly, living within our means together with the
likely reduction in available clergy is going to demand a significant
change for Appleby Deanery, regardless of what strategy we adopt for the
Our analysis began with a series of presentations to parishes in Jan/Feb
2014, as part of which we collected information from the parishes which
allowed us to identify such matters as lines of allegiance between parishes
(e.g. shopping, doctors, work, etc), existing church relationships and
fractures and future grouping preferences.
We also conducted very wide-ranging research into the health, ministry
capacity and outreach potential of our congregations. This included analysis
of regular church attenders (by age category), ministry resources available
(lay and ordained),occasional offices (e.g. weddings and funerals), current
worship patterns, outreach initiatives (parish MAPs), small groups (e.g.
prayer, bible study/discussion, choirs etc.), schools, denominational
links, state of buildings and Parish Offers.
We also conducted wider research into our context, including parish populations,
local geography, secular statistical information on our economic profile
and secular allegiances within the Deanery.
We identified a number of key principles that have determined how we
translate our research/analysis into a vision of the future. These principles
- Church is the people, not the building (or the clergy). Therefore:
- 'Ministry' is the work of all the baptised (baptism, rather than
ordination being the primary authority for Christian ministry).
- Any strategy must help the whole church to re-discover its vocation.
- We must provide opportunities for each Christian to grow in faith
and use their gifts in Christian service.
- Christians belong to one-another. Therefore:
- We must have open (non-exclusive) boundaries.
- We must work together as the Body of Christ for the Kingdom of
- Clergy should not work alone.
- The better resourced should support the less well resourced.
- Christianity is intended to take root in the local reality of people's
lives. Therefore we want to see:
- living church in every community.
- No planned church closures.
From this, we concluded that the best model for achieving our principles
with the available resources was an 'umbrella': consisting of a strong
'hub' able to support the weaker edges via a series of strong spokes.
In practice, this means that each mission community should be able to
support the weaker congregations within it by sharing resources with the
strongest 'hub' congregations and any strong local congregations. Our
analysis identified the following in our deanery:
- 2 major hubs at Appleby and Kirkby Stephen;
- smaller hubs at Morland, Orton & Shap;
- a good number of strong local churches and a small number in need
The model envisages that each Mission Community will have at least one
'hub' and a sustainable distribution of other local congregations.
The Ecumenical Dimension
Because the different denominations are starting from different points
and proceeding at different rates, we have agreed to develop so as to
meet Anglican needs in the here and now, but allowing for ecumenical going
together on an organic basis over time when relations develop and the
legalities and practicalities allow. What follows therefore will apply
only to Anglican congregations in the short to medium term.
In addition to our own principles, the Diocese required us to account
for the following in our planning:
- Main objective = to resource the church to grow disciples;
- Minister to every person (including: pastoral care, diversity of worship,
baptisms, weddings, funerals and opportunities to grow the Christian
faith.) especially through SSM & other innovative ways of providing
- Collaborative ministry - encouraging clergy and lay people to share
their gifts across deaneries to the benefit of all;
- Financially realistic - based on a commitment to giving in the spirit
of generosity and sacrifice so that ministry can be provided in all
parts of the county;
- Based initially on informal collaborative arrangements, with formal
pastoral reorganisation taking place later once legal options are available;
- have the agreement of all the different church communities to be
- encourage at least one new style of church community within the Mission
Community, e.g. church plant, fresh expression, pioneer ministry;
- Provision for administrative support;
- the effective, creative and financially realistic use of buildings;
- at least 20% reduction in paid ordained ministers;
- 30% of available resources - including time and energy - to be deployed
in pioneering ministry (including the Network Youth Church minister).
So how might it look?
On the basis of the objective evidence applied to the umbrella model,
our preferred option is to propose 2 Mission Communities, centred around
the two major hubs:
- The northern part of the Deanery would be served from Appleby, with
added energy from Morland. It would include the current Heart of Eden,
Leith-Lyvennet, and Askham with Lowther & Clifton with Brougham
groupings, plus Warcop and Musgrave.
- The southern part of the Deanery would be served from Kirkby Stephen
with added energy from Shap and Orton. It would include the current
Kirkby Stephen and High Westmorland groupings, plus Brough.
Each Mission Community would therefore have:
- 3 Stipendiary Clergy:
- 1 Mission Community Leader - (initially Anglican; 70% leadership/pioneer;
30% traditional ministry, eventually but not immediately, based
in Appleby & Kirkby Stephen);
- 1 Anglican focussing on pastoral care (70% trad. ministry; 30%
- 1 Methodist minister (initially informally);
- High-level paid administrative support (plus poss. volunteer basic
- Part share of Deanery Network Youth Church Leader;
- Growing numbers of SSM clergy to support sacramental life;
- Local churches overseen by growing lay ministry teams (some teams
including SSM clergy).
What do we gain from this?
The only alternatives to this proposal currently available are (a) simply
enlarging benefice/section groupings as vacancies arise; or (b) the initial
Ministry Strategy model whereby a Mission Community is based around a
single stipendiary. We believe our model, though still consistent with
the Diocesan Ministry Strategy, has several key advantages over either
of these alternatives:
- It achieves the long-held deanery principle that clergy in our remote
rural location should not work alone. This is a genuinely collaborative
- It provides some traditional stipendiary ministry to enable the transition
to Mission Communities;
- It invests in administration thereby releasing clergy time
for their core calling;
- It invests in pioneering work thereby helping the mission of
the church beyond our traditional reach;
- The focus is on the ministry of all Christians with clergy
focussing on enabling the whole church to re-discover its vocation;
- It achieves better value for money by spending some of our
ministerial budget on specialist ministries such as administration and
pioneering (including better resourcing our Network Youth Church);
- It is financially responsible, accepting that we can no longer
justify being subsidised by other deaneries;
- It is ecumenical, yet flexible - it plans for a Methodist
minister in each Mission Community. Also, the Anglican Mission Communities
would mirror Methodist sections, so that organisational unity can follow
more easily from local ecumenical initiatives - growing together from
ground-up, rather than top-down;
- The stronger can support the weaker - we no longer face a
straight choice between overstretching our clergy or closing/merging
churches. By pulling together everyone can have a future;
- It builds on the past - existing patterns of allegiance (including
current benefices/sections) remain intact (except in the case of Brough,
Musgrave & Warcop where local requests have been taken into account).
When will it happen?
The short answer is 'when it can'! Full implementation of the
Ministry Strategy, with all its legal provisions is likely to take around
10 years, but the problems the proposal addresses affect us right now.
Accordingly, we expect local implementation to begin informally wherever
and whenever it can, recognising that it will proceed faster in some places
than others and that full legal implementation will take approx. 10 years.
What happens next?
Diocesan Synod votes on 11 October 2014 to decide whether implement the
Ministry Strategy. If it does, then Appleby Deanery will begin the work
of finalising and implementing our plans for Mission Communities in this