The following comments have already been made below - please add to them when your PCC has discussed this issue!
1. It may perhaps be true to say that the role of Christian leadership is to prepare God's people for works of service (Ephesians 4). But realistically the role of deaneries is to manage meagre resources of finance and personnel, persuading the parishes to give more and more and receive less and less. Facing up to this issue and being honest about having to close or amalgamate parishes in the near future would be much more effective than debates on women as bishops or gay divorcees as clergy.
2. I just wanted to say how refreshing I find this kind of simple, visionary document. It has a capacity to inspire and my vote is for not only adopting it but living it out in every aspect of our discipleship.
3. Comment 1, I'm sure you aren't saying that Ephesians 4 has no relevance at deanery level, but I do agree completely that we need to be honest about the issues that face us on the ground.
4. In that case, why is the next synod debating women in the episcopate, a subject that neither relates to the "vision" nor has anything to do with the local realities in the parishes of the area? Sorry - I'm a grumpy old man.
5. Am I alone in noting that this statement makes no mention of inclusion or creation care? At a time when these issues are highly controversial in Anglicanism worldwide, the draft mission statement above seems to me to be unbalanced in its individualism and "evangelical" feel. This deanery has not been explicitly evangelical in the last few years, and I would hate it to become so under new leadership.
6. First line of values should read
"affirmation of God's delight in, and love for, all creation" -
otherwise the preposition is wrong.
I'm a paid-up pedant. Other than that, I'm very supportive of this statement (as long as it gets acted on).
7. Roger (comment 5) would hate the deanery to become uniformly evangelical, and others would hate it to become uniformly any one other thing. But the problem with the whole concept of a deanery vision statement is that it pushes the deanery towards uniformity, unless of course that statement is so broad as to be meaningless. Perhaps we ought instead to recognise the variety within the deanery of visions for the church, and agree to respect one another's visions.
(ordinary member of Meadgate, Great Baddow)
8. (Andy) Thank you all for your comments so far - I hope there'll be plenty more.
Roger and Peter, I promise you that I have absolutely no interest in making the deanery uniformly anything at all, and the vision really did flow naturally from the parish submissions from churches of all ecclesiatical bents. Yes, we should certainly respect each church's vision and not try to "push" one another.
On the other hand, the entity called "Chelmsford South deanery" does, for better or worse, exist. It's part of the decision-making structures of the Church of England, it has responsibilities for oversight, and it is expected to use its influence. I for one am the sort of person who needs to be clear about why am doing what I'm doing, and needs to be inspired by a sense that God is calling me to something beyond my natural inclinations - for me, the draft deanery vision provides exactly that sort of clarity and inspiration.
One example: synods for next year. Of course, Christine and I and the standing committee could just invite a random set of speakers and have a random selection of debates. But if this vision is adopted, we will be accountable to make sure that synods deal with how to equip every member to serve their local community and how to equip every member to tell of God's love, with a balance between these two aims and with nothing that does not contribute to them.
Another example: levying the parish share. I'm determined that this needs to be a "vision thing"; we have hundreds of thousands to collect, and we need to do it fairly and in line with our purposes as a deanery.
What do others think?
9. (Andy) Roger, your point above was taken into consideration by the subcommittee, and we have added a new line to the "values" section accordingly - we hope you like the new version more than you did the old one!