Chelmsford South Deanery Vision Plan 2017 -2025
Chelmsford South Deanery Pastoral Committee would like to thank all those who – in two rounds of consultations with PCCs, two workshops and considerable work by the Drafting Group – have contributed to the creation of this vision.
The Church of England is facing many changes both now and in the future and deaneries are being asked to prepare for these changes so that mission and ministry can thrive and prosper in the future. The Diocesan Vision statement, ‘Transforming Presence’ set out one of the four strategic priorities to be ‘Re-imagining Ministry.’ It is in this context that Chelmsford South Deanery, alongside the other deaneries in the Diocese of Chelmsford, has been set the task of formulating a vision plan from 2017 – 2025. The key priorities of ‘Re-imagining Ministry’ include mission focus, improving health and well-being, increasing collaboration and team working, strengthening congregations, developing licensed ministry, recognising and celebrating the ministry of all and addressing the availability of stipendiary (paid) clergy. It is expected that in the future that there will be fewer stipendiary clergy (due to significant numbers of retirements, not matched at the moment by the number of those entering the ordained ministry) and therefore there is a need for parishes to work in different ways. Mission and Ministry Units are a way of ensuring that every community is served, that resources are deployed strategically, and that there is room and incentive for growth. Chelmsford South Deanery has a range of different parishes, both urban and rural, and a mix of different traditions but by developing Mission and Ministry Units we believe our parishes can and will thrive in terms of ministry, mission and vocations.
One of the key differences between the existing patterns of working and formulating units will be that there should be no isolated ministers or congregations. Each ministry unit will have at least 2 stipendiary priests, who – with other leaders – will form a “Unit Team”. Particular functions or ministries will be shared among the team and qualified lay people are likely to support managerial and chairing functions as well as other aspects of ministry. We expect that Units will be given responsibility for finance (eg decisions on parish share), though at the time of writing no firm decisions have been made by the Diocese of Chelmsford as to whether (or how) this will operate.
Each viable congregation and its associated building(s) will have a “ministry team” of locally rooted leaders, responsible for leading worship, preaching, evangelism, pastoral care and serving the community, supported and trained by the “Unit Team”. Each congregation will also have an appropriate structure for oversight such as a PCC or DCC, as now. It will be important to recognise, celebrate and make full use of ordained and lay ministries (such as SSMs and LLMs) for the building up of every Church community. The aim is to work towards a situation in which each worshipping community will have an evangelist or an evangelism enabler, access to administrative support, and a wide variety of authorised lay ministries.
This process is not about spreading limited resources ever more thinly or simply amalgamating Churches together in ever larger teams. It is about ensuring that no priest has to work in isolation. It is about growing and nurturing local ministry. We commend the leaflet “Mission and Ministry Units, A Simple Guide” - http://www.transformingpresence.org.uk/resources/mmu.pdf; this vision is entirely complementary to the process exemplified in the leaflet.
Units may be of many kinds, and we have no wish to push one model on all. Some Units may link parishes fairly loosely. Such a Unit would take responsibility for proposing to the bishop how clergy should be deployed, and for levying parish share (responsibilities presently taken by the deanery), and the clergy would work together, but the members of the parishes would probably not perceive the Unit as greatly impinging on their lives – much as the deanery operates at present. Since many of the responsibilities of the deanery will be redirected to the Units, we envisage rather fewer deanery synod meetings and a reduced profile for the deanery.
Some Units are likely to link their parishes together quite tightly. In addition to taking on the functions of a deanery listed above, they may wish to operate much like a strong form of Team Ministry, and may even wish to join together regularly for Sunday worship; members of the Unit Team may take a leadership role for specific areas of life (eg pastoral care, evangelism or vocation) across the whole Unit. Some Units may even mix tighter and looser bonds. Thus, for example, our proposed Unit 3 below encompasses Great Baddow with two Churches from Chelmsford North deanery, the Great Baddow parishes would remain in a Team Ministry with one another, to which the other parishes will not belong. All of this is entirely proper within the flexibility of the Unit system.
Ecumenical links are extremely important, both where formal agreements exist (eg at South Woodham Ferrers and at Little Baddow), and Unit formation may include formal recognitions of other Churches; the deanery will support any such proposals.
The theological background for Re-imagining ministry
The Book of Acts records that there was a special event that took place at Pentecost. At that time the disciples of Jesus were gathered together in Jerusalem unsure of what their future would be, when all of a sudden the Spirit took hold of them and enabled them to speak in tongues, and that speaking of tongues is understood by the author of the Book of Acts to mean speaking in all of the languages of the world. So with the power of the Spirit behind them, the disciples of Jesus immediately began a missionary campaign and started bringing people into the fold, converting them to belief in Christ. And from that time forward the mission moved ahead, directed by the Spirit and by all of the apostles who acted in concert with one another and agreement with one another. That's broadly the picture that we get in Acts.
The Christian movement probably began not from a single centre but from many different centres where different groups of disciples of Jesus gathered and tried to make sense of what they had experienced with him and what had happened to him at the end of his public ministry. We can see in the Book of Acts that there were many different groups operating. Today also, there is a wide range of reasons why people choose to come together in the mission of Christ, and our proposed Mission and Ministry Units are like these centres, where we might expect such diversity. They reflect the desire for people to spread the gospel in different ways, as well as joining others for support.
Elders – analogous to what we are calling “ministry teams” - are mentioned in a number of New Testament passages. Individuals such as James had a significant role in the Jerusalem Church and the Council of Jerusalem. In reference to Churches in Antioch, Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, Paul appoints elders [Acts 14:23] as a key step in organizing a new Church and instructs Titus to appoint others [Tit 1:5]. Paul spoke directly to the elders in Acts [Acts 20:17] and warned them to "be on guard for themselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers, to shepherd the Church of God.”
The New Testament offers more instruction regarding elders than on many other important church subjects such as the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Day, baptism or spiritual gifts, and their duties are laid out in several places. In the majority of the references, the word for elders is plural and word for Church is singular, suggesting that the pattern in the early Church was for a plurality of elders in each local Church. These were to be shepherds to their flock, setting an example [1Pet 5:1-3] - just like shepherds, they were to feed their flock [Acts 20:28], to work hard among them and to reprove where necessary [1Thes 5:12-13] and to care for the spiritual and physical needs of church members. Elders are considered rulers over their flocks [1Tim 5:17][1Thes 5:12] and their judgement to be submitted to [Heb 13:17] not so that they can be "lords over God's heritage," [1Pet 5:3] but because they are to give account to God for the spiritual character of their Church. [Heb 13:17]
Elders must be able to teach and preach sound doctrine and rebuke those who are teaching error, so that false teaching doesn't creep into the Church.[1Tim 5:17][Tit 1:9-13] To this end, a “trans-local team” – analogous to what we are calling a “Unit Team” - is essential to train and appoint others.[Acts 14:23][1Tim 4:14][Tit 1:5] Above all, local elders and trans-local leaders are both to serve with humility, remembering that their position is a picture of Christ as the chief shepherd [1Peter].
So there is a long history of vocations, of people appointed to take responsibility and serve in the Church in various ways. These are perhaps summed up in the words of Ephesians 4 v 11 – 12, “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”
Our Deanery Vision is for the people of Christ to come together in maturity, using talents for mission, guided by the Holy Spirit. Implicit in this is that ordained and lay should work together to achieve God’s mission on earth.
Southwest Chelmsford Churches Chelmsford South
Moulsham St John
Moulsham St Luke
Electoral Roll 500
Unit 2 Chelmsford South
Bicknacre and Woodham Ferrers
South Woodham Ferrers
Electoral Roll 720
Unit 3 Chelmsford South
Great Baddow Team Ministry
Springfield Holy Trinity
Electoral Roll 680
Unit 4 Chelmsford North
All Saints Springfield
Great Waltham & Ford End; Great & Little Leighs, Little Waltham
Pleshey/ Retreat House
St Augustines, Springfield
Electoral Roll 800
There are four notes that need to be added.
First, Unit 1 – Southwest Chelmsford Churches – is not closed to conversations with other parishes about becoming a larger entity.
Second, the parishes of Downham, South Hanningfield and Ramsden Bellhouse are not listed in the table above. This is because we have not yet been able to discern the passions and preferences of these congregations. Clearly it is crucial that these Churches are part of a Unit, whether one of those listed above (Unit 2 might seem the most obvious and indeed most of the PCCs in the Chelmer Crouch Group have explicitly stated that they would like to welcome the Downham benefice), or one that crosses a deanery boundary. However it would not be fair to another group of Churches to “give them” parishes that do not want to be included in this way! There is a sense of urgency to finalise and make these decisions, although each PCC must make decisions individually. It goes without saying that we have no wish to form Units except where all parties are in agreement.
Thirdly, mission priorities must not be forgotten in the midst of reorganisation. The leaflet Mission and Ministry Units, A Simple Guide speaks of “mission priority areas”, and we strongly recommend that all Units, as they begin to form and decide what Councils and other decision-making bodies they will have, make their first agenda item the identification of a Mission Priority Area. This might be a geographic area in need of a new Church or expression of Church, but it might equally be a sector of the population that we are being called upon to prioritise in service and evangelism. We believe that this mission-mindedness will be crucial for giving each Unit an outward-looking identity.
Finally, a note about the appointment of new clergy. It is our expectation that all other Churches in a Unit should be consulted in some way before a new incumbent is appointed to any post in a Unit. As well as deciding on “mission priority areas”, we suggest that Units discuss how they will ensure this consultation at the earliest possible moment – possible structures include an agreement to have a “parallel interview panel” with elected members of the other Churches in it (as is the practice of Southwest Chelmsford Churches), or an understanding that the Bishop will consult the other clergy before the appointment is made (as in the Chelmer Crouch Group).
Several PCCs requested in our consultations that we provide a list of Ministers (other than stipendiary clergy) across the deanery. We are glad to do so as far as we can, but would stress firstly that most of these people are volunteers, and it is not within our power to “deploy” them even if that were desirable, and secondly that we do not have a list of authorised youthworkers, evangelism enablers and authorised preachers (we believe the numbers are presently around 50). With these caveats:
Minimum Stipendiary Numbers in Chelmsford South Deanery
With almost half the national total of paid clergy about to retire, every deanery has been given a target figure for the number of paid clergy they will have in 2025. Our figure is 7.4 (ie 7 full-time paid clergy and two house-for-duty posts). These figures relate ONLY to those Churches that are in Chelmsford South Deanery as of now – of course, where Churches from other deaneries join Units their existing deaneries will need to “contribute” paid clergy to those Units too. Remember that the figures given are a minimum number of paid clergy in 2025 – several PCCs expressed a hope in their consultation responses that a high number of ordinands in the next few years will mean that deployment could be higher than this. We share this hope.
Boreham: 0.5 (ie one half-time post)
Unit 2: 1.9 (ie 1 full-time, one half-time post and two house-for duty posts)
Great Baddow: 2
South-west Chelmsford: 2
Downham, Ramsden Bellhouse and South Hanningfield will have 1 stipendiary post, at least in the short-term. This does not mean they do not have to join a Unit somewhere.