The churches in the Louth area are trying to adapt to at least some of the new ways of working which the diocese would want.
They have not made the whole deanery into a single Team Ministry, nor have they designated a single Minster with a small college of priests serving the wider area, but they have made sure that the incumbents outside the Louth Team Ministry all live in the villages closest to the town so they can all meet to pray together every day. They also have one Deanery Office which is where, for instance, Funeral Directors have easy access for making arrangements rather than seeking to track down individual clergy through their answering machines.
And, most significant of all, the clergy share responsibility for specialist areas of community engagement and ministry rather than simply being designated as parish G.Ps each faced with the temptation to minister more to their churches than their parishes. For example, in the Louth Team Ministry itself, the Team Rector is active in the District Council’s Strategic Partnership and a new Team Vicar has a brief which includes the world of education across the deanery.
We know about this in particular because we said farewell to our Curate on Sunday as she goes off to join them. I was able to say, at a single service for the whole parish here, that of all the Curates I have known Sue Allison has been the most thoroughly reflective, determined to think through and then improve upon whatever she has done, and even insisting on a final supervision with me in her final week. There were several people in tears at the service, and I shall miss her as much as them.
She will now give 60% of her time to an ark of villages north and north west of Louth (from Fotherby to North Somercotes), as Priest-in-Charge of what were until quite recently two separate benefices served by two full time priests, although they have both been in vacancy for quite some time now. She will also give 40% of her time to the agricultural sector, and I know she has already made links with the weekly market, the community nurse who is based there, and the ‘rural stress’ support network.
With such a good and likeable priest and a good and necessary plan they may well be on to something in a way we are not yet managing here.