Puzzling away at how to engage the local parishes positively about the rate of change we now appear to face. The danger with stark confrontation is that it might produce denial or despair. The danger with ducking this is that it might not produce real awareness or action anyway.
We had our periodic Mission Area Planning (MAP) Group last night, with a representative from each of eight of the ten parishes in the Deanery. It noted that our present plan and budget is likely to produce an unexpected surplus in 2010 but nevertheless may not be workable by 2015.
The Group didn’t see initiating another round of formal discussions at PCCs and Deanery Synod as likely to take things forward freshly and purposefully. Instead it rather thought that we should get small groups here and there to see the point, akin I suppose to the Bishop’s language of ‘coalitions of the willing’.
The challenge would be to design, say, three sessions for those house groups willing to look at them this autumn or for parishes willing to run a study course then. The idea would then be to offer an opportunity when all these groups could come back together to feed back to each other, although the greatest impact would be if any perspective they develop ‘infiltrates’ discussions which will happen at places like PCCs and Deanery Synods.
I’ve written before of the way in which small churches like St Francis’ and St John & Stephen’s do in fact already have a plan about how to be potentially self sufficient ‘cells’ with limited external oversight and support from stipendiary clergy. A pattern of a small number of larger core churches each with a stipendiary priest and each with a few such cells around them would be one imaginable possibility for our future here. It would stands a chance of being both a vehicle for mission and retain some sense of visible Church of England presence in perhaps a dozen places including the more vulnerable parts of the area.
Meanwhile, this picture helps me orientate myself round the old postcard view from the Chapman monument in St Michael’s churchyard (which is there in the middle of the picture). The Farmhouse / Golf Club is hidden by trees but would be right of the large block which is the Hotel Elizabeth / Humber Royal. If the blobs in the old picture are actually haystacks or something similar they would be roughly on the hotel site. Toothill roundabout would be just left of the line of sight on the water tower. The view doesn’t then continue as far left as the old picture.