Visitation 2000 - The Bishops' Charge to Parishes
from the March 2001 Parish Magazine, St Mary & St Nicholas Leatherhead, with All Saints
In May 2000 the Bishop of Guildford visited his whole diocese deanery by deanery. The climax of each visit was a service for clergy and churchwardens at which he challenged parishes to deepen their ministry in four areas:
- and Resources
In September PCCs were required to define their strategies and priorities for coming years, and to report to the Bishop by January 2001, outlining these and the action planned to fulfil them. Our PCC has now submitted their response to the Bishop giving their strategies and realistic targets for action.
Small groups of members have been appointed to be responsible for the agreed action under each heading. Our strategies and targets are as follows:
A Worship strategy had already been defined by the PCC over recent months, namely "to provide a range of styles of service to cater for different ages and needs, seeking to keep a right balance between the traditional and the new".
In particular, the PCC is anxious to make our worship accessible to newcomers.
A Worship group of clergy and lay members will monitor the development of our new services; they will encourage and prepare more young people to take an active role in services; and they will link regularly with the existing team responsible for preparing and presenting our Family Worship services.
Since a key part of our ministry must always be to welcome newcomers, and to help them to feel part of our parish family, the PCC decided to adopt a specific strategy and proposed action on this subject.
A small Welcome Group will therefore "Review and improve our welcome to newcomers throughout the church, and devise ways of offering further contact, follow up and support as appropriate".
This will include "seeking to ensure that there is a culture of welcome within the whole congregation, to all those attending church services and parish events."
The group will also seek to develop ways in which Baptismal families and Wedding couples are followed up, including establishing annual re-union services.
The strategy here is:
- To deepen faith in all its aspects.
- To create a better understanding of scripture in its application to daily living amongst the congregation."
The worship group will also follow through this strategy. They will consult the congregation over subjects on which they would welcome further teaching in services and in discussion groups.
The Witness Strategy covers three areas: -
- Shared witness with Churches Together in Leatherhead.
- Service to meet local community needs.
- Overseas missions and emergency appeals.
Whilst continuing to support activity in all these areas, the PCC wishes a 'Witness group' to focus particularly at this time, on development of work and witness with children, young families and young people, and action is being developed in this respect.
The strategies here will be co-ordinated through the existing Standing Committee of the PCC. These cover three aspects: -
- People - time and talents. Welcoming and encouraging the contribution of people to the service and care of the church.
- Seeking to use our churches and halls as fully as possible for community benefit, as well as a source of income.
- To establish a Concerts and Exhibitions Committee to develop further the use of the churches and halls for this purpose.
- Finance - this strategy is "to seek to meet our financial commitments to the Diocese as part of our overall parish management, through Planned Giving, fund-raising, and maximising income from buildings and assets".
Whilst clearly the PCC wishes to accept their responsibility for contributing to Diocesan and central expenses, in view of the very steep existing and projected rise in our Parish Share, we could foresee our inability to meet the anticipated Diocesan demand - possibly in 2002, and certainly in 2003, despite our recent budget increase in planned giving.
The PCC therefore decided that these points should be made in our response to the Bishop, and that we should :
(i) request greater realism by the Diocese of the achievable levels of Parish Share, and
(ii) that serious consideration should be given to the balance to be struck between the financing of local needs and initiatives, and the costs of the diocesan departments.
These are our agreed goals. The Groups are now meeting, so watch this space for developments!
Helena Hill, Churchwarden