Date: 18 October 2022
James Parsons read John 17:20-24 and opened the meeting in prayer.
Chris introduced Keith Elford. Keith is one of the facilitators supporting the development of deanery plans across the Diocese. Whilst we have an Area Dean vacancy, Keith will be taking more of a lead role and supporting us to develop our plan.
The Deanery Strategic Review
Aims, process and current status in the diocese
Led by Keith. Download Keith’s slides:
What has happened in Forest Deanery
Chris recapped the process that hass led to here since 2019. Several rounds of thinking, developing and sharing plans has been undertaken. The pandemic and other issues have caused the development of the plan to be stalled.
Q&A / Comments
- Engagement with the wider community. Really important but how?
- How can we serve the community. What do they want from the church?
- What’s the most time we could have so that we can create time for community engagement?
- Can’t compare what’s happening in the city compared to the rural areas. Awre only has 52 houses. Small gatherings, relationships.
- Asset based communities, we could work out the groups and make plans for how we take them forwards
- Timescales look tight particularly with the landscape of the Forest.
- We are rubbish at sharing best practice. At archdeacons visitation they identified two people who were experts in youth that you could ask questions of. We need to be better at this.
- Has a steering group already been formed for this within our Deanery.
- Not a great spread of age groups around the room.
- Where are we now?
- What was previously captured and what can we share.
Reflections on the deanery and its parishes/churches post-Covid
Discussion in small groups.
- Different circumstances in different churches
- Getting people to volunteer is difficult and common across many churches
- Communities with lots of people in need
- How do we find the energy to move things forward?
- changes in congregation numbers, agraphobia, house bound people who have now been able to engage with hybrid services
- IT takes a lot of time. Maintaining websites takes energy. Needs volunteers.
- There may be a reduction in numbers if services are moving around and people can’t travel. Loss of habit.
- Some Messy Churches have stopped. Some have started. Some are growing.
- Ukraine, some communities welcoming refugees.
- Opportunity for the gospel message and for those conversations to take place online.
- Funeral directors are very busy
- Couple of large new estates, taken welcome packs, not too much response yet.
- Aging congregations.
- Some parishes/Benefices doing live streaming
- Some loss of activities
- Prayer groups, quite a few regular prayer groups established and some taking place online
- Started a habit of prayer during Covid.
- Where we’re at services wise. Some back to usual patterns. Some not back to that yet. Some continued online services. Some weren’t able to do online services during Covid.
- Some Benefices in interregnum.
- Lots of members still not happy to return to church.
- Move from services in every church to a service in the Benefice each week.
- Mixed picture.
- Can online help with people not wanting to go out?
- How can we share resources?
- Community use of buildings, warm hubs.
Plenary, next steps, inc. membership of steering group.
The existing steering group includes:
- Keith Elford – Facilitator
- Chris Witham – Deanery Lay Chair
- James Parsons – Deanery Treasurer
- Mike Barnsley – Cinderford with Littledean
- Sarah Bick – Mid-Wyedean
- Lorna Theophilus – Bream
If anyone is interested in joining the steering group, please contact Keith or Chris.
Bishop Christopher closed the meeting in prayer.