Deanery Strategic Plan

This is a living plan. It is designed to be descriptive, not prescriptive. As such, it may be updated periodically.

The purpose of the deanery

We understand the purpose of the Forest deanery to be primarily to support and sustain ministry and mission within parishes.

In particular, we seek to resource focal ministry in all our parishes

Our values

  • Committed to the Forest
  • Acting locally
  • Sharing and making connections
  • Seeking justice

The future we are currently in


  • Many parishes engage well with primary schools
  • Some work in secondary schools
  • Chapter in a good place
  • Strong sense of community
  • A number of examples of strong, innovative projects
  • Messy Church
  • Localised identities
  • Engagement with community
  • Some excellent versatile, warm buildings!


  • Aging
  • Not enough work in secondary schools
  • Lack of follow through
  • Clergy health and well being
  • Overstretched – (capacity)
  • Lack of funds
  • Lack of officers
  • State of buildings and numbers
  • Different views of the world e.g. priority of parish share, reserve policy

The Future

  • Decline is not inevitable, but the window of opportunity is narrowing
  • Capacity is weakening – both buildings and numbers
  • Ageing congregations, decline of model
  • Downward trajectory
  • Merging of churches

Opportunities and Threats


  • Access to public events institutions (CofE)
  • Work in secondary schools
  • Some excellent, versatile, warm buildings!
  • Community demand for space
  • Meeting of community and partnerships
  • Training
  • Thinking beyond Sunday
  • Create our own destiny


  • Fewer resources, less capacity, people
  • Growing admin burden (Safeguarding, faculties, fundraising)
  • Several buildings are millstones
  • Backlash from closures
  • Taking on too much
  • People develop other things to do
  • Someone creates destiny for us

Our vision

Allowing mission to flourish, primarily through the parishes; maintaining focal ministry and removing obstacles.

  • The church growing through
    • Continuing ministry through occasional offices
    • And new, mainly local, expressions of church
    • More outward facing and community focused activity
    • Focal ministry in every church
  • More ordained local ministers
  • All ministers supported and providing focal leadership in ministry and mission
  • Mission and ministry not undermined by buildings concerns:
    • More church in non-church buildings
    • The wider community supporting buildings maintenance and development
    • Some closures
    • A diocesan scheme in place for addressing buildings issues
    • Collective support
  • Working across the deanery on schools and hospital ministry and perhaps specific other matters
  • Churches characterised by hope
  • Good mental health and well-being, especially among ministers

Implications for resources – people and finances

  • Replace one stipendiary post in deanery with non-stipendiary focal minister
  • Training to be provided by local ministers
  • Better use of fundraising and grants applications
  • Schools work could generate some cost – using youth connectors to start building chaplaincy teams

Roles and responsibilities

Deanery Synod will hold the collective oversight for the success of the deanery strategic plan delivery.

Four focus pillar leads will facilitate and encourage activity in their area:

  • Focal ministry – Sarah Bick
  • Youth ministry – Steve Harrison
  • Buildings – Chris Witham and Bea Erskine
  • Training and support – Bea Erskine

Everyone across the deanery has a part to play.


  • Capacity proves lacking or the area dean and pillar leads have too much expected of them
  • Lack of buy-in from deanery
  • Plan doesn’t realise hopes for it


  • Commitment of deanery team to sharing tasks
  • Build plan into usual deanery process
  • Good engagement process
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Get involved

To get involved with the implementation of our Deanery Strategic Plan, register your interest through this link.