Deanery Consultation at Old Alresford Place Wednesday 2nd July by Revd Alex Pease

It wasn’t a particularly good evening for the residents of Itchen Valley to attend a Deanery Consultation, even on so important a subject as the Deanery Mission Action Plan ( coinciding as it did with the opening night of the latest production of the Southwood Players – Relative Values.  However some of us did manage to get there.  But given that the venue was totally packed out, it was probably good that our representation was er…quality rather than quantity!

The evening opened with a presentation by Bishop Tim on the dMAP process.  Our task for the evening was to come up with ideas so that we could engage with the culture of our times (taking into account the urgent need to grow God’s church; patterns of ministry (ie a lack of clergy and the need for lay ministry); church buildings (helpful but a drain as well); social engagement (how we can be outward facing not inward looking) and resources (not enough and being used in too limited a way) in ways which fulfil the Diocesan Strategic Priorities: 1 Growing authentic disciples 2 Reimagining the church 3 Being agents of social transformation; 4 Belonging together in Christ.

Bishop Tim pointed out the short pamphlets which explain this entitled Mission Strategy ‘Becoming a Mission Shaped Diocese’ Living the Mission of Jesus which are in each of our church buildings.  Please do read these!

Then we broke up into groups round large tables for an exercise called ‘world cafe’.  Each table had a facilitator, a question to answer and a large number of blank posters and felt tip pens.  The felt tips were to write down our solutions to the questions raised.  The questions raised and discussed on the tables were as follows – according to the four Diocesan Strategic Priorities:

Priority 1 We grow authentic disciples.  How can we help Christians to share their faith more passionately, confidently and courageously?

Priority 2. We re-imagine the Church.  What do we need to do to promote pioneering ministries amongst the missing generations?

Priority 3. We are agents of social transformation.  What do we need to do to demonstrate loving faith in our local communities and overseas bringing healing, restoration and  reconciliation?

Priority 4. We belong together in Christ, practising sacrificial living and good stewardship.  How can we increase our resources and use existing resources more wisely to build the Kingdom both here and abroad?

On the tables that I sat the questions were:  How can we get our people to be confident about sharing their faith with others (an unbelievably scary prospect but not so frightening if all you have to do is to share your own experience of faith)?  How can we reach lost generations (seems to be about going to them – seeking their place of need – a cool place to be and hang out for the young/relationship education for the middle aged and companionship for the elderly)?

After a frenzied period of talking and scribbling (that was just me) we moved round to other tables and spoke to others on another subject.

It was fun.  We got to meet people from the other parishes and discovered that they are much like us really….

The results of these discussions will be produced as part of the Deanery Mission Action Plan to be issued in the Autumn and, I think, to be presented to Deanery Synod and PCCs.

If you want to know more about these discussions please speak to either myself or Rebecca Fardell, Tony Gaster or Gerry Stacey.

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