Diocese of Derby

St. Michael & All Angels

Ministry and Mission Area

Our Area Vicar Trevor Hicks (Vicar of Bolsover) writes on: THIS MMA BUSINESS

For the past two years the Diocese of Derby has been wrestling with the problem of reducing numbers of stipendiary clergy and the problems of maintaining ministry in many areas of our Diocese in the light of present day costs and resources. The overall title of the exercise is Renewing Ministry.

The most important matter before us all is the Mission of the Church. This means sharing together with others the Good News of Christ's Gospel. Too much concentration on cutting back finance and personnel will necessarily blunt the edge of mission in which the whole Church should be engaged. Instead new ways, along with a re-evaluation of old ways, are needed in order to rise to the challenge of maintaining adequate ministry and mission in Derbyshire in the twenty-first century.

Groupings of parishes and a fresh look at their ministry have followed and we decided a little while ago to seek a closer working relationship between our particular parishes. We are now working towards the establishment of our own Mission and Ministry Area including all the parishes mentioned above. There is little argument that in these parishes there is enormous potential in the general population and the church membership for growth in Christian leadership and service and in worship.

It is true that, eventually, the number of stipendiary clergy will reduce from three to two. At the moment we are fortunate in having three fulltime incumbents and also the expertise and ability of Terry Williams, Curate of Bolsover. Things are fine at the moment.

This is the time when we shall be looking at the implications of losing one priest from the grouping. We shall need the cooperation and knowledge of our Wardens and PCC members in this and also the discussions centring on our Steering Group which has representation from all our parishes.

The financial implications of Parish Share will become an issue within the MMA as will the necessity for that share to be apportioned among our parishes. We shall also be looking at the provision of worship throughout our church buildings and hopefully building a pattern which ensures that the needs of the faithful and of parishioners generally, can be met.

This will almost certainly mean fewer services across the board where the ministrations of a priest are required. However, there will also be opportunities for a wider group of people to become involved with the preparation and leading of worship both locally and across the grouping.

We cannot avoid the fact that things are going to change and that they will be driven by availability of clergy and of finance. However, this is very far from a negative situation. With prayer and sacrament at the centre of all our planning and efforts we may trust that God will provide for his Church and lead us into new and exciting ways. It will be a journey of faith and maybe we shall take a wrong turning or two along the way, but the end of the road will surely be the Kingdom of God.

Well I hope and pray it may be so, but I am convinced that, as clergy, are already richly blessed in you, with whom God has called us to begin the journey.

Thank you all for taking those first steps with us.

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