On 2 and 3 November, clergy, readers, readers in training from came together for a 2 day seminar to share experiences and explore together themes related to developing congregational life. The group came from 8 places in the diocese where new congregations are coming into being, or where long-standing congregations face new growth challenges. The common factor was that these congregations rely for leadership either on a new ordinand or on a lay leader, without the benefit of a supervising senior priest close by or even the proximity of an existing and established congregation. One participant was a postulant for Holy Orders, who is in an odd circumstance: exploring a vocation, but virtually no Anglican community for several hundred kilometres!
The participants were able to raise and discuss together a wide range of issues that congregations in our diocese face as they go through key moments of development and growth. The issues range from synodical and constitutional matters (how to arrange the first Annual General Meeting, for instance) to ecclesiological and missiological matters such as Anglican identity and ecumenical hospitality, nurturing volunteer commitment and stewardship.
Assisting me at the seminar was the Director of Training, the Revd Ulla Monberg, and the Diocesan Secretary, Mr Adrian Mumford. The Revd Ken Dimmick, priest-in-charge of St Catherine's Stuttgart, was our principal resource person.