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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Mission Development Seminar - A Pilot Project

In recent years my colleagues in the Ministry Team of the diocese have had to consider how candidates for ordination or readers in training could be supported, who are already functioning in sole leadership positions, without a resident senior priest to give supervision. In some other situations, licensed readers or newly ordained deacons and priests are de facto in charge of a developing new work and nurturing new congregations, functioning as "minister-in-charge". We are seeing this in a variety of places in the diocese from the Canary Islands to sub-Arctic Finland, from rural France to urban Turkey. I have proposed to my colleagues that we view this phenomenon, not as an anomaly or a problem, but an opportunity given to us by God, to be embraced and supported more fully.
The question we have wrestled with is how the diocese can offer the support, advice and oversight needed in such situations where new congregations and new vocations are organically linked (indeed often emerging together) or where new congregations are emerging under exclusively lay leadership. The Ministry Team came up with the idea of a Mission Development Seminar.
The members of the Seminar will be new ordinands, readers in training or licensed readers who carry responsibilities for new congregations, together with the Director of Training, the Diocesan Secretary, and one or two advisors on mission and congregational development, and myself. To save on costs we propose that the Seminar be bolted on to the twice-a-year existing Post Ordination Training sessions for an additional 24 hours, reducing travel costs, as many of the curates would be coming to the POT sessions anyway.
From 2 - 3 November this year we will run a pilot Seminar to see if a programme like this will meet the needs of those who are leading these new congregations.
The programme will focus on training and support for emerging Anglican congregations, addressing issues of church growth, congregational organisation, missiological questions and matters of Anglican identity. We hope that there can be mutual learning from the shared experiences across the diocese.
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