District Mission Development Plan

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In our mission and ministry in the District here are 8 areas of work that the Executive feel should form our priorities for the next three Connexional years, from 2018-19 to 2020-21, but be subject to annual review. They are in no particular order of importance and are ranked alphabetically merely for administrative convenience. In each area we commit to do this work safely, creating an environment and developing practice that demonstrates the highest standards of safeguarding practice.

1. Ecumenical work

It is recognised that the most effective ecumenical working is a helpful combination that takes place at a local level, supported by the ecumenical officers of the District and close colleagueship with senior leaders in our District and our Connexional and national instruments of ecumenism. The District will through the Chair and the Ecumenical Officers do all it can to enable and support this work. The Ecumenical Officers though their representative submit a report to each meeting of the District Executive to enable this work to be monitored and supported and endorsed as necessary. It is noted that the Chair has been appointed an Ecumenical Canon of Peterborough Cathedral and the link with the Trichy Diocese, India is being re-focused.

Targets 2019-20

  1. Urge every church and circuit to reflect together on the final version of the proposals of the Mission and Ministry in Covenant report and consider the implications in their context
  2. Support all churches and circuits to reflect on the final version of the report with their Anglican colleagues and invite their ecumenical neighbours to discuss it in an evening of food and conversation.
  3. Support all churches and circuits to engage and cooperate with their local Churches Together or equivalent ecumenical grouping.
  4. Plan for a joint visit to Trichy in April 2020 of the Bishop of Loughborough Rt Revd Guli   and the Chair of the District to support women in leadership in the Diocese of Trichy.
  5. Contribute, wherever possible, to ecumenical co-operation in missional planning e.g. FEASTS and New Housing Groups.

 

2. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

This plan recognises that the Northampton district is made up of communities that are gloriously diverse. The district has a great many countries of origin represented amongst our communities and significant numbers of people from a wide range of nations. We regard this diversity as one of our greatest treasures.  We wish to celebrate our diversity and ensure that our church structures, District committees and Synods reflect this diversity in both representation and leadership, candidates for ministry and local lay leadership.

The Chair meets regularly with a Reference Group of ministers of World Church heritage who serve in the District. Conversations with this group include planning an annual Service of Celebration for the fellowship groups and language congregations, considering a mentor scheme for lay and ordained ministers to support and enable their wider representation and leadership development.

Targets 2019-20

  1. In line with our new EDI policy ensure that suitable training is provided to all ministers and other church leaders by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Ggroup and Disability Advisory Officer on how to become a welcoming church to those of differing abilities/background.
  2. To increase more diverse participation in our representatives to the Conference and Synod, in our membership of committees and groups and those holding office.
  3. To map, celebrate and encourage participation in each local church/circuit in areas of dementia awareness, wellbeing cafes and support groups

 

  1. The district will initially seek to map the differing language groups worshipping in their mother tongues within our churches – either as part of the regular congregation or as separate worshipping communities using our buildings for their own worship purposes.
  2. Efforts will be made to update and complete the survey carried out initially in 2016.

3. Evangelism and Growth

i.Chaplaincy

There is a significant amount of chaplaincy work of varying types carried out across the district, some by ordained persons either on a full or part time appointed basis but much of the work is delivered by ordained staff in addition to their circuit appointments/responsibilities and with the support of a very significant lay volunteer resource.We will seek to provide suitable on going training to those undertaking the work and also training for those wishing to become part of the delivery of this work. This is with the aim of maximising the effectiveness of the work of evangelism carried out in our communities by chaplaincy workers.

Target 2019-20 

  1. Promote chaplaincy as a model of ministry for every circuit minister and encourage all ministers to give at least one session (3 hours) per week to community presence and activity outside the church to be reviewed and reflected on within the MDR process.
  2. Hold a Chaplaincy gathering in October 2019 of all our lay and ordained ( paid and voluntary chaplains) to offer support, resourcing and encouragement.

ii.Prayer for the mission of the churches

Recognising that all mission and ministry begins in prayer, we seek to encourage all Methodists to continue in prayer as we respond, and seek to help others to respond, to the Gospel of God’s love in Christ.

Targets 2019 – 20

  1. Encourage participation in days of prayer and fasting at the beginning of the Methodist year
  2. Encourage and resource all circuits as they participate in Thy Kingdom Come
  3.  Prepare to support and resource the connexional year of prayer for growth and evangelism in 2020 -21

iii. New places for new people

Recognising that there are many people who would not naturally want to belong to an existing Methodist society but who will nevertheless want to grow in Christian faith and be committed to a Christian way of life, we will seek to develop new relationships with new communities of people and to develop new Methodist, or ecumenical, Christian communities.

Targets 2019-20

  1.  Encourage the circuits to identify and engage with new communities which God could be calling them to work with and to do this ecumenically wherever possible
  2. Continue to encourage Methodists to consider any calling they may have to join the Methodist Pioneer Pathways or to begin pioneering work within their circuits
  3. Explore how the District can best support circuits in beginning new Methodist societies (or new ecumenical societies)

iv  Mapping exercise required of those churches and societies which might be described as vulnerable because membership is less than 12 and/or the buildings are difficult to maintain. 

v Growth of existing Methodist societies

We value and affirm all that is good about our current Methodist churches across the district and seek to encourage them as they sustain and develop faithful witness and mission in today’s culture.

Targets 2019-20

  1. Work with circuits as they encourage churches to develop their Growth Plans and to consider what needs to cease in order to focus on growth of all kinds
  2. Continue to offer training opportunities for local churches including Mission Shaped Ministry modules

vi. Sharing the story

Building on the new confidence which many are finding through Re-Imagine and Together Missions we want to affirm and participate in the Connexional emphasis on Evangelism.

Targets 2019-20

  1. Offer evangelism training to circuits (or gatherings of circuits)
  2. Encourage each circuit to join in with Together Missions 2020 and to include some evangelistic activity as part of the mission of church life throughout the year
  3. Engage with the Year of Testimony across the district

4. Interfaith.

The district exhibits significant diversity in number of ways, one of which being the very rich diversity in many parts of the district provided by the wide variety of faiths represented in our communities. In the times in which we find ourselves we need to ensure that we do all that we can to improve relationships with other faiths for the overall benefit of everyone in our communities.

Targets 2019-20

  1. Map the extent of existing interfaith relationships (both formal and informal) within our churches and more particularly circuits.
  2. Work with colleagues at St Philips Centre in Leicester to investigate ways in which opportunities for interfaith work can be developed in rural communities
  3. Develop work between our probationer ministers and trainee imams with St Philips and the Markfield Institute of Higher Education ( MIHE, Leicester) in Spring 2020.

5. Schools and Education work

It is probable that over the next ten years a significant number of new schools will be required in parts of the district due to the number of major new housing developments (see Our Context above) planned to be built in the district.

The Executive agreed in December 2017 that a business plan be scoped out to enable a proposal be submitted to apply for a Connexional grant to fund work with schools including the sponsoring of one or more schools in the district.

It is recognised that this is an area of work that requires specific skills and also will require significant input of human resources to achieve any meaningful impact on the opportunity.

Targets 2019-20

  1. Based on the consultation work commissioned by the DE in Spring 2019 we will  follow through, as appropriate, on the findings of the consultation .
  2. This may include, subject to the application for and awarding of grant funding, appoint a district schools officer to lead this work.

6. Social Justice and Public Issues

Methodism has long held that there is no holiness that is not social holiness following John Wesley’s comment that  “Holy Solitaries” is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers.  The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness. As a District we wish to encourage each local church and circuit to pay attention to the people who are on the edges or margins of their context. We seek therefore to become truly welcoming and inclusive church – whatever that may mean in each locality. We celebrate existing work in the District with food banks, community fridges, Winter Night shelters for the homeless, street pastor schemes and services supporting those with mental health concerns. We believe that the love and grace of each of our local church communities should overflow into the wider communities of which we are a part and throughout the world we inhabit.

Targets for 2019-20

  1. To map the level of current involvement in each circuit in the District with those who are or have been homeless
  2. To consider linking circuits to mentor those less experienced in establishing night shelters and meal provision, wherever possible, for the homeless.
  3. Develop a District policy regarding the current climate emergency and a suitable response to it in our context and ways of working

7. Supporting Superintendents, ministers and lay workers

The pastoral care of all ministers, both active and supernumerary, is one of the key duties of a District Chair. It is recognised that this is an extensive district geographically and the Chair believes that her primary focus should be on care and support of Superintendents who in turn should care for their ministerial colleagues both active and supernumerary and also widows of ministers/supernumeraries. She is committed to meeting, visiting and caring for all in these groupings wherever possible. It is recognised that pressures upon ministers seem to increase inexorably as the level of lay support is decreasing in many areas due to a smaller and older membership. Training events for circuit and church stewards will be provided to help them support their ministerial and lay staff as effectively as possible.

Targets 2019-20 

Following the appointment of the District Vocations Officer and creation of the District Vocations Support ( Discernment ) Group

  1. Continue the development of and delivery of lay Worker resourcing including a programme of development and a retreat for Lay Workers.
  2. All ordained staff to be encouraged to take sufficient rest time, quarter days and holidays.
  3. To discern together what we should cease doing and be focused on what are clear priorities in mission and ministry.
  4. Supporting all Superintendents to conduct annual MDRs for ordained circuit staff and to receive an MDR  
  5. Facilitating all Superintendents to be in supervision, to develop their supervision skills and gain approval as a supervisor and to develop supervision implementation plans for their ordained colleagues.  

8. Developing Local Preachers and Worship leaders

Much of the preaching and worship leading in our churches is heavily dependent upon our accredited and in training local preachers and worship leaders.

The district will work with the Learning Network staff to seek ways to support and endorse the loving service offered in preparing and leading worship week in and week out in our churches.

We will provide suitable training opportunities to enable them to continue their personal development and learning and help to increase their effectiveness in their role and also their effectiveness in evangelism. All this will be done in co-operation with our District Local Preachers and Worship Leaders Secretary.

Targets 2019-20

  1. Recruit at least 44 (2 per circuit) new local preachers and/or worship leaders, including some aged under 40.
  2. Recruit extra and support existing tutors and mentors ensuring that there is at least one tutor and one mentor in each circuit or a sharing arrangement in place with clusters of circuits.

Monitoring

This plan will be subject to formal annual review and revision as needed. Monitoring of performance against any and all agreed measurable targets that form part of this plan will be a standing item on the agenda of each meeting of the District Executive with reports being issued to the Spring and September Synod. From August 2019 the District staff team will examine measurable targets preceding each District Executive.

 


District Office

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