Sunday, 30 September 2012

Ministry Plan Workshop

The regional council met on Saturday, Sept. 29th for a workshop from 9:30 to 1 to discuss and review the Ministry Plan.  The goal of the workshop was to review how far we've come, and assess next steps to be taken over the coming year.

The workshop was facilitated by Tasha Carrothers, the Deanery Ministry Plan (MAP) Associate from the Synod Office.  The members welcomed Patrick Blaney, newly appointed priest of the worshipping community at St. John’s.  The workshop opened with song, a bible reading, and a prayerful hymn, led by Rev. Sarah Tweedale.

We then reviewed the progress we've made on the five main focuses of regional council: Neighbourhood engagement, Ministry Centres, Shared Ministry Team, Congregational and Deanery Development, and Stewardship of Resources.  After hearing reports on Council's progress, members expressed their views on the pace of imnplementation of the plan.

Generally, the consensus was we're doing fairly well on the shared ministry team, but progress has been slow in the areas of neighbourhood engagement and congregational and deanery development.  The model in place for guiding us for Ministry Centres and Stewardship of Resources were flagged as needing review.  The results of this survey led to a discussion on priorities which encapsulated most of the meeting time.

As those who have followed the process might expect, the biggest point of emotion and contention was the buildings.  There felt like some consensus around the room that we currently have too many buildings for the number of parishioners we currently have.  And from there, as one might expect, differing opinions were offered.

There was feeling among some in the room that since all five parishes are running at a deficit and facing declining enrolment  that it behooves us to act with urgency to get on with making the tough decisions to reduce physical plants to free up monetary and people resources to get on with making the tough decisions.  Others in the room felt that as a region, the individual parishes are still getting to know each other, and rushing to sell buildings and consolidate parishes will distress parishioners and drive them away, compounding and repeating the problem.

The ongoing issues of financial sustainability of the individual communities, the excess of church buildings in the Deanery when compared with current church attendance, and the need to establish tangible action plans of neighbourhood engagement were discussed at length. Priorities were explored and an appropriate sense of urgency established. It is fully recognised that positive change does not occur easily. Setting up appropriate action plans and guiding the decision making process in these areas is undoubtedly a challenge for the Regional Council.

A Formula for Change

Tasha, our most adept facilitator, referenced the following formula, which encapsulated the hesitancy for this kind of change:

C = D x V x F > R

Change can happen when Dissatisfaction with the status quo, a Vision for the future, and First steps taken is greater than the Reluctance to change.

Around the room, some were clearly ready for change, while others were perhaps not dissatisfied with the status quo, or unclear on what the vision for the future is or whether it will work for them, or feel great reluctance to change because their buildings mean so much to them.

Next Steps

For the near future (1-2 years), the regional council has decided to focus more of its energy on building our ministries, and really engaging with our neighbourhoods under the guidance of the Rev. Patrick Blaney.  [In line with all members of the Deanery Ministry Team, Patrick has a clearly identified responsibility in the deanery as well as his role as priest at St. John’s; his deanery responsibility (40% of his time) is in the area of neighbourhood engagement]. In addition, we will work on further engaging the youth and families under the leadership of Laurel Dykstra, the newly appointed curate, and Stewardship of our resources, while still being mindful of the critical question of the future of the church buildings in the deanery.  It is anticipated that the evolving action plan for Ministry that the shape our ministry takes will shape the requirements of our buildings.

The members of Council are mindful that the Holy Spirit will guide us through this period of change.  The expressed special thanks to the people of St. John's for being such wonderful hosts, and to Tasha Carrothers for her fantastic job facilitating.  She kept the meeting well on track, managed the conversation, and got everyone engaged.

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