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Local Ministry Network Steering Group Update, January 2014 - Shared Ministry Network



  1. The purpose of writing to you is, first, to update you on some of what the Steering Group has been doing since April last year, aspects of which will be new to you; and, second, to invite you to remember that annual subscriptions to the Network are now due, please.


  2. President. Our new “Update”, which Penny Evans has been circulating by email, will have kept you aware of developments, I hope. So you will have seen that Bishop Alan Smith has very kindly agreed to become our President in succession to Bishop Anthony Priddis – who recently sent this by way of a valedictory message: I continue to hope and pray that the Network will be able to further encourage, as well as support, congregations and benefices in their collaborative worship, ministry and mission. It has been a delight for me to be associated with the work and such outstanding people. In the time ahead we look forward to working closely with Bishop Alan, who has written: I want to assure you of my commitment in support of the Network and of your Steering Group as we all strive to foster and further the development of local ministry from our smallest parish to our largest diocese. I wish you all well in this great adventure upon which we have been set.
  3. Conference. Plans for Holey-Wholly-Holy – ministering locally (Didsbury, Manchester, 13 to 15 November 2014) are progressing well. As well as having netted Revd Canon Dr Alan Billings (Lost church: why we must find it again), we are also expecting to have some scene-setting input from Church House, Westminster, a resident Conference Chaplain from ‘i-church’, and an attending Bishop. As requested at Coventry, we plan also on there being time for Diocesan Officers and other sectors to meet together. Our Treasurer and Conference organiser (Revd Dr Colin McCarty) has managed to secure an exceptional deal from the hotel: plenary, breakout and ‘dedicated’ chapel rooms, health club, gym and pool, plus of course board and lodging all for £185. We will be publishing a brochure with full booking details soon, but in the meantime we hope that you will start making colleagues, parishes and LMTs etc. aware of the event. Of course no matter how good a deal, £185 is still £185. To try and ensure as wide an attendance as possible, perhaps we could suggest that parish groupings, Deaneries or even Archdeaneries could collaborate and send a representative between them who could then report back; or maybe some form of part-funded subsidy could be made available? We sincerely hope that you will feel drawn to attend the Conference yourself and to commend it widely to others – including ecumenically.
  4. Wider Liaison. Mention of Church House reminds me that one of the Steering Group’s aims for the year is to develop our relationship with relevant officers there. I am pleased to say that Joanna Cox (national adviser for Lay Discipleship and Shared Ministry) will be attending our January Steering Group meeting. We shall be contributing to the wider consultation she is conducting that flows from the recent survey on lay ministry and lay development, carried out at the Archbishops’ Council’s request.
  5. Local Ministry Network Background Note. I attach a Background Note originally produced for Bishop Alan that you might find of interest. The note provides some history, describes the Network’s current situation and sets out our milestones and outline plans for this year. If there are errors or omissions please do let me know. As a relative new boy to the Network I am painfully aware of our lack of a coordinated corporate memory.

    Within the paper there are two issues that I should particularly highlight.

  6. Website. We all believe that the website should play a key part in enabling and developing a truly vibrant Network. We’d like it to be able to host discussion, raise issues, share ideas etc. It should also provide a virtual Library where those corporate memories I referred to can be stored and referenced. We have a pretty well-developed site map with which to revamp the site and we have a volunteer to maintain it. But we lack design and technical prowess – and money to make it all happen. Whilst we have ideas up our sleeves, plainly we don’t have the monopoly of all the bright ideas. So if anyone has any suggestion for how to take forward this vital aspect of the Network’s progress – or has a pot of gold – we would be delighted to hear from you, please.


  7. There’s no easy way to say this, so: subscriptions for calendar year 2014 are now due, please. The Network’s last General Meeting in April 2013 agreed that the Diocesan Annual Subscription should rise to £75-00 (from the £50 it had stood at for many years). Since our beginnings some 20 years ago, dioceses have supported our work with a small annual financial contribution. Dioceses who make the subscription receive a discount off the cost of attending the Conference. The Conference itself aims to be self-financing, with any surplus (generally very small) going to build up a reserve from which for example the Conference Hotel deposit can in due course be met.
  8. Subscriptions go in the main to meet the travelling expenses necessarily incurred by Steering Group members when attending meetings in Coventry. The Steering Group comprises three lay and three ordained all of whom are volunteers and who of course cover all other costs incurred themselves. Members have agreed that travel expenses are paid in a single lump annually; and where possible, business is conducted by email and telephone. However meeting together centrally from time to time at the Coventry Diocesan office, who generously do not charge us room hire, is obviously sensible. We should be very grateful, therefore, if you would respond to our Treasurer’s letter which requests payment of subscriptions and gives Bank account details. We are grateful for the support the Lichfield Diocese’s Finance Department gives us (again with no charge) by acting as our ‘Banker’. They have also very kindly offered to remind Dioceses of any subscriptions overdue for payment. I’m sure we all hope they won’t need to do that too often!
  9. It is worth noting, by the way, that there is provision for individuals to make a £10 personal subscription. Should you be aware of anyone wishing to contribute in that way, we should be very grateful if you were to encourage them.
  10. Finally, I want to record the Steering Group’s very real and seriously grateful thanks for the key role that Diocesan Officers play in supporting the Network within the Dioceses. Without you, the Network would really struggle – as would, more importantly, the whole Local Ministry venture:

Thank you.

Featured Image Photo by Kai Schreiber / CC BY 2.0