DIOSYN/08 /09A Future Faithful – The Next Steps The document being presented to Diocesan Synod on 8th November is and always will be a provisional one as we seek to go forward as a diocese, as churches and as individual Christians in a changing world. These are two chapters as yet unwritten and waiting upon the Synod – most of Chapter Four: ‘Where do we go from here’ with the sub-headings (4.1) Spiritual Heart (4.2) Going for Growth, (4.3) Yes to Young People, (4.4) Church in Community and (4.5) Ministry for Mission as in previous chapters. I hope the café style discussion while Standing Orders are suspended will contribute substantially to this chapter. Chapter Five will cover what I call ‘Critical Success Factors’, such as the number of stipendiary posts, finance, clergy housing, the future of the diocese, inter-faith relations and Presence and Engagement, training, ecumenical relations, diocesan administration etc. These are important and tend to dominate our discussions but they are secondary in relation to all that will have gone before. A full but draft text will then go to deanery synods ,of which most of us are members, for their comments on behalf of the parishes represented there before returning to the diocesan synod, hopefully with short stories and pictures added. This will then be presented to chapters and to churchwardens for their PCCs. I do not expect to ask PCCs to work through their own strategy; though there may be parts of the diocesan strategy they wish to focus on for their own benefit. I may, perhaps, invite further pledges for the Diocesan Day 2010 (and a reminder of the 2006 pledges), but I am not looking to divert them from their own priorities. The proposals which emerge in Chapters 4 and 5 will still need to be debated in detail at some time if they are Synodical or Board of Finance business. What we shall have will be more akin to the Queen’s speech (with apologies to Her Majesty the Queen). The document will, I hope ,be useful in any discussions with the Church Commissioners about funding for the diocese as this was where the idea came from in the first place, and also in Bradford’s Declaration of Intent should there be a discussion about the future shape of diocesan life in Yorkshire (or Yorkshire as was). David Bradford 16 October 2008 Future Faithful – The Next Steps (DIOSYN/08/09) Introduction The Christian life is often described as a journey or as a pilgrimage, but to where? We cannot actually go back into the past and time does not have a reverse gear, nor, in spite of the seasons is it cyclical. We do take our bearings from the past and in particular from Jesus Christ and from the way he inspired those who walked with him along the road, first from Galilee to Jerusalem, then to Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. Some people’s vision of the future is expressed depressingly in a line from the evening hymn “Abide with me”: “Change and decay in all around I see”. Another motto in relation to everything about such people including their attitude to the church is “As long as it sees me out”. No-one ever built a cathedral on that foundation, nor a worthwhile life. Christians live in defiance of change and decay. We believe in life after death and indeed in life through death; and our ultimate goal is experienced in such visionary ideas as the New Jerusalem and the Kingdom of God and Eternal Life. I carry around with me this poem by the Welsh priest R S Thomas and it never fails to stir me:- It’s a long way off but inside it There are quite different things going on: Festivals at which the poor man Is king and the consumptive is Healed; mirrors in which the blind look At themselves and love looks at them Back; and industry is for mending The bent bones and the minds fractured By life. It’s a long way off, but to get There takes no time and admission Is free, if you will purge yourself Of desire, and present yourself with Your need only and the simple offering Of your faith, green as a leaf. When I came to Bradford in 2002 I discovered a diocese living in cheerful defiance of the perception of the average outsider. How often did friends and colleagues respond with the comment, “Bradford – that’ll be a challenge!” Urban areas were and are becoming increasingly Muslim, rural were in danger of turning into a holiday theme park, and financial problems abounded (we were predicted to go into the red in 2007), St Peter’s House was in the headlines, and we had two struggling church secondary schools. What I saw and heard, however, when I toured around the Diocese during my first few weeks in office quickly heartened me. I met Christ’s holy people. This was, and is, a good place to serve the living God. I set out in general terms where I thought we should be going as a diocese in 2004 in my Bishop’s Charge under the strap line “Future Faithful”. I wrote then: “The badge.... has the strapline – I like to say vision statement – Future Faithful – with the “t”s forming a cross on the background of coloured panels. First we are a diocese that looks to the future. We are not blind optimists whistling in the dark. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead gives us hope in God even in the blackest of situations; it points to what shall be for the whole of creation. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Second , we are a diocese which seeks to be faithful to the living Christian tradition and eager to proclaim it afresh in this generation and in the various social and cultural settings we find ourselves, faithful to our calling in the Body of Christ. Third, the Cross is both symbol and signpost; the symbol of God’s boundless love for us in Christ and signpost for the Way we should follow. Fourth, the various colours remind us of the diversity of the Diocese, including rural and urban, but One in the hope to which we were called. I suggested in my Charge three tests we can make, three health checks to determine whether the diocese is in good spiritual heart; the vocations test, the numbers test and the financial test. (i) Vocations The ministry of the whole people of God is far more important than the ministry of any one section within the church, but, having said that, the number of people offering and being accepted for the ordained ministry gives some measure of the confidence people have in Christ, and in His Church. Over the past few years we have seen such a surge in people offering to serve in self-supporting (or non-stipendiary) ministry that we have forty in post compared with around five in 2002. More are also now offering for stipendiary ministry such that some are sadly having to transfer their ministry to another diocese. What gladdens my heart most of all is the fact that younger ordination candidates are once again offering themselves. (ii) Numbers During the first half of the Decade of Evangelism at the end of the last millennium, Bradford was the most successful diocese in the Northern Province as far as numerical growth is concerned, but since then our numbers have been declining. It does now seem that we are beginning to see the tide turning, though the variations are too small to mean very much. The following graph describes changes in average Sunday attendance and does not include attendance during the week. Don’t be deceived by the “smile”; it merely means that numbers are dropping slower! (iii) Finance Our giving is perhaps the most significant measure of our commitment to the Church. You continue to amaze me with your generosity. It puts the Diocese of Bradford at or very near the top of the league and other bishops sometimes ask me how we do it. We thought we had a financial crisis early in 2007 but even though a number of parishes fell short of their targets, giving continued to increase overall and we finished the year with a smile on our face. We have come through a significant period of change over the last four or so years as clustering of parishes has coincided with a reduction in the number of stipendiary posts. The sky has not fallen in as some people had feared and many of the changes are underway so that, subjectively at least, there seems to be a much more buoyant spirit around the diocese over the last few months. As I seek to chart a possible way forward for us as we continue to be “Future Faithful” I do so under the five thrusts that we focus on as a diocese, year on year – Spiritual Heart, Going for Growth, Church in Community, Yes to Young People and Ministry for Missions. I look at each under the heading (1) The Rationale, (2) What we have achieved and (3) Where we want to go. I then go on to look at other matters which, though secondary, are nevertheless critical to the success of Future Faithful, such as the future of the diocese, finance and our structures, to name but three. 2. The Rationale for Future Faithful 2.1 A Spiritual Heart We use images of an intensely personal and physical nature as metaphors for our deepest motivation, emotions and thought, none more so than the heart. We speak of heartfelt joy and of heart- rending sorrow. We express earnestness and sincerity from the bottom of our hearts and we sometimes give voice to the private thoughts which are “in my heart of hearts”. The Old Testament speaks of God promising His wayward people a new spirit within them, taking away their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh, a heart that beats with love for God and neighbour, a spiritual heart. A new heart and a new spirit is God’s gift to us in Christ, transforming us and making us the community He wants us to be. Come to Him (Christ) and let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … in order that you may proclaim the works of Him who called you out of darkness into His own marvellous light”.(1 Peter 2) Our hearts are really two hearts in one, the first pumping deoxygenated blood into the lungs and back to the second which pump the oxygenated blood around the body; so we have two heartbeats. Peter tells us we have two spiritual heartbeats, coming and letting ourselves be built into a spiritual house to offer spiritual sacrifices in order that we might go to proclaim the works of the One who called us. We have two heartbeats in the life of the Christian community which is being built up in Christ: worship and mission. In worship, we listen to God, pray, break bread, give thanks, meditate on His Word and participate in an adventure of discovering the dimension of the Spirit, inviting others to worship with us. In mission we bind up the broken hearted, feed the hungry, heal the sick, set the prisoners free, proclaim God’s Good News and make disciples. In both worship and mission we anticipate the Kingdom of God for which we pray in the prayer which Jesus taught us. We may have experienced churches, hopefully not in this diocese, with a gaping hole where this particular heartbeat of life should be. We also know of those communities of the saints past and present where we encounter God in a life-transforming, new heart way. It is not a question of churchmanship or whether the service is BCP or CW or “Iona” or “informal” but of the orientation of our hearts towards the One who was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and more importantly and quite amazingly, of God’s orientation towards us. It’s about opening our hearts to a big-hearted God. Throughout history the heart has represented the rhythm of life itself, its continuous and rhythmic beating ensures circulation of blood throughout the entire body so that we breathe and move and live. We are blessed with people and churches in the diocese and in our link dioceses who show us how to venture on our spiritual pilgrimage, people and churches with spiritual hearts beating to the rhythm of the One who is the Life, hearts that embrace the cross as well as resurrection, sacrifice as well as glory, so beware! Dom Helder Camara wrote: Pilgrim: When your ship Long moored in harbour Gives you the illusion Of being a house, When your ship Begins to put down roots In the stagnant water by the quay: Put out to sea! Save your boat’s journeying soul And your own pilgrim soul, Cost what it may. The Archbishop of Canterbury, when he spoke to our clergy and readers in July 2008, warned against thinking of spirituality as a separate esoteric area of our lives. He preferred the phrase “life in the Spirit”. “Every age has to re-discover life in the Spirit”, he said. “Life in the Spirit means growth, growth in awareness, not remaining at a childish level but moving finally to attain the stature of the fullness of Christ. Life in the Spirit carries with it responsibility”. He quoted St Anthony who said “my life and my death are with my neighbour”. “Life in the Spirit is marked by gratitude, a constant acknowledgement that I am a receiver, God is the reason I am where I am. God meets us and he connects us”. 2.2 Going for Growth Jesus believed in “Going for Growth”. Many of the metaphors in the gospels for the Kingdom of God and for the fellowship of believers refer to growth in some way or other – the mustard seed, wheat and weeds, “look at the fields, they’re white, all ready for harvest”, the vineyard, the vine. St Paul spoke of himself and Apollos as gardeners, helping the church in Corinth to grow (but God gives the increase) and both he and St Peter saw the church as a building under construction. The apostolic church seemed to grow naturally (or supernaturally) as ‘the Lord added to their number those who being saved’; and the same DNA which was in the first century followers in the Way, has passed from generation to generation down the history of the Church, though at times it has seemed as if the DNA has been damaged and that some sort of gene therapy is needed. “Going for Growth” could easily be the vision statement for the whole life of the diocese, as it is for the Diocese of Lichfield. A Spiritual Heart, Church in Community, Yes to Young People and Ministry for Mission are all vital dimensions of what is involved in a growing Church and they feed each other. There is plenty of evidence around that people have a spiritual yearning in their lives but they do not come to us to have it met. One of the contributory factors just might be that we are like a pub with no beer, that we ourselves in our life together are spiritually dry, or it may be that the way we give expression to “The Lord is here” or “The Lord be with you” is in such a culturally foreign way that we might as well be dry – the beer remains in the cask. I am always struck by the extent to which Jesus did something before he spoke; he performed signs of the Kingdom of God, whether miracles or other dramatic actions and people took notice – they wanted an explanation. In our Christian faith the Word of God is not held in a book but is made flesh and is seen and experienced in a person, Jesus Christ, and in Christ’s people. The Archbishop of Canterbury in his first retreat address at the Lambeth Conference 2008 quoted St Paul in Galatians 1:15, 16: “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man”. (Most Bibles mistakenly have “to me”). He challenged us to be Christ-bearers, and our parish churches are asked to be Christ- bearers, the Son being revealed in what we do together in and for our local communities. Then we may speak the Word. Young people en masse can be pretty scary. They are at a time of change in their lives in a world of change and they are open to new ideas, ready to dream new dreams, (unless proposed by their parents!). I came to faith from a non-Christian home in my mid-teens and many of us made some sort of significant step of faith around that age. I believe that churches that have no place for children and young people have no place for Christ. Their absense is a symptom of terminal illness. Their presence is a sign of life. Ministry too, very obviously, contributes to life and growth and it does not depend simply on having a good vicar except in so far as being a good vicar includes helping everyone to use God-given gifts as they mature in Christ. Robert Warren has identified seven “values” inherent in being a healthy church: being energised by faith, having an outward-looking focus, seeking to find out what God wants, facing the cost of change and growth, operating as a community, making room for all and doing a few things and doing them well. If these values are in the bloodstream then the church will grow (Healthy Churches Handbook). Christ-like quality of life is the key. Nevertheless, the Church still needs to look out, reach out and speak out with the Good News. We cannot hold it to ourselves. I love the story of the siege of Samaria in 2 Kings 7, how the Aramean army mysteriously fled in the night leaving food and valuables behind. The starving people in Samaria did not realise until four lepers decided to trust their luck with the Aramaens (they were going to die anyway) and made the amazing discovery of the camp full of food and empty of people. After filling their own bellies they realised they could not keep the good news to themselves but must share it. Our Sudanese brothers and sisters visiting us this summer thought us rather shy and lacklustre in our faith until they joined us at Bolton Abbey for that wonderful baptism and confirmation service and they rejoiced for and with us. The Baptist church in this country was in decline in the 1980s. Their national leadership sought to address this by adopting a threefold approach – church planting, process evangelism and having good practice. By 2000 their number had risen by 13%. The Methodist Church declined over the same period by 21%. Bob Jackson, who spoke at our 2008 Diocesan Day, has noted: “Baptists and Methodists do not live in two different countries”. Several churches in the diocese have “planted” extra congregations within their own parishes and have started services to meet the needs of a particular group of people but none have so far asked to plant churches across parish boundaries, except for the deaf church which transcends diocesan boundaries. There have, however, been diocesan Fresh Expressions initiatives where we have sought to build church communities among groups who do not slot easily into our parochial structures and legislation and the Missions & Pastoral Measure is now on the statutes to help us complement the parish system with churches/fellowships which can travel much more lightly than the average parish church. I am not for one minute wanting to suggest that every member of the Church in this diocese should become an evangelist but I long for the time when we all individually and corporately, rediscover the dormant strand of DNA that drives us to want to share God’s love in Christ for the world and especially for that part of the world in which He has set us, our own family and neighbourhood, our communities of work and leisure and to play our part as we can by the power of the Holy Spirit, who, according to Jesus, will give us the words to say. The role of the Diocese in “Going for Growth” is primarily to encourage and resource the local churches to be Good News agents, to help create synergies and exchange of ideas and experience, to help us engage with wider communities such as the city, the town, the district, and to enable mission among those who are otherwise outside the orbit of the life of the Church. 2.3 Yes to Young People Why should we focus particularly on children and young people? If I change the question slightly and ask – Why should our Future Faithful vision focus on young people? The answer is immediately obvious – the children and young people are our future. I think it was Archbishop George Carey who said what we all too easily forget, that every church is just one generation from extinction. Children and young people are also part of the church of today bringing their own enthusiasm and vitality and spontaneity – when we let them. Sadly we have all too few in our churches. One Sunday I went to a church that was in an interregnum to take a family eucharist and baptism. I was really looking forward to the non- episcopal service and I had my all age talk prepared. When I arrived I asked the churchwarden ‘how many children will there be?’ ‘None’ he replied ‘Unless some come with the baptism party. They all go to the Methodists’. I am delighted that the Methodists are doing good children’s work in that parish and I think we should take advantage more often of the good things our ecumenical brothers and sisters are providing, working with them where possible, rather than duplicating their work. But a church without children is severely impoverished. Now, praise God, a priest has come to that parish and within a very short space of time wants me to come and confirm some children. A few years ago the Church of England produced a report ‘Children in the Way’ and commissioned Nigel Forde to write a poem as the script for an accompanying video. It included these lines: Christ loved children so much that he said Whoever harmed one would be better dead Had we not better take them seriously And think hard what we’re helping them to be? What is a child? It’s worthwhile being sure, For their outlook – not ours- he called mature: Unless we are as children, we Shall bear no passport to eternity. Describe a child, then: simple? Passive? Gentle? A widespread view, but not one that’s parental! Yes partly true, - but mostly sentimental. Those who’ve had children know they’re pioneers, Tireless seekers, hungry for ideas: Questioners, ready to learn and solve a find, Committed, energetic, quick of mind. They trust, they love, but don’t use love or trust As an excuse to sit, grow dull or rust. If their imaginations are more clear Than ours, is it not possible they hear More clearly too? Are spiritually quicker Than many a teacher, youth leader or vicar? May they not hear the voice of God and shout it, While we get on quite nicely, thanks, without it? The church’s ministry among young people has three strands. First, we minister to them within the context of the family and its ongoing life together, because the Christian family in the best nursery for young Christian lives, and we want to be helping parents and grandparents bringing up their children in the faith as a first priority. I am not, however, an advocate of anything called ‘family worship’ because it sounds as if excludes people who do not live within a nuclear family even though this is not the intention, but I am in favour of worship which young and old can own together, and similarly other church activities. Perhaps we ought to ask more often than we do whether the way we order church life with all our various activities and events in fact works against Christian family life. Second we minister to children through Christian clubs. Ministering to children thorough their families presumes that we already have contact with the parents but this is the case for very few indeed. The Sunday School Movement as some of us remember it is a thing of the past, with the completely different pattern of Sunday life in Britain today and the lack of religious literacy among most of the population under 55. The love for children shown by those Sunday School teachers of years ago is still with us and is still foundational in ministry among the young and is leading us to do children’s work in new and imaginative ways and at new times which best suits the lives and culture of those we seek to reach, rather than fitting the needs of parents for a nap after Sunday dinner! In what is a recent development, local schools are now asking churches if we can run Christian clubs for them alongside their other extra-curricular activities. This is a heaven- sent opportunity. The third strand is that we minister to children through our church schools, of which there are over sixty aided or controlled schools in the diocese. These play a significant role in shaping the lives of more than 20% of our children. Church of England schools are not faith schools within the strict understanding of the term (unlike Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools) though we are often labelled as such. They are schools with a Church of England ethos which serve the children of the local community. They are part of our mission to offer children a Christian perspective on life and on learning together. Most other schools also welcome the participation of clergy and other church people in their life, such that the Church whose active membership is less than 3% of the population has the potential to introduce something of the love of God to nearly 100% of our children. Integral to our saying ‘Yes to Young People’ is caring for their physical and emotional safety. ‘Child Protection’ should not be seen as a burden and a restriction and an expression of lack of trust; it is our expression of God’s love and care for them through us. Nor should it be seen as a series of regulations but rather as an aspect of that care for children which goes deeper than a list of do’s and don’ts. And Child Protection also protects adults from false accusations which could otherwise have very sad repercussions. The role of the diocese is primarily to provide a support network for children’s and youth leaders who may otherwise feel isolated, to exchange information and ideas, to offer resources, especially those that can most appropriately be shared, and to give training or access to training. It is also to help identify synergies whereby churches or groups of people together might organise a group or activity or other initiatives which they could not manage on their own. In a society in which the youth culture is so different and so fluid and with a church that has few young adults I believe the diocese should be encouraging the appointment of paid youth workers; putting our money where our mouth is shows that we really do say ‘Yes to Young People’. 2.3 Church in Community When Jesus preached in his home town of Nazareth he set out the manifesto for his ministry taking his text from the prophet Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he has anointed me, To bring good news to the poor He has sent me to bring proclaim release to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind To let the oppressed go free To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4 18-19). The year of the Lord’s favour was the year of Jubilee which came every 50 years and when all debts were cancelled (good news indeed for the poor and those jailed for bankruptcy). It was the year which gave a taste of the freedom to be enjoyed in the Kingdom of God. And Jesus shocked the friends he played with as a child, his neighbours and his former clients by saying ‘Today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’. ‘Church in Community’ is about seeking to give tangible expression to Jesus’ ‘today’ in the communities served by the Diocese of Bradford. All of the major religions have their sacred writings but we do not all view them in the same way. In particular Muslims speak of Jews and Christians as, like them, ‘People of the Book’; we have a common heritage. It is Jesus, however, who is for us the equivalent of the Quran. He is the Living Word of God. The words of Jesus were a commentary on the Word of God expressed or enfleshed in the person of Jesus. Time and time again he gave expression to the Kingdom of God in today’s world and, as people’s interest was awakened, explained the Good News of God. And the Church is called to give substance to the Word of God in each generation. ’Kingdom of God’ speaks of a new world order- ‘He brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly (Luke 1.52) – a world where justice and righteousness prevail. The gospels tell us that when the risen Christ appeared to his disciples he often greeted them with ‘Peace be with you’. ‘Peace’ in Hebrew or Aramaic means much more than it does in English; it speaks of harmony and an integration within people and between them are illustrated for example in an orchestra or choir when everything comes right together and on the last chord all the musical tensions played out in the piece of music come to a resolution. Peace is never merely personal; it requires serious attentiveness to each other, our neighbours and our common welfare. The resurrection of the crucified Messiah was the ultimate sign of the Kingdom of God breaking into the here and now and the source of our hope that God’s Kingdom will come. The dreams of the Kingdom we seek to express are common to humanity. They are given contemporary expression in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (see appendix). How the Church gives expression to our hope in God’s Kingdom within the world will vary considerably according to each local situation and I believe that each local church should find at least one issue on which to focus, perhaps in partnership with neighbours. Some concerns, though, transcend parishes and the diocesan level. Ecumenical partnerships and partnerships with agencies with similar concerns come into their own, including with local authorities and national charities. Within the context of Bradford Diocese a number of issues leap out Interfaith relations and community cohesion (who is my neighbour?) Asylum and refugees (welcoming the stranger) Abuse of women Racial justice The impact of rapid change on rural life Climate chaos (of universal concern) We must model what we claim for ourselves as Kingdom people and as churches who seek justice and peace and who care for God’s creation. We must put our own house in order, living the Word of God before we speak it. 2.5 Ministry for Mission When Christ calls us to follow him he calls us not simply as believers but as disciples, as soldiers and servants; and our badge of office is the cross signed on our foreheads at our baptism. For most of us most of the time our service in Christ’s Name is played out in the house, at work, in the community – all sorts of places other than the church – and it is there that people see (or fail to see) Christ in us (Galatians 1.15,16 mentioned earlier). The Church exists for God’s mission, not God’s mission for the Church (Paul Bayes at the 2008 Diocesan Day). I think we often fail to appreciate this because our decision-makers are mostly imprisoned in the church without their realising that the door is open and they (we?) try to make everyone and not just themselves put all our energy into running the church rather than living and proclaiming the life of the Kingdom. General Synod has become the supreme example of this. The ministries to which Christ calls us are not fixed and immutable (even within the call to marriage there are changes in the way that call is lived out together). We all need to be asking the questions ‘What is God calling me to do now? Where is he wanting me to serve? Who is my new neighbour?’ As we respond to the answer so we grow in Christ and as we respond to Christ’s call together so the Body of Christ comes alive to the local community and to the wider world. And learning becomes as important as breathing. This is what ‘collaborative ministry’ is about, serving in a complementary and independent way, bringing the diversity of gifts God has given us together so that in the kneading together by the Holy Spirit two plus two make a wonderful fruit loaf. On the whole women do this collaborative business better than men. Ministry in the church, education in the faith and training in ministry should always be outward and upward-looking. The role of the diocese is therefore to provide such opportunities for education and training as are best sourced from a wider context than the parish, but we begin with the baptised disciple of Christ and work along from there. One starting point is the foundation of faith of the believer and the meaning of vocation in its widest setting. When we explore service within and on behalf of the church we encourage and help train God’s people for wide varieties of ministries and not simply for ordination. Only if we are open to sharing the diversity of ministries God has given us can we get anywhere near my dream for Bradford, of a Christian Community (ie a church) in every community across the diocese. Collaborative ministry in the diocese can refer to lay people taking on real responsibility together for developing and implementing a strategy for mission in their parishes, but it can also describe the partnership working with neighbouring church in the deanery or with nearly congregations of other denominations. Ministry for Mission serves the other four thrusts of ‘Future Faithful’ helping us continue as churches and as a diocese to whom God will say on the Great Day. ‘Well done, good and faithful servants. Enter the joy of your Lord’. 3. What We Have Achieved 3.1 Spiritual Heart At first glance this heading does not chime well with ‘spiritual heart’. St Paul, however, wrote about the fruit of the Spirit being ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’ (Galatians 5.23). There is an evident outworking in the life of the Spirit. We might therefore ask what fruit we see and taste. We rejoice and give thanks to God for the signs of life and growth I described earlier, and there is much more. Archbishop Rowan spoke to clergy and readers about the church as a place where profoundly unlike people come together. Where else, he asked, are such unlikely people held together? So the life of the Spirit finds a wide range of expressions across the diocese as we gather around the Lord’s table, read his Word together, pray for ‘the Church and the world and for all people according to their needs’. At the Diocesan Day in 2005 parishes brought forward their pledges. Of the 91 responses, 71 focussed on an aspect of developing a spiritual heart. More than 26 churches were looking to renew aspects of their worship, 14 were focussing on prayer, 19 on spiritual growth as well as many seeking to develop aspects relating to young people and to mission. The Spiritual Direction & Spirituality Resources Group fosters and encourages the ministry of spiritual direction, linking enquirers with directors, holding ‘taster’ sessions, running an annual consultation for directors and from time to time running courses in spiritual direction. We also have a diocesan Liturgical Group which successfully introduced Common Worship into the diocese and is now seeking to discern other needs of the parishes. Recently the Spiritual Heart Group was formed. It is planning the 2009 Diocesan day on the theme of Spiritual Heart and looking beyond then at ways of ensuring that we as a diocese do not concentrate so much on being people for God that we neglect to be people of God. We have a renewed interest in prayer for healing in the diocese. Gill Mack has a Fresh Expression component to her ministry developing Great Mitton church as a centre for healing; we are also developing prayer ministry in Bradford specifically for people of South Asian origin. 3.2 Going for Growth During the 1990’s church attendance in the Diocese of Bradford held steady when it was declining in other dioceses. This may have led to a certain complacency; we then experienced steeper than average decline for a few years. Now the tanker is beginning to turn, as our graph earlier showed; but this has not just ‘happened’ by chance. More and more churches are having special services for people unused to Christian worship, including café church, liquid church and extra mid-week services. We allocated four ‘Fresh Expression’ posts (Andy Bowerman and Chris Howson both full time and Gill Mack (mentioned above), Steve Grasham and Philip Gray part- time). The church for BSL users across West Yorkshire is regarded as ‘Fresh Expression’ Church, as is ‘Sorted’ led by Andy Milne of the Church Army. We have sought to support parishes who wish to go for growth (a) by introducing a factor in the share system which gives some relief to these parishes employing extra people in mission (eg. youth workers and families workers) or in releasing others for mission eg. church administrators; and (b) in using the Church Commissioners’ contribution for mission initiatives to create a ‘New Initiatives Fund’ to which parishes may apply for help (as well as to the already existing deanery devolved funds). Regular meetings have been initiated for people interested in evangelism; it is called the G4G Network. We have an enthusiastic and imaginative Going for Growth Group with two clergy seconded by their parishes to serve as archdeaconry evangelism advisers. This group helped plan the 2008 Diocesan Day on ‘Going for Growth’, Back to Church Sunday, the Leading Your Church into Growth Conference planned for March 2009, various training courses and the G4G Network. Some 130 churches had a ‘Back to Church Sunday’; this is quite astonishing for our first year as part of this national initiative. We have deliberately sought to reduce the length of our vacancies to six months wherever possible, because we recognise that long vacancies lead to loss of congregation; this involved losing around four posts (but not people!). What is important though, is not a list of achievements but rather a culture, a climate across the parishes of the diocese and within its organisations that regards growing as a normal part of life. 3.3 Yes to Young People The profile of children and young people has increased in the Diocese under Future Faithful. We now have 150 youth and children’s leaders receiving a monthly newsletter by e- mail (and the number is growing). We have around 30 paid youth leaders across the diocese, many of them going into schools. We have appointed two archdeaconry youth and children’s ministry networkers to support and resource these leaders. We have a designated ‘YES fund’ from which young people may seek funds to help them share their faith with their friends. Money comes into the fund from licensings and ordinations. Two youth congregations have been planted, ‘Sorted’ mentioned earlier and e:merge. ‘Open the Book’ has overflowed from Otley Deanery right across the diocese and is in great demand in schools as well as churches. Church primary and secondary schools across the diocese are flourishing with support from the joint education team based in Harrogate. The two secondary schools referred to in the introduction are now doing well and are a source of great joy instead of angst and taking in their full quota of pupils for year 7. Both Immanuel College and the recently opened Bradford Academy have half-time Anglican chaplains. Six primary schools are exploring links with schools in Northern Sudan 3.4 Church in Community Bradford has a growing reputation across the Yorkshire region and the Church of England as a diocese where parishes engage with the local community whether urban or rural with the result, for example, that the Church Urban Fund (CUF) sees us as one of the flagships for its work, has given us grant-making status and appointed Denise Poole as one if its trustees. Listed below are some of the initiatives we now pursue as a diocese. Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity (BCDD) - our ecumenical ‘virtual’ college for training people to build bridges towards people of other faiths in this country - has been in existence since 2005 and is gaining a national reputation for its courses and conferences (I shall shortly be hosting a couple of training days for bishops and the senior leaders of other churches). Bradford and District Faiths Forum has been established after considerable lobbying and networking by Sam Randall. It provides an important place of meeting for people right across the faiths. A wider network of relationships between the faith leaders is being developed to foster deeper understanding and greater mutual respect between faith groups. I recently signed a concordat with a senior Deobandi Mufti which, we hope, will be the first of many and could lead to much greater reciprocity among people of faith. A community development team has also been appointed, financed for three years by the Henry Smith Charity, to help parishes access further funding for local ministry and mission. Many of our churches include refugees and asylum seekers. The diocese supports them and others through the local ecumenical agency BEACON and through the work of the Mothers’ Union. The diocese has been the lead player in developing a project in Keighley to protect girls from grooming for sex; funding comes from charities. A women’s advocacy project has also been established in Bradford again with financial support from a charity. The diocese is seeking to build on the excellent reputation we gained during the Foot and Mouth epidemic in 2001. A number of recent parochial appointments in local areas have included deanery wide responsibility for supporting rural life and/or tourism. The diocese is promoting the conclusion of people with disabilities through the Disability Task Group and the Diocesan Disability Awareness Co-ordinator; already we have 91 local disability representatives. An elderly person’s group has also been established. We have recognised as a diocese that global warming, if it continues unchecked, will cause untold hardship and misery for future generations and the failure of the human race as stewards of God’s good earth. We have therefore committed ourselves as a diocese to promote eco-congregations, we have created a bulb library to help churches choose appropriate low energy light bulbs; we have promoted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘Shrinking the Footprint Campaign and the use of the green tariff energy supplies, and we have established a carbon off-set company whose income will be diverted towards helping churches to be more eco-friendly. The diocesan property committee is looking into ways of saving energy when it carries out quinquennial surveys of our (patronage)? 3.5 Ministry for Mission Ministry in many churches in the diocese has changed dramatically even in the last four or five years, partly because of the drop in the number of clergy available to be incumbents and partly because of financial pressures of providing clergy pensions; but ministry has also changed by design and through the call of God and his church to individuals. There has been a substantial increase in people selected for ordained ministry, both stipendiary and self supporting, as mentioned in the introduction. Some of the latter stay in their own congregation while others serve elsewhere. My dream is for a person (parson) in each place and we now have more than forty non-stipendiary clergy serving in the diocese. 2008 has seen a big increase in those starting training for the reader ministry We now tailor training for these ministries, rather than having one size fits all courses. We have negotiated local training at Kadugli House for ordinands as one track of the Yorkshire Ministry Course. One feature of this is that ordinands and readers-to-be train together; this has also been extended to the first year of in-service training. The changing structures and the bringing together of parishes into groups and clusters, together with our strong emphasis on the ministry of all God’s people, has led to many clergy assuming larger wider responsibilities. Some clergy relish this enlarged role, working with and enabling more than one congregation to realise their mission, but others have struggled to find a way of working which both meets the new situation in which they find themselves while at the same time doing justice to their original calling to the ordained ministry. We have begun to address this in terms of future ministry. We have appointed a half-time ministry development officer to support parishes in the creation of ministry teams in parishes or in groups of parishes. This work is beginning to bear fruit and change the character of our parishes. How does a small diocese like Bradford achieve so much with so few sector ministers? First, we have quality if not quantity, people who are gifted, work hard and make an impact. Second, we encourage stipendiary clergy to take on extra parochial responsibility for up to one day per week. All three of our DDOs operate in this way, for example. Third, we have several lay people giving generously of their time and their gifts to the diocese as well as to their parish. And fourthly, we believe as a diocese that being Future Faithful sometimes involves launching out into the deep. 4. Where do we go from here? Harold McMillan famously responded to the question “So, to what do you attribute to your success as a Prime Minister?” with the answer, “Events, dear boy!” Gordon Brown must be thinking the same one way or the other. When we plan for the future we have to take cognisance of the road along which we are travelling; the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the places we pass through, the weather and, perhaps most important, the companions sharing the road. The Bishop’s Council helped me to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the diocese, that is those matters that shape the life of our diocese and over which we have some control, also the opportunities and threats which currently present themselves which, like the weather, which can come upon us as predicted or alternatively may surprise us but either way, we can do little to change, though we can, (and do) respond. Our greatest strength is Christ himself, through whom we can do all things and without whom we can do nothing. “I will be with you to the end of the age” was his promise to his disciples. Difficult situations - and more of these shortly - take us back to basics and to what really matters most. I have observed over the past six years an increasing commitment on the part of God’s people to adventurous service in Christ’s name. I am coming to appreciate more and more the opportunities for mission associated with being the Church of England, and of having responsibility, at least notionally, for the spiritual wellbeing of everybody everywhere regardless of whether they have a faith. And I perceive that our churches are increasingly conscious of the communities we are called to serve. In response the community is looking more favourably on the church as integral to flourishing locally. The Wedding Project has reawakened us to the opportunities offered to us by baptisms and funerals as well as weddings when we go the extra mile with people. Similarly, “Open the Book” has reminded us that when we have something good to offer, the local schools welcome us gladly. “Open the Book” is primarily an initiative undertaken by lay people working together and it illustrates another strength within the diocese - the wealth and skills offered to God by lay people. We rejoice, and rightly so, that God is adding more people into ordained ministry but I think THE BIG STORY, hard though it is to quantify, is the growth in the ministry of lay people. If only there were no weaknesses! We have to acknowledge that the church is predominantly white, grey haired and middle class, and it is getting older year by year (as is society, of course). The drop in church attendance over the years has left the burden of ministry falling on fewer and increasingly overcommitted the saints. The burgeoning of ministry I have just described is not uniform across the diocese and in some parishes there is an over-dependence upon the clergy and poor collaboration between priest and people. In these sad situations there is little reaching out into the community. Bradford is a diverse diocese and this should be an enriching feature of our life together; but there is a lack of understanding and mutual appreciation across the social and cultural divides. We have one or two twinning arrangements – between Giggleswick and Fairweather Green and between All Saints Little Horton and All Saints, Ilkley for example – but they are few and far between. Many clergy tell me they dearly wish they did not have responsibility for a church building. They (the churches) were built for a different era and some of those that have been reordered now need a further reordering. A number of Bishop’s Council members think that our current church structures are not fit for the 21st century. The Diocesan Synod, like our congregation, is predominantly elderly and may of the deaneries do not take up their full allocation of places. Too much time is spent on Synod’s procedures and its style and personality does not encourage collaboration and consensus. There is a lack of trust. I hope our ‘café style’ meetings will help change how we relate to each other, give voice to the silent and lead to Standing Orders supporting our deliberations, but like a skeleton hidden beneath the flesh of our talking and praying and deciding. The Bishop’s Council similarly seems to fail us as a church which God has called to be Future Faithful, not least in its lack of a healthy age and gender mix of members. Bishop’s Council carried out the SWOT analysis when the global financial situation was at its most uncertain; so it is unsurprising that this should feature as a significant factor. What is surprising is that it does so primarily under ‘opportunities’. A recession will disturb people’s complacency and lead them to re-evaluate their lives and their values in life, to search for meaning. Science will not provide satisfying answers. The church has a message of hope, of faith in the future under God. Some people’s lives will be broken by the credit crunch. We believe in a God who ‘saves people, bringing wholeness and healing to broken lives, forgiveness for people who cannot forgive themselves’. Recession will also disturb any complacency we might have as a diocese, particularly if it lists levels of giving; and again this will cause the church to reassess our priorities and make some hard decisions and will force the pace of change. (‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ according to Ovid (one of the few things I remember from school Latin)). If the level of share drops and/or the Church Commissioners reduce their contribution to the Diocese then we shall have to reduce the number of stipendiary posts and this will hasten diocesan reorganisation which is of itself both opportunity and threat. 2009 has been designated the Year of the Child. This may just be a passing breeze which has little impact on society and on the church but it may be like the cloud seen by Elijah’s servant the size of a man’s hand which became a torrential downpour on parched land. We have to keep our eyes open, watching for such clouds which may provide opportunities for the work of the Kingdom. The changing demographics in both rural and urban communities can be both opportunity and threat. We wait to see what impact the fall in house prices might have on the ownership of record homes in the Dales; they may cease to be an investment. At the moment tourism is in the ascendency, bringing more wealth to the area than does farming; so the tourism brief carried by some of our rural clergy is very relevant. In Bradford and Keighley we have a growing Asian population and refugees and economic migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe (and students from China). Wherever they come from they offer new and different opportunities for ministry and mission, but more and more of our churches will find themselves serving communities where the dominant culture is changing. The media plays an ever more important role in shaping people’s opinions; and it has a voracious appetite for stories and is addicted to issues where there is conflict, whether it be inter-personal, inter-political or inter-national. The local media is on the whole friendly towards the church – we see each other quite often. The national media, including some of the church press are a different breed altogether, and there are some issues, such as human sexuality, where the press give us a very negative public image. Nevertheless, if we are proactive with our news stories, we shall become established as useful newsagents whom they turn to regularly for Good News. Global warming can also be an opportunity for a threat to the church. We have already responded, albeit modestly, to the threat of climate change (as outlined in 3.4) but we have yet to feel the negative impact of the changes that need to be made now if we are to give future generations any chance at all of the life we take for granted. Graham Carey (a prophet without honour) urges us to live low energy lives now before even worse befalls us. We should not be surprised if opportunity and threat ride side by side on the same issues. The Chinese use the characters for these two words together to ‘spell’ crisis. Jesus proclaimed the crisis of the Kingdom of God – opportunity for some and threat to others. It was their call. So some heard him gladly but others crucified him.
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