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Synod News


January 2008


You are invited to the next meeting of the Brixworth Deanery Synod

at 7.30pm - Thursday 31 January 2008 at The Reading Rooms, Great Brington

The Reading Rooms are found in the centre of the village, at the end of the row of cottages

which includes the Althorp Coaching Inn. Parking Is available In the street and in the small car

park adjacent. Refreshments available from 7.15pm. Guest speaker - Barry Osborne


"The fields are white with harvest - hundreds of kids are ready to come to church!

Maybe we just haven't got the welcome right"

This was the challenge offered to October's Deanery Synod by guest speaker Rona Orme, the new Diocesan Children's Missioner. With 30 years in children's work, and a Reader since 1991, London-born Rona has spent the past 25 years in the picture box villages of Devon. The author of 'Rural Children, Rural Church' told us how she had been called to work in the communities of this Diocese, where from her window she has witnessed arson attacks, drug dealing and violence, and that she will have to think carefully before writing an urban sequel to her book which would make more difficult reading.

After her wake-up opening challenge, Rona gave an energetic précis of her views and challenges on children and the church, summarised below:

Who does the children's work in church? Do we apply as much energy in the selection of our children's workers as we do, say, for Readers? Or is it a case of 'there was a gap on the rota 14 years ago, I filled it, and I am still here?' Whilst that case needn't be a bad thing, do we train and nurture these children's workers? Often the answer is no: is that really good enough? Don't both volunteers and children deserve better? If we haven't got the right people to do children's work, let's make a conscious decision not to do it!

Parents put huge energy into getting the best for their kids, and this includes something spiritual. Often the local church is the only potential spiritual provider - it's a huge responsibility. Just because the parents don't have contact With us, it doesn't mean we don't have something to offer. The ball is in our court. We need to suggest it and be proactive.

Baptisms R Us: But parents might need us to offer it to them. We have to say what we do. If not a baptism, what about a thanksgiving? Consider a Christian goody-bag for new babes in the parish, regardless of whether Mum or Dad comes to church ... and give it with no strings attached.

Churches are great for displays: use them for the right things - part of schools' OFSTED inspections require a tick in the box for Social and Spiritual Development. So invite the schools in - help each other.

The Good Old Days? 25% of children we work with in a systematic work continue into adult faith. That's the figure now, and it was the same figure 60 years ago. So it doesn't mean that there is a demise and it's not about the loss of Sunday School!

Sunday School: Churches which develop children's work prosper. Sunday Schools have now been superceded by midweek services and activities. In fact all growth is midweek activity-based. If you want to try it out, don't bite off more than you can chew. Try one small 2 hour event at half term? WOW is one idea - Worship on Wednesday.

Old before they are young: Remember that children consider themselves grown up at an early age so don't put them off by over-labelling activities as children's.

Children ministering: They don't often get the chance to minister in church. That doesn't mean that they get given tasks like the collection or offertory. But do children's views get listened to by the PCC. Are they ever asked to address the PCC?

Rona concluded by offering her services to anyone who needs help or advice with children's activities, whether revitalising existing schemes or kick starting new ones whether project-managing, or even fronting. Her departing challenge was to remind us that we CAN do this work - as servants of the children we live amongst.

Bungoma Update

Clive Evans reported that a group of deanery members were at that time in Bungoma, with another member due to visit in November. Clive himself had been to the country in September, during terrible weather - people were literally drowning in swollen rivers every day - it had rained since May. All had been moved by the visit, finding only superlatives to describe their experiences. Clive asked us to continue to pray for Bishop Eliud and the people of Bungoma, and concluded with the following heads-up. If the Lambeth Conference happens in 2008, we shall be asked to offer hospitality and lodging for up to 12 Bungoma diocesan visitors during the weekend of the conference.

Matters financial

The Treasurer reminded us that the 'Benefice Share' is now with us. Determining a 100% equitable system is difficult, but help can be given to parishes who need advice or arbitration. He asked us to consider the new arrangements as a way of bringing people together - mission cannot be separated from money which cannot be separated from sacrifice! He concluded by asking that any form of attendance returns are returned on time as often the deadlines are tight. Treasurers to note please?


Attendance/apologies - taken from the attendance clipboard

 ATTENDANCE: Phyllis Annis, Geoff Armitage, Stephanie Arnold, Chrystal Baker-Bates, Kairen Ball, Susannah Braithwaite, Alan Chantler, D Charman, J Charman, Sam Dobbs, Alex Elston, Revd Clive Evans, Revd Mary Garbutt, Revd Canon Ian Gemmell, Esme Godden, Gill Goodridge, Gill Hewer, Revd Karen Jongman, S J Jowers, Katherine Leach, Graham Le Flem, Theresa Le Flem (obs), Rick O’Donoghue, Neil Robertson, Garry Shaeffer, David Staveley, Revd John Tarrant, Liz Thake, Revd Steven Trott, Sarah Turner, Ray Walton, Margaret Wrathall.

 APOLOGIES: Angela Cooke, Kathleen Friend, Revd David Lake, Chris Nelson, Diane Parton, Sheila Robertson, Barry Smith, Lucy Sparrow.

 IN ATTENDANCE: Rona Orme, Diocesan Children's Missioner.

Matters pastoral

Clive Evans, Rural Dean, gave a very good presentation on the Deanery Mission Plan (DMP) - circulated in advance -  and made the following points:

The Rural Dean then gave a parish by parish commentary on the DMP, summarised here:

Spencer Benefice: Already suffered reduction, and urgent assistance is being sought to support the Rector (Editor's note - now in hand)

Crick: Nil change - previous talk about potential merger with Long Buckby, but not in life of DMP

Long Buckby/West Haddon: Curate in place, but anticipating issues in 2009

Clipston Group: When Vicar retires or moves, seven churches come together

Faxton Group: Joint benefices with Rector

Guilsborough/Spratton: Long standing aspiration of two groups merging as one Benefice with Rector and 0.3 post. Side agreement with Diocese that we expect 0.3 post at Spratton parsonage house.

Brixworth/Pitsford/Holcot: These parishes are rightly subject to the current freeholds. but on the vacancy of one or both livings, it is unlikely that one clergy post would cover only two churches, so reductions are planned/anticipated.

Discussion ensued and the following points raised:

It was concluded that a DMP which sets out a strong, well-thought-through case will stand the Deanery in good stead, but consultation with PCCs is crucial. It should also be remembered that whilst clergy allocation to our Deanery has been suggested, we should be mindful that a decision to 'staff up' a Deanery with a more convincing case would have to be at the expense of another Deanery.