Supporting parishes in their mission and growth plans

Rev Simon Fisher talks to us about his role as Bishop's Planning Officer and how it helps support our diocese’s mission of being a bigger church making a bigger difference.

How does your role as BPO help support our diocese’s mission of being a bigger church making a bigger difference?

The principal task of the Planning Officer on behalf of the Bishop is to support the Mission of God in each Deanery, regarding the Bishop’s Growth Agenda and Deanery Mission Plans. There are various rules and regulations in the Church of England about how to deliver projects and changes. I help guide parishes and deaneries through the legal processes. I liaise between the people involved at the parish level and deanery level in line with the Diocesan strategy of Bigger Church Bigger Difference. Working with the Bishops, Archdeacons, Area Deans, Lay Chairs, Deanery Mission & Pastoral Committees.

What challenges and opportunities have you encountered since taking on the role?

Archdeacon Ricky suggested the role to me and being a parish priest for a number of years I have seen some of the more difficult aspects of planning. I wasn’t aware this role existed before. It’s good for parishes to know there is someone available to be on hand to be of help with these matters.
A challenge often faced by parishes is limited resources and impact on people’s time, parish clergy and volunteer lay people. I see the opportunity being to find creative ways that parishes can still do what they want to do and get on with their mission. It helps to have someone on your side and another pair of eyes on the problem.    

What will you be focusing on in particular over the coming months?

There are several groups of parishes on their journey towards a Single Parish Agenda and more considering starting the process. We will be focusing on broken buildings, as parishes plan to leave current buildings or making them fit for purpose. We will also be looking at the current systems, making them easier and more straightforward to deal with.

I am enjoying the role; it is great to see different parishes and people on the ground, the staff at St James House and having a broader experience of the life of the diocese.