Our Archdeacons will embark on a series of meetings to help Church Wardens reflect on vital aspects of their work.
Over the next couple of years every church will be visited by their Archdeacon as Peter and Ricky embark on a series of meetings to help Church Wardens reflect on vital aspects of their work.
The meetings with Church Wardens will reflect on a number of areas surrounding the good management of parishes and wardens’ role in leading the parish in its mission and ministry.
“Since making the Archdeacon role a full time role both Ricky and I have been focussing on more meaningful ways we can support parishes in their day to day ministries,” explained Peter Bradley. “We’ve been looking to reduce the administrative burden of the formal Visitations and make it easier for wardens and parishes to run themselves, express God’s love and support their ministries to their communities”.
The Archdeacon’s review meetings are based on the idea that by having ongoing regular conversations with wardens more time and energy can be put into looking forward in mission. Inevitably there will be practical considerations but as time progresses we hope that these will have been made easier to deal with.
The practical considerations are discussed in a form that wardens will receive ahead of their meeting. This looks at areas such as the Growth Planning Framework and Parish Dashboard as well as the Quninquennial. It also provides a checklist for making sure wardens know where everything that falls into their areas of responsibility are – registers, policy documents and insurance documents for example.
“This is all important” commented Ricky Panter “the church wardens have, under Canon Law, a duty to look after the practical management of church affairs. We recognise that in the modern era this management has increased and feel that it is our duty to help and support wardens in whatever way we can.”
Both Archdeacons believe that the practical side of the conversation will get easier as time moves on. “It’s about keeping on top of these matters” said Peter, “if we are regularly keeping a check on the day to day items then that part of the role becomes easier and quicker to deal with. Taking a couple of hours to consider these matters will inevitably reap much reward."
But both are equally convinced that this conversation is as much about mission. Peter explains “there should be regular occasions when time can be given to reviewing strategic longer-term issues around buildings and finance, as well as the spiritual life and growth of the church. Wardens are leaders in mission in the church, and whatever releases mission and growth has to be high on our agendas. We aim to have challenging conversations as it is only through these conversations that we can discern God’s will and move forward in his strength."
For the Archdeacons this is a massive commitment to parishes. They aim to carry out about 40 meetings a year with Area Deans covering those parishes the Archdeacons can’t get to. “In practice this means every parish will be given a supportive visit by someone,” says Ricky, “and every two to three years that person will be an Archdeacon.”
But it is a commitment they are glad to fulfil. Both Archdeacons value the special relationship they have with churchwardens. This is seen in their approach to the annual visitations and the ongoing and popular Church Warden training days. The review meetings are another positive aspect of that relationship and one that both feel will grow in importance and usefulness over the years.