This is a brief review of the Director of Mission’s aims and key projects for the last five years and a pointer to a major piece of work for the future.
At the beginning of her time in post the Director of Mission developed four questions and one word of affirmation for the diocese. All four questions are challenging. The first two go to the heart of the gospel, provoking conversation in or out of church:
Forgiveness – is it fair?
Resurrection – is it possible?
The next two are really asking, “What are we doing with the gospel we have received?” A further question could have probed the ways in which we serve or bless others as an out-working of God’s love for us.
Do we need to talk about Jesus?
Gospel stories – what’s yours?
Finally, the words of comfort and assurance that Jesus speaks to us in times of uncertainty or desperation:
Do not be afraid, only believe.
THE DIOCESAN VISION
It was a great pleasure to be part of the development of the Diocesan Vision and, over the last five years, to produce resources that communicate a sense of who we are as a diocesan family and what we long to achieve. A number of people contributed to the various study guides. Resources like the ‘Simple Guides’ have been widely distributed and extra copies are still available.
The Vision Website www.gatheringgrowinggoing.com continues to be a place for good news stories and ideas for mission.
In preparation for the Bishop’s Visitation in 2013 PCCs were encouraged to come together for a single topic meeting – to discuss a series of questions. Many PCCs took up the suggestion of meeting in a different venue, which had the effect of breaking the regular patterns of interaction. Some parishes have since incorporated ‘away days’.
LEADERSHIP FOR MISSION
Over the last five years 23 parishes have taken part in the diocesan LYCIG (Leading your Church into Growth) programme. This begins each year with a conference in Swanwick, usually attended by 100 – 120 delegates. The Director of Mission, Canon Tim Hewitt and Canon Ian Rees have led the five follow-up sessions which run from December to September of the following year. The course has been very significant for many of the parishes.
Vision Events have now been running in Penllergaer for two seasons (from September – June). A third season is being planned. Vision Events are Saturday gatherings (10am – 3pm). The strap-line is “let’s learn something new together”. There are five events per year and the aim is to inspire, encourage, inform and challenge; to present aspects of Christian life in new ways; to develop evangelism.
WORKING WITH CHURCHES
The Director of Mission has been available to work with churches, deaneries and, now, Ministry Areas to encourage the development of mission and evangelism and, particularly during parish vacancies, vision for the future. The Mission Fund is a diocesan grant to help parishes take on projects that would otherwise be impossible. Details can be found at http://swanseaandbrecon.churchinwales.org.uk/home-page/mission/
DEVELOPING MINISTRY AREAS
The Director of Mission has supported Ministry Area Leaders and kept a watching brief on the development of MAs across the diocese. With others, she has produced a folder of resources for general distribution. The folder contains important information about the new structures and several questionnaires to help Ministry Area Parishes to get to know one another and to begin to develop local and MA visions. The key question for discerning a vision for the future of any church community is: what is God calling us to become?
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
In May 2016 seven delegates from Swansea and Brecon attended a Provincial Symposium on Evangelism. Two archdeaconry ‘Evangelism groups’ were established earlier in the year. They are open to anyone with a desire to share the gospel and are an opportunity to network and encourage; a place where training skills can be passed on. Evangelism is a word that un-nerves many people; in essence it is about helping people get to know Jesus and to become his disciples.
Janet RussellMay 2016