The Situation Today
The South Cotswolds Team Ministry exists to support and uphold life and community amongst the residents and pupils in these small and large villages:
In particular we assist the 9 primary and 1 secondary schools, and lead nearly 30 congregations that meet in our 22 church buildings. Many people are involved in this, including:
- 6 trained lay ministers, who lead and preach at services (also known as ‘lay readers’)
- 100 volunteers on our Parochial Church Councils
- 50+ volunteer musicians
- 40+ ‘Open the Book’ volunteers who teach Bible stories in our schools, or listen to children read
- various local Mothers’ Union groups
- 25+ church-provided volunteer school governors
- 10 volunteers who run Christian lunchtime or after-school clubs in the schools
- + the many other church members who spend their time visiting the sick and lonely, teaching in Sunday schools, cleaning and maintaining our buildings, handling finances, and helping with weddings, baptisms and funerals.
These people are supported by the work of just a few paid staff: 4 full-time vicars, 2 part-time vicars, 1 youth worker and a variable number of curates (trainee vicars). All of this is sustained by our lives of prayer and worship, nurtured by the ministries of preaching and the Lord’s Supper.
Our communities are always changing, sometimes quickly and sometimes more slowly. Significant changes in our area include many new homes being built, a growth in regulation, a reduction in state provision of support for the needy, and a decline in voluntary group membership. Each of these affects the ministry of the Church, which is seeing a gentle decline in membership, an increase in costs of supporting both its buildings and clergy pensions, fewer numbers of working-age clergy, but more parishioners.
Shaping Future Ministry
The Archdeacon, Bishop and their advisers have decided that compared to the needs in the rest of the Diocese — including the building of whole new small towns — the South Cotswolds Team has noticeably more ordained ministers for the population size than they can afford in the future. Therefore we are very likely to lose one or more part-time vicar posts in the next few years. We have decided that rather than let these changes happen in an unplanned way when vicars happen to leave post, we want to try to plan ahead and find a sustainable pattern of ministry that best supports the needs of the whole team area.
To do that the Team clergy jointly decided in the middle of 2016 to hold a consultation to try to work through what that might best look like. This is working through the Team Council, which includes representatives from each church community, and the vicars. Parts have been led by an independent facilitator to ensure all opinions are heard, and to open up new options. There are no pre-determined outcomes in mind, or hidden agendas. We hope we can explore some more novel ideas that are emerging from our communities, as well as considering options that are more normal in ‘pastoral reorganisations’.
We invite you to join us as we go on this journey to shape the future of Christian ministry in our team, ready for the next 10 years.