One Diocese, 18 Partnerships, Unlimited Potential
A ‘Great cloud of witnesses’ from across the Diocese gathered at the Lancastrian Suite in Gateshead and Carmel College in Darlington to hear the decisions made by Bishop Séamus following the residential Diocesan Board meeting in January.
They heard how the 150 parishes in the diocese are now gathered into 18 partnerships. The message from Bishop Séamus states that,
"A partnership is a group of parishes agreeing to work together, to share resources, both human and material, to become stronger and better equipped for furthering the Kingdom of God".
He is convinced that partnerships will enable formation programmes to be developed and delivered locally; that smaller communities can be supported; the gifts, talents and financial resources in a wider area can be put at the service of more people and that a thorough review of all property will need to be carried out in the near future.
Everyone present was given an eight page document which included maps of every area of the diocese and which spelled out in detail the new partnership arrangements.
The full document is now available.
Pointing the Way
For almost four days at the end of January, Bishop Séamus met with the Diocesan Board, made up of the Vicar General, five Episcopal Vicars and four lay people, to explore the report ‘Pointing the Way’ prepared by the Forward Together in Hope team. The report was over 180 pages long. 150 of the pages comprised the 27 partnership proposals made by communities around the Diocese.
By the end of the week this number had become 18, however, the report was not simply about geography. It also covered the very wide range of topics raised by parishioners in the 150 parish questionnaires, the 7,000 pages of documentation which came to us from surveys of young people, individuals and clergy, the notes from deanery and vicariate meetings along with emails and letters.
These topics ranged from the hospitality offered to people as they gather to celebrate Mass to how our worshipping communities might engage more creatively with young people. They looked at the fundamental need for lay formation and leadership development, support for clergy and the needs of sick and frail priests in the future. The report touched on ‘clericalism’, the role of the Board of Directors and Diocesan services. Other items included our worship and the need for much more formation for lay leaders of worship, ecumenism, interfaith relations as well as peace, justice and care for the environment.
It was impossible to do justice to everything voiced by people across the Diocese, so five separate groups are in the early stages of development to address everything that was mentioned. These groups will look at formation, the practical guides needed to help partnerships develop, how all Diocesan councils will help to serve the development of partnerships, communications, and strategic planning needed to address the breadth of thinking stimulated by the voices of all who made their views heard during the time of consultation.
Bishop Séamus' Open Meetings message
Watch Bishop Séamus' video message from the open meetings discussing the new partnership arrangements.
The powerpoint presentation from the meetings is now available.
Video reproduced courtesy of Carmel College, Darlington.
A New Prayer for Partnerships
God of all Creation,
You have constantly poured out your Spirit upon our Diocese
and kindled here a light which has spread throughout the world.
Lord Jesus, you gathered disciples to yourself
To learn from you
and to model their lives on you.
Your Holy Spirit empowered them to continue your work in the world.
Come upon us, Holy Spirit,
deepen the faith you invite us to share
and inspire us to become faithful witnesses.
As we begin to develop our partnerships,
help each one of us to use the gifts you give us
to nurture one another,
to serve the world
and to live in harmony with the whole of creation.
All of this we ask in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Most Beautiful Face of the Church
Each and every one of us is made in the image of God. If you are interested in discovering how you might be able to help with lay formation in our Diocese, full details can be found here, by clicking on the poster below, or by contacting Amy Cameron by email: email@example.com, or
tel: 0191 243 3304.
The work of Forward Together in Hope is fully funded by grants from external organisations; we are very grateful for their generous support.