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Be Thou My Vision

Contents

  • Newsletter 1: July 2019
  • Newsletter 2: August 2019
  • Powerpoint Slides:  September 2019
  • Powerpoint Slides:  Autumn/Winter 2019
  • Timeline: The process
  • Vision Update: March 2020
  • Vision Update: Autumn/Winter 2020

 

Newsletter 1:  July 2019

 

Dear Friends,

We are excited and looking forward to sharing with you over the next few months some of the Circuit’s thinking and vision but for our first letter explains some of the process. So here goes…

Our initial conversations were held on the 30th April where 2 members of each Church attended. The meeting was introduced to David Charlton. Who is he you may ask…well David has agreed to lead the strategy group and the process in hand. He comes to The Airedale Circuit as a member of the Methodist Church in Skipton and has a wealth of experience in business and Methodism. He has no attachment to any Church in our circuit and can therefore offer  an independent view is a neutral body and may see matters from a different aspect as he does not carry any previous history from the circuit. David is therefore impartial. The sad news is that he supports Sunderland but we will forgive him for that!

The conversations on April 30th were based around 5 possible options/scenarios around how the circuit could be shaped for ministry and mission - these were only starting points for the discussion to get people thinking and talking.

The strategy group was appointed with David in the chair and includes all the Circuit stewards (Peter Howarth, Claire Corp (heading the visioning up from the stewards perspective), Jonathan Nutting and Pam Helyar and Ruth Crompton, Barbara Fairburn and Glenda Coogan representing the staff. It was agreed that there would be the capacity to co-opt folks as required.

During the month of May and early June our Circuit stewards visited all 18 of the churches. 2 circuit stewards, )or occasionally) it was another member of the strategy group) met with each of the churches which had issued a general invitation to the church to attend the meeting. The nature of the meeting was to ask 8 questions around the nature of church life. These questions were not circulated prior to the meeting as the strategy group felt that would encourage open and honest conversation, to find out what people felt, thought and hoped for.  The questions asked allowed the strategy group to have an understanding of each Church’s, strengths, weakness, where there is opportunity and asked the question what may we need to let go of to be effective witnesses in the present age.

The 8 questions were as follows

  1. How would you advertise your church?
  2. What would you let go of that has served its purpose?
  3. What legacy would you like to leave for the next generations?
  4. What are your concerns about the future of your church?
  5. What would you like your church and the circuit to look like in 10 years time?
  6. And what are you prepared to do to get there?
  7. Do you have any suggestions for change that the Circuit might consider as part of this process?
  8. If your church burnt down tomorrow what would you do?

The answers were similar in parts and varied in others. A prayer day entitled “Be thou my vision” was on the 25th May across the circuit. It is proposed in August to prayer walk all 18 of the communities where our churches are located and to have a further prayer day in the autumn. We need to continue to wrap the whole process in prayer.

As has been our custom we held a Circuit Consultation on June 4th, at Oakworth Methodist Church. The meeting was very well attended and had a great atmosphere as David fed back some of the key findings from the previous month’s hard work. This was obviously a preliminary glance at what churches had expressed but the overall feeling was that people recognised that change needed to happen and we can’t continue as we are. It was clear that for some this creates some anxiety and for others the way ahead looked to be exciting with new opportunities emerging.

Since June 4th further consultation has taken place by gathering some practical information around the use of buildings by the church and community, and about the spiritual life of our churches.

The strategy group over the summer are continuing to look at the information both separately and together with the circuit leadership team, and are discussing possible ways forward.

The strategy group agreed that we needed to co-opt another member who was creative in their thinking and we are delighted that Patricia Henny from Ilkley Road has agreed to join us

During September and October the strategy group will meet once again with the churches, to have further conversation. These will probably be in groups to reduce the number of meetings.

It is proposed that an extra circuit meeting will be held in November to put a proposal to the churches.

So what can you do?

  • Remember it is not about us or me, but it is about what God desires as well as what legacy we will leave for the future.
  • Keep praying.
  • Keep informed through your Visioning champion.
  • Remember “No change is not an option”  we as a circuit have all agreed this, so we need to be mindful of where the fresh shoots are sprouting and what we need to dig up and cast aside so that we can be effective disciples.

Thank you,

The Strategy Group


 

Newsletter 2:  August 2019

 

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the second Newsletter with regards the Circuit Visioning process.

It has been a busy summer for the Strategy Group leading the visioning process.

Thank you to all the churches of the Airedale Circuit for the information that you sent to us. The strategy group have taken the findings since this process began, collated them and reviewed them. They have reflected upon the bigger picture of the circuit as it stands and looked towards the future. We have considered all aspects of Circuit life; spiritual well-being, the condition and locations of the church buildings, the financial aspects from giving to expenses, membership numbers, and how roles and responsibilities are fulfilled.

All this has been done prayerfully and with consideration as to how changes may be made that enable the Circuit to flourish and for God’s work to be continued effectively.

In light of all this we have come up with an option in which the governance of the churches may be structured differently. This is NOT ABOUT CLOSING CHURCH BUILDINGS. It is about the churches of the circuit working together differently to fulfil their legal responsibilities and create an environment and structure which will enable our membership to grow.

The new way of working will depend upon churches working closer together, sharing responsibility with each other   and deepening their faith collectively. The model being explored will enable gifts, both lay and ordained, to be utilised across the circuit. The Methodist Church believes in the ministry of the “Whole people of God” we believe that the model will enable this to be more effective.

It is not perfect (whatever is?). Even when completed it will continue to develop and evolve. At the moment the model is a work in progress which we hope, subject to Circuit approval, will become effective from September 2020. We are continuing to work on the model believing that this is the way forward.  There is still a considerable amount of work to be done; putting into place policies and procedures and fine tuning how it may operate. We will be holding further consultations on September 19th 7.30pm at Oxenhope when we will be meeting with the Church Champions whose job it is to let you know where next. The Autumn Church councils will have the opportunity to see how the model works and to feed back any reflections. Church champions are vital in this process and we look forward to working closely with them. We believe that communication is better done in this way then through issuing a document that may seem somewhat cold and calculated. There will be an extraordinary Circuit meeting on November 11th at 7.30pm at Silsden where the proposal will be presented for approval so that work on implementation may begin after further approval at District level. 

Prior to all of this we will continue praying together around the Circuit. During August we have been Prayer Walking our communities and there is a week of prayer in the Circuit, week commencing 23rd September (See below).Prayer is a significant part of Christian life and we believe vital to our journey through the visioning process and beyond

We emphasise that the proposed model is just that, a proposal, but we are aware of time. As a Circuit there are critical decisions around circuit staffing which need to be made whilst being mindful of our financial limitations. Might we again state that the churches of the Circuit have already agreed that “No Change is not an option!”

In our Christian journey God has never promised us an easy journey. God has never said this is how it will always be, God always wants us to flourish and find life in abundance. We leave you with the question…is our present model giving us life?

Thank you,

The Strategy Group

Be thou my Vision – A week of prayer for the Circuit

September 23rd 10am -12noon Bingley

September 24th 2-4pm Marsh

September 25th 7-9pm Cowling

September 26th 2-4pm Steeton

September 27th 10-12noon Cullingworth


 

Powerpoint Slides: September 2020

 


 

Powerpoint Slides: Autumn/Winter 2019

 


 

Timeline: The process

 

Your Church Champions, assisted by a Circuit Steward, will lead an open meeting, explaining the proposals to your congregations.  

A larger joint open meeting in each of the new 'Churches' will then be held, led by the Circuit Stewards, to further explore the proposals in more detail - in particular the proposed governance sturcture of the new Church Councils and Circuit Meeting.

In your Spring Church Councils, you will discuss and then vote (in a secret ballot) whether or not you support, in principle, the proposals and thereby indicate to Circuit Meeting whether it should adopt and implement Be Thou My Vision.

If Circuit Meeting adopts the vision, you will hold an extroardinary meeting in June/July where you will discuss and vote (again by secret ballot), having had all the necessary information, whether or not your chapel will join in the new structure or remain as a single Church as you are now.  If you vote to join, you will then vote on a formal resolution to transfer the trusteeship of your church to the new Church Council, and to become a chapel within the new Church.

 

Any church voting not to join the structure will continue as a single church as you are now, meaning there will be (eg) 4 churches plus the LEPs, rather than just the 3 churches in the proposal.

 

Vision Update: March 2020

 

Dear Friends.

I'm pleased to provide a summary version of my report to Circuit Meeting and the PowerPoint slides that accompanied it.

Ballots

I’m delighted to report that the vast majority of churches voted unanimously in favour, with no churches voting against. We do appreciate though that there are still some concerns and people ideally want more answers than we currently have – as a team, we need to make sure we’ve looked at everything and considered all options, and on their behalf can I thank you for your show of support as we move forward.

Structure

A number of comments were made about the middle layer – the “Shared Church Teams” – and whether this created “yet another layer” that wasn’t necessary. We have therefore agreed to remove that layer from the structure. Instead, each of the three Circuit Meetings will focus on one of those team headings – “Worship & Spirituality”, “Mission & Outreach” and “Finance & Property” – and the Church Councils will likely include these on their agendas in a similar way.

Finance

The circuit stewards and the strategy team met last week and had good conversation. Some good ideas came out which we need to thrash out a bit further, but as a team I feel we came away clearer about finance than we have for a while. The outcome of our conversations will be circulated in due course, before your June Church Councils – but do remember that the final decision on finances will ultimately be down to the new Church Councils to make.

Staffing

We’ve said throughout this process that the lay worker contracts are all currently due to end this August (2020) and that they will know by Easter whether we are renewing them or not. 

The team has been looking at the whole staffing situation and came up with two initial models to take forward. The circuit stewards have reviewed these and formed a third model sitting somewhere between the two. 

Model 1

Model 1 is similar to how we currently work, with each of the three ordained staff having pastoral charge and responsibility for one of the new churches and the chapels within it, but additionally employing a lay Mission Enabler to work across the circuit.

The church workers would also work across the circuit, either in one of the new churches or in chapels across the circuit as they are at present.

However this means our ordained staff would still be doing all the admin work – agendas, meetings, annual returns, safeguarding – all things we’re hoping will change through this visioning process.

Model 2

Model 2 gives the ordained staff chance to do what they are called to do, getting away from the “admin” that stops them being ministers, and allowing them to carry out pastoral work and be mission enablers etc (part of the reason for the visioning). This would be very attractive to prospective presbyters in the stationing process.

They would work across the circuit, using their skills and their passion in different areas in each church wherever it was appropriate, whilst still retaining pastoral charge of one particular church.

Bringing in newly appointed “Church Managers” to ‘run’ the churches would cover the admin taken away from the presbyters. 

This model does though, remove the need for our church workers and makes the role of our Children, Youth & Family Worker obsolete.

Model 3

Model 3 acknowledges that we are not yet ready to jump into either model and we need a time of transition.

Rather than “Managers”, it looks to bring in one or more “Church Coordinators” to assist and oversee the general life of the church (admin, property, finance, chairing meetings as necessary), thus releasing the ordained staff from that administration.

This allows us over the next 12 months to find the right balance of ordained staff and church workers, and to incorporate the work of the Children, Youth & Family worker into that of the ordained staff.

Several conversations have taken place with all three lay workers over the last month so they are fully aware of where we are at right now.

Our proposal is therefore to extend the contracts of all three lay workers for a further 12 months. By that time (August 2021), we will have discussed, worked out, produced job descriptions for, and crucially been running with whatever model we come up with, and we will therefore know what church worker roles (and contracts) will be needed and which will not be renewed further.  The Children, Youth and Family worker contract would not be up for further renewal at that time.

 

Vision Update: Autumn/Winter 2020

 

Dear Friends.

We bring to you a summary of the recent Circuit Meeting with regards stationing and visioning, then we will move onto the next steps that involve you as Church Council members.

Summary of Circuit Meeting

  • Ruth Crompton, Barbara Fairburn and David McAloon are all leaving the circuit in August 2021.
  • We are entering Stationing this September for 1 Superintendent and 1 Presbyter, to join us from September 2021 for 5 years.
  • We are also seeking a half-time Presbyter to join us from September 2021, initially for 2 years.
  • We are in conversation with a Deacon who may also be available for quarter-time appointment.
  • We believe we can also afford up to two full-time lay workers, or part-time equivalent, to join the team.
     
  • Our stationing profiles include a new “Vision for Airedale” which was adopted at Circuit Meeting:  “Our mission is to live the Gospel life and to share this with all those we come into contact with”.  [See Vision for Airedale]
  • As the profiles and appointments are for Ministers to take post in September 2021, we have to have a good idea of where we think we will be by then, so our proposal to Circuit Meeting is that we aim to implement “Be Thou My Vision” from September 2021.  In other words, to have formed our new Churches – with whichever constituent chapels have joined in – from September 2021.
  • This document outlines the steps we need to take as chapels, churches and circuit to get to that stage.

Visioning

Before the pandemic arrived, we had briefly mentioned Shadow Church Councils.  We still feel it is appropriate to introduce these as part of our process from here to September 2021 and beyond.

The progression of meetings will look like this:

Oct/Nov 2020 Existing Church Councils Normal autumn church council in your existing chapels
Nov/Dec 2020 Shadow Councils In the proposed Church groupings
 
Jan/Feb 2021 Existing Church Councils Vote whether to join the new Churches or not
Spring 2021 Shadow Councils In the proposed Church groupings
 
March 2021 Circuit Meeting Receive votes from Chapels. Vote to proceed or not.
June 2021 General Church Meetings In the new Churches
 
Jun/Jul 2021 Existing Church Councils Meet to formally transfer your trusteeship to the newly formed Church Council

Autumn 2020

In your Autumn Church Council, we are asking you to nominate your Senior Steward and up to 4 further reps from your Church Council to sit on a new Shadow Council for 6-9 months. 

We hope that joining these Shadow councils will help folk to explore what the new Church might feel like if your chapel does join.  Individuals should not be concerned that volunteering at this stage implies a commitment to being on the Church Council of the newly formed Churches, although that may be the case for those who are happy to do so. 

Due to present circumstances it is likely that these meetings will take place on zoom.

After each of the regular autumn Church Councils has taken place, the Shadow councils will meet. The section on Shadow Councils below explains their remit.

January/February 2021

By now you will have held your Autumn Church Council and the first of your Shadow church councils.

At this regular Church Council you will therefore discuss and make your final vote whether your chapel is joining the new Church structure, or whether it will remain as a single church in its own right.

After each of the chapels has held its church council, a second shadow council will take place.  You will hear each other’s votes at this point and conversation will develop.

March – Sept 2021

At the March Circuit Meeting, we will receive the votes from the chapels and vote whether or not we are proceeding with the formation of the new Churches and which Chapels are forming which Churches.  All the legal and constitutional changes can then begin to take place.

We will explain the process from March onwards as we get nearer to it.

Shadow Councils

We know that legally and constitutionally, the existing Church Councils continue to be responsible for Finance, Property, Employment, Safeguarding and Risk Assessments until such time as they are formally transferred to the new Churches.

It is therefore not appropriate to spend particular time on these areas in the shadow meetings as the conversation would need to be repeated and ratified at each existing church council.

We therefore feel that the shadow councils are best spent getting to know each other and beginning to explore:

  • Worship
  • Devotional life
  • Mission opportunities
  • Community Engagement

Finance

There are a lot of questions and concerns around how the finances will work in the new Church structure. 

We have put together a document that we hope will appeal to most of the Chapels as a workable way forward whilst recognising that the finances are ultimately the responsibility of the new Church Council and it is for them to develop and adapt in a way that they feel is appropriate.

The basis of the document is that chapels will remain in control of their finances for not less than 12 months; will be responsible for ensuring their finances are independently examined; and will provide them to the Church Treasurer to enable the formal accounts to be prepared and presented to the Church Council.

Summary

We hope that all of the above information helps you understand where we’re at and where we’re going over the coming months.  Circuit Stewards should be with you at each Church Council as normal and will hopefully be able to answer any further queries.

Circuit Leadership Team