Pages will be appearing in this section about different ways of serving Christ through the Church.
All baptized Christians are called to minister in the world in the name of Christ, not just the clergy! Ministry could be through the church, in your community, or in your place of work. Some forms of ministry involve training provided by the Diocese, many do not. Of course some involve getting ordained.
The Challenges Ahead
Within the Diocese, between 2010 and 2025 it is projected that the number of stipendiary clergy will drop from 250 to between 150 and 200. The main reason for this is that about 40% of stipendiary clergy will be retiring in the next 10 years (the inevitable consequence of encouraging younger people with vocations to come forward one decade, and older ones the next!).
Within the Deanery, 3 or 4 full time stipendiary clergy posts need to be lost betweeen 2010 and 2013. This is likely to occur "naturally" i.e. when current clergy retire.
Within our area, we recognise that when the priest-in-charge of St. Thomas' Werneth retires, the priest-in-charge of St. Paul's will also have responsibility for that parish as well.
So does this mean that the ministry of the Church of England will grind to a halt in our area? NO!!!
The Diocese of Manchester has been planning ahead: thinking about what the church will look like in 15 years time; facing the challenges that lie ahead; and planning to overcome them. Particularly around the question of the Church's Ministry.
How we will meet the challenge
Within the Diocese, between 1990 and 2010: the training scheme for Ordained Local Ministers (OLMs) has been introduced and developed. As a result, 100 OLMs are now serving in parishes, where none were before.
Within the Diocese between 2010 and 2025, it is hoped that the numbers of non-stipendiary ministers (NSMs) and Ordained Local Ministers (OLMs) will rise from 100 to 350. OLMs have the potential to be a potent resource that can invigorate ministry in our area.
The question is how we as a Parish respond to this challenge.
In October 2010 Revd. Jayne Prestwood, Local Ministry Officer for Manchester Diocese, came and preached on a Sunday morning about Ordained Local Ministry.
In January 2011, the PCC is going to reconsider 12 questions about Ordained Local Ministry as a way of establishing how the scheme might relate to our own parish. This will need to be agreed with the Diocese.
After that, Role Descriptions for Ordained Local Ministers will be drawn up. These Role Descriptions will clearly define a specific area of ministry that an OLM would be involved in: among the bereaved; among those coming for baptism; pastoral care; youth; working in local schools; etc. These roles will need to be agreed with the Diocese.
Finally, it is hoped, members of the congregation will emerge to take on those particular roles within the parish, after part-time training over a period of three years. During this time, they will continue to live and worship in the parish. These candidates will go for selection by the Diocese.
What is ministry?
Clearly the Diocese of Manchester, the Deanery of Oldham West, and this parish will go through a period of re-thinking, re-shaping, and re-balancing its ministry.
A number of challenges lie ahead. In order to be effective, we will need:
- To rediscover collaborative ministry. As the Swiss theologian Hans Rubi Weber said:
The laity are not the helpers of the clergy, so that the clergy can do their job, but clergy are helpers of the whole people of God, so that the laity can be the church.There is an issue here about effectiveness. We are not simply to duplicate one another's roles, but to take on roles that complement each other and allow us to be more effective than before and allow our ministry as a church to reach further.
- To encourage and allow vocations.If we are to maintain a visible, vibrant and faithful presence in every parish community, we need to encourage many more members of our congregations to explore the possibility that God may be calling them to public ministry. Whether as OLM, NSM, or Reader; or simply taking responsibility for, or taking part in, a particular area of the church's ministry. Targets do not always sit easily with the idea of vocation, but we cannot escape the fact that over the next 15 years, we will need in the order of 300 OLMs, NSMs and Readers.
- To allow the role of stipendiary priest to change. Stipendiary clergy will have an increasingly strategic role, leading teams of ministers in ministry. So that may remain true to the historic vocation of the Church of England: offering worship to God in the power of the Spirit; witnessing to his love in Christ Jesus, and caring for his people in every corner of the land.
"How will we be able to meet this challenge?"
"How will we be able to transform ourselves to enable this change to a newer way of being church to take place?"
This challenge is no different from the challenge that has always been there: every member of the church has always been called to serve and minister to others. Now this call is made keener, sharper, and more immediate.