Diocesan Common Purpose
In March 2009, as the diocese sought for a new ‘Mission statement’ and Bishop Christopher embarked on a series of ‘Deanery Calls’ our Diocesan Synod was asked to consider a document which outlined his vision for the Common Purpose in which we are all engaged.
Growing Communities of Faith and Engagement: ‘Your Kingdom Come’
This statement is about my vision of our common purpose as a Diocese, as Deaneries and as Parishes over the next five years: it is about how we will go on our continuing journey together; praying and working for the coming of God’s Kingdom as followers of Jesus Christ, in whom all our hungers are satisfied.
My aims are:
- to offer a coherent vision of what we, as the parishes and other communities of ministry and mission in the Diocese are seeking to achieve
- to help Parishes and Deaneries to think critically and positively about the mission God is calling them to, in the context of the wider Diocesan vision and common purpose and in the light of the emerging Deanery Mission and Pastoral Plans
- to provide a framework in which strategic decisions can be made and specific priorities can be set at Diocesan level.
Gratitude for the past
- We have an exciting past and present. This is clear to me from visits around the diocese where I have experienced what a wonderful heritage we have and how many good things are going on. When the diocese was created and our cathedral begun, this was described as a ‘consecration for fruitfulness’. This must continue today and tomorrow.
Challenge in the Present
Nevertheless, as I look round there are certain features of our society and culture that strike me:
- radical cultural, social and technological change, now compounded by economic recession
- a militant secularism attacking the role of our churches, schools and all faith communities
- a disillusion with material rewards and consequent appetite for spiritual engagement
- a church reconsidering itself: Mission-Shaped Church, fresh expressions, revised diocesan structures, and deanery and parish Mission and Pastoral Plans
This mixture of opportunity and challenge means we need a clear vision about where we are moving as a diocese, and how I as Bishop of Guildford lead the diocese in serving the mission of God in this place.
Vision for the Future
Recognising that there are different models of being church in the Bible (building, body, bride, nation, household, etc) and also in our contemporary experience, I believe we share a common set of Kingdom values given to us in the Lord’s Prayer. I hope these will accompany us in our common journey. Within Scripture and tradition there is a clear picture of the key characteristics of healthy Christian
- resisting superficial and simplistic Christianity in a our secularised culture creating an ethos of commitment to worship, prayer and learning, both corporately and individually, in our churches and our schools.
- encouraging lifelong discipleship and attractive, godly living
- resisting talk of decline as inevitable
- creating an ethos of expectation of new things because nothing is impossible with God
- encouraging all people to hear and respond to the Gospel of salvation
- resisting isolation and inward looking, self-preserving attitudes
- creating an ethos of involvement that seeks to serve the world God has made and loves
- encouraging a practical concern for justice, right living and respect for all in our wider communities.
This is what I believe Church is about, and where I see our focus in the Diocese of Guildford in the next five years. We will work and pray to see this spiritual maturity, numerical growth and community engagement in every part of the Diocese (parish, fresh expression, chaplaincy and cathedral). All the ministries, structures and departments of the Diocese must also serve this vision, in order to make it a reality and to express our common purpose effectively, the vision and future we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.
Call to Prayer
I invite all in the Diocese of Guildford to join me in praying ‘Your Kingdom Come’, praying for growth in communities of faith and engagement. Use the Lord’s Prayer as an intercession and meditation, perhaps in this way either alone or with more than one voice at appropriate occasions:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
May our ministry and mission begin and end in
the worship of the One God; the Creator and
Father of all human-kind and of all creation; in
his Son Jesus Christ in whom we are redeemed
and through whom all creation is being
renewed; and in the indwelling and sanctifying
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done on
earth as in heaven.
May we be a sign, a foretaste and an
instrument of God’s proclaiming the Kingdom
Gospel of Jesus Christ for all peoples and
cultures and embodying the prophetic values
of God’s role in communities of justice and
equity, righteousness and peace. May we seek
the common good of the wider community in
which we are set and God’s will for the earth
as God’s good creation.
Give us today our daily
May we nurture and teach all who are longing
for the Bread of Life so that all may grow in
discipleship and spiritual maturity by word,
sacrament and pastoral care. May we be
concerned for the economic life of all human
communities so that none shall be deprived of
the necessities or the good things of life.
Forgive us our sins as
we forgive those who
sin against us
May we turn away from sin, reject evil and
turn to Christ; rejoicing in the grace of his free
forgiveness and acceptance, and so being made
a forgiven and forgiving community, a
community of reconciliation and embrace.
Lead us not into
temptation but deliver
us from evil
May we strive for the integrity of the Kingdom
in our person, in the Church, and in society,
holding to all that is holy and good and
rejecting all that corrupts the image of God
For the kingdom, the
power and the glory are
yours now and for ever.
May our Common Purpose end as it began in
the adoration, worship and praise of God who
alone brings in his Kingdom but who yet
invites us to participate in its inauguration.
May our Common Purpose include the
celebration of all that is done for the Kingdom
not only in the Church but in the world which
God has redeemed in Christ and on which he
has breathed his Spirit as we look for him to
bring all to fulfilment in the new creation.
Plan of Action
The Bishops of Guildford and Dorking will arrange to Visit each Deanery with a three-fold focus:
- to affirm the clergy, chapters, PCCs and Christian communities of each Deanery and encourage them in their task of mission in a considered response to their Mission and Pastoral Plan assisted by relevant members of the Bishop’s Staff Team
- to engage with the wider community in a public gathering, in for example, a Bishop’s Address on Faith and Christian Life with a Question Time
- to lead an act of worship for all parishes in the Deanery, or in an agreed subdeanery cluster.
This will take the form of a ‘Deanery week’ visit including two Sundays, planned with the Rural Dean and Lay Chair after careful consideration of their Mission and Pastoral Plan with Archdeacon and Bishop’s Staff. But the Visits would be flexible and ‘bespoke’ to each Deanery.
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