A year of review and strategic planning
Many have commented that I must find working for the diocese very different to my prior career with the BBC. While of course the mission and purpose is different, many of the challenges have a familiar ring - reaching a rapidly changing society and remaining relevant to younger generations.
But I detect one big difference – the sense of optimism and opportunity which pervades our diocese. I experienced this first at the 2015 triennial clergy conference last summer, and it has continued, like a wave of the Spirit across our Church in many of the conversations and engagements I’ve been involved in, as I’ve started to get to grips with my new role.
This has helped to encourage a bolder approach in our budget-setting work. It has also been motivating us as a team at Diocesan House as to how we need to adapt and ready ourselves to better support and resource the changes that our parishes are facing; and it is behind the work that Bishop Andrew is leading to develop our new diocesan strategy, due for launch this autumn.
On the ground, I have been very impressed with the commitment of our staff teams and their willingness to embrace change, while continuing to deliver a very solid and busy year of activity. It is clear that our financial management and control is strong; that in 2015 our staff teams effectively handled a huge volume of property maintenance demands, faculty requests and communication requirements and the delivery of a huge range of activities across all the areas, as the individual department reports in this Annual Report show. But as the sudden collapse of my office ceiling in Diocesan House emphasised, we have been asking staff to deliver this, without always investing all that we might in the facilities and environment that best supports and values them.
To that end we are making 2016 a year of strategic planning. We have already initiated a parish share review; started a three-year budget process; begun to evolve a new strategy for our schools; started initiatives to grow the number of vocations; progressed the planning for new church communities in several major housing developments; and commenced work to relocate diocesan staff together in new fit-for-purpose open-plan offices.
This is just a start and there is much to do, but hopefully through close working with Bishop’s Council and Diocesan Synod, we can ensure that we are well placed to support our parishes and schools through this time of change and opportunity.