Collaborative Ministry here to stay in the Diocese of Newcastle

Over 125 people gathered on Saturday June 27th at Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College to review the experience of Ministering Communities in Mission. The resounding message was that collaborative ministry – people hearing God’s call, growing as disciples and exercising their God-given gifts in mission and ministry, within and beyond the church, and as part of a community of ministers – is an essential part of the Diocese.

Bishop Greg led us in a conversation on facing the past and shaping a healthy future in which he encouraged parishes to develop Mission Action Plans that address our mission, culture and spirituality.

collabministryBishop Peter, Les Forester and Sue Williams connected our conversations with international work on collaborative ministry within the Anglican Communion in Scotland, England, Canada, USA and New Zealand telling us that international partners saw the immense amount that had been done in the last 10 years in our diocese.

The Collaborative Ministry conversations were an important opportunity to review our diocesan life and we recognised that ministry teams (either with portfolios or focussed on new mission), resourcing teams and clergy serving in local ministry had become normal parts of our diocesan life. Our conversation recognised these initiatives as a blessing and worked on how to build on what was already in place.

Prior to the day people had participated in an online survey that showed that parishes felt that they had grown spiritually, as a community and in engaging the wider community. They had not seen numerical growth. Ministry with family and children as well as pastoral ministries were see to have begun or developed over the last few years. One of the worrying signs was that we were still to find ways of better focussing the energy and time of church members around the priorities they set. Mission in terms of responding to human need with loving service as well as pursuing peace and reconciliation seemed to sit more easily with us whereas we still have some way to go in engaging people in conversations about faith and evangelism.

Both prior to the day and on the day the importance of education in theology, ministry and skills was affirmed. Bishop Greg has already asked the archdeacons to coordinate and encourage regional formation and training as a priority.

At the end of the day, the participants named their top four priorities for Diocesan support in enhancing the work of collaborative ministry as –

  • Building spirituality
  • Education and training on a regional basis
  • Mentoring and coaching of incumbents and teams
  • Developing our evangelism and faith engagement.

The participants named the top four priorities for parish work as

  • Mission Action Planning
  • Building Spirituality
  • Participating in regional education and training
  • Developing our evangelism and faith engagement.