The basic framework of ministry and mission in the Church of England comprises parishes (units of administration), benefices (units of ministry) and deaneries (local areas). Pastoral re-organisation means making a change to part of this framework, in order to “make better provision for the cure of souls”. There are lots of ways in which changes can be made and some examples are set out below:
▾ Formal changes…
• Creating a new parish for an area which has recently seen major housing development and now has its own worshipping community
• Uniting benefices to create one benefice with a designated Rector or Vicar
• Changing parish boundaries to make sense of people’s natural link with a particular geographical centre
• Creating a Team or Group Ministry to provide for co-operative ministry between the clergy in a local area
Formal changes can also be made to the status of church buildings, for example making a small, rural parish church a chapel of ease within a larger united parish or, very rarely, closing a church building which no longer has a sustaining worshipping community.
▾ Fresh Expressions…
There are a variety of tools to recognise, authorise and support new worshipping communities which may be geographically based (in a new housing development) or non-geographically based (eg focusing on a particular group within the community). These include:
• Appointing a Pioneer Minister to build up and serve the new worshipping community
• Recognising the new worshipping community by means of a Bishop’s Mission Order
• Designating an area as if it were a parish, by means of a Conventional District Agreement
There are examples of creative ways of using pastoral re-organisation (Mission Scenarios) on the website of the Church Commissioners’ Pastoral Division.
▾ Other possibilities…
• Local Area Mission Partnerships (LAMPs) – a LAMP is a partnership between clergy in different benefices, often with a particular mission focus. There is guidance on LAMPs below.
• Working in a Multi-Parish Benefice – Guidance about working in ways that reduce time spent on administration, to release energy for mission. See the guidance below.
Many churches co-operate informally with local churches of other denominations. Where more formal links are being considered, please have a look at the guidance provided by Churches Together in England.
For more information on Pastoral Re-organisation, please contact the Pastoral Secretary.