Spring update from our Diocesan Secretary

Over the last few months we have been conducting a listening exercise following the publication of Our Shared Future, the framework that sets out our commitments to delivering the diocese’s mission purpose of worshipping God, making new disciples, transforming communities and the 2030 vision of Restored Health, New Growth, Renewed Relationships. We asked parishes how they would like to engage with the framework and what support they needed. We also held a vision and strategy day with representation from across the diocese and we looked at the Archdeacons’ Articles of Enquiry.

My thanks to everyone who has taken the time to offer their views, thoughts and feedback. We have received a wealth of information – some positive and affirming, for example thanking the Bishops and diocesan staff for ‘the spiritual, emotional and financial support amidst what has been a difficult 3 years’ and some that pointed to the significant staff turnover in the diocesan offices which has impacted the proactive support offered to the parishes and led to understandable frustrations. Many people expressed a keenness for help with administration, safeguarding, HR, finance and buildings as well as a desire to focus missionally on children, families and young people, supporting leaders and developing a lay leadership pipeline, and a need to increase generosity and raise awareness of the parish share system.

I am conscious that having started this listening exercise, we now need to act on the feedback people have so generously offered. We have started the process of collating the various strands and reflecting on what it is saying to us. This will ultimately lead to a refreshed framework  which will be published later this year. As a diocesan staff team, we will also reflect on how the diocesan offices can better serve and support our parishes.

At the beginning of April, we shared some early reflections with the Bishop’s Council and what particularly struck me during our discussions is just how necessary communication is and the importance of prayer. Or, using the words from one of the group discussions – ‘communications, communications, communications’ and ‘prayer, prayer, prayer’. Obvious really, but something I will be doing intentionally over the coming months as I reflect on the views we have heard.

Throughout this process, Psalm 19 keeps coming into my mind both in its message of proclaiming the glory of God and the importance of bearing witness to His creation; I will leave you with these verses which, for me, capture this perfectly.

Psalm 19:1 & 7-10
"1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
 the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
 refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
 making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
 giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
 giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
 enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
 and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
 than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
 than honey from the honeycomb."

With every good wish,
Jacqueline Ladds

First published on: 17th April 2023
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