The Church in Wales, like any other organisation, is one which evolves to fit the ever changing world in which we live and work. Until recently we had a very hierarchical structure with the Bishop leading the Diocese, which was in turn divided into archdeaconries. These were sub-divided into deaneries and deaneries into parishes, the level at which we are all involved. In days gone by every parish church would have been full on a Sunday, and would have had its own priest living in the parsonage and ministering to the people of that parish. Those days are long behind us, churches are rarely full and clergy are required to work across many different parishes, yet the level of pastoral need in the community is still the same. The system we had is no longer sustainable and a major rethink was required.
Ministry Areas (or Mission Areas as they are known in some dioceses) essentially replace the Deanery level, but the change of name reflects a far bigger change in function. Rather than see the current situation as an insoluble problem, we can see it as an opportunity to re-engage the congregations with the work which actually belongs to all of us. Within our congregations there are a large number of committed, creative and devout Christians whose many gifts, spiritual and natural, need to be fully released and deployed. So rather than leave everything to the clergy, the new model encourages all of us to explore what we can do to contribute to what the New Testament refers to as ‘the ministry of all believers’.
In individual churches there may well not be sufficient resources to do much, but by pooling those resources across the Ministry Area we have an opportunity to become very much more effective. Between us we have gifts in preaching, teaching, music, children’s work, care for the elderly, technical expertise, buildings maintenance, catering, prayer, poetry, arts and crafts, administration, … and this only scratches the surface. When we work together then we really can start to fulfil the diocesan vision:
A family, rooted in Christ, committed to transforming lives by Gathering as God’s people, Growing more like Jesus, Going Out in the power of the spirit.