Ministry Areas are large parishes led by a team of clergy and lay people who draw on each other’s strengths to increase the impact of the message of Jesus.
In the same way that Jesus worked in a team, Ministry Areas are a return to a more collaborative way of working to enable God’s people to work together effectively and creatively for church growth. By creating Ministry Areas we establish a stronger Christian presence in our communities that will enable us collectively to do more, today and into the future.
Ministry Areas are the next and most important part of delivering our strategic vision Where Faith Matters. Our joyful story is one where together we respond to God’s call to grow the Kingdom of God. Together we have more resources - people, finances, wisdom, buildings, to successfully build our capacity for doing good and seek new opportunities for spreading God’s Word by ministry and evangelism.
Why do we need Ministry Areas now
The way our society and our communities look in the 21st Century has changed and the church needs to respond to that change. We all want to see our churches grow and flourish but the systems and structures that we’ve inherited are no longer the best framework to enable us to be effective in our mission. Many of our congregations have been declining in numbers, clergy are spread more thinly and many are approaching a well-earned retirement.
Ministry Areas will overcome the present difficulties with the existing parish structure which relies on a single priest serving a small community at a time when there are fewer ordained clergy coming into ministry and a high number of clergy retiring in the next few years.
The parish system, as originally set up, with a single priest serving a small community is no longer sustainable. It was put in place when people lived and worked in the same parish, when they did not travel except occasionally to the local market town and when it was assumed that church and nation were of one faith. All this has changed. The communities to which people now belong are very varied and people travel freely.
The Church in Wales Review, July 2012 page 6
Church in Wales Membership and Finance (2018) report serves as a stark reminder that church attendance continues to decline – and has done for a number of years. We need to act now to reverse this trend.
The way the Diocese responded to the pandemic demonstrated the remarkable flexibility of the Diocese and our ability to change when change is needed - and now change is needed. The pandemic highlighted some of our vulnerabilities – the need to develop our digital skills and reach out to new audience to support our current volunteer base – many of whom are older and are shielding.
As one of the biggest providers of voluntary services, demands on the Church are ever increasing. From holiday hunger projects to running local foodbanks and working with local schools, from continuing church services to maintaining online ministry, the church is needed more than ever before.
We can respond to these increasing demands and our vulnerabilities by sharing our resources. Jesus commanded us to love one another and we can do this by responding to pressures we are all experiencing. In sharing our skills with neighbouring churches, we are caring for the wellbeing of our colleagues. As Christ taught us, the body of Christ is stronger together rather than operating in fragmented isolation.
In our Diocese we possess the skills, the knowledge and a message of hope that can change lives.
Let us combine our gifts to deliver a greater good as we generously share God’s love now and forever more.
How do Ministry Areas work?
Each Ministry Area is led and served by a Ministry Area Leader appointed by the Bishop. The ministry and administration of each Ministry Area is led by the Ministry Area Leadership Team made up of lay and clerical talents.
Ministry will be provided by a team of clergy and lay ministers who will have a mix of skills and experience in different types of ministry appropriate to the communities of the Ministry Area. They will be able to share the resources of the Ministry Area, encouraging and serving local congregations, while licensed to the Ministry Area.
Each church will have a named cleric with pastoral responsibilities for that congregation. In this way the congregation will still have their vicar who they turn to but will also be able to build relationships with the other clergy and ministers in the Ministry Area.
The journey to Ministry Areas
We are all at different stages in the pilgrimage to Ministry Areas, some have been in existence for a number of years, others are well on the way to being formed, others are just beginning.
More Ministry Areas will be legally formed by the end of 2020, but by the end of the year the shape of each Ministry Area will be known by all churches.
During 2021 churches, parishes, will be encouraged to work together with the other churches and parishes in their Ministry Area developing the mission and ministry, better serving the communities, being subject to one another as Paul encourages the Church at Ephesus, telling the joyful story of Jesus Christ to a larger audience.
By the beginning of 2022 all the Ministry Areas will be formed but that is not the end of the story, it is a step in the pilgrimage of our churches, of our Diocese, giving us a structure which enables us to be better at being the Church and implementing our Vision.