March progress report on the diocesan Pastoral Plan: The Word Who is Life.

March 25, 2024

The Word Who is Life

Bishop Richard published his third Pastoral Plan The Word Who is Life: The Call to Mission in January. The Plan aims to help and equip us as a diocese to enact our baptismal calling and to share the good news of God’s love with all people. Bishop Richard is being supported in the delivery of the Plan by a Diocesan Plan Reference Group (see p.13, 5.17), with Canon Kieron O’Brien appointed Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Planning, assisted by Deacon Nick StJohn who is experienced in Change Management.

Canon Kieron and Deacon Nick write:

"The Pastoral Plan involves the creation of a new structure of Moderated Parishes to help equip us for mission. From there we will work to identify and deliver our local priorities for prayer, formation, and mission. Achieving these changes throughout the Diocese is a significant operation. The meetings that Bishop Richard held with clergy and parishes over the last few years have been useful in enabling people to contribute to and engage with the Plan, but this is only the start. Change can be exciting, but it is rarely easy. However, there is tremendous goodwill, expertise, and enthusiasm in parishes.
"The Diocese is also putting a lot of work and resources into supporting parishes and making necessary diocese-wide changes.
"Nothing is achieved without prayer. The first priority has been to ask parish communities to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide all our work. Next, we have developed an overall diocesan Project Plan to steer the process. We have completed the first stage of this; a preparation stage which took place from October to December and included the finalising of the Plan, its presentation to the clergy of the Diocese and launch on 2 January, and an initial gathering of priests who may become Moderators of the new Moderated Parishes that the implementation of the Plan will create from our existing deaneries.

"The next stage of the roll-out of the Plan will take two years and create Moderated Parishes (MPs) in our existing Deaneries. The first two: Cathedral and Guildford have begun this process. Lewes and Crawley will follow in April. The early stages are:  
1.     Intensifying Prayer  
2.    Bishop Richard appointing the Moderator.
3.    Initial meeting of the Clergy Team assisted by Canon Kieron O’Brien and Deacon Nick StJohn
4.    Clergy Team lunch and meeting with Bishop Richard to discuss any issues.
"The next stage is for clergy to start meeting with a much wider group of parishioners, to progress the delivery of the Pastoral Plan. Within the overall framework of the Plan there is great flexibility for parishes to discern how to meet their unique pastoral needs and deliver this at a pace that suits them. The key will be working with lay leadership, building on the great relationships and charisms that already exist, and developing relationships and structures for collaboration in the future."

To read the full March Progress Report, click on the button below.