WHAT IS A DEANERY The Diocese of Oxford is divided into four smaller ‘episcopal Areas’, three of them overseen by their own Area Bishop. One such area is Reading. Each area is then further split into deaneries. The deaneries of the Reading Episcopal Area are: Bracknell, Bradfield, Maidenhead and Windsor, Newbury, Reading and Sonning. Sonning Deanery stretches from Wargrave in the north to Sandhurst in the south. It contains 12 benefices with 23 places of worship in a mixed rural, semirural and urban setting. Our current Area Dean is the Revd Richard Lamey, Rector of the three Churches of the Parish of St Paul, Wokingham.
What does the deanery give to the parish/benefice? The deanery represents a manageable level of organisation between a parish/benefice and the Diocese/Archdeaconry. Its aim is to assist churches to do things together that they could not do on their own; to support and encourage clergy in a role which can often be isolated and pressured; to perform an administrative function (eg allocating the Parish Share/organising building inspections); to act for the Archdeacon on inspections; to offer ideas, challenge and inspiration through meetings; to offer prayer and encouragement for each other; to work together towards input to the diocese; and to support mission and ministry in the parish/benefice.
What is a deanery synod? The deanery synod has a membership of all clergy who are licensed to a parish/benefice within the deanery, plus elected lay members from every parish. The larger your Electoral Roll, the more members you are entitled to elect. Members meet approximately four times a year at varying venues throughout the deanery. All meetings include a financial report, including reports on Parish Share, followed by a talk. Over the past year, lay discipleship, fundraising, and human sexuality have been discussed. All members share in a Eucharist service at one of the meetings. Currently, the Deanery Plan is being finalised. The emphasis of this plan will be on those areas of mission that can be done better as a deanery than as individual parishes: for example, outreach into new communities, empowerment of lay leaders, shared training courses, to name but a few.
What is Deanery Chapter? Clergy within the deanery meet monthly over lunch at Deanery Chapter. These meetings form an important basis for support, challenge and collegiality for clergy to learn from each other and from those who address the meeting.
Regular Prayer Letters are sent out from the Deanery- do please use those intentions as a way of weaving us all together in prayer.
Christian Resources for Living Well
in the Light of Mortality Inspirational resources to help ministers and pastoral leaders support conversations on death and dying. Visit this new website for a course, workshop, prayer walk, sermon starters, reflection cards, Bible studies and meditations.
Over the past year, groups of All Saints Church members have begun gathering together to talk about death. No, we haven’t lost our minds, become depressed or run out of things to say. We are trying out a recent Church of England project, designed as a form of ministry for those of all faiths and none, to encourage people to break down the taboo around death. This project is called Grave Talk.
The idea is to get us talking about our feelings around loss, our own death, grief, what a ‘good’ funeral means to us etc. The hope is that taking part in the discussion will get us thinking and talking to our loved ones about our feelings and our ideas about funerals.
Some people took a bit of cajoling to join the first group and most of us felt some level of trepidation and scepticism. What were we doing there, and why would talking about death be a good idea?
Despite all our doubts within a matter of minutes there was a buzz of conversation and laughter running through the room. In fact, people were so keen, it was difficult to bring the session to a close. Now we get people asking when the next session will be.
FREE YOUTH GROUP RESOURCE The Children’s Society have produced a new church youth group resource. The sessions are built upon their first-hand knowledge of supporting young people, no matter what issues they may face. It contains six youth group sessions from a faith perspective to help youth workers unpack key topics such as identity, sexting, mental health, healthy relationships and life online, empowering your young people to support themselves and their peers.
Each session is aimed at 11-16 year olds and is around an hour and a half long but can be adapted. See www.childrenssociety.org.uk/youth
Soulscape empower young people to explore their own stories of faith, relationships and education, encouraging them to tell it their own way. To enable this they provide…
Personal stories, opinions research, and a variety of Christian perspectives on a whole range of issues for them to question challenge and formulate.
Creative safe spaces and activities outside the pressures of life that connect with their soul and develop their spiritual literacy.
Positive contexts for reviewing the story of education and tools to help make positive choices.
Recently over 1000 children from across the Wokingham area have been part of the Mind the Gap project, helping children transition from primary to secondary school.
Soulscape’s purpose is to create space to explore life.
That means physical and mental space, purposely created in our schools, to go deeper than the superficial ‘stuff ‘ that bombards young people. Soulscape engages them in a much deeper conversation, that helps them search their soul in meaningful engaging ways. Helping them navigate the world in which they live and ask the big questions…