LMAs ARE HERE TO STAY (so let’s have a go at getting them right!)
Bishop Joanna has issued a clarion call to the whole diocese that signals a fundamental change in the way it works and is structured.
In her first presidential address to the Diocesan Conference [Saturday October 7th], she announced that the programme of conversion from traditional parishes into new Local Ministry Areas (LMAs) is to be accelerated and radical changes made to the way they are configured. Opting out of the process will not be an option.
It means that, by January 1st 2020:
- all the 100 or so benefices that currently make up the diocese will be amalgamated into 22-23 LMAs
- These will become United Benefices with a single PCC made up of representatives from each church.
- Each LMA will also become its own Deanery.
- Each will have at least two stipendiary clergy and two church wardens. Individual churches will have sub-wardens and their own church council.
- Ministry Team leaders will become and carry the title of Dean
- The united PCC will be the ultimate decision-making body
- Church accounts will be consolidated annually. Training will be offered to assist with this
- Ministry Share will be calculated centrally and charged to each church, as at present
- Progress and performance will be reviewed every two years
Existing LMAs will continue but there may need to be changes to legal and constitutional issues. They may also be required to adopt parishes not presently within the LMA framework.
The Bishop stressed that the harsh realities of a changing world meant new ways of working are now essential. We simply don’t have the money to sustain the existing pattern of ministry,” she said.
“I hope that in five years our LMAs will be communities who have learned new ways of being rooted in their communities..working together to enable them to live out and share their faith.”
The change was also needed, she said, because of the adverse effect current methods were having on clergy. “It’s making them ill,” she warned.
So, under the new regime, no stipendiary cleric will take more than three services on a Sunday; no lay minister will take more than two. And retired clergy can no longer be expected to fill in except in cases of emergency, holidays, sickness or sabbaticals.
This way, LMAs can be “places where Christians of all ages are well resourced and working together to develop focal ministry that will preserve a commitment to the local.”
“We are experimenting,” Bishop Joanna concluded, “so let’s have a go at doing things differently. We’re not going to get it right first time, but let’s keep talking to each other, learn from our mistakes and share our resources.”