LMA Development – Frequently Asked Questions

What is an LMA?

A local ministry area is a geographical area made up of a group of parishes which will be a collaborative area of Christian witness, worship and work. The new LMAs will enable the churches within the groupings to support one another in mission and ministry and so encourage sustainability and growth. Each LMA will provide priestly and pastoral oversight within their communities. Each LMA will also reach out to share the good news of Christ, grounding all our mission in the example set by Jesus Christ and those who, in His name, built the early church seen in scripture by the guidance of the Holy Spirit through devotion and prayer.

Why are we becoming an LMA?

We live in extraordinary times, when church attendances are diminishing and congregations ageing, but when arguably the spiritual hunger of society is rising.

In 2012 a change in parish structures was a recommendation of The Harries Report which was a holistic assessment of the Church in Wales requested by the then Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan. This recommendation was a fundamental part of the St Davids Diocesan Strategy for growth in 2013. It was seen to be a move towards working together and utilising the gifts of the church more openly and in a more collaborative and strategic way.

The number of paid clergy has been decreasing for decades and now due to the high cost of pension provision, we cannot afford to increase the numbers of stipendiary clergy, even though we may want to.  So it is important that the stipendiary ministry that we do have is shared as fairly as possible across the diocese, so that every local church has access to priestly oversight and pastoral care.  To ensure this, we need to work together in larger ministry groups ensuring that all of our resources – cleric, lay, paid or voluntary – are used as effectively as possible.

In 2018 the Bishop appointed a Transition Team to help facilitate this move to Local Ministry Areas (LMAs).

 Who will our vicar be?

The LMA will have a ministry team, led by an LMA Dean who will have “gentle oversight” across the whole LMA.  The team will be made up of stipendiary and non-stipendiary priests, readers, worship leaders, family and children’s workers. It will be the ministry team’s responsibility to plan how to best provide worship, teaching, pastoral and priestly provision throughout the LMA. This will include nominating and providing contact details for a cleric with a local focus for each church.

What is an LMA Council (LMAC)?

The LMA Council is the representative body of the churches within the Local Ministry Area (i.e. a council of people made up of members from each worshipping church in the LMA structure). Each LMA Council will have, as well as its clerics, two wardens, a secretary, and a treasurer. It will be convened by a lay chairperson. Oversight and policy on outreach, ministry and evangelism within the LMA will be taken by the LMA Councillors representing all the churches within the LMA, with a view to sharing the Good News of the Gospel and finding new ways of serving the specific needs of their local communities.  

How will the council be any different from the PCCs we currently have?

Each church within the LMA, whilst working together on the bigger picture of mission and evangelism, will retain its own identity. The LMA Council will delegate to Church Committees care of the day to day matters related to the running of the local church. The responsibilities of these Church Committees will include maintenance of church buildings, fundraising, cleaning, grounds, church yards etc. Each church within the LMA will have such a Committee and will therefore require a chairperson, treasurer, secretary, usually church wardens and representatives of the congregation.

How will our churches change as we become a part of a larger ministry area?

The Bishop fully intends that each church retain its identity and hopes that the churches will work together in areas of evangelism, making new disciples and serving the communities in which they stand, drawing on new ideas and utilising the skills of a larger body of people working and worshipping together. The LMA Council’s role includes developing a mission plan for the new LMA which will encourage this thinking and working together.

How will this affect our finances?

Each church will continue to be responsible for its own finances, keep its own bank account, plan and carry out fund raising activities. So no change there. Each church will still (as individual community buildings) be able to claim Gift Aid and Small Claims Gift Aid. Each church will still prepare its own accounts and have them individually examined as they do now. Accounts recording an income of £250,000 + need to be professionally audited.

What about ministry share?

Ministry share will still be paid by each church based on the familiar calculations made up from the figures sent in from individual church registers- so again no change.

What if a church falls behind with its ministry share will this impact on the whole LMA?

No. The ministry share is the still the responsibility of individual churches, as now. But we hope that, through working together through the LMA Council, practical help and advice will be naturally given to such churches and their treasurers. The Council will help difficult issues of a financial nature to be identified earlier and raised at meetings prior to crisis point. Help from the diocesan Finance team can then also be requested more promptly.

What are the legal aspects of becoming an LMA?

Each LMA will adopt a set of Standing Orders to clarify the way in which the LMA will function. There is a template document to help each LMA with the rules and regulations of being an LMA which is provided by the Transition Team and explained in detail during the formation period.  Download the template

Will we need to register with the charities commission?

The Church in Wales is a charity and as such, our Churchwardens and PCCs act as trustees, albeit informally.

Given that every LMA will be regarded as one united parish or benefice, it is likely that many LMAs will reach an annual income of £100,000. At this point charity law specifies that the LMA must register itself as a charity. This has its advantages, not least when applying for grant funding, as such bodies are given preference.

However, this is not something we are rushing into. This does not need to happen for at least 12 months after the inauguration of the LMA, by which time we aim to have a much clearer view of the charity registration process.

When will our becoming an LMA happen for us?

A good number of LMAs have already been formed in 2018. The rest will be brought together this year ensuring the formation and inauguration of all LMAs will be complete by January 2020. A provisional set of dates for the forming of each LMA is available ensuring there is a phased plan spreading them out across the year so the support can be given practically.

How are the LMAs formed, what is the process?

1-Transition Missioner meets with the prospective LMA Dean

  • To discuss what the needs are of the new LMA.
  • Spend time and thought about what an LMA is.
  • To look at the concept of a Ministry Team.
  • To identify the role of the LMA council and the responsibility of officers and trustees.
  • To bring clarity to the new legal structure of the LMA
  • To identify the new boundaries of the LMA
  • To discuss how the Transition Team can support the ministry team and church people through this change.

2- The Transition Team (TT) meets with the LMA’s Ministry team

  • To discuss what the needs are of the new LMA.
  • Spend time and thought about what an LMA is.
  • To look at the concept of a Ministry Team.
  • To identify the role of the LMA council (LMAC) and the responsibility of officers and trustees.
  • To bring clarity to the new legal structure of the LMA
  • To identify the new boundaries of the LMA
  • To discuss how the Transition team can support the ministry team and church people through this change.

3- The TT & Archdeacon facilitate an open meeting for all the churches and people of the communities who will be a part of this new LMA.

  • Refreshments
  • Opening with an act of worship
  • A session to explore hopes and fears for the future in a new LMA
  • An informative presentation on what an LMA is and why we are moving towards these new ministry Areas.
  • Identifying together the pros and cons of working together in these new initiatives.
  • We will discuss the need to work together as the people of God.
  • The Transition Team will take away any questions which need further research if any arise, and feed back to either the LMA Dean or at the next meeting
  • Our meeting will close with prayer to give thanks for the time spent together and pray for the work ahead of us.

4- The TT & Archdeacon facilitate a meeting of the Shadow Council

  • This meeting will be made up of prospective members of the LMAC.
  • Members will usual consist of the Vicar’s Warden from each church and the People’s Warden as a nominated member of their congregation.
  • The meeting opens with a time of worship to centre us spiritually and concentrate our minds on the task ahead.
  • The Archdeacon and Transition Team will then walk those present through the standing order document and explain how these legalities will support your new LMA.
  • Standing orders are the rules and regulations set in place by the Diocese which ensures that the running of our churches, or in this case our new LMA, conforms to constitutional law- i.e. the rules and regulations that make us The Church in Wales.
  • Questions will of course be encouraged.
  • Our meeting will close in prayer.

5-  Gathering of information by the TT – Getting to know the churches who make up the new LMA.

  • In between the above meetings a member of the transition team will be meeting with the people of the churches to discuss their thoughts and feelings on the change.
  • We hope to talk to as many people as possible to get to know you and your churches.
  • This can happen on a one-to-one basis by appointment, or more informally after morning worship or through arranging a discussion group with tea and cake – we are happy to be where you need us to listen and give support.
  • The transition team member will be looking at the different churches to see what makes them unique: their history, locality, ministry, services, groups, spirit and culture.
  • We will be especially listening out for where there is life, energy, new things being tried, opportunities for growth and future collaboration, as that may well be where the Holy Spirit is currently at work.
  • A short report will be collated by the TT summarising what has been heard and learnt ready for the next meeting.

6- A meeting facilitated by the TT & Archdeacon – Getting to know your new LMA.

  • This will also be a meeting for your shadow Council and ministry team.
  • We will open with an act of worship to centre us spiritually and prepare us for the work ahead.
  • The member of the transition team who has been gathering the information above will present their report and findings.
  • This will hopefully give everybody a great opportunity to better get to know the churches in the new LMA.
  • The TT will go on to discuss with you what we have seen as opportunities for you as a team to embrace, areas of good practice, evangelism or opportunities for missional work in your new LMA.
  • Priorities can be explored which the LMAC may want to pursue when you formally become an active and licensed LMA.

7- The Diocesan Finance Presentation- information for current treasures & Shadow LMAC

  • A meeting led by Howard and Nia from the Diocesan Office Team.
  • Information and support for treasurers and the ministry team to offer support and ask any questions necessary with regards to the continuing role of the treasurers and of the LMA Treasurer.
  • This presentation can be booked by the LMA Dean via The Diocesan Office and given at any time during the formation process.

8- A pre-inauguration meeting of the TT, Archdeacon & Ministry Team.

  • A gathering to check all is well and to answer any questions which may have arisen since the last meeting.
  • A time to confirm, if needed, the practicalities of the Licensing service with the Archdeacon.
  • A meeting to plan the next steps into officially forming the LMAC and filling the necessary positions.

What will happen after this initial time of working together – are we expected to have all the changes in place by the licensing date?

The initial formation period is quite short and lots of information will need to be absorbed, decisions made and actioned. So no, the coming together of the new LMA may take 12-18 months for all the practical elements of change to be in place and for the standing orders document to be ready for adoption by the LMAC.

It’s going to take time and energy to make this change into ministry areas. We will need to work together and develop within each new area a good system of communication so that everyone is a part of what’s happening and is fully informed. Positivity and communication with prayer and hard work are the key to any change. Although it’s true to say there might be a period of turbulence, a number of early LMAs are now already on the other side. They are beginning to work together effectively and are now making plans to invest in the opportunities of evangelism and growth.

Will the Transition Team work with the LMA as long as needed?

The Transition Team will continue to play a part in the lives of the LMAs after launch. We hope to continue to give you support, resource any training and help you to look for financial support necessary for your mission, ministry and evangelism plan of action.

It’s important to remember through the application of all the practical elements of the new ministry areas not to lose focus on our role as the church in our communities, our great commissioning by Christ Himself to go out into the world and make new disciples. Prayer and contemplation are vital to our work. We must not separate our spiritual focus from our practical application. All our work must begin and end in Christ and we must be active in praying for guidance as we work together.

The Transition & LMA Development Team

Revd Canon Marianne Osborne, Transition Missioner and LMA Development Officer
Email      01437214612

Mr. Simon Thane, Transition Companion

Mr. Howard Llewelyn, Diocesan Secretary

Mrs. Nia Evans, Diocesan Finance Team Leader

Diocesan Prayer for Growth

O God, pioneer of new ways, guardian of ancient ways
and leader on unknown ways: teach your church in our Diocese of St Davids
to understand and live the Good News of salvation shown to us in Jesus Christ Lord and Saviour; Make us to be your light,
make us partners in your mission reflecting your glory in all our ways.
We pray that your illuminating of our lives will inspire others to find their way with you;
Then O God shall all people walk in your truth and share your life
worshipping you in the power of the Holy Spirit for all eternity.

Amen