Simplification of deaneries

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Published: 10th December 2020

At the end of July 2020, the Bishop of Worcester opened a consultation into proposed changes to the Deanery structure, reducing the number of deaneries from 13 to 6. This would be brought about by a “Bishop’s Pastoral Order”.

The consultation ran until 4 December, and we were grateful to receive more than 80 responses – from individuals and on behalf of the PCCs, Deanery Standing Committees or Deanery Synods.

Bishop John said: 

“I am delighted that so many people contributed to the consultation on the changes to our deaneries, resulting in a number of amendments to the Pastoral Order. This new structure is an important step in ensuring our diocese is fit for purpose going forward, allowing us more flexibility in deploying ministry and organising mission.  Over the next few months, as teams are formed and chapters, deanery synods and other groups are able to meet, I pray that it will result in new partnerships and ideas for taking the love of Jesus out into our communities.”

A new deanery structure which will move us to six deaneries will now come into effect on 1 February and Bishop John will shortly be in touch with all licensed clergy about the appointment of new Area Deans. 

New Deaneries:

  • Greater Dudley
  • Redditch and Bromsgrove
  • Kidderminster and Stourport
  • Worcester
  • Malvern and Upton
  • Pershore and Evesham

See the Bishop's Pastoral Order

How the Pastoral Order was amended following feedback:

1. Most of the parishes in the “Holy Cross South group” (Belbroughton with Fairfield, Churchill-in-halfshire with Blakedown, Broome and Clent) expressed a desire to be in a different deanery from the proposed Greater Dudley deanery, although they didn’t all agree which deanery this should be. As they are all currently served by one vicar, the Pastoral Order has been amended to keep them together, and place them in the Redditch and Bromsgrove Deanery.

The parish of Clent was the exception, wishing to stay linked with Hagley and stay in the Greater Dudley Deanery. As a result, the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee has approved seeking the views of interested parties on a proposal to move the parish of Clent to the Hagley benefice once patrons have confirmed their agreement.

A number of representations were received from Churchill and Blakedown expressing a desire to be linked with Kidderminster. This will be explored through local discussions . and it is anticipated that a scheme will be drawn up for consultation in 2021.

2. The “Worcestershire Severn” benefice also expressed a desire to move to a different deanery, but wished to stay together. As a result of their feedback, the Pastoral Order has been amended such that they will form part of the Kidderminster and Stourport Deanery.

3. The deanery changes will now come into effect in February 2021 following suggestions that it would be better to have a slightly longer period between the announcement of the new deaneries and the implementation, to support consultation over the appointment of Area Deans.

Suggestions which led to further consultation:

1. We received the suggestion that the Kidderminster and Stourport Deanery would be better named “The Wyre Forest Deanery” as the proposer felt this gave a more representative description of the overall area. Further consultation took place with the Kidderminster and Stourport deaneries, whose clear preference was to remain with the name of “Kidderminster and Stourport” as a) some of the deanery was in the Malvern Hills local authority rather than Wyre Forest, and b) there was potential confusion with the Wyre Forest West benefice.

2. Following a proposal that we should create two deaneries for the area of the Dudley Metropolitan Borough rather than one, the Archdeacon of Dudley and the Diocesan Secretary met with the Dudley Deanery Standing Committee, and engaged with others in the three deaneries. Our conclusion was that there was some real merit in the proposals from the Standing Committee, but there was also a significant benefit in maintaining a single deanery that could take an overview of mission planning across the Dudley Deanery. The Bishop’s Pastoral Order will therefore create a Greater Dudley Deanery, but we see that this could be useful for clergy chapters or other sub-groups for example.

Common threads which emerged from the consultation:

There was broad agreement that simplification was needed – with some respondents suggesting that 7 might be better than 6, and one proposing that 5 might be better than 6. There was little feedback that did not support the broad proposal.  There was a concern that the work of the Area Dean may become too great. We have strengthened the support package for Area Deans, including ensuring that some administrative support will be paid for.

Some respondents raised questions over timing, suggesting that we might do all of the restructuring necessary and then change deaneries, or that we might determine local groupings first and subsequently rearrange deanery boundaries. It is clear that pastoral reorganisation will continue in various parts of the diocese over the coming years and in some places changes won’t happen until there is a vacancy in a particular benefice. This makes it difficult to make all of the changes first and then change deanery boundaries. Moreover, working with larger deaneries makes it easier to make changes to clergy deployment as it gives more options.

Others asked whether it would be more important to tackle the financial challenges facing the diocese first – to which we can reassure that we are also working on addressing those.

Two respondents feared that this was a fait accompli. Hopefully this feedback reassures that it was not.

There were a range of other views and comments, and we are grateful to all who responded.

Read more about how we might develop and re-imagine our deaneries following the changes. 

 


Page last updated: 11th December 2020 4:57 PM
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