The Diocese of Ely has a strategy for growth right through to the year 2025 - People Fully Alive: Ely 2025.
Why have a Strategy?
It’s important to think about what we want our church communities to look like in the future. Change, growth and regeneration can be uncomfortable, but also exciting!
The strategy document, People Fully Alive, is here to reassure us and show us that change is possible if we are to keep growing and adapting to the needs of our communities. Together with the Resource Manual, we can implement important changes, making good judgements and decisions for our parishes.
Some may also wish to refer to the publication Imagining the Future, a discussion document produced by Bishop Stephen soon after becoming Bishop of Ely as an invitation to join in and imagine the future together.
Who developed the strategy?
By consulting with and listening to voices of parishes, schools and other groups from right across the diocese, we can be sure that plans for the future will remain sensitive to the needs of our communities. The University of Cambridge Judge Business School helped to collect the data, analyse and produce a report about it.
The Ven Hugh McCurdy, (former) Archdeacon of Huntingdon and Wisbech said, 'The strategy in its final format has been shaped by the 2000 plus people who attended a series of consultation roadshows...There is an overwhelming desire to cherish the past but to invest in the future and that is both tremendously exciting, but hugely challenging.'
What are the key points of the strategy?
It complements the diocesan vision, 'to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ'.
There are three imperatives which we have added to commit to:
- Engage fully and courageously with the needs of our communities, locally and globally
- Grow God's church by finding disciples and nurturing leaders
- Deepen our commitment to God through word, worship and prayer
How does this affect me?
Decisions about how your church serves its community for the next few years, or about the Church of England school in your parish, will be affected by this strategy in some way. The diocesan leaders and officers who support your church or school focus their support, and the available grants and funding, accordingly too. Everyone has a part to play in bringing the strategy to life and the vision to reality.
How might we have to change?
Church communities are asked to think and pray about this, but the diocesan consultation presented five key elements that will make the biggest difference to growth:
- Nurturing a confident people of God
- Developing healthy churches and leaders
- Serving the community
- Re-imagining our buildings
- Targeting support to key areas
Known as the five Levers of Change, they are detailed thoroughly in People Fully Alive: Ely 2025 and strategies are listed with a prayer offered for each theme.
The Diocesan vision:
We pray to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ
We work to realise that vision by being committed and prayerful in these ways:
- To engage fully and courageously with the needs of our communities, locally and globally
- To grow God's church by finding disciples and nurturing leaders
- To deepen our commitment to God through word, worship and prayer.
These three imperatives underpin all that we do. They came out of a process of consultation with parishes, schools and other groups, as well as discussion at Diocesan Synod, the Bishop's Council, deanery and chapter meetings, and from individuals.
We believe the vision statement is a distillation of all that God is calling us to be.We aim for the vision to become in essence who we are, what we are known by and what we live by.
The vision is ultimately the plumb line by which diocesan strategy is developed, resources are allocated and ultimately by which objectives and outcomes are measured.
Unpacking our vision
- We... God calls us be a part of Him and united with one another. We are people of Jesus Christ. The church is the primary way in which we are visible; as a 'we'.
- Pray... Our Christian life is made possible by God's presence and activity in us powered through prayer. All our activity and interaction needs to be underpinned in prayer.
- Generous... Generosity is a summary word for our response to God’s love for us. As God gave himself generously, unstintingly, to the world He loves, He calls us to reflect His nature. The gospel commands, 'Freely you have received, freely give' (Matt 10:8). Its implications run through our relationships with others in the church, with those outside the church, our use of money, and time, and so on.
- Visible... Daring to be out and about in the places where God has put us to work. Not taking refuge in our buildings, or always remaining where we are comfortable, but being present with people where they are, serving our communities, working with others for the common good. We are also very visible through our buildings. Often, they cannot be ignored.
- People of Jesus Christ... We belong to the God who bought us at a price (1Cor 6:20), the death of His Son. So, we do not live for ourselves, but as disciples of the one who died and rose again. We are His witnesses as we call others to join us to follow Him.