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Ministerial Development Review (MDR)

Welcome to Ministerial Development Review (MDR). Full information on the scheme can be obtained by clicking on the links below.

MDR is not about appraisal, nor is it yet another bureaucratic exercise. It is a sign of the Bishop’s pastoral concern and affirmation of the clergy.

MDR is part of the care and support that the Bishop provides to the clergy of the Diocese.  The aim of the scheme is to provide licensed clergy with a regular and structured opportunity to reflect on the development of their ministry with the help of a trained reviewer.  It will include the possibility of setting specific goals for training and development.  It is administered on behalf of the Bishop of Chester by Revd Gary O'Neill who acts as Bishop’s Adviser in MDR and who is also the  Diocesan Director of Studies for Ordinands.  The focus of MDR is on an appreciative enquiry of ministry that looks at building on strengths and areas for growth.

MDR is a requirement for all on Common Tenure, and is a resource for ministry that the Bishop is obliged to provide so that the training needs of the clergy are supported and development affirmed. The Bishop believes that MDR is also valuable for those remaining in freehold posts, and exhorts all to participate.

MDR is an important opportunity for all licensed clergy to spend some time reflecting on how their ministry has developed and how it can be further strengthened.  As part of MDR, clergy are encouraged to identify future training needs that will support and enhance their ministry.  Clergy are welcome to discuss these personally with the Continuing Ministerial Development Officer, David Herbert, who may be able to help clergy explore some of the resources available.


Revd Gary O'Neill              tel: 01928 723327
Revd Canon David Herbert   tel: 07594 952551


Ways ahead – provisions for Continuing Ministerial Development in the Diocese of Chester

Aims, hopes and theological rationale of the scheme

It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful 1 Corinthians 4:2
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ Galatians 6:2

The theological rationale for the MDR scheme is that ordained and licensed ministers have been given a sacred trust for which they are responsible and accountable. The purpose of the review process is to help them fulfil that trust, the nature of which is outlined in the Ordination and Licensing Services. The review is meant to be positive and to encourage growth in self-awareness and theological reflection. It seeks to contribute to the fulfilment of a person‟s calling in relation to the particular ministry that has been entrusted to a person by the Bishop under God – “Receive this cure of souls which is both yours and mine.”

All ministry is exercised as part of the work and life of the Body of Christ.  No-one exercises ministry in an isolated fashion because we all belong to one another. When one member suffers, all suffer and when one member rejoices, we all rejoice. Too often ministers have been allowed and expected to go about their ministry with little or no support or supervision, often leaving them isolated and under unacceptable pressure. MDR is a way of addressing these issues. It draws upon insights from a number of spheres and is shaped by best practice current in the church. It aims to enhance and strengthen ministry mindful of the fact that we live in a time of great change, and that old ways of doing things often no longer work or have become problematic in the light of current expectations.

St Irenaeus, writing at the end of the second century, famously said that, "The glory of God is a human being fully alive, and the life of humanity consists in the vision of God.‟ The new review process reflects this holistic ethos. It is about helping ministers keep in touch with their humanity as well as developing their professional skills and competencies. It is about reflecting on their faith and their vision of God in relation to the challenges and opportunities of their mission and ministry in the diocese. The aim of the scheme, therefore, is to help ordained and licensed ministers to be more effective in the exercise of their ministry and to ensure that they are given the help and support that they need to be so. It is set within the context of a partnership between the bishop, diocese and ministers, and it represents an exciting and positive opportunity for the church and its ministers to become more fruitful in their service of Christ.

The nature of the scheme:

  • Increased sense of accountability but also increased emphasis on development, support and resourcing.
  • MDR interview every two years, with projections/objectives and plans recorded in person‟s personnel file.
  • Will be administered by Revd Gary O'Neill on behalf of the Bishop
  • All documentation available on the Diocesan website.
  • Will remain "peer review" but reviewers drawn from newly created bank of Bishop's Reviewers. Reviewers will usually but not exclusively, be current Rural Deans.
  • Discussion with, and feedback from, local lay leaders encouraged as part of the process.
  • New preparatory document questionnaire more directly focussed on outcomes.
  • Compulsory for all holding common tenure, but with a strong encouragement that all licensed clergy will participate.
  • Intention that scheme will evolve and change as learning from implementation is incorporated into it.


  1. Bishop nominates reviewer to minister (reviewee) – minister may request an alternative if the nominated person not acceptable.
  2. Interview scheduled.
  3. Minister begins answering preparatory document one month before interview.
  4. Completed preparatory document to reviewer 10 days before interview. Reviewee encouraged to discuss content and process with local lay leaders.
  5. Interview.
  6. Interview report (form provided), agreed between reviewer and minister (possibility of a dissenting report acknowledged; and the possibility of the Bishop nominating a second reviewer).
  7. Report sent by the minister being reviewed to the Bishop of Chester
  8. The report is lodged in the minister's personnel file.  The Bishop acknowledges the report in writing. Specific development issues/needs will be shared with CMD Officer and Suffragan Bishop.
  9. After twelve months an interim further interview may take place if the minister desires it.
  10. 24 months later Bishop initiates second review. Report of prior review incorporated in preparation and review of projected outcomes of previous MDR part of the interview.




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