The Bishop of Chester is today launching the vision development process for the Diocese of Chester.
The grassroots consultation aims to "cast the net wide" in order to capture the views of the widest number of people in our churches and communities to determine the values that will shape the strategy for how the diocese works and grows together in the future.
Bishop Mark says: "One of the things we have the opportunity to do right now is to stop and to consider what is it that God is calling us to do in order that we can be the best news that we can possibly be in our communities?
"We'd love you to come along to one of the Vision Cafe's, or to send in thoughts, to answer questions, and to engage with what we're doing, because we believe that Jesus is the best news for the whole Diocese of Chester and we'd love you to be involved in the process that we have going now, to help us discern the best way forward."
Casting the Net Wide is a 6-month process to listen to the widest number of people in our churches, schools and communities.
There are plenty of ways for people to participate, including drop-in Vision Café events, focus groups, away days, questionnaires, surveys, one-to-one interviews, and community activities, and a local artist will be creating a mass participation community art installation.
Church leaders will also be encouraged to facilitate some of these events, and resources will be made available over the coming weeks to help churches to promote and commuinicate the vision process to others.
The seed for the vision process was first sown during the appointment of Bishop Mark as the Bishop of Chester. The Diocese of Chester’s Statement of Needs – the 34-page document that articulated the desired profile of the incoming bishop – stated that the next bishop should “inspire and mobilise people to work together with a shared vision.”
It’s a responsibility that Bishop Mark has been taking seriously since his appointment.
In September, the first Vision Cafe pilot event took place at St Wilfrid’s Church, Grappenhall
With a message centred on Luke 5: 1-12 and the miracle of the great catch of fish, the hymns and prayers in the Sunday service were used to introduce the congregation to the theme of casting the net wide.
Speaking in September, the Revd Jane Proudfoot, Rector of St. Wilfrid’s, praised the idea: "Over 60 people stayed after the service to contribute their ideas and they were enthusiastic and engaged with the questions being asked. People have fed back that they were pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the wider vision for the diocese and are hopeful that their voices will be heard."
It is hoped that churches across the diocese will host their own Vision Café events between October and March 2023.
The vision process will conclude at a unique service at Chester Cathedral on 20 May 2023.