The current MDR scheme for clergy in the Diocese was launched during Eastertide 2017.
Three principles lie at the heart of the scheme:
As clergy, we participate in MDR because we want to; as members of the body of Christ we are accountable to each other for the gifts and resources bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the whole Church.
From this theological conviction flows the practice of MDR being something which, as a diocese, we do together, rather than something which is done to us. In a similar way that we are all minsters of the gospel by virtue of our baptism, in MDR we all participate in the bishop’s ministry of episcope by sharing oversight of each other, with each other.
The outcome of MDR is to seek to encourage, which means that although the process may involve challenge and probing, the springboard for conversation between reviewer and reviewee ultimately lies with the reviewee’s openness to that conversation; nothing may be imposed and the reviewee controls the output.
We are encouraging each other to consider MDR an annual discipline which we undertake together as a whole Diocese, and to this end we are encouraging an MDR season for each year.
Part of the vision for MDR in our diocese is that we try to restrict our involvement in the scheme to the same few months each year, thereby encouraging a sense of an MDR season in which we all do MDR together.
A fundamental principle of the scheme is that it is person-centered and a key characteristic is that the clergyperson meets with someone every year over a four-year cycle as in the diagram. It does not matter where they start in the cycle. Over four years they see:
A) their chosen dedicated reviewer;
B) the Rural Dean;
C) their own spiritual adviser or prayer friend; and
D) a Bishop or Archdeacon.
The idea behind four quadrants is that although the issues discussed in MDR are always centered on what the reviewee chooses to discuss and will always reflect the events and experiences of the past year, the four quadrants also encourage us to consider particular aspects of our ministry.
Time spent with a Rural Dean encourages to reflect on our life in the Deanery; time spent with a spiritual director, soul friend or companion places the focus on our prayer and interior life; time spent with a Bishop or Archdeacon encourages to reflect on our ministry in the Diocese; and time spent with a chosen Reviewer may be when we reflect deeply on personal aspects of our ministry.
Reviewees will be able to choose a reviewer from a list of accredited people and make their own arrangements for spiritual direction. Reviewers and Reviewees agree together who will produce the first written draft of the outcome of a meeting and the reviewee always has the final say on what the account says – these outcomes travel with the clergyperson around the cycle. The complete control of what goes into this paperwork always remains in the control of the clergyperson who is being reviewed; Reviewers many not pass on anything that is discussed in an MDR meeting without the express permission of the reviewee.
A clergyperson may choose whether to take up the option of a 360° or external perspectives review with any of the reviewers. The MDR office will supply details on request of how to conduct such an approach.
MDR is not about appraisal; it is about encouragement and personal development.
My Dedicated Reviewer
Given the cyclical nature of the scheme and the four different quadrants in use of review, it was possible to launch the review and have all members of the scheme begin the process of MDR at the same time. When a reviewee enters the My Dedicated Reviewer quadrant of the process, they will be given some choice as to which person to use, subject to availability.
Each Rural Dean will normally see a quarter of the Deanery each year but in a larger Deanery a second person may also be nominated. Any clergyperson who has reservations about this arrangement should speak to the Bishops MDR Adviser privately.
Although the diocesan list is available from email@example.com there is no expectation that clergy must use a name from the list or that those currently on the list must participate as part of the scheme. It is not necessary for a clergyperson in the programme to reveal who their spiritual adviser is and the minimum requirement, for that year of the cycle, is that a declaration is made that a meeting has taken place. The reviewee may wish to share goals or insights gained during the conversation but there is no obligation to do so.
It will eventually be possible for a reviewee to ask to see their own dedicated 'My Reviewer' again in this quadrant of the cycle, subject to agreement and availability of the said reviewer.
In time we hope to develop this part of the cycle to reflect work currently being done on clergy well-being.
Bishops / Archdeacons
The way in which this quadrant will work in 2021 is different to other parts of the cycle due to episcopal vacancies.
The scheme is overseen by the Archdeacon of Chester with the assistance of Jane Gerrard in Church House.
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.
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.
For CMD enquiries relating to MDR:
(The forms below are currently those for 2021.)
MDR Outcomes and Training Needs
Self review questions for consideration before meeting a Bishop or Archdeacon
Self review questions for consideration before meeting with My Reviewer
Self review questions for consideration before meeting your Rural Dean
Summary graphic of Diocese of Chester scheme
National guidance and legal framework
National review of MDR in 2014
Ways ahead – provisions for Continuing Ministerial Development in the Diocese of Chester