Vision development process set for diocesan-wide launch

The start of the new season heralds the unveiling of an exciting new project at the end of the month when the Bishop of Chester will launch the vision development process for the Diocese of Chester.

This will be a grassroots consultation that promises 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.

Harriet Roberts, who was appointed into the new role of Director of Development (Vision and Strategy) in June, has spent the summer meeting with Rural Deans and senior staff to shape the process, questions, and conversations.

She says: “Casting the Net Wide is a 6-month mission to listen to the widest number of people in our churches and schools and get out to the edges of communities, secular groups, and those on the margins of society where people have no connection with a church. Rural Deans and others have been invaluable in helping us to think about the shape and the tone of the consultation so we can reach as many people as possible and inspire them to participate.

“Through creative, collaborative conversations we hope people will embrace the opportunity to share their views through a range of activities.”

Harriet (left) with her daughter Lizzy (right) and members of staff from Church House at  a pilot Vision Cafe event at St. Wilfrid's, Grappenhall. 

There will be 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.

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.

Addressing Diocesan Synod in November 2021, Bishop Mark emphasised the need to work together to develop a shared vision, saying: “The task of discerning vision, whilst I am willing to take my responsibility to lead that, is not mine and mine alone, it is ours.”

Describing what it was he hoped to achieve, he said: “Vision is the task of those with responsibility looking forward and asking the question of what it is that we are called to do and to be for the sake of the mission which is at the heart of all that we are.”

On Sunday 04 September, that process started to take shape as staff from Church House facilitated a pilot Vision Café event 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.

Afterwards, over cake and coffee in the annex of the church, the congregation was invited to contribute their ideas and thoughts through a wide range of activities. The space was transformed with café-themed dressing, props, and tools to inspire imaginative thinking.

It is hoped that churches across the diocese will host their own Vision Café events between October and March 2023.

The Revd Jane Proudfoot, Rector of St. Wilfrid’s, praised the idea: "Harriet and the team clearly explained what was expected of us and provided all the resources and materials necessary for the Vision Café event.

“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. 

“I would say the Vision Café event was very enjoyable and a great success."

The next Vision Café pilot will take place at Bramhall parish church on Saturday 10 September following the Enabling All God’s People service at 2pm.

After reviewing the responses and listening to feedback from the pilot events, Harriet and the team plan to refine the plan accordingly before launching the process at the end of the month.  

She says: “All of the details and information on how to get involved will be communicated via the E-Bulletin and diocesan website at the end of September.”

The vision process will conclude at a unique service at Chester Cathedral on 20 May 2023.

Page last updated: Wednesday 7th September 2022 9:21 AM
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