Vision Next Steps 2021
Our vision to Grow in prayer, make new disciples and serve the people of Devon with joy has been in place since 2016.
In June 2021 we developed a ‘Next Steps’ plan to help the diocese and its mission communities move forward from the pandemic in a way that is both creative and sustainable.
“The pandemic has changed every aspect of life over the last 18 months and the life of our churches is no exception. We have been challenged in all sorts of ways and I have been moved by the way people have stepped up and stepped out in faith. I give thanks for deeper engagement with local communities, proclaiming the joy of a God who yearns that people everywhere experience life in all its fullness. Most of our parishes and Mission Communities have revealed their resilience, but some are feeling fragile and apprehensive about the future.
“As a Diocese, it is time to take stock so that we emerge from this extraordinary period with a clear sense of direction and a realistic plan for how to get there. We need to move forward in a way that is both creative and sustainable.
“Now is the time to renew our trust in the leading of God. ‘Next Steps’ represents the crystallisation of our collective learning to date. It draws on the Listening in Deaneries consultation, ‘For Such A Time As This’, carried out in 2020 and the work of the Theological Reflections Group, a group of clergy and laity from across the Diocese who met during lockdown. It incorporates feedback from the Diocesan Synod held in May 2021 on the Church of England’s Emerging Vision for the 2020s and what I learnt at first-hand during my online visits to every deanery chapter.
“With so many rural parishes, we have also drawn upon the wisdom garnered in the excellent ‘Lightening the Load’ toolkit and have consulted our Growing the Rural Church team. All these tributaries have fed into our thinking. It is my hope that, as we move forward, we can build a culture that is mutually supportive, working together to make bold decisions, always willing to listen and to adapt.
“I hope the document will stimulate imaginative and realistic conversations about how our Mission Communities can develop over the next three years. That development will help inform how our stipendiary clergy can best be deployed. Recognising that some significant challenges still lie ahead of us, we need to enable our Mission Communities to flourish in ways that are fruitful and sustainable, with thriving congregations that make a difference. May God bless our endeavours as together we seek to grow in prayer, to make new disciples and serve the people of Devon with joy.”
The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter
We are currently holding a ‘Big Conversation’ about our Next Steps through our Archdeacons’ visitations and a planned series of webinars in the autumn of 2021 (dates tbc). If you would like to offer feedback or comment please email us.
Watch this Next Steps video: