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29th January 2006
Releasing the Potential
A Report on the Portsmouth Diocese Annual Readers' Conference 2006
The last weekend in January was an exciting time for the Readers of Portsmouth Diocese. At their annual conference on the Isle of Wight they were entertained and addressed by the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Rev Mike Hill. The subject was ‘Releasing the Potential’; releasing the potential of all the laity, including Readers. All the incumbents of Readers were invited to attend on the Saturday to hear Bishop Mike, and 20 accepted, joining the 102 Readers and spouses staying the weekend. They were joined at various times through the weekend by our two Archdeacons, Trevor and Peter.
This was an important conference, with a subject that comes under the Kairos (see note below) umbrella, getting clergy and laity working together, as a team, for the benefit of their churches, and God’s church in general. Bishop Mike, supported by Rev Anne Faulkner from the Isle of Wight, spoke of the need to empower and encourage all of the laity to take responsibility and not leave everything to the clergy; and also to encourage the clergy to loosen the reins and give some responsibility over to the laity.
On the Friday following the conference, the Church of England Newspaper had a front page article about the fear of clergy burnout. With laity in general, and Readers in particular, empowered and allowed to take responsibility for ‘their’ churches, more people would be doing the work, allowing the clergy to resume their role of shepherd to their flock, guiding and caring; rather than sheepdog, always rushing around, nudging people into place.
A point raised by Bishop Mike is that there is a perception in the church that ‘full time’ equates to ‘professional’, and ‘part time’ to ‘amateur’. There is also the perception that only the ‘professional’ can do it properly. There are many gifted, professional ‘amateurs’, in our churches, who are not being utilised.
Another point raised at the conference was that, wonderful though the parish system is, it makes people think, well, parochially. One of the major benefits of Kairos is that we are looking outside our parishes to see what those around us are up to. Projects are being organised at Cluster level, spreading the load and involving more of the laity.
The Readers are now planning an equally vital subject for the 2007 Conference.
Kairos is the new name for the strategic review process to help re-shape our diocese.
The goals of Kairos are to:
1. Identify the needs of the communities we serve.
2. Identify the resources at our disposal to meet the needs of our communities.
3. To optimise, and re-deploy where necessary, our resources to ensure we can meet those needs.