Three years ago, the Diocese of Bristol began its Releasing the energy strategy. It invited churches to join in a journey of faith borne of a renewed confidence that God will grow His Church and His Kingdom in this region.
Churches have responded to that invitation and, as a Diocese, we are seeing the fruit of that response.
In the last three years, churches have started 150 new services. For the first time in decades, more people are attending church. More people are part of a small group for prayer or Bible study. Against stiff economic challenges, people have been giving more to their local church.
The Diocese has been supporting churches by creating a culture where growth is normal and increasing the number of ministers coming into parishes. Its strategy is working, with three out of four parishes growing during vacancy, preparing a healthy context to licence new incumbents. There are 18 new appointments planned for the coming year. And 50 people have been ordained in the last three years, considerably more than previous years.
However, the Diocese has come to a critical point if it is to continue to support and fund our ministers as they lead the growth we are seeing.
This autumn, deaneries are asking each parish to consider their ongoing financial commitment to the overall work of the Diocese. The Diocese has planned for, and sustained, deficit budgets over the last few years in order to support the change and growth we are seeing. But that cannot continue.
Bishop Mike has recorded a short video message making the call for renewed commitment. A video and flyers have been sent to PCCs highlighting the growth we have seen. Do request that they are shown at a church service if you have the facilities to do so.
Please pray as a church and for your PCC as you consider your financial commitment to the work of the Diocese, supporting your own ministry, those of neighbouring parishes and those without the resources to fund the ministry they need to reach their communities with the Good News.