Many of you will know that there has been a Re-visioning in Thames North Synod which has placed growth of the whole church at the heart of the Synod’s mission strategy. Recognising that mission is carried out locally committees have been restructured and streamlined so that resources might be released to local church groups. It is hoped that this will strengthen churches by encouraging them to collaborate more closely together for mutual support and shared activity.
All Area Committees will cease to function from the end of March and churches will belong to Local Area Groups. One immediate benefit is that all churches will have a representative on their Local Area Group. The constitution of the Area Committees limited their size and so some churches felt left out, and there were sometimes failures in communication. The new Local Area Groups (LAGs) are in the process of creating themselves and establishing their identities so that they might be formally recognised by Synod.
Member churches are actively encouraged to work with each other and with their ecumenical partners. There is also the recognition that, because of Synod deployment allocation, ordained ministry will have to be shared in the future. St Andrew’s and Wembley Park are about to do this. Some areas of Thames North, like Roding and St Albans, already work with ministry teams attached to groups of churches.
It is envisaged that churches in LAGs will work with neighbouring churches, not necessarily altogether. This happens at present. We have good working relationships with Perivale and Ealing Green. St Andrew’s belongs to a Local Area Group which is rather widespread, geographically: St Andrew’s Ealing, Harlesden, Acton Hill, Ealing Green, Perivale, Wembley Park, Brentford, Hounslow, Feltham and Heston Asian Church.
It is also a very varied group, with Local Ecumenical Partnerships, Baptist, Methodist and Moravian. Perivale and Feltham are without ordained ministry. St Andrew’s West Kilburn (us!) and Hounslow have 0.25 and 0.5 allocation of a minister respectively.
Much of the business which was undertaken by Area Committees will now fall to LAGs. Of course there will be Synod oversight and enabling. The former unwieldy Synod committee structure has been streamlined. There are now the Synod Executive and four others to support LAGs:
The Discipleship Committee
The Pastoral Committee
The Resources Committee
The Appointments Advisory Group
Details of these and the re-visioning can be found in the September 2014 and March 2105 Synod reports on www.urcthamesnorth.org.uk .