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By a vote of 72% in favour to 28% against, the Synod of Diocese of Leicester voted to implement a new framework for diocesan ministry. 

According to the Diocesan summary of the plan, the intention is to organise into 20-25 geographic “Minster Communities.” The diocesan website says there are over 320 churches and 234 parishes within its boundaries.  “… initially most of the expected 80-90 paid positions will be stipendiary clergy, but our aspiration is for increased lay ministry working alongside clergy across the diocese.”

The plan summary states that “sacramental provision is assured”.  In hard numbers, this would mean if there is only one ordained clergyman per Minster (and only one is required) he would have between 13 and 16 congregations to get to for a service of Holy Communion or Baptism each week.  

Again, according to the summary:

“Each Minster Community’s ministry leadership team will consist of a mixture of ordained and lay

appointments and will include a minimum of the following locally-based roles:

• An oversight minister (Ordained)

• A Growing Faith (schools, churches and households) focussed minister (Lay or Ordained)

• Operations Director (admin / buildings / finance for the whole MC)

  • A locally contextually focussed minister (could be a pioneer)”

The Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester, insists that, “parishes are, and will remain, front and centre.”  

What remains to be seen is how parishes with different churchmanship commitments will be able to mutually flourish with limits being placed by geography.  There doesn’t seem to be any plan to allow the Minsters to be organised according to theological affinity.  This is problematic because according to the diocesan summary,“The rights of PCCs and incumbents will continue to be respected.”  

There is however a big caveat to the plan because before implementation, “The shape of deployment within a Minster Community will be dependent on the outcomes of the local conversations that will begin in February 2022 as parishes, church schools and our other worshipping communities such as chaplaincies and fresh expressions of Church decide together. There will be encouragement to think widely and creatively, ensuring that local leadership has a diversity of gifts and styles and is right for their local area.”