Rural Deans

by Michael Ford last modified 03 Jun, 2019 03:35 PM

A personal view by the Revd Canon Thomas Woodhouse

Rural Deans are nominated by the Bishop after consultation with Deanery clergy and normally serve – as “first among equals” - for a period of five to seven years. The Rural Deans in the Diocese of Salisbury share with the bishops in a ministry of oversight and are consulted regularly as part of an extended senior staff team.

A key role for the Rural Dean is to be alongside deanery colleagues and we consider it a priority to maintain the Deanery Chapter – the meeting of ministers –as a place of fellowship, mutual love and respect.  Developing a collegial atmosphere among members of the Chapter releases chrisms and can lead benefices to share worship and mission opportunities.  When Chapter is a place of support and encouragement, theological difference among members can be enjoyed and discussion become creative and supportive. 

The Deanery Synod is the strategic heart of the deanery and the Rural Dean, working alongside a lay colleague and the Deanery Pastoral and Standing Committee, sets the agenda and offers focus and direction for these forums.  In recent years Deanery Synods have been charged with giving a lead to parishes as Deanery Strategic Planning, Deanery Deployment Planning and Mission Action Planning have been embraced and developed across the diocese.

Rural Deans find the exercise of responsibility by lay people in the parish and the deanery exciting and energizing. The Rural Dean has a key role in nurturing, encouraging and equipping people in these journeys of discovery and developing ways to celebrate the Christian journey of the whole people of God.  We keep a focus on personal growth through education and learning, while maintaining the necessary sense of humour and commitment to prayer and worship! 

The balance between work with the our local worshipping community, leadership in the wider community and the duties of being a Rural Dean need careful and constant appraising – for which the Ministry Review Scheme and regular spiritual direction offer useful tools – we enjoy the privilege of holding these strands in one ministry and making the most of all the opportunities that this dynamic relationship between the various responsibilities provides.

Further information
Contact Canon Thomas Woodhouse
Co-Convener of Rural Dean and Bishops Meetings:
01305 267944.  Email:  tmbwoodhouse@gmail.com

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