Our Diocese: Our Vision
- See our Growing in God pages | webpage
- Download our Growing in God introductory booklet | PDF
- Download our Growing in God poster | PDF
The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich was founded in 1914 and includes the county of Suffolk, except for an area of North East Suffolk around Lowestoft, and one parish in the county of Essex. It serves about 631,000 people living in a geographical area of more than 1,400 square miles. The communities of the diocese are served by 454 parishes with 125 benefices and 18 deaneries. There are 478 church buildings of which 457 are listed. There are around 118 stipendiary clergy and 44 self-supporting ministers, some 180 Lay Licensed Ministers, including 172 Readers and a few Licensed Lay Pastors and Local Evangelists and 570 commissioned lay assistants (Lay Elders) in the parishes. There are 88 Church of England Controlled and Aided schools in the diocese. The Anglican churches across the diocese seek to develop close links with other Christian denominations and to build understanding with members of other faiths. The diocese also has close ties with churches across the world, most especially with the Diocese of Kagera in West Tanzania.
Our Vision: Growing in God
Flourishing Congregations Making a Difference
From Bishop Martin
I am delighted to present this Vision and Strategic Plan for the Diocese which will be the road map for how we live out God’s call to us for the next five years.
Much of this is not new, but represents the drawing together of proposals and plans produced in the Diocese over the last few years. The core of it is ‘Growing in God’ which has been taken on board by many parishes and benefices across the Diocese and has a momentum we want to sustain. You could say Growing in God represents the ”what” and this document directs us to the “how”. These plans are never complete, never fixed, but they do give us a clear direction of travel. For me the evidence that we have engaged hopefully and faithfully in this will be the reversal across the Diocese in the numerical decline in church attendance. That is certainly achievable, because many of our congregations show that it is. It is also a real challenge, because so much in our society militates against faith. But I believe in my heart that is what God longs to give the Church so that we can more clearly live and proclaim God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ to everyone.
May being hopeful and faithful in our calling bring blessing to all the people of Suffolk.
In order to have flourishing congregations making a difference, parishes and benefices will continue to concentrate on our four priorities of depth, number, influence and younger.
- Growing in Depth – responding to the call of Christ in every part of our lives
- Growing in Number – drawing contacts we have into the life of God’s kingdom
- Growing in Influence – reaching beyond ourselves in our impact on the wider world
- Growing Younger – building churches whose age range reflects our communities
We have highlighted four ‘building blocks’ which will be the tools we use to achieve our vision. They are Faith & Discipleship, Vocation & Ministry, Relationships & Structures and Resources & Buildings.
- Faith & Discipleship
Through enhancing the quality of our worship, building up our fellowship and extending our witness, we will develop flourishing and outward-looking congregations making a difference for our communities.
- Vocation & Ministry
We will build up the numbers of those in lay and ordained ministries including pioneers, evangelists and children’s and youth ministries. Our training will be accessible, flexible and integrated. It will place as much emphasis on continuing development as it does on initial training.
- Relationships & Structures
We will develop partnerships and networks for mutual learning and support and sharing good practice; working with ecumenical partners, schools and people of good will. We will align all our structures to serve the flourishing of our congregations.
- Resources & Buildings
We will manage our resources and buildings as gifts for mission. We will develop resources and operations to support congregations for growth. We will be innovative and work together to identify the best use of our buildings for mission.
An Introduction from Bishop Martin
- We will centre our lives on the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist which send us to love and serve the communities and networks to which we belong.
- We will seek to live in deepening awareness of ‘God with us’, discerning through prayer and vibrant worship how we are called to engage in God’s loving involvement in the world.
- We will become catalysts for change in our communities, networks, workplaces and schools, particularly Church schools, as by the gift of the Holy Spirit we seek to live more and more as citizens of God’s coming kingdom.
- We will discern the particular gifting of each congregation, irrespective of size or setting, and work in partnership with other congregations, denominations and people of good will to express this gifting.
- We will honour and learn from one another as members of the one body of Christ, each congregation emphasising different aspects of the character of Christ.
How we will look in 2022
Responding to the call of Christ we continue to deepen our desire to respond to the call of Christ in every part of our lives. In 2022 we will have...
- significant sustained increases in the number of infants, children and adults coming to baptism and candidates for confirmation
- a greater confidence of existing and new congregation members in daily prayer, Bible study, undertaking a role in the church, serving in the community and being aware of God’s presence in every aspect of life
- increased the level of average giving per electoral roll member and increased the number of those who engage in planned giving by 5%
- increased the number of candidates for ordination by at least 50% (in line with the national target)
Drawing the contacts we have into the life of God’s kingdom, we will plant and water for God’s growth of the numbers of those attending worship and fresh expressions and belonging to our electoral roll by 2022. In 2022 we will have...
- seen the reversal of the fall into growth in our average weekly attendances
- seen the reversal of the fall in our electoral rolls
- seen the creation of at least 20 ‘fresh expressions of church’
- created appropriate Christian communities with ecumenical partners in areas of new housing
- developed and commissioned at least 20 pioneers and 20 evangelists
Reaching beyond ourselves in our impact on the wider world, we aim to increase our engagement and service with the wider community. In 2022 we will have...
- developed 20 new local community projects focussed on those in greatest need
- increased support for the work of our existing church schools in enabling all pupils to achieve their full potential
- a more prominent voice in challenging injustice in our county
- developed new partnerships with chaplains serving in our county
Building churches whose age ranges reflect our communities; lower the average age of our congregations to match the average age of the population. In 2022 we will have...
- a significant decrease in the average age of our congregations
- a significant growth in the number of under 18s engaged in worship on Sundays, mid week and fresh expressions of church
- five pilot projects that develop effective partnerships between churches and local schools including church schools
- to offer each child and their family the opportunity of a life enhancing encounter with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ
- developed children’s and youth workers commissioning - at least 10 of each