Discipleship in the benefice

Aim: to ensure that opportunities are provided for everyone in the Benefice to nurture their faith so that they grow and flourish as followers of Christ in their relationship with God; this includes all ages and those starting out on the journey, as well as those who are more established in the Christian faith.

In 2012 key priorities in the development of Discipleship in the Benefice were identified as:

  • Supporting & encourage Christian parenting amongst those with children at both St Mary’s & St Anne’s
  • Offering something for those already established in life of the churches in the Benefice who might value the opportunity for some challenging reading and discussion by forming a Theological Book group
  • Developing the Discipleship programme for children and young people in the Benefice
  • Providing more opportunities for people to meet in small groups
  • Growing and enabling lay leadership

Supporting and Encouraging Christian parenting:

  • The introduction of Discovery Bags with activities for parents to use with children during worship to explore the Christian faith together
  • Two Positive Parenting courses run by a facilitator from Care for the Family
  • Signposting to events outside of the parish

Theological Book Group:

  • ‘Book of the term’ was launched in September 2012; books read and discussed each term since then with the exception of last term and Lent 2014

Discipleship programme for children and young people:

  • ‘Youth Emmaus’ course is run every year for young people exploring Confirmation
  • y@smaa (Youth at Saints Mary and Anne!) was formed in autumn 2012 and continues to grow and flourish
  • In 2012 successfully applied for a Diocesan grant that enabled us to employ our first part-time children’s work co-ordinator for the Benefice; Tammy began work in August 2013 and is supervised by the Associate Vicar
  • Tammy’s work has included the development of ‘Messy Church’ monthly on a Sunday afternoon

Opportunities for people to meet in small groups:

  • ‘Thursday thinkers’ began in 2013 as a follow-on from a Lent group; now meeting monthly during the day, more frequently in Lent & Advent
  • A Confirmation group for Adults is run every year during the main Sunday morning service
  • A START course or similar for those new to church or the Christian faith is run most years
  • A programme of Lent groups or activities is organised each year – taking different forms
  • Discussion groups in the service at St Anne’s
  • The Prayer Circle meets monthly to pray for the life of the church and community and wider needs, as well as to learn about different ways of praying
  • A new contemplative prayer group began Advent 2015 & is continuing
  • Other ‘one off’ opportunities for people to meet in groups… prayer and poetry evenings, inter-faith discussions, film nights to help us learn about the plight of Palestinian Christians
  • Monthly Moseley at the Movies launched Jan 2016; food & theology monthly probably after Easter

Growing and enabling Lay leadership:

  • CPAS Growing Leaders course 2014-2015 for the first time with 12 participants; running for a 2nd year from 2015-2016 with a further 11 participants
  • Some of our congregation have attended the 3D course (Diocesan Developing Disciples) and as a follow-on from both of the above we have 4 people exploring vocation to particular ministries & a new vocations group

In addition…

  • an annual Quiet Day organised by the Prayer Circle
  • occasional sermon series centred around a particular theme or season to enable our congregations to grow and learn.
  • Pilgrimages - most recently day pilgrimages to Chester, Liverpool and Oxford, & a group from the Benefice went to Greenbelt summer 2015

An additional priority we identified in 2012 was around how we welcome newcomers, and it is the focus for 2016.