STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS METHODIST CIRCUIT
The Staffordshire Moorlands Circuit of the Methodist Church, including the Local Ecumenical Partnerships at Bradnop, Leek and Tean, aims to keep the rumour of God alive in the Staffordshire Moorlands and seeks to engage creatively with the Christian Faith. Recognising the radical nature of Jesus’ ministry, we seek to be disturbed, challenged and formed by our faith in Jesus.
We recognise and celebrate the diversity that exists across the circuit and seek to foster such diversity.
We encourage and seek to strengthen relationships across the circuit, and the relationships between local congregations and local churches of other denominations.
We affirm the ministry of the whole people of God, and as we seek to engage in the mission of God across this circuit in many different ways, we affirm that all people, lay and ordained, should be encouraged to use their gifts for the purposes of mission.
We recognise that “Church” does not happen solely on a Sunday, and much imaginative, caring and vital work happens throughout the week.
As part of the body of Christ, we will live, work, worship and share fellowship together in the love of Jesus. When we cause hurt and division, we are not acting as Christ’s body should; when one of our churches are hurting, we all hurt; when one of our churches rejoices, we all rejoice.
In order to achieve our aims, the circuit will implement the following policies under the headings of: WORSHIP, LEARNING AND CARING, RESOURCES, SERVICE IN THE CHURCH AND THE WIDER COMMUNITY, COMMUNICATION.
The circuit believes that worship is at the heart of its growth in spirituality and is committed to maintaining diverse worship across the circuit which is vibrant, inclusive and culturally engaging.
This will mean:
– Planning worship in which the skills of local congregations can be used to their full potential.
– Creatively using our buildings to explore different styles of worship.
– Having an awareness of the spiritual needs of the different age groups across the circuit.
– Working creatively with ecumenical partnerships, both formal and informal.
The circuit affirms the use of ‘Local Arrangement’ services as a regular feature of our pattern of worship in all churches in order to achieve these aims. This is to be scheduled into the plan in each church one a quarter. Through such worship different styles might be explored:
– Celtic worship
– Iona Community
– Contemporary worship
– Traditional worship
– Taizé Services
– Café worship
– Other styles which might be appropriate
We encourage local worship leaders to use their gifts and skills for the benefit of the worshipping community, and as a circuit are committed to providing the necessary support and training.
The circuit recognises the value of worshipping together on a regular basis and as such commits to a quarterly ‘Circuit Service’ which will alternate between morning and evening and around the different churches of the Circuit, where suitable.
In addition local congregations are encouraged to worship together and share in resources and expertise wherever possible at other times in order to enliven worship and support one another.
Each church will have a worship contact which will be published in the preaching plan.
LEARNING AND CARING
The Circuit is committed to providing opportunities for each church and its congregation to grow and develop in their faith and the circuit will foster an attitude of exploration and learning in order to discover who God is, who we are as his followers, and what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus today.
CARING: Each congregation is expected to keep up-to-date pastoral lists of adherents and members; and to implement appropriate pastoral care systems in association with the person in pastoral charge.
Where necessary, Lay Leadership will be encouraged and given appropriate training to offer Pastoral Charge to specific congregations and to work in conjunction with the Circuit Leadership Team.
The circuit is committed to providing safe places and strongly urges each local congregation to put into place safeguarding policies and appropriate training.
LEARNING: The circuit affirms that the Christian life is open to lifelong learning and growing closer to God.
In order to achieve these aims, the Circuit encourages each congregation to explore:
– Periodic groups, in homes or churches, exploring a wide range of issues and subjects relating to the Christian faith
– One to one mentoring
– Opportunities to explore the heritages and traditions within the Circuit, including those of our ecumenical partnerships.
– To develop retreats – providing and encouraging opportunities for people to set aside time to spend with God and each other; to grow spiritually and to be refreshed in their faith.
The value of traditional class/fellowship structures within local churches as one way of growing together and providing pastoral care for each other has been well documented. Where such groups exist the circuit commits to supporting their ministry. Where such groups are not in place the circuit encourages the formation of cell groups/classes as a regular and visible means of expressing the care we have for one another.
As part of our commitment to learning, the Local Preachers and Ministers should all be involved in Continuing Development. This should include regular feedback and mutual appraisal. Local Preachers’ Meeting should share expertise which should be used to foster best practice.
As we face up to the limited resources we have at our disposal, and the increasing costs across the circuit, we recognise that the way of doing things we are used to is unsustainable and things have to change.
Some difficult decisions will need to be made regarding finances, buildings, personnel, and the number of services provided. The Circuit is committed to walking with the local congregation as we face these issues, and face up to our limited resources. This is an opportunity for doing things differently.
Ministers and Local Preachers will not be expected to carry a burden that is too great for them, and we need to change a mind-set from stretching human resources even more thinly to being open to training and using the gifts of people within the circuit in leadership roles for local congregations.
New initiatives will still be encouraged, and where possible, supported by the Circuit.
Congregations will be expected to explore and embrace Local Arrangement services where necessary.
With some small congregations, it may be necessary to join with another small congregation for occasional services of worship and for scheduled council meetings.
Believing in the Priesthood of all believers, the circuit will encourage peoples’ gifts and talents to be used for the mission of the circuit. Where appropriate, Lay Leadership will be encouraged and when necessary, appropriate training provided.
The circuit can only consider requests for grants toward building work that is of the most urgent nature until a time when the Model Trust Fund maintains a healthy balance and this policy can be reviewed.
Weekly Giving: we would encourage each individual to consider their regular giving to their church, and to look into the possibility of standing orders.
SERVICE IN THE CHURCH AND THE WIDER COMMUNITY
The circuit will encourage service by
- · encouraging people to be good neighbours in their community;
- · encouraging people to challenge injustice;
- · encouraging people to offer their gifts and resources to support the church in its mission.
- · encourage people to run courses to explore the Christian faith with people in their communities.
The circuit believes that working and speaking out for justice is integral to following Christ. We are committed
· to the issues raised by Fairtrade, and encourage all the individual congregations to gain and keep ‘Fairtrade Church’ status, as we become a Fairtrade Circuit.
- · to the work of Christian Aid, and other agencies who work to make our world a more fair and just place, believing in life before death.
- · to be aware of environmental issues and their impact on church life
- · to learn from our brothers and sisters through the World Church
- · to be in dialogue, where possible, with other faith communities.
The circuit recognises that timely communication is vital as part of its organisation and has a direct impact on the effectiveness of its mission.
Every congregation, and church council, should be aware of implications of decisions made, and how that is communicated amongst the leadership of the local congregation and the circuit. The circuit will endeavour to allow adequate time for a proper, wide, consultation, particularly when important issues affecting the whole circuit are being looked at.
The circuit encourages people within the congregations to use their skills and gifts to
· maintaining an engaging circuit web-site, regularly updated.
- · the production of a regular circuit newsletter advertising circuit events, good news stories, and incorporating the circuit prayer diary.
- · maintaining Church notice boards to high standard and with timely and accurate information.
- · each congregation should provide a named contact for purposes of publicity
The greatest asset each congregation has is its own people. Every person is a witness to their faith, and as a circuit, we will encourage each person to grow in confidence in their faith.
We share the Gospel of Jesus so that people will have hope and purpose for their lives.
The purpose of this document is to raise the issues that need to be worked upon by the local congregation and the circuit. Some issues can and should be implemented immediately while others will require further consultation. Therefore this policy document should be reviewed during the summer 2014.