The diocesan leadership and community is committed to the vision of a Transforming Church, Transforming Lives and has been since September 2016.
It is a vision of a diverse, growing, intergenerational church at the heart of each community, working alongside our chaplaincies and schools in living and proclaiming the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.
In this film, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, encourages us all for the task ahead:
The original vision came from our parishes, with over 1,500 people from across the diocesan community consulted from a diverse range of contexts, cultures and churchmanships.
From that wide-ranging listening exercise, 12 strategic goals were developed, and for six years, we worked hard towards those goals through all our planning and priorities in each of our contexts.
We achieved so much during that time:
• More than a hundred new worshipping communities have developed within our parishes.
• We have played our part in a remarkable 40% increase across the nation of men and women offering themselves for primary leadership in the church.
• In 2019 we recorded our first growth for a decade in the number of adults (up 2.5%) and children (up 10%) worshipping in our churches during an average week.
A dramatically changed world
To take into account the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021 the focus for our diocesan ministry and mission was again researched through a wide-ranging consultation and extensive prayer.
Our refreshed focus
Following that second prayerful listening exercise, and looking at the National Church’s focus of ‘Simpler, Bolder, Humbler’ we have opted for three related priorities that refresh and evolve our original vision:
This brings together:
• Encountering God through worship, prayer, retreat and learning.
• Everyday Faith – sharing and expressing our faith in daily life, and exploring vocation.
• Meeting with our Church family in all sorts of contexts for Christian encouragement, friendship and support.
This will mean for many parishes increasing the amount of younger people, and also growing our diversity in every way to ensure we better reflect the communities we serve. It means continuing the great work our schools are doing. It means having the courage to experiment with new ways of being Church, physically and digitally.
This builds on the community partnerships of our parishes, chaplaincies and schools, many of which were developed throughout the pandemic. It also draws in the critical work across our communities to care for the Earth and reduce carbon emissions.
Alongside the three priorities, we also created refreshed set of 'Imagine' statements:
Imagine a Church that is rooted in prayer, daily recognising our dependence on the God who saves, guides, strengthens and grows the Kingdom.
Imagine a Church where people of all ages reach their full potential as disciples and leaders, cheering one another on in the adventure of following Jesus.
Imagine a Church that worships in many ways and places, building diverse, holy, attractive communities of faith that are nourished through word and sacrament, alive in the Spirit, and accessible in every way.
Imagine a Church at the heart of the communities we serve, reaching out to the poor and marginalised with compassion and purpose, challenging injustice, and bearing gospel fruit around the world.
To deliver these three priorities, there are eight key areas of focus. They work in unity with our Parish Needs Process and guide the work of the team at Church House.
The process begins with the Mission Enabler Team visiting parishes, listening first to what they need and then advising parish leaders on the help and support that is available through diocesan officers, advisers and consultants.