Commenting on the positive aspects of mortality,
the Church Times diarist wrote
recently: “There will not always be purificators and deanery
synods...” But for the time being at least there is no end to the
wiping of chalices and the gathering together of Anglicans in formal
structures at a level between the parish and the diocese.
The 1997 Bridge Report sought to cut the Gordian
knot by recommending that it should be possible to abolish deanery
synods in the interests of allowing groups of parishes to work together
more flexibly in furthering the Church’s mission.
After careful consideration and in the light of
widespread opposition to the Bridge Report’s suggestion, the Follow-Up
Group decided to recommend that such proposals be set on one side.
Instead it sought to gather and disseminate
guidance to help deaneries and deanery synods work more effectively. The
Follow-Up Group received many helpful comments, suggestions and examples
of good practice in response to their request for such help. Many took
the trouble to share their experience and expertise, which the Group
have tried to distil into the Report.
The Report seeks to do three things:
to set out some basic principles about working together in the
to give examples of good practice;
to make some specific recommendations, set out in the form of a
checklist to help deaneries work through them efficiently and
Deaneries and the Deanery Synod
There is an important question about the use of the
terms “deanery” and “deanery synod”. The responses received
referred to both entities, sometimes making a precise distinction
between them and sometimes using them interchangeably. In most cases it
was clear that the deanery synod is the key player in the planning and
carrying out of tasks within the deanery. However it is possible for
deanery activities to thrive where the life of the synod itself would
appear to be at a low ebb.
As the Church House Deaneries Group, an independent
church group which seeks to promote good practice in deaneries, said in
Deanery synods are the public face of the
deanery but are by no means the only indicator of the life of the
deanery. A lively deanery synod is usually indicative of an active and
vibrant deanery, but a poorly attended or dull synod does not
automatically indicate a completely dysfunctional deanery.
Good Practice in Deaneries
is published by the General Synod of the
Church if England and on sale at Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith
Street, London SW1P 3NZ.