We have been pulling together some resources to help faith communities plan for their future, especially when it becomes clear that they may not exist in the future as they are now.
Bishop Steve writes:
I firmly believe that the church will continue, but it may not look like it does today. I've heartened by all of the fresh shoots of new life I see around the Diocese, but also aware that many faith communities are struggling to keep going and are not sure what to do next. Having difficult conversations about the future are important, and give an opportunity to make decisions that can pass on the baton of faith to those who will come after us, to enable them to continue to share the love of Christ in fresh ways. Making Tracks is a term that describes a people of faith who are not stuck in the same place, but are looking to see where God is leading them next.
With thanks to the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton (Canada), we have a new webpage, information and resources on how to tackle this.
This talks about the following steps:
Beginning the process
Find space to have a frank and open discussion about the building and/or faith community. Find the best person to chair/facilitate this and try and look at all the options. Contact the Bishop with your decision/request (via a vestry/committee motion and general meeting motion).
Remembering and Moving On
Any process like this is hard: make sure you give space and time for people to reflect, remember and share their stories. Make time to talk and decide “What happens next?”, what the options are for “making tracks”. Ensure that people are cared for pastorally throughout this time. Identify future options for continuing to pray, read the scriptures and live out Christ’s life in your communities.
Practical Matters - Closure-Secularisation of a church building
Check out what you need to do around closing a building and selling or making it available for new ministries. If closure takes place, a building needs to be secularised (released for secular use) by the Bishop at an arranged worship service. Make sure you think carefully about the contents of the building – how will you dispose of them? Is there anyone who gave items that you could give back? Can anything be passed onto another faith community to use? What about areas where ashes or human remains are interred? Where can our church records be archived so that our history is not lost? Contact the Diocesan Office (Registrar) to help work through any practicalities.
Practical Matters: Dissolution of a Regional Deanery, Parish or Local Church
Please contact the Diocesan Registrar, Andrew Metcalfe, if you want to find out more about these resources or need any of them in a hard copy.