What is the Central Mission Partnership? Mission Partnerships are the Diocese’s policy for developing the Mission and Ministry of parishes at a time of shortage of full time clergy. On average there are only enough paid clergy to provide two for every three parishes. The solution is not to amalgamate parishes (as seems to be the response of Roman Catholic and Methodist churches faced with the same problem) but to find ways of working together. This will be much more than sharing clergy and other ministers. It should lead to learning from each other, combining resources on joint projects, and lending resources of people to parishes which need help. To make this work we will need to get to know the other parishes, through social events, joint services and shared study programmes. As an example, one suggested project that is under development is to organise lunches during the school holidays for the many children who qualify for free lunches during term time. This has been explored by the Children’s Ministers in the Partnership working together.
Most Mission Partnerships will be between two parishes, some for three but ours, the Central Mission Partnership, is for four: St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church, St Augustine’s Endcliffe, St Mary’s Bramall Lane and St Peter and St Oswald Parish Church. The partnership was officially launched in January 2017 although the churches had been working towards this goal for some time. It functions through meetings of the leadership ministers from the four parishes, plus there is a steering group which includes congregation members from all the churches; there is also a working relationship between the Children’s Ministers.
Ours is an ambitious Mission Partnership, because all the churches are already in partnerships of one kind or another, as well as working with other Christian denominations within the area and Interfaith partners:
- Here at St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church we are an Anglican/Methodist LEP and home to the Shirley House Interfaith Centre
- St Mary’s Bramall Lane has its thriving Community Centre, a registered charity and social enterprise which provides many services in its deprived area of the inner city
- St Augustine’s Endcliffe share their church building with Christ Church Endcliffe and their Priest in Charge, Claire Dawson, is the new Vicar at St Mary’s
- St Peter and St Oswald Parish Church is in partnership with St John the Evangelist, Abbeydale and Holy Trinity, Millhouses for children’s work.
This rich variety of churches should be able to develop our responsibilities for the Church’s Mission and Ministry in this part of Sheffield.