On 30th September 2021, the York Diocesan Leadership Team (YDLT) wrote this to parishes, including a link to download the first, early summary of the survey responses:

Dear Friends

Thank you for your really encouraging responses to the ‘Living Christ’s Story’ Consultation, part of our seeking to understand how, together, we might deepen our relationship with Christ through becoming more Christ-like and growing the church which is the body of Christ.

More than 75% of you responded; this is high for a consultation of this kind, despite everyone working doubly hard as we journey out of the pandemic restrictions. We are very aware of the demands upon you at this busy time so, once again, ‘thank you’!

This level of a response is, we trust, a sign that people across the Diocese are assured that the outcome of this process isn’t already determined and that we value your comments – thank you for your trust in that. We’ve shared with you both the opportunities before us and the constraints on us all; many of you have risen wonderfully to that challenge, and we believe that God’s will is emerging through your responses and your willingness to work together.

We hope this is helpful in understanding more fully the diocese of which we are a part, and in your planning for our future. As a Diocesan Leadership Team, we have found your insights into the present and the future of the diocese really helpful. They reflect your hopes for the Church and your confidence in addressing many issues, but also the very real demands and constraints on your time and finances.

We noted in particular that you have asked for more help in reaching ‘20s-40s’ and in reaching children and families – we are working on plans to resource and help in those areas now. It was also good to note how much you appreciate the support and encouragement that you receive from the wider Deanery – we believe this is a testament to the value of our Area and Lay Deans, with the Deanery Leadership Team, and we thank them for all that they are doing.

We also received a number of comments and questions, most commonly about our pooled costs – you have asked for more information on how we spend money in our Common Fund and what we are doing to manage the costs of diocesan support, just as we are managing the costs of parish ministry. Our finance team are looking carefully at those questions and will share information in a clear format as soon as possible. You have also asked about how we secure mission and ministry in our Lowest Income Communities, and we will give some more information on that soon. All the responses to your ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ will appear in the ‘Living Christ’s Story’ resources section of the diocesan website soon.

You have given us a great deal to think about and to discuss, in time, with Area and Lay Deans, Deanery Leadership Teams, Archbishop’s Council, and Diocesan and Deanery Synods. We want to make sure we, collectively, get this right – to balance hope and pragmatism, confidence in the Gospel and the realities of our current position. We want to create space for God to bless our plans and grow our faith! God has already shown his faithfulness by easing some of our financial worries over the past year to give us a little more time to think and to plan sensibly. We aren’t out of the woods as regards the impact of COVID, and nor has the underlying budgetary deficit disappeared, but we have more confidence than at the start of the year thanks to your generosity and some savings that have been made.

We will work closely with deaneries to provide clear guidance for the creation of deanery plans, but to enable longer reflection we now propose to do this early in 2022. Some are keen to see firm plans developed more quickly but we want to allow the extra 3 or 4 months to enable deeper consideration – we hope you agree that the extra time will be worth it. If any of this prompts questions for you, please contact your Bishop or Archdeacon.

In all of this we seek God. The Diocesan Leadership Team have committed to praying a very simple prayer during this time: ‘Lord, what do you want of us?’ Do join us in this prayer, inspired by a longer prayer of St Teresa of Avila, as we search for God’s wisdom. As ever our desire is ‘Your Kingdom Come, Lord’.

With our continued prayers for you and your parishes

The York Diocesan Leadership Team

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