In Whitby Deanery we are very keen to emphasise the benefits of working together to be able to offer diversity of worship across the deanery.
To do this we have produced a glossy brochure “what is a deanery” which has been distributed through the parishes, and the Lay Dean tries to visit a different church each week. These visits have been much appreciated.
Whitby Deanery covers a large geographical area with 26 parish churches grouped into six benefices serviced by six incumbents (one of whom is part time) and one a part-time locum. All are relatively recent appointees. Within the Deanery there are also several active retired clergy and the Order of the Holy Paraclete's St Hilda's Priory. The Deanery consists of Whitby itself (population 13,000) and several scattered villages, and rates high on the government’s index of deprivation. Many of the villages have an elderly population which is reflected in the congregations, and some of the churches have attendances in single figures.
Owing to the geographical spread of the deanery we have trouble with publicity and for this reason we have embraced social media. We have set up a Facebook page (Whitby Deanery) which has two administrators and two editors. This page publicises events and and records them (normally in pictures) across the deanery. Our post of the Blessing of the Lifeboats by Bishop Paul received over 450 hits and more than 50 engagements. We also share posts from the local secondary schools, from Durham, Ripon and York Cathedrals and from York Diocese. Posts are also shared from other local organisations and churches not in our deanery at the discretion of the editors. Many of the latter resist liking our page; work to be done there! As Lay Dean I cannot over emphasise the importance of social media and would appreciate the Diocese putting on courses on social media as I am not of an age in which I was brought up on this!
Leslie Dobson - Lay Dean Whitby Deanery