Lay Dean Andrew Pate writes:

South Holderness has a lot going for it – relatively small (25 churches), big skies for big thoughts, and a very strong sense of identity. You would have if you lived East of Hull, terra icognita for many. Developing the Deaneries was to us like manna from heaven.

There had been a difficult reorganisation cutting the benefices from seven to four, but we had a strong take-up of the RPA course, and a Rural Dean wedded to the idea of the priesthood of all believers, with the “laity” to playing a full part as of right. We fervently believed that the unit of organisation should no longer be the parish, but the benefice or the deanery; we knew we would do more if we worked together and supported each other.

We were clear about how different the work of the Deanery Synod would become, and recruited a more active group of representatives who have played a pro-active role in shaping our Mission and Ministry Plan. The four incumbents and our house-for-duty priest became members of the DLT, and we recruited lay people with strong and varied skill sets eager and free to play their part in leadership. The Team has become a group where the divide between clergy and laity hardly exists. We have welcomed the new freedoms with open arms; we sense this is an exciting time to be in the Deanery.

We have a strong concept of “deanery”, and have begun to articulate it in deanery events that strengthen us and reach out to others. We have not yet had an issue which has threatened to split the deanery, but if and when we do, we are confident that in the DLT we have created a forum in which, and in the love of Christ, grown-up conversations can take place. But we know (because we asked) that 50% of church members have no idea what the deanery is. So there is a long way to go, in prayer and faith and with confidence.