November 2021 saw our first-ever Diocesan Churchwarden Network events.
Churchwardens from across the Diocese made the journey to Danesmoor and Chellaston, one even coming all the way from the north of the Peak Deanery by train and taxi.
The aim of these events was to say thank you and acknowledge the huge contribution that our churchwardens make.
It was also to provide wardens with the opportunity to tell us what they felt we needed to hear and, more importantly, for us to listen.
Following opening worship and a personal thank you from the archdeacons, our partners from Ecclesiastical Insurance undertook a listening exercise where they asked the wardens:
- What is church like post-pandemic?
- What do you think the future of the church will look like?
- What can Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG) do to help best support your parishes?
Ecclesiatical's Lynne Ingham leads a listening session
We then went on to begin the conversation around how the diocese can help when your church is in vacancy and to look at some of the challenges and opportunities about being in vacancy.
We finished the morning by sharing lunch together.
Being present at these two events only increased our admiration for all that the wardens do.
The level of expertise and knowledge in the room was overwhelming and it was a joy to be told from churchwardens who had arrived with queries about things to do with their own churches, that they had found answers in the guidance and advice given by other churchwardens present, who had experienced similar situations.
What has happened since
Those of us from the diocese and Ecclesiastical came away with a list of things to action and feedback.
A request was made for the equivalent of a ‘supply list’ of priests and readers who would be available to take services for churches in vacancy. This is being followed up.
We had hoped this would be a quick and simple task, but we are checking with our legal colleagues that to produce such a list is compliant with GDPR.
Communication difficulties were identified as being a major point of contention with the complexities of the current Church House telephone system being singled out for particular mention. This has been passed on to Senior Management.
The national churchwarden Facebook group was advertised https://www.facebook.com/groups/churchwardens and between our first and second events, our Comms team have created our a Facebook group specifically for churchwardens in the Diocese of Derby: https://www.facebook.com/groups/derbyshirechurchwardens
Questions were asked about finding reputable tradespeople when church repairs need doing and a good starting point is National Churches Trust maintenance booker:
Environmental Questions were asked and the link below offers some helpful suggestions
Other suggestions and requests are being looked at.
Over 92% of those present said that they’d be extremely likely to attend another event, so please hold Thursday, 30 June 2022 in your diary.
There will be a follow-up letter in the New Year with more details and other information from the two events.