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Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Transforming Presence

An introduction by the Bishop of Chelmsford

A Transforming Presence in Every Community

Following a diocese wide consultation seeking to understand and address significant challenges facing the church and the communities we serve, the November 2012 meeting of the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod agreed the Transforming Presence Strategic Priorities to 2025. The priorities were accompanied by the Mission Statement 'To be a Transforming Presence in Every Community.

Those priorities are:

  • Inhabiting the world distinctively
  • Evangelising effectively
  • Serving with accountability
  • Re-imagining ministry

Since the launch of Transforming Presence, many of our parishes and worshipping communities have embraced these priorities in their mission and ministry across the great variety of contexts in which they serve. Since I became Bishop of Chelmsford in April 2021 I have witnessed many good examples including:

  • Parish churches and new Christian communities, often working together, reaching out, engaging, evangelising in and serving their local communities 
  • Parishes working together collaboratively in Mission and Ministry Units and in other ways; learning from each other and supporting each other 
  • Ordained and lay ministers working together in new ways to meet the challenges we face and responding to the many opportunities for mission and ministry.

Discerning where God is calling us to as a Diocese

When I started my ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford. I did so in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic which has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the Church and the communities we serve for many years. At the same time we continue to face many of the challenges that were present before the pandemic. From early in my ministry in the Diocese, I had a strong sense that we would benefit from finding a way to pause and take a deep breath; to take stock and draw on the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we set our faces towards that which lies ahead. In December 2021, I wrote to the leaders of our churches inviting them and their communities to join me in observing a Holy Sabbatical during Lent; an opportunity to rest and to recalibrate as we strive to hear God’s voice beckoning us towards a new future.

On 26 April 2022, clergy and lay ministers from across the Diocese gathered at Chelmsford Cathedral to reflect on the Holy Sabbatical and what God is calling us towards as a Diocese. These gatherings were part of an ongoing conversation, and it is my hope that by the Autumn of 2022, we will begin to give more intentional thought to how we might articulate our direction of travel. This will not mean a new strategy or series of initiatives. This is not what we need in this season. Instead, I expect an emphasis on building on our values as a diocese, how we are together on the journey, supporting each other as we serve God and our communities across our great variety of local contexts and traditions.

As we journey forward together, this will inevitably lead to a review of Transforming Presence, particularly the more operational aspects, but I hope we will be able to build on what has worked well and supported those who serve in local parishes and worshipping communities.

The rest of this web page contains a series of links to resources which help to explain this current period of discernment, providing an opportunity for you to join in the conversation. There are also links to some archive material explaining Transforming Presence in more detail.

The Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani
Bishop of Chelmsford


Resources

Discerning where God is calling us to as a Diocese

The Lent Holy Sabbatical

In the video below, recorded at the February 2022 Chelmsford Diocesan Synod, Bishop Guli explains the Lent Holy Sabbatical; an opportunity to rest and to recalibrate as we strive to hear God’s voice beckoning us towards a new future.

 

Join the ongoing conversation

On 26 April 2022, clergy and licensed lay ministers gathered at Chelmsford Cathedral to reflect on the Holy Sabbatical and what God is calling us towards as a Diocese. The conversation was facilitated by Bishop Tim Stevens, a former priest and Archdeaon in Chelmsford Diocese and later Bishop of Leicester. This online resource will allow you to watch videos of Bishop Tim's input and to share your own reflections and thoughts on the Holy Sabbatical period and the future for our diocese.

Watch the videos and join the conversation


Transforming Presence Archive of Resources


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