Synod Highlights: Bricks Without Straw Summary Published

Bishop Kevin’s initiative, Bricks without Straw, aimed to obtain an honest picture of the reality of the charges across the diocese. Responses were sought during 2023, with 37 (out of 54) communities completing the forms. Below is a brief summary of the findings from these returns. As we move forward, the congregational Bricks Without Straw returns remain a helpful resource for our diocese, both in terms of assessing needs and skills and supporting ministry and mission.

Spiritual Reality

The responses discussed the varied ways in which our church communities interact with the Divine. Churches employ creativity in marking seasons and festivals, emphasising the role of art and music in enhancing spirituality. Effective communication methods, both digital and traditional, are highlighted, as is technology’s role in making worship accessible. The responses explored how church activities foster spiritual growth and formation. Ecumenical relations and outreach efforts are showcased, along with reflections on the balance between private spirituality and corporate worship and the church’s role in providing a space for peace, prayer, and gentle holiness.

Missional Reality

Our churches exhibit a multifaceted approach to mission through engagement and outreach, focusing on issues such as cost of living crisis, poverty, addiction, and social isolation. Church buildings are used to create welcoming hubs, sustaining the work of allied local groups and charities. Churches actively participate in ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, showcasing various joint initiatives. Often, missional intentionality emerges supported by our common call to share and live out the Good News.

Financial Reality

The responses delve into the financial sustainability of churches, addressing common issues such as deficits and expensive repairs. The need for new financial management approaches is brought up. Responders also mention church members’ concerns about finances, highlighting the need for clearer communication with the wider church community on financial matters such as income sources, investments, and expenditure. The survey results show a consideration of exploring various income sources within and outwith the congregation and sharing past stewardship campaigns’ successes. The churches’ budget provision for clergy care and development are explored.

Good News

Even in challenging circumstances, the work of the Holy Spirit is evident across our congregations and the surveys note a variety of ministries, events and developments that we hope to explore together in the coming months, to learn from them and to share them with a wider audience. The survey results have been instrumental in identifying areas requiring further diocesan support and resources, including: Stewardship/Giving Campaigns and Strategies, need for vestry training and support for understanding their role as both a charitable trustee and supporter of the congregation’s spiritual andmissional direction, and providing spiritual nourishment to congregations in search.

You can download a PDF version of this summary here.

Responses received from every region.
Breakdown of responses by region as a percentage of the total.