During the first nine months of 2018 Church Army UK conducted a Strategic Review for our dioceses.
This included meeting all clergy and groups of parishioners from every parish. Bishop Pat Storey said, “Church Army UK has been helping us to assess our state of play at (this) present moment of our church history … (it will help us) plan a future which will strengthen the things that bring us joy, and face up to the things which make us nervous.”
Dr Tim Ling and Mark Russell from Church Army UK were invited to present the findings of the diocesan review to the 2018 Diocesan Synod, for discussion. Members then had an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the findings, including:
- That the dioceses has shared the experience of falling church attendance over the past decade.
- That out of a total population of 669,000, in the diocesan area, 51,500 identify as having no religion – five times as many as the Church of Ireland population. Church-going, practically everywhere, is declining – and yet very often people still claim to be spiritually open to God, but simply not to the church as an institution.
- That a culture of ‘keeping our head down’ is now beginning to change.
- There is an awareness of being in an era of profound change.
- There is a willingness to respond to the need for change, and move outside of our comfort zone.
- That there is a need to take responsibility for discipleship.