Shaped By God Together

Bishop Martyn and Bishop Guli are calling us to pray as we start a new process across the diocese to learn from the experiences of recent months and seek to be Shaped By God Together. You can find prayer and liturgy resources on a new web page and watch to the Bishops' call to pray video message here:

You can download a transcript of this video by clicking here

This process includes an invitation to everyone who is part of our diocesan family to share stories of what they have been learning about everyday prayer, everyday witness and everyday action. Open to people of all backgrounds, all ages, all circumstances, everyone in our faith communities is invited to participate in 'Gathering Stories - Generating Insights' from 3 - 30 September 2020 (more details further down this page).

 We are collating these stories and inviting people from across our faith communities to use them to generate insights about the future of the church – knowing that, while our core remains the same, the way we express our church life may need to look quite different in the future.  Influenced by everyone's stories and experiences, we will consider together how we care for our buildings, share financial resources and reshape our models of ministry. We anticipate that much of this wider work of discernment will happen next spring, leading to final decisions at Diocesan Synod in May 2021.

Previous updates

This update was shared in mid October. 

This slide was shared with our Diocesan Synod on 22 September 2020 as part of a presentation updating on the Shaped By God Together process. It  gives a brief overview of what the next steps will be when the September story-gathering process ends.

Click here to read Bishop Martyn’s reflection on Psalm 62 and address to Diocesan Synod, 22 September 2020

The video below explains the timeline of the Shaped By God Together Process: 

You can download this video, to share with your communities, here.

You can also download a printable poster that shows the timeline from the video:
- Colour poster 
- Black and white poster

You can also read an update about where are in the process here.

The Background

We are facing both exciting opportunities and significant constraints upon us as a Church as we continue to seek to be ‘Shaped by God Together.' We have constraints of finance, including the use of our historical assets as well as our current patterns of giving, of ministry, including the developments of pioneers, the retirement and recruitment patterns of clergy and lay ministers, and the development of the whole people of God, and of buildings, including our churches, our halls and facilities. However, our planning for the future cannot be solely dominated by these constraints. God is a God of movement, who calls us to growth and change – and so we need to notice and be open and attentive to the new and exciting things God is doing amongst us and through us - how can we be ‘Shaped by God Together’?

We are therefore seeking to gather information about our experiences of everyday faith in order to better discern the way ahead. To do this ‘together’ we need to understand the complex dynamics at play amongst the 19,000 people, 320 churches, 80 fresh expressions of Church and other worshipping communities who make up our diocesan family. We are seeking to be faithful to the past, the present, and to our future, and want everyone’s story to be a part of the process.

These stories will help us to discern emerging patterns and will inform our future. We have learnt much recently, about our Everyday Faith and our 3 Key Questions. We have noted values of creativity, generosity and attentiveness that we seek to further develop. We know the way ahead contains a number of difficult questions and hard decisions.

Gathering Stories, Generating Insight

This story gathering process is now live. You can find out more and join in by clicking here.

You can also download the form here. This can be used by churches and faith communities to download, print and post to members of the community who don't use computers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some questions and answers which we hope might help explain a bit more for those of you who have queries about Shaped By God Together. If they don't cover everything you want to know, please email us on with your question and we will try to get an answer for you.

Read our Shaped By God Together FAQs here.  

See the Shaped By God Together timeline here. 

This image is a graphic representation of the story gathering and insights process is running at the same time as ongoing work and constraints are developing and unfolding as we look to manage our buildings, finance and ministry. All of it combines as our Shaped By God Together process.

 This slide gives a brief overview of what the next steps will be after our current (September) story-gathering process ends.

Bishop's Leadership Team Working Groups

Four working groups have been created by our Bishop's Leadership Team. You can read more about each below.


Community Partnership Working Group - Chaired by Bishop Martyn. The aim of the group is two-fold: Events ie marking the end of lockdown and significant transitions along the way; and Community Partnership ie being part of discussions in the wider community about emerging from the crisis and shaping society. The first aim is focussed on two areas: (a) liturgy and resources for local churches to help mark the transitions (eg Remembrance / All Souls) and thanking key workers; (b) Marking the one year anniversary of the start of lockdown - some sort of public event in the city. The second aim is focussed on Together In Hope as well as work highlighting issues around Care Homes, the Real Living Wage, and challenges for people of BAME heritage. 

Organisation and Future Leadership Planning Working Group - Chaired by Stuart Burns, Director of mission and Ministry. The group's aims are as follows: (a) To gather learning from across the diocese and ensure this is shared well and fed into decision making at all levels (Gathering Stories - Generating Insights); (b) In addition, to design and implement a process for a diocesan-wide conversation around ministry, finance, and buildings; (c) To be ready to respond with insight to incoming national policies.

Wellbeing and Return Working Group - Chaired by Bishop Guli. The group aims to support and care for clergy, lay leaders and staff as lockdown eases. It hopes to help us understand our individual responsibility for paying attention to our mental wellbeing and to promote a culture where we look out for each other and if we notice someone is struggling, we follow up with them. It works to raise awareness of wellbeing resources and events through a specially commissioned Wellbeing web page.

Finance Working Group -  Chaired by Jonathan Kerry, Diocesan Secretary. The group is gather information on parish contribution and other income streams and making recommendations on reductions in expenditure to get as near as possible to a balanced budget. It is working towards an interim diocesan budget for the 22 September meeting of Diocesan Synod and 12 October meeting of Bishop's Council. 



Shaped By God Together Liturgy and Prayer Resources
Some prayer and liturgy materials to help you, you household or your faith community to pray as we journey through Shaped By God Together
Open Shaped By God Together Liturgy and Prayer Resources

Gathering Stories - Generating Insights
Details of how to join in our story gathering for the process of prayerfully and practically working out together how we live out our Everyday Faith in a new world
Open Gathering Stories - Generating Insights

This church website is powered by Church Edit | Privacy Notice