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

Download a leaflet that outlines the details of the Shaped By God Together Process here:
- Black and White download
- Colour download

We are asking every church and worshipping community to hold a prayerful Local Conversation in May/early June. These will be led by local leaders and will introduce Shaped By God Together to as wider a group of people as possible and enable all to explore three possible ministry models together. From that session, we will be collecting your collective feedback on the various options for the way we shape our future ministry by Monday 21 June

Over the past few weeks local leaders have attended deanery webinars to learn more about the ministry models and be equipped to run local conversations. All of the resources used and mentioned during the webinars are available via the link below:

For resources to lead a local conversation please click 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.
The process so far

April and May 2021

April and May 2021 During April and May deanery webinars were held for local leaders to learn more about the potential ministry models that have been put forward as part of this process and to be equipped to run local conversations around these models. Transcripts of the live Q&A from these webinars can be downloaded here.  A full document of Q&A from the webinars can be downloaded here.

March 2021

- Further insights from the stories were shared, looking at some of the tensions that have been highlighted during the 'sense making' process.

February 2021

- Synod members were then invited to take part in 14 conversation groups looking at the three areas of focus in the Shaped By God Together process – Ministry, Finance and Buildings. A summary can be found here.

January 2021

- On 18 January 2021 Bishop’s Council met and, amongst other agenda items, received an update on the SBGT process. Bishop Martyn put forward a proposal, which was well supported by Council, that we slow the pace of this process a little, and work towards bringing proposals to Diocesan Synod in the autumn, rather than May. We’ve always known that the SBGT process would require a lot of work and a considerable amount of that has been done already, from the stories shared, insights gathered and the initial work of the workstreams, for which we are very grateful. We need to ensure the wellbeing of all those involved, given the added pressures of this considerable piece of work in the challenging context of ongoing pandemic restrictions. The ideas being developed in the workstreams have surpassed expectations and are already making encouraging progress, and pulling together ideas from what we have learned through story gathering and insights work. We need to ensure that the process is done well and it is becoming clear that we need more time to ensure the decisions we make are the best they can be.

- An invite was sent out to the Shaped By God Together Conversations taking place during February and March.

December 2020

- Insights drawn from the storytelling process were shared:

To read a summary of each insight above click here

November 2020

- Diocesan Synod voted for the SBGT process and priorities.

This video was released explain the timeline for the process along with a downloadable poster that showed the timeline.






- This video was released to explain how diocesan values and priorities underpin the various stages of the Shaped By God Together process

October 2020

- This update was shared in mid October.

September 2020

- Bishop Martyn and Bishop Guli issued a Call to Prayer

- The Gathering Stories, Generating Insight process began

- Bishop Martyn’s gave a reflection on Psalm 62 and address to Diocesan Synod, 22 September 2020

- This slide was shared with Diocesan Synod on 22 September 2020 as part of a presentation updating on the Shaped By God Together process.

Our priorities
Gathering Stories, Generating Insight
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.
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
If you would still like to contribute a story, please contact Rob Hay on
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
During April and May deanery webinars were held for local leaders to learn more about the potential ministry models that have been put forward as part of this process and to be equipped to run local conversation around these models. Transcripts of the live Q&A from these webinars can be downloaded here. A full list of all of the Q&As from the webinars can be downloaded here.
Autumn 2020
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.
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.
Shaped By God Together Working Groups
 A series of working groups , or workstreams, have been formed. Underpinning the whole process is Wellbeing – the group, chaired by Archdecon Claire, is continuing to work on ways in which we can all be equipped to take responsibility for our own wellbeing and attend to the wellbeing of others. The process of story gathering, sense-making and distilling insights and learning from those stories is being coordinated by the Organisational Learning Group, led by Rob Hay.
There are then four groups grappling with questions and challenges in four big areas. The Finance Group, led by Jonathan Kerry, is looking at the financial challenges faced by churches and the diocese. They are exploring ways to ensure that the way we construct our budget, and our Parish Contribution system, can best enable us to provide the ministry we need across the diocese. The Ministry Group is led by Stuart Burns and is exploring different possibilities for what the ministry of clergy, lay ministers, and the whole people of God, could look like in the years to come. Archdeacon Richard is leading the Church Buildings Group. This group is exploring possibilities around how we can support and encourage parishes in the care of church buildings, particularly in those places facing significant challenges. The Support for Ministry Group, led by Dean David Monteith, is exploring the principles that should guide decision making around the provision of supportive roles centrally and locally. The group is gathering learning from within and beyond the diocese to help in this thinking.
Shaped By God Together Liturgy and Prayer Resources
You can find prayer and liturgy resources on a new web page here


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