The Revd Canon Jonathan Dowman was licensed at a special Service of Welcome and Commitment to Shared Ministry in an exciting new role as Growing Faith Enabler and Associate Priest for Launde Deanery.
Held at St Thomas a Becket Church, Tugby, after Easter, the service marked the beginning of a new focus on Growing Faith in the diocese. Growing Faith promotes a partnership between the three communities of church, school and household to enable the discovery, exploration and growth for all in those communities. The partnership is imagined as intersections of a set of overlapping spheres to find and promote ways to help faith to grow with children, young people and households.
The Church of England says: "The Growing Faith Adventure is a call for the renewal of hearts and minds so that it becomes second nature to include and value children, young people and households in every aspect of church life for the lifelong formation of faith in the whole of life." You can read more about it here.
The service involved four local schools, people who live in the Launde Deanery area and its other churches and included a commitment to 'Ministry in Partnership'.
Bishop Martyn invited members of the deanery's schools, households and churches to stand with Jonathan as he pledged to work in partnership with the others, and exercise servant leadership.
The Bishop then asked: "Those of you who form the communities of our deanery schools, households and churches, will you work with Jonathan as a colleague and friend, sharing in leadership and oversight and working together to serve the Deanery and to renew their commitment to working together to respond well to the “three key questions” of mission and ministry in this diocese: how are you helping others grow in the depth of their discipleship; how are you growing the numbers of Christian disciples; and how are you loving and serving these communities and the wider world?"
They responded: "By the help of God, we will do all in our power to grow in the depth of our discipleship, to grow the numbers of Christian disciples and to grow in love and service of these communities and the wider world."
Jonathan was then given various gifts as signs of his new ministry:
The four deanery schools presented him with Word Maps representing every community they serve, together with an object that speaks of how God has blessed their school.
The deanery churches gave him a map and a compass, representing the call for us to work together in mission and ministry and the need to seek God’s vision and direction together.
Water was given on behalf of the deanery churches: "To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life in him. Receive this water for the ministry of transformation and rebirth. Help us in making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Bread and wine were given by someone from Church Langton School: "We are sustained in our faith through Holy Communion. Receive this bread and wine and join with us to receive strength for daily living, so that we can go out in the power of the Holy Spirit to live and work to God’s praise and glory."
A Bible was given by someone from Tugby School: "Hold before us the story of God's love and mercy, the Gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ. We invite you all to join with us in proclaiming the Gospel of hope and new life."