Three deaneries in the Huddersfield Episcopal Area have joined together to re-create the excitement and creativity of the lay conference, Together in Faith, which took place earlier this year (Picture: Flashback to June 2018 at the Harrogate Convention Centre).
A joint meeting of the deanery synods of Halifax, Brighouse & Elland and Calder Valley was designed to enable conversation and sharing of experiences. As well as deanery synod representatives, deaneries were invited to send along those people who had attended the lay conference.
“We wanted to ensure that the benefits of the lay conference back in June were not lost, but that spirit of fellowship and working together should continue,” explained Marion Russell, area dean of Brighouse & Elland and joint area dean of Calder Valley.
Seated around tables of eight, attendees were deliberately mixed up so that they got to know people from different parishes and deaneries. Each table was given a set of “chance” cards with questions for discussion, on topics including work with children and youth, understanding of lay ministry and taking new initiatives. Attendees were invited to take note of one action that each could personally take as a follow up to the discussions, and each table submitted a recommendation to the diocese or deaneries.
Following the meeting, attendees commented that it had been invaluable to be able to share ideas and experiences with others. Discussion topics included making LyCiG work, promoting Open the Book in schools, running Messy Church and the role of Halifax Minster.
One table’s recommendation was to hold “more informal deanery meetings where ideas can be discussed and passions ignited for faith and sharing it in our communities”.
Kathia Shoesmith, area dean of Halifax and joint area dean of Calder Valley reflected, “This is something we will certainly strive to do again. People went away feeling that they are not alone, that we all face similar challenges and have good ideas to share.”
The evening concluded with a presentation by the lay training officer for the Huddersfield Area, Dr Mandy Aspland, in which she summarised her own role, outlined forthcoming lay training events in the areas and demonstrated the digital learning platform, an invaluable source of information, resources, details of training courses and events.