Worcester diocese launches bespoke parish development program


The Diocese of Worcester’s Mission Accompaniers scheme was launched this week to assist congregations achieve growth and sustainability. Announced at the November meeting of the diocesean synod, by  Ven. Nikki Groarke, the Archdeacon of Dudley and Diocesan Leader for Transformation and Change, the project seeks to “work with the clergy and lay team to help your parish establish some priorities” for growth. In her address to the diocesan synod last year, the archdeacon said “ This won’t be more employees or a new ‘middle management’ in the Diocese, but people who will work directly in parishes to enable, support, equip and resource them.” She explained that she is often asked what a healthy and sustainable church looks like. “The answer is that it is often very different in different contexts. Mission Accompaniers will provide bespoke support for parishes to help work out what being healthy and sustainable looks like in their particular setting.”

From the diocesan website:

As we seek to grow as Kingdom People, all parishes are being offered the opportunity to receive some support in the form of a Mission Accompanier, who will work alongside a small group of clergy and laity in the parish, church or benefice to help understand and work towards what health and sustainability might look like in your context, setting or tradition.

Mission Accompaniers are being offered completely free of charge to parishes and will be funded with a grant from the Healthier Churches fund. There is no obligation for parishes to work with a Mission Accompanier, but it is hoped that many will take up this offer of someone who will listen and understand where your parish is at the moment and where it would like to get to. The person will also be able to help parishes access support and resources, for example helping with applications to the Healthier Churches fund.

Download a pdf flyer about Mission Accompaniers

What will a Mission Accompanier do?

The Mission Accompanier’s key role will be to come alongside your parish/ church/ benefice or wider group to listen to you and help you work through how you might be able to grow and develop to become healthier and more sustainable. They will work with the clergy and lay team to help your parish establish some priorities for the next few years, for example through developing a health and sustainability plan (examples below) and provide support and input in reaching these, for example signposting to training or helping to apply to the Healthier Churches Fund as appropriate. It is anticipated that a Mission Accompanier will work alongside the clergy or church team in a particular parish/ church/ benefice for around ten sessions over a couple of years.

What commitment is needed by the parish?

Churches will be expected to sign up to a partnership agreement with the Mission Accompanier, committing to regular meetings including preparation beforehand and following up on actions afterwards. Together the parish and Mission Accompanier will develop appropriate priorities with a ‘health and sustainability plan’ and you will need to commit to taking the first steps towards these. The Mission Accompanier will also offer 1:1 coaching for one of the church/ parish/ benefice leadership in order to support them in their growth to leading a healthy and sustainable church.

The partnership should be reviewed at six-monthly intervals to ensure it is proving effective and any learning shared with others – including those areas which didn’t work as well as hoped.

Who decides who our Mission Accompanier will be?

It is important that the right Mission Accompanier is found to work with each parish/ church/ benefice etc. Our Mission Accompanier Co-ordinator will chat to you to understand the support you might be looking for and set up an initial meeting with an Accompanier and the parish to ensure that everyone involved feels they can work together effectively.

How do we get involved?

When applying for a Mission Accompanier, you will need to complete a church profile to enable the team to match you with the most appropriate person. 

You may also find it useful to read this summary of how a Mission Accompanier will work with you

How could I become a Mission Accompanier? 

If you are interested in becoming a Mission Accompanier, please download and read our application pack

Once you have read the pack, please contact Archdeacon Nikki Groarke, Diocesan Leader for Transformation and Change or Simon Barrington, Mission Accompanier Co-ordinator to arrange a short conversation, or complete this short application form and send Simon a copy of a short CV or Linkedin profile.