Whilst a number of people in the United Benefice have been involved in ELM activities, there are still a great many who have no idea what it is or what it is trying to achieve. This article tries to introduce and explain Energising Local Ministry (ELM)
Energising Local Ministry (ELM) is a Salisbury Diocesan initiative designed to help multi- parish benefices like ours share leadership and talents in ways that free up their priest to spend more time on mission and ministry. The Eggardon and Colmers scheme was started in the summer of 2015 by Rev Jan and Canon Janet Smith, the Diocesan ELM coordinator and past Rural Dean of Dorchester.
The geographical area of our Benefice (9 miles from North Poorton to Eype) means that there is a great deal for one priest to handle, even with the assistance of the four Parochial Church Councils (PCCs), who are jointly responsible with the incumbent for the care, upkeep and smooth running of each Church. An ‘ELM Coordination’ group therefore has a valuable role within
the Benefice. The group is composed of the Incumbent, the Church Wardens (or retired ones), PCC Representatives, Lay Pastoral Assistants and Lay Worship Leaders from all four parishes.
Working closely with the Diocesan ELM coordinator Canon Janet Smith, focus groups were established across the Benefice to consider different aspects of church life, such as prayer, pastoral care, worship, events, communications, social action and fabric –looking after the Church Heritage.
The groups’ ideas are channeled into the coordinating group which has two lay chairs, Godfrey Lancashire and George Streatfeild. Once the ideas are discussed by the Coordination Group, then members feed back to their own PCCs and parishes ideas which are generated. It should be said that, although all members of the group have roles and responsibilities in their own Parishes, the group as a whole has no power to make binding decisions – it can only suggest ideas to the Parishes, or organise events and meetings in conjunction with the PCCs.
The first ‘public’ meeting for ELM was a Benefice day held in Loders Village Hall on 31st January 2016 at which the Archdeacon, Paul Taylor, led a Eucharist service after which there was a structured discussion on the priorities for the Benefice. The priorities identified, and which form the core of the activities of ELM, were:
- Reach out to those outside the church community
- Help people to know God
- Innovative services
- Benefice communication
- Be involved in wider social issues
- Care for the Churches’ fabric
- Maintain traditional services
- Focus on prayer
- Deepen our church friendships
- Help everyone to play their part in church life
- Work together across the Benefice
There have always been joint Benefice events – services, Tea & Chat, Prayer groups and joint Lent groups. ELM is building on these to grow and expand what was done before. It has stimulated a greater feeling of identity and purpose amongst those involved. A great example was the Plough Sunday event held in January 2017. It arose out of group discussions about who we really are – a very rural benefice, spread over a wide area with many isolated farms. It was decided to emphasise and embody that rural character in the way we worship. Over a 100 people attended from across the Benefice including many who do not regularly attend church, creating a real community ‘buzz’’.
We recognise that we need to continue to improve communication within and outside the Benefice and so over the next two months, while we prepare for the arrival of our new rector, Chris Grasske, we will direct our energies to build even better relationships and a greater understanding of and respect for each other’s views.
If you have any questions about ELM, or if you have any talents, skills or interests that you would like to use with others in the life of the Church and community, please contact either of our two ELM lay chairs, George Streatfeild and Godfrey Lancashire or Canon Janet Smith the Diocesan representative and of course after his Licensing on September 20th Chris Grasske our new Rector.
- George Streatfeild: 01308 422770
- Godfrey Lancashire: 01308 485688
- Canon Janet Smith: 01305 265640 (Salisbury Diocesan ELM Coordinator)