Rethinking the Multi-point Parish
This is a continuation of a workshop of the Montana Synod Assembly. We gathered members of multiple point parishes in Montana and Northern Wyoming. We started by talking about what purposes multiple point parishes serve and what models they tend to follow. * Larger congregation pared with one or more smaller congregations * Town church linked with one or two rural congregations * Several smaller towns sharing a pastor * Mulit-denominational parish within one small town What are the advantages and limitations involved? We talked about the challenges that, particularly small, congregations face. * Shrinking population size * Fewer children born * Economic challenges * Social change * Divisions surrounding changing social and culteral moors. Many or most multi-point parishes have strong congregational loyalty and limited loyalty to the parish. They see themselves and individual congregations who share the services of one pastor. They tend to see their responsibility in terms of the members of their own congregation. Pastors of multiple congregations can feel stretched and stressed by the differing needs and make-up of their individual congregations--let alone the distance between them. Lay Pastoral Associates and other lay leaders often serve in smaller and more remote congregations which have traditionally been served by ordained pastors. Such ministers usually serve faithfully and well. Where possible, they are assigned an experienced pastor as a mentor. These LPAs and their congregations often would benefit from a closer association (as the name implies) with a more highly trained and experienced ordained pastors. What if: * Congregations belonging to parishes saw themselves in terms of what they can give, more than what their needs are? * The congregatons saw their ministry in terms of the geographical area around and between their shared minstry, rather than what goes on insidet their buildings? * The parish saw itself as one ministry with multiple "campuses." (This would imply a stronger parish council and more interaction and joint efforts and associations between congregations. *Members joined and belonged to the parish more than individual congregation.) *What if the parish saw itself as an "offering" to the people and communities in their geographic area of influence? What if we tried larger parishes with one pastor--but each congregation (campus) would have close association with its own Lay Pasoral Minister who would work on a part-time or volunteer basis? The pastor could have oversite of the parish ministry and mentor the lay ministers. The pastor could visit each congregation on a rotational basis, rather than all of them every Sunday. So...the discussion contiues. What to you think? What would such a parish look like? How many congregations would participate? What would be the form of their relationship? Would it work? What would be its limitations? Thanks to all who participated in the initial conversation.