“Mission is putting love where love is not.” St John of the Cross (1542-1591)
The parish consists of three churches: All Saints, Birchington, St Mildred, Acol and St Thomas, Minnis Bay.
Our three churches aspire to be vibrant, inclusive church communities and our Mission Plan contains our objectives for the latter part of 2021, 2022 and on-going activities until 2025. It is a living document, subject to review and development, and has been considered prayerfully and was informed by an exercise in April 2021 that sought the views of our congregation, Parochial Church Council (PCC) members and the wider community. This Mission Plan seeks to offer a route map of our journey with God for the people of our parish as we move forward together. We are keen with God’s help to enable our churches to be places of welcome and beacons of hope to the people of Acol, Birchington and Minnis Bay.
The parish consists of Acol, Birchington and Minnis Bay. Birchington-on-Sea is a village in Thanet in North East Kent, Minnis Bay has a family beach and many local attractions including a sailing club and windsurfing, and Acol is one of the smallest communities in Kent with a population of less than four hundred people. Approximately 11,000 people live in Birchington and Minnis Bay, with a large proportion of elderly and retired. It is anticipated that the population of Birchington in particular will increase during the timeframe of this Mission Plan with the proposed plans for extra housing to be built.
The parish does benefit from its excellent relationships with the local Church of England Primary School which has a caring Christian ethos at its centre. The school has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ in its most recent SIAMS Church Inspection and it has also been rated ‘Good’ in its Ofsted Inspection.
The Church has strong links with the school and despite the impact of Covid-19, has been able to play an active role in providing collective worship and pastoral support. The parish has three Foundation Governor positions at the school including Chair of Governors who is also a Churchwarden. This Mission Plan wishes to build upon this existing strong relationship further with the school and new initiatives will be launched as we move forward together.
“This parish ranks 4,525 out of 12,382 parishes where 1 is the most deprived parish. This means that the parish is relatively deprived compared with other parishes in the country” (source: Church Urban Fund).
The table below shows the position of the parish against the 11 socio-economic indicators used by the Church Urban Fund. Indicator: Description of Indicator: This Parish:
The proportion of all children aged 0-15 living in income deprived families
15.6% Ranked: 2,897/12,382
The proportion of all those aged 60 or over who experience income deprivation
11.7% Ranked: 3,916/12,382
Working Age Poverty
The proportion of working age adults who experience income deprivation
11% Ranked: 2,153/12,382
The percentage of adults aged 16-70 with no academic, vocational or professional qualifications
The percentage of households living in Local Authority or Housing Association properties
Lone parent households as a percentage of all households with dependent children
People living on their own
Proportion of single person households
Percentage of people aged 65 and over
Percentage of population who are not white British
Life Expectancy (Boys)
The average number of years a man would live
Life Expectancy (Girls)
The average number of years a woman would live
(Source: Church Urban Fund)1
This Mission Plan has drawn upon this parish data in determining its priorities from 2022 onwards.
1 Church Urban Fund Website https://cuf.org.uk/parish/560178
In our three churches we wish to help people come to know the love of God in their lives. We want to provide a place where the spirituality of all our members is encouraged and nurtured but a place where people can seek God too for the first time. We are eager to bring all people to come to know Jesus, to be confident in their faith and worship, to be prayerful and spiritual with a strong faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and for them to feel valued and yet challenged in our worshipping life and discipleship together.
We wish to be a Christian influence across the parish, welcoming people and being a friendly and inclusive place for the community, seeking to work with other churches and those outside our churches.
Our Vision is of a community where everyone benefits from the opportunities the future holds and where no one is ignored, excluded, or forgotten.
Our Mission is to use our churches to help people reach their full potential and so contribute towards making a cohesive, vibrant, and successful community.
In two to five years, we would like to be:
• A mixed, outward looking congregation;
• A lively, growing church, in both numbers and in spirituality;
• Accessible to the community with offering all types of hospitality and outreach to the community especially to the lonely, to older people and to schools and young people;
• A church where people can turn to with confidence when they are vulnerable or in need;
• A place where people want to go, with worship that is adventurous and invigorating enough to meet the needs of a wide range of people, but that remains prayerful and spiritual and offers all age groups an opportunity to experience the living God.
The parish is also committed to the Five Marks of Mission of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion and aspires to meeting them all in our mission and ministry, and this plan is the beginning of that journey:
1. to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
2. to teach, baptise and nurture new believers;
3. to respond to human need by loving service;
4. to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; and
5. to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
This Plan is constructed using an “Up”, “In” and “Out” framework, which will be described in turn, with objectives set against each with timeframes indicated.
UP: “Strengthening our roots in God and Jesus Christ and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom”
Worship and prayer are key to our Christian discipleship, and it is not just about gathering on Sunday for church services. Worship and prayer underpin our lives in all of its aspects. The “Up” relationship focuses upon how we offer ourselves to God through our worship services, how we pray and also through other events and occasions that enable us to become closer to God; it allows us to provide a space where the love of God can be shown to others so that they too may come to know him and his transforming love in their lives.
Our Sunday services will follow the pattern below which will be subject to on-going review. It is the intention in time from early 2022 that our worship will be underpinned with refreshed liturgy and Orders of Service which will provide space to experience the living God in varied and different forms of worship. The pattern will be as follows:
All Saints: St Thomas: St Mildred:
8am: BCP Holy Communion 10.30am: Morning Prayer2
10.30am: Morning Prayer
8am: BCP Holy Communion 10.30am: Morning Prayer
Joint Eucharistic Service at either All Saints or St Thomas Churches
Joint Eucharistic Service at either All Saints or St Thomas Churches
Other Worship Forms
There will be an Order of Morning Prayer based upon the resources from the Northumbria Community at 10am on Tuesday each week at St Mildred Church and a 10am BCP Holy Communion every Wednesday at All Saints Church.
Other new possibilities and forms of worship will be considered outside of Sunday morning services. This area will be explored further and subject to review as we develop our plans throughout 2022 and beyond.
Up to two Quiet Days will be offered during 2022 for people across the Parish.
2 Morning Prayer services at AS or St T may be substituted with Family Services/Morning Praise.
3 Eucharists may be substituted with Family Communion or Reflective Eucharistic services.
Prayer and Worship
• Extending Home Communion services: On-going.
• Encouraging new members in Sunday congregations to lead prayers of intercession and other church activities (i.e. reading, serving, streaming support, choir): On-going.
• Offering training in preparing intercessions: By winter 2021.
Meeting together, discipleship, learning and encouraging
• Encouraging people who have a ‘calling’ to consider entering into training whether Ordained Ministry or Lay Ministry (Readership or Authorised Lay Ministry Training): On-going.
• Exploring how study groups could be established across Birchington Churches Together and with the Seamarsh Group to deepen our faith and discipleship: By early 2022.
• Encouraging the formation and regular-meeting of Fellowship Groups across the Parish: On-going.
• Offering Lent Courses By February/March 2022.
IN: “Being caring and inviting communities”
• Increasing Priestly presence in the churches throughout each week and encouraging volunteers: On-going.
• Considering the possibilities of linking in with young people, particularly with “Messy Church” in School and at St Thomas Church, and considering the establishment of ‘Forest Church’: By end of 2021/early 2022.
• Promoting the work of Junior Church and supporting it with church resources and assessing how its activities and main church services can be integrated further: On-going.
• Developing a Fundraising Programme for 2022: By October 2021.
• Encouraging Church and community gatherings (e.g. Quiz Nights, meals/hospitality/trips): Ad hoc throughout 2022.
• Hosting and arranging Summer Fairs/Boot Fairs in the local community: On-going.
• Introducing follow-up invitations to all those baptised and married in Church. On-going.
• Assessing the feasibility of establishing a Bereavement Support Group: On-going.
OUT: Strengthening our relationships with our community and the world
• Encouraging others to support the Friends of the Parish of Birchington through publicity: On-going.
• Continuing our links with Helwel and Christian Aid and promoting donations to Water Aid: On-going.
• Promoting the work of the Men’s Supper Club and other existing Church Groups that have not been able to meet during 2020/2021: On-going.
• Offering a Breakfast Club from Church House for families enroute to school: from late 2021/early 2022.
• Assessing the feasibility of establishing a “Memory Club” and linking with Primary Health Care Services. An offshoot from this potential development is offering the ministry of Anna Chaplaincy to our local community: By mid-2022.
• Offering occasional Luncheon Clubs from Church House and/or Kearns Hall for the elderly and the lonely. Planning discussions to be established by late 2021.
• Developing our links with Birchington CEP School by forming and hosting a Transition Club to Year 7 pupils: Mid-2022.
• Re-convening the Pastoral Committee with agreed Pastoral Care Guidance and a training and supervision programme: On-going.
• Developing our links with sheltered accommodation with the ministry of home communion and pastoral visits: On-going.
• Continuing the promotion of recycling as an act of stewardship: On-going.
• Assessing the feasibility of developing a proactive marketing strategy for hiring our Church Halls to outside organisations, charities, and individuals to increase our income base: Early 2022.
Delivery of the Mission Plan
We are blessed with many dedicated helpers, but we are few and our congregation is sadly declining as time moves on. One of the key constraints on the parish delivering its aspirations, therefore, is the limited number of volunteers. Every effort though will be made to encourage new people to come forward, but the limited availability of helpers may be a significant risk against delivering some of our objectives.
The parish is supported by two Churchwardens, Parochial Church Council (PCC), three Local Church Committees and a Ministry Team. It is part of the Thanet Deanery and is working within the Seamarsh Group to explore ways of collaborative working.
The PCC has established a time-limited Working Group to complete a strategic review of the shape of the Parish and how buildings may be re-purposed in the future. It is anticipated that this Group will report back to the PCC in June 2022.
Communications will be enhanced to promote the parish and its mission in the community and to improve internal communications too. The following areas will be areas of priority in late 2021 and throughout 2022 and beyond:
• Supporting the publication of the Parish Magazine: On-going.
• Facebook: On-going.
• Improving the use of Noticeboards. On-going.
• Updating the information on “A Church Near You”: By October 2021.
• Assessing the feasibility of re-establishing weekly/bi-weekly newsletters subject to resource availability: On-going.
• Reviewing information sheets on Christianity, baptisms, thanksgiving services, confirmation, and weddings.
This plan will be reviewed on a regular basis at PCC meetings to check its delivery. There will also be an annual review at the parish Vision Day in mid-2022 using the pastoral cycle as shown in the diagram below.
Rev Mark Ham Priest-in-Charge
Approved at the Parochial Church Council meeting on 1st September 2021