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Meeting held at Brigg on Monday February 12th
This was a special meeting held to discuss and decide upon the proposals to be sent to the diocesan pastoral committee. Some months ago the diocese asked each deanery to send in its proposals for the future organisation of the church in the deanery, bearing in mind the likely reduction in numbers of clergy in the deanery from 17 at present to 10 or 11 over the next ten years.
The deanery pastoral committee had already issued a proposed scheme in two parts. The first stage was for further amalgamations during the next five years, which would have included a link between Barton and South Ferriby, as well as the gradual closure of ten churches in the deanery at Horkstow, Bonby, Redbourne, Croxton, Snitterby, Cadney, Manton, Gnayingham, Howsham and Brocklesby. This was allow for a decrease in clergy to 14. The second stage was to establish three centres of ministry at Batton, Brigg and either Goxhill or Ulceby, with three clergy in each centre serving the neighbouring areas.
Barton members of the Synod had held a meeting to discuss these plans a week before, and it had been agreed that the Vicar should propose an amendment to this scheme.
At the Synod, the Vicar proposed that there should be no stage 1 (the further amalgamations) but that we should go into stage two while we are in a position of strength, rather than wait until history had overtaken us and we had to resort to the second stage because the amalgamations had broken down through lack of clergy. He also proposed that there should be two groups, not three. These two groups should be centred on the two sizeable towns in the deanery, Batton and Brigg. He showed a map of the deanery proposing that the new M180 should be the natural boundary between the two groups. The northerly group based on Barton would have a population on present figures of nearly 15,000 and the southerly group 20,500. Each of these areas should be called an area of ministry, so that it could be seen later how they should develop either as group or team ministries. Similarly, the question of church closures should be left to the areas to decide at the appropriate times. This amendment was seconded by Dr. Birtwhistle and was carried by a large majority.
Before the discussion of this amendment Mr. John Bateman (Scawby: Synod Treasurer) had given the reasons for the deanery pastoral committees proposals. He had drawn the Synod's attention to the fact that there was likely to be a reduction of 25% in the numbers of clergy in England during the next decade, mainly because of the rapid increase in retirements during this time through the very high average age of the clergy of whom one third were approaching or over the age of 60. The reduction of the retiring age from 70 to

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65 years would soon bring this fact to everybody's attention. Allied with this, there were two other factors. The first was the decline in the number of those being ordained. In 1961 there were almost 700 deacons entering the ministry: in 1974 the figure is likely to be only 300. There is also a crying need for the Church to place a higher, far higher, proportion of its clergy in the large towns where it is quite common for one priest to have to minister to 20,000 or 30,000 people single-handed. Allied to these facts, is the inability of the Church to maintain clergy stipends at a level to keep up with inflation.
The amended proposals are now to be sent to the diocesan pastoral commlitee for their consideration. We look forward with interest to their comments.


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