2013 Survey of Deanery Synod Lay Chairs
Lay Chairs of Deaneries are busy, active, people, playing a positive role in the life of the Church. Our survey of lay chairs paints a picture of dynamic and productive Deaneries around the country, most of which take a lead in mission locally and provide a valuable source of support to their parishes, and which are keen to be even more active. In fact, they are frustrated that, through lack of recognition of the potential, they can’t do more.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe not: look more closely, and, while reporting favourably on their Deaneries’ productivity and keenness to act, almost half the lay chairs who responded think that the Deanery “isn’t sure about its role”, and two-thirds believe it “is a mystery to most people”.
A paradox! Perhaps the answer is that no matter how dynamic and useful the Deanery is, this message isn’t being communicated to the people in the pews on a Sunday morning. Nor does it seem to be accepted by some of the clerical establishment. And perhaps, more widely, the fact that the Deanery message isn’t getting through lies behind the conventionally negative views of Deaneries and parish representatives on Deanery Synods.
One third of Lay Chairs were sufficiently interested and committed to respond to the survey. In all, 207 Lay Chairs submitted responses, a pleasingly high response rate of 32.6%. The survey was sent to all Deanery Lay Chairs for whom we had email addresses, and to any others we knew of or who contacted us having been alerted by a colleague (including some by hard copy). This amounted to 634. The survey was also sent for information to Diocesan Lay Chairs and Diocesan Secretaries.