Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bishops Mission Order

What is a Bishops Mission Order?

1. This is a new Anglican mission resource, which has been put together following the rise of new forms of church within the CofE. More and more mission initiatives don’t fit within the parish system: they cross parish boundaries, or don’t relate to parishes at all (e.g. church for skaters, workplace church, church for a particular network, new housing estates, partnerships with non-Anglican churches)

2. The Bishops Mission Order (BMO) is a structure for the oversight and development of new mission initiatives in the CofE, or jointly between the Anglicans and other churches.

3. The purpose of a BMO is
“to affirm, enable, encourage and support a new mission initiative within the overall ordering of the life of the Church.” (p1). It does this by
- legal recognition of new Christian community.
- Appropriate oversight
- Develop partnerships with parishes and deaneries
- Proper provision for ministry, sacraments etc.
- Enabling all this to be lawful
- Compliance with best practice and legal guidelines (e.g. child protection)

How does it work?

4. A BMO can be sought by anyone involved in the project, and there is a consultation process for setting it up. This looks quite involved! See the flowchart on page 13 of the BMO guidelines.

5. Part of the BMO is the appointment of a ‘Visitor’ who exercises oversight on behalf of the Bishop. So instead of a vicar in a parish answering to the bishop, you have a mission project in a mission setting reporting to a Visitor. Their job is to be a ‘mission accompanier’, resourcing and helping, rather than controlling.

What does it cover?

6. The BMO covers things like:
- the nature of the mission initiative, and its objectives
- area where it’s happening
- leadership and lines of responsibility
- role of leaders.
- Provision for sacraments (i.e. baptism, weddings, communion)
- Designate Visitor
- Duration of Order. (can be for 5 years, renewable for another 5)
- Can authorise worship in a building
- Finances, insurance, etc. are also covered.

7. The project is reviewed every 18 months, and a full review is done at the end of 5 years, whether to close down or extend the project.

8. The idea is to create space for a new mission project to grow to maturity as a church, without shoehorning it into parish structures from the outset.

BMO’s are brand new – they were only passed into Anglican ‘law’ in February. So they are almost completely untested at the moment, but offer an exciting opportunity for mission in the Anglican setting.

For more information.
- http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=50646 an article by Steve Hollinghurst

- http://www.sharetheguide.org/section5/bmo a good introduction to what BMO’s are and how they work. The Share website is a great resource for mission and new church initiatives.

- The full code of practice for BMO’s is at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/churchcommissioners/pastoral/bmocode/bmocode.doc

Jonny Baker blogs about it here. I didn't realise he'd blogged about it today till I Googled 'Bishops Mission Orders', so that's a happy God-incidence.

Good article here from an 'on the ground' church planting perspective.

Here in Yeovil it's a possible resource for church planting in new housing estates, though the fact that it's heavily Anglican, and we're a partnership of several denominations, is something we need to look at quite closely.

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