The new parish of Byron will become official on 1 May 2020 following the AGM on Sunday, 29 March 2020 where office bearers for this new ministry area were elected. This is part of the Diocesan Restructure but, at the request of the three parishes of Mullumbimby, Byron Bay and Bangalow, Bishop-in-Council authorised the merging of these three parishes into one ministry area, ahead of the Synod which will debate the various models of ministry areas for the remainder of the diocese.
This project has been on the drawing board for quite some time and in the past two years there has been considerable discussion about how the three parishes could work more effectively together. They have been exploring centralising administration to ease the burden of doing tasks three times and they have also trialled shared services which were very well received. These were all led by lay members of the parishes of Mullumbimby and Bangalow.
When Bishop-in-Council gave the approval for the three parishes to become one ministry area, the pace sped up. Letters were sent to the Churchwardens of the three parishes with the instructions of the steps that needed to be taken for this to become a reality. The primary step was to hold a combined Annual General Meeting and elect Churchwardens, Parish Councillors, Synod Representatives and Parish Nominators. Nomination forms were sent out and the date was set for the meeting to be held at Mullumbimby with a combined service and a morning tea, followed by the AGM.
The wheels fell off this plan very quickly when the COVID-19 Coronavirus hit and we suddenly found we could not meet face to face. Thanks to modern technology, the meeting was arranged, and the AGM was held at 10 am on Sunday 29 March by Zoom computer conferencing. There was a great sense of excitement at the meeting about what is to come, even though there is a very present sense of what may change in the new structure.
The Rev Rosie Wynter from the Bathurst diocese has been appointed as Community Minister and will reside in Bangalow. Given the COVID-19 situation, her commencement date is yet to be determined. The Parish Nominators will also be busy now working with the Bishop to find the person who will be the Incumbent of this exciting new ministry area.
Under the Diocesan Restructure proposal, parishes will be known as Ministry Areas and will have Ministry Area Leaders and teams including Community Ministers, Licensed Lay Ministers and assorted other team members. It will be exciting to watch how this model is lived out in the new ministry area of Byron and the people there are very aware that all eyes are upon them, as they are the first cab off the rank, so to speak.
It has been a great pleasure for me to be a small part of this new vision and I am sure that exciting new ministry opportunities will arise as the combined energies of the people of the three parishes join together as one united mission and ministry area.
Archdeacon Matthew Jones