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And as far West as Kentucky and West Virginia. The Diocese of Christ Our Hope has churches in nine states and the District of Columbia organized into seven deaneries.
The of Christ Our Hope prioritizes expansion through church planting. We intend, by God’s grace, to keep planting several new congregations every year. We also expect that unaffiliated congregations will continue to join our diocese on occasion. Thus, we anticipate having approximately 60 congregations over the next five years. This means that the Diocese of Christ Our Hope will be almost 50% bigger than our current size of 40 churches. We believe that this growth will outstrip the span of care and cooperation provided within our current regional subdivisions. An operating principle of systems is that “in order to grow larger, you must grow smaller.” A system of deaneries comprising smaller, more local areas will better accommodate our ongoing expansion.
We need to better attend to the unique opportunities within the distinct regions that we serve. Our diocese comprises a large geographic footprint – stretching from North Carolina to Maine, and from the Atlantic Coast to Kentucky. Our current subdivisions are simply too large to be missionally thoughtful about specific regional needs. What is needed in New England is different than what’s needed in North Carolina, or the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley, or urban centers in the Mid-Atlantic. By creating smaller deaneries, therefore, we hope to group diocesan churches in ways that enable more regular and meaningful collaboration with one another. In particular, we believe the office of the dean can more helpfully advance coordinated mission among our churches. It will become increasingly hard to find the time, locations, and resources necessary to gather our churches from across large regions. A deanery can gather our churches within a tighter geographic concentration.
Deaneries can more effectively coordinate things such as leadership development, church planting, clergy care, and prayer. For example, at any one time we have approximately 50 ordinands preparing for ministry in our leadership pipeline. Deanery-level structures can support their formation and training in more personalized, on-the-ground ways, with ongoing support and resources from the diocesan offices.