Enabler Supported Ministry

Some parishes within the Diocese of Tasmania have moved or are moving to a different model of ministry from the traditional one centred around one Rector per parish. This model, which is finding increasing application outside this diocese and overseas, is known locally as Enabler Supported Ministry formerly known as Total Ministry. Some of the frequently asked questions about this way of being church, and brief answers, are set out below.

  1. What is Enabler Supported Ministry? Enabler Supported Ministry (ESM) is a model of church where local people are called to form a leadership team, which then takes responsibility for carrying forward the mission of the parish supported by an Enabler. Enabler Supported Ministry is known in other dioceses as total ministry, mutual ministry, common ministry, local collaborative ministry, every member ministry, ministry of the baptised and ministering community.
  2. Is ESM Anglican? Anglican order and ethos, including the three-fold order of bishops, priests and deacons, remain fundamental to the model. It is to be found in a wide variety of Anglican dioceses and traditions.
  3. Which Parishes in Tasmania are developing ESM? To date, nine parishes have adopted Enabler Supported Ministry. These are Break O'Day, Brighton, Channel-Cygnet, Circular Head, Dorset, New Norfolk, Penguin, Riverlinks, Sheffield and West Coast. Exploration began in 1998. All nine parishes, in conjunction with the Diocese, have called a Local Ministry Support Team and identified those called to serve as Ordained Team Members (OTM). The first ordinations took place in August 2001 and the parishes were Commissioned in February 2002.
  4. Has it been approved by the Diocese and does the Bishop support it? Enabler Supported Ministry has its origins in the Restructuring and Viability Report 1997 and is enthusiastically supported by Bishop John Harrower. The Synod of the Diocese of Tasmania passed an amendment to the Parish Administration Ordinance in 2002 to allow for Enabler Supported Ministry. The Diocesan Bishop and the Ministry Council provide oversight through the Diocesan Director of Ministry.
  5. Who is the leader in an ESM Parish? In the Anglican Church, the Diocese is the primary unit of interdependence and the Bishop is the identifiable leader of all parishes. The leadership model being encouraged and developed in Enabler Supported Ministry is that of Jesus who did not take total control of all ministry, but who modelled ministry and trained and enabled people and sent them out to empower others. St Paul encouraged local leadership in the churches in Asia Minor which was corporate and based on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Such communities were interdependent, not solely dependent on the input of one single strong leader.
  6. What is a Local Ministry Support Team? A Local Ministry Support Team (LMST/the Team)) is a group of baptised people identified and called by the local church to lead them in Enabler Supported Ministry. The Team is made up of people with spiritual maturity and gifts of leadership. The Team does not undertake all of the ministry. Rather it encourages and enables all members to discover and use their own particular gifts for ministry in the life and mission of the church.
  7. What is an Ordained Team Member (OTM)? An OTM is a member of the Local Ministry Support Team who is ordained deacon or priest. All OTMs exercise their ministry as part of the Team. Enabler Supported Ministry parishes are encouraged to call at least two people to serve as OTMs.
  8. What is the difference between an OTM and other priests? OTMs are priests in the Church of God. However, they function as priests solely within the parish in which they serve. Unlike Stipendiary and Honorary Priests they cannot serve in another parish without invitation. If an OTM moves from an Enabler Supported Ministry parish to live in a traditional parish setting s/he will not automatically be able to exercise ministry as a priest. It will be necessary for them to be called to serve as an Honorary Priest in the new context.
  9. How are people trained for their roles in an ESM Parish? Study takes place within the parish in a learning community. Studies in theology and ministry are undertaken by the Local Ministry Support Team and are open to anyone who wishes to participate. Study focuses on everyday life experiences and issues that arise in the life, mission and ministry of the church. The study program is ongoing and includes a range of courses and resources.
  10. What is an Enabler? An Enabler is a clergy-person (usually stipendiary) appointed by the Bishop to be a companion to a parish (or group of parishes) as it develops this way of being church. Regular visits to the parish to encourage, train, mentor and evaluate their mission and ministry are part of the Enabler’s role.
  11. Is an Enabler needed for the long term? The Enabler is a permanent part of this way of being church. In addition to the role above, he or she provides a link with the Diocese and with other parishes.
  12. Will standards be lowered if local people lead and do the ministry themselves? The quality of education and training for ministry undertaken by people in these parishes is of a high standard. The mentor model used is intensive and extends over a number of years. Much of the biblical and theological reflection that is part of the training program is related to life experiences in the local context. The standard of ministry, as always, depends upon the commitment to growth and the selfless service of godly people for whom we are enjoined to pray regularly.
  13. What is the relationship between the Team and the PC? The Team is not a replacement for the Parish Council or Churchwardens but works in partnership with them in the same way that a Rector would. The Team is responsible for the worship, mission and ministry of the parish. The Parish Council and Churchwardens have primary responsibility for the parish finances and fabric, and for all policy decisions and appointments. If the Team wishes to carry out any special initiative it must first gain the agreement of the Parish Council.
  14. Is there a solid theological foundation for ESM? Enabler Supported Ministry understands the Church to be a community of Christians upon which God’s grace is lavished in the form of many gifts. The gifts are given to build up the whole body of Christ and to reach out to the local community. Every parish is responsible for recognising the spiritual gifts and needs of its members, and calling forth these ministries. The Holy Spirit will give to the Christian community members who are gifted for ordained ministry and whose calling and gifting will be discerned through that same Spirit, by the local Christians and Diocese.

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For further information please contact:

Diocesan Ministry Council
Anglican Diocese of Tasmania
GPO Box 748
Hobart 7001
Phone (03) 6220 2020
Email ministrycouncil@anglicantas.org.au