8 December 2023

New equal church leaders’ role for couple

The Reverends Jerome and Vivianne Dias will be commissioned as vicars of three Dandenong Ranges parishes. Picture: supplied.

Jenan Taylor

1 August 2023

A married couple hopes a new model of leadership they’re embarking on will provide a sustainable future for church leadership.

The Reverends Jerome and Vivianne Dias will be commissioned as joint vicars of three parishes in the Dandenong ranges.

The role will encompass leadership of Holy Trinity Upwey, St Martin’s Belgrave Heights and St George’s Monbulk.

The priests say being able to complement and support each other’s competencies and abilities as equal leaders will help make the job more sustainable and healthier.

They see it as an opportunity to enhance how senior ministry in churches is currently done.

Mr Dias said the complexities and responsibilities of senior church roles had grown over the years, and could be arduous.

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He said it could be a particularly heavy weight for lone ministers of parishes where they might not be able to be supported by a team of people.

Being able to share that responsibility equally with a colleague might lighten that pressure and encourage continuity of the effort.

Mrs Dias hoped the role could be a model young women and young men might be able to look to for quality of leadership.

“They’d be able to see that we can be better together. Not better with just women or just men in leadership, but that actually we can be better together when we work together,” she said.

She believed it could also offer a model of how two different people with different gifts and ways, might be able to work as one.

Mr Dias anticipated that in joint ministry roles any differences the job sharers might have, would need to be worked through in order to lead together.

“That’s a great model of unity for a parish to think about in the midst of any differences its members might have, so it would be a strength for the Church as well,” he said.

Jumbunna episcopate area head Bishop Paul Barker said it was possible the appointment would be the first of its kind in the Melbourne diocese.

He said it would be positive for the priests sharing the role, and for the three parishes.

“Its biggest strength is that it will give the Upwey, Belgrave Heights and Monbulk parishes full time ministry. They’re small parishes that are similar in style. Ultimately, it will be an efficient way for ministry,” Bishop Barker said.

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Currently holding associate minister and curate positions at St Mark’s Emerald, the couple said they hoped to be able to equip the three communities to be missional worshipping communities, once they started in their new role.

Safe relationships and safe systems would also be a focus, they said.

“But we don’t know the parishes well yet, so our sense of vision will come as we get to know their stories and what God has been doing,” Mrs Dias said.

The new vicars will be commissioned on 30 November at 7.30pm at Holy Trinity Upwey.

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