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Focal leaders: Revd Derek Allen's story

First published on: 23rd November 2023

We caught up with newly commissioned focal leader, Revd Derek Allen, of Holy Trinity, Tunstead to find out more about his role.

Revd Derek Allen has been serving in Rossendale for around thirty years. He initially worked with families in Bacup on a local authority housing estate, then went on to become an Ordained Local Minister as Deacon and then Priest in 2000. He says his progression to focal leader has “been a natural progression in a sense; in lots of ways I was a focal leader without the title.”

Derek considers focal leaders to be people who are well-established in their parishes and has always felt that his role at Christ Church initially and later at Holy Trinity, Tunstead, has been rooted in community. His long-standing presence across both parishes made him an ideal candidate for focal leader at Holy Trinity, as he is a person people recognise and know they can approach with any queries. Derek’s wife Leila, who is also ordained, is the focal leader for Christ Church.

“I’m a PCC member and have retired from my paid employment as a Quantity Surveyor now, so I have the time to help", says Derek. "I’m seen as a go-to person for things that need doing within the church, whether that be heading down to let in a workman or helping with any need that arises."

“The Rossendale team is a natural mission community. As such, even before the idea arose within the wider Diocese, Rossendale had already identified people as potential focal leaders, and I was already doing the role.”

He is also immersed in many aspects of church life and Sunday morning worship, in particular through leading worship, preaching and presiding at Holy Communion, playing mandolin in leading worship song, and has recently shared in leading the ‘Start’ enquirers’ course. The occasional offices of baptisms, funerals and weddings are also part of Derek’s ministry at Holy Trinity.

Since before his commissioning, Derek has been attending regular meetings with other focal leaders and stipendiary clergy from his mission community to share ideas, encourage each other, and feedback to his parish about upcoming events. If there is a quiz night at a local parish on a Friday for example, focal leaders can encourage people in their parishes to attend, thereby working as a team to reach more people with the aim of everyone getting to know each other.

“In my twenty-odd years running up to becoming focal leader, my focus was predominantly on the local parishes in Bacup and Stacksteads, but now it’s a wider remit – it’s about networking and communication with the other parishes in Rossendale”, he says.

Working with his mission community, Derek promotes the mission priorities of prayer, digital presence, youth, children and school work, whether that be through a recent sermon series on prayer which saw each church using the same bible passages for six weeks in the Sunday morning services, promoting youth groups from other parishes, or helping out with maintaining his church’s Facebook account.

To any potential focal leaders considering the role, Derek says, “People are worried if they take the title they’re going to have a lot of extra work but that isn’t the case. The key is in communication and networking in a shared way, and really, we just want to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet!”

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