Diocesan Synod met last Saturday and over the next few weeks we will look at different aspects of the first meeting of our new synod. In the next weeks we look at some of the budgetary and financial aspects that were discussed.
Bishop Richard gave an inspirational welcome to members as he described Synod as “the beating heart which determines diocesan strategy, priorities, direction, mood.” Warming to his theme he reminded members about their responsibilities “you are complicit in what goes on in the Diocese”, he stated “you take responsibility for what we agree”.
The Bishop was clear about the understanding in our diocese that leadership is “through the Bishop in Synod” adding “it has made a huge difference to what we do that Synod has kept its foot on the growth agenda pedal. This has done so much to exorcise the complacency exhibited in the “so long as it sees me out” mind-set that pervades so much of church decision making.”
Bishop Richard pointed to the respectful debates we have had on “a new parish share, Fit for Mission, Local Missional Leaders, broken buildings …. To mention just a few” and urged current members to have gracious debates. As he said “this synod makes a difference –not just by what we decide but, equally importantly by the manner with which we decide it."
Earlier Bishop Paul preached at the opening Eucharist talking about the call of St Paulinus as first Bishop of York in 627. Taking Luke 5: 1-11 as his texct, Bishop Paul compared our call as being one of being sent to the edges to find Jesus. He affirmed that in our diocese “we believe God is calling us to tell people about Jesus and to bring justice into this world.” This underpins his message to see us having a bigger church making a bigger difference.
Bishop Paul stated “we know in which direction we feel called by God to go. The arrow of growth and depth, has not changed and we remain committed to the ‘long obedience in the same direction’”. He affirmed that the changes to structures in order to make us Fit for Mission does not change our direction “it is designed to streamline what we do so we can move more nimbly into the future God gives. “
Bishop Paul recognised two perils “anxiety on one hand and complacency on the other”. He stated that “our leadership needs to be marked by prayer, faithfulness and that confident urgency that grows from obedience to God’s call.” He added “the culture of the church needs to be disrupted by the truth and we can reach the truth by uncomfortable debate. That doesn’t mean grumpy conversations, or factions, or politicking. It means honesty and courage, speaking and listening well."
Closing he reminded delegates that synod means together on the way saying “almost a year ago I asked the Synod to accompany me to the cathedral for my installation. For I wanted to arrive there in the midst of a group of friends on the way together. That remains my vision for synod.”
Helloes and goodbyes
Synod welcomed new members to this new synod.
Part of the meeting was devoted to elections to the House of Clergy and Laity as well as various committees. We were delighted that Revd. Joan Matthews was re-elected as Chair of the House of Clergy. Congratulations go to Debra Walker who was elected as Chair of the House of Laity and synod paid tribute to Maggie Swinson for her excellent and faithful work over many years.
Synod also paid tribute and said their farewells to Archdeacon Peter, Cynthia Dowdle and Ultan Russell thanking them for their sterling work and commitment both in synod and diocese.