All the conversations around the Renewal and Reform agenda are really important. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to stand for Synod this time, as I think these conversations around simplification, and money, and training, and resourcing the church for the future, are hugely important to us all. It’s something which will run throughout this entire term of Synod and has the potential to really impact how we do church. I think the session I enjoyed most was the one on evangelism. We spent the first half of the morning in small groups, looking at 3 questions:
what was your own story of coming to faith;
when was a time you have been excited by sharing your faith with someone;
what are the issues/barriers around sharing faith in your context.
We were in very varied groups and it was fascinating to look at these issues together and get to know one another better. We then spent the second half of the morning hearing from the Evangelism Task Group around various issues relating to evangelism, and then we had a discussion on the topic.
I was lucky enough to get to speak twice at Synod. I had planned my maiden speech
for the evangelism discussion, and was delighted to be called (possibly because of the not-so-subtle orange jumper I wore!) I spoke in support of the report, especially the part about urban evangelism, and also highlighted the upcoming urban evangelism conference at Bishopthorpe. The next day I hadn’t decided in advance to speak, but during the debate around the Diocesan motion on the impact of benefit sanctions, I decided to speak in support of an amendment calling on the government to research the impact benefit sanctions are having on people. This time my speech was hastily written during the debate but I was lucky to get to speak again.
A challenge is staying present throughout – mentally and physically! Most days Synod meets from 9:15-1:00 and from 2:30-7:00. During that time there are no breaks (although of course you can leave to go to the loo or get a drink whenever you like and then come back in again). It’s hard to concentrate for all that time though, and really stick with it and engage in the discussions. It’s also easy to do too much – there are ‘fringe’ meetings during every available meal time and you could find you didn’t ever have five minutes spare – sometimes it’s ok not to do everything (I had to tell myself!).
The opportunities are huge – to be involved in shaping the policy and procedures and future direction of our church. Some things we discuss seem fairly small; others are completely huge. Some are fairly straightforward; others are massively controversial. But to have a place at the table, and a voice in the debates, is a massive privilege and one I’m very grateful for. It’s also great fun meeting lots of new people!