Diocese of Portsmouth

Synod Summary February 2016

Synod began with a Eucharist in the cathedral commemorating George Herbert which drew on his words and hymns.


Bishop Christopher said that this synod meeting would consider our practical application across the diocese of the recently adopted diocesan strategic purpose, ‘Live, Pray Serve’. He reflected on the importance for the church to balance retaining material and spiritual elements of its history and tradition with the need to be ‘fit for purpose’ to enable us to reach out effectively to people in our modern communities. He urged synod members to consider how they could declutter their churches and church halls and posed the question: ‘To what extent do yoru spaces invite and enable to you to live, pray and serve in your local community?

The full text of Bishop Christopher’s address is here


Archdeacon Gavin Collins briefed synod on the business done at the recent General Synod Sessions and highlighted how much good progress is being made in the national church drive to support the church’s Renewal and Reform agenda, including the development of legislation to simplify some of the more onerous administrative and legislative requirements on dioceses and parishes.

He also looked forward to the July sessions of General Synod which will devote significant time to structured conversations about issues of human sexuality and the church’s response.


Canon Bob White, joint vice president of Diocesan Synod, welcomed three speakers: Jim Palmer, from the Highlands Hub, Fareham; Jill Phipps, Older Persons Advocate in the Portsmouth Inner City Cluster; and Rev Elizabeth Groves, recently elected President of the Portsmouth Diocese Mothers’ Union.

Jill Phipps told synod that her post is grant funded and her focus is being and advocate for older people. She spoke of her work to support and encourage community gatherings, her involvement with those in care homes and those living alone. Jill challenged synod to consider what they could do to involve and serve older people in the light of the drive to engage younger people evident in the Live, Pray, Serve commitment. She was particularly keen to encourage dementia awareness and offered to provide training sessions for local churches/ deaneries. Jill’s presentation is here. Her contact details are Jill.Phipps@portsmouthcathedral.org.uk

Jim Palmer gave a presentation on the work of the Highlands Hub, a local community resource centre based in a shop in a relatively deprived part of St Columba parish, leased and entirely run by the parish. Jim told synod that the Hub had been running for some 6 years and a renewal lease for a further period was in discussion. He shared some stories of people the Hub had helped, and explained that the Hub is a coffee shop, provides internet facilities, has meeting rooms where advice from CAB and other organisations is provided and has volunteers willing to offer a listening ministry. Jim explained that the income from the centre does not completely cover running costs but there is great commitment in the parish to fund raising and support of this important community service. Jim’s presentation is here.

Elizabeth Groves spoke of the enduring commitment of the Mothers’ Union to living, praying and serving. She challenged the perception of the MU as a group of grey haired older ladies, knitting and eating cake, but also highlighted the value, as had Jill of coming together and sharing fellowship, wit and wisdom. Elizabeth also highlighted the strong support MU provide in many parishes for wider parish events. She invited synod members to think again about MU, to value it, to join it, and to consider ways in which the MU membership can be strengthened and supported. She highlighted the Away From It All holidays which aim to help enable families to spend quality time together away from the pressures of everyday life. Click here for more details. Elizabeth's presentation is here. Elizabeth’s contact address is rev.elizabeth@btinternet.com

Debbie Sutton, joint vice President of synod then directed that synod meet in houses to consider the questions:

In view of the fact that God calls all the baptised into parternship with himself, so that his mission may go forward in each place:

- How do we nurture our own spiritual growth and discipleship?

- How might we grow our relationship with our communities?

- How might the laity help this happen?

Each house worked in small groups and nominated one person to feedback in one minute some highlights of action to take forward from these discussions.

Proposals fed back were clearly very much inspired by the earlier speakers and majored on equipping and freeing laity to support their churches to be creative in new ways of engaging with their local communities. Many ideas about small and also larger medium term actions were offered. Synod members were charged by Debbie Sutton to go back to their deaneries and parishes to make these proposals into effective action.

Bishop Christopher then chaired a panel comprising the guest speakers, Bob White, Debbie Sutton, and Stuart Forster from the house of laity and Will Hughes from the house of clergy. The panel took questions and further developed some of the practical ideas that had emerged.


Bishop Christopher thanked all those who had donated previously to the Bishops Lent Appeal and asked for parishes to promote this for 2016.