DIOCESAN SYNOD, June 2019
Bishop Christopher spoke about the way that our diocese wants to grow in terms of its depth of relationship with God, its impact on society around us, and in terms of numbers of people we engage with. The full text is here. He also introduced Ian Coombes, the diocesan ambassador for the Children’s Society.
Ian Coombes spoke of his involvement in schools across the diocese, his work with children with deep and complex needs, and his involvement working with young carers. He will be working across the diocese to encourage support and fundraising for the Children’s Society.
GENERAL SYNOD REPORT
General Synod member Mark Emerton gave a presentation about the General Synod, its role in the Church of England and who its members are. The presentation can be downloaded from here.
He also gave an insight as to the agenda for the next meeting, in York, in July, which would include discussion about youth violence, clergy wellbeing, safeguarding, same-sex relationships, refugees, mission and the Crown Nominations Commission.
BISHOP’S COUNCIL UPDATE
A paper had already been circulated detailing the work of the Bishop’s Council since the last Diocesan Synod meeting in November. There had been regular meetings in March and May and an extraordinary meeting in April to consider pastoral reorganisation issues. You can download that paper here.
Diocesan Secretary Victoria James spoke to the paper. She thanked parishes for the fact that 98% of parish share for 2018 had been collected. And she explained how the new Finance Director, Lisa Streeter, will be restructuring the Finance Team to be more effective, allowing for better dialogue to parishes to enable them to move forward and understand their finances better.
She also thanked all those who were behind the Big Prayer Picnic held at Portchester Castle at the end of Thy Kingdom Come this year. She said it was a phenomenal ecumenical event, with excellent team work demonstrated by the diocesan staff, who had to overcome many challenges.
She heralded the Bishop’s Council meeting in April as a demonstration of their dedication and commitment. The depth of debate, and the care and attention paid to difficult issues around pastoral reorganisation were commendable.
And she referred to a Bishop’s Council decision to agree a short-term loan to Winchester diocese to help it to purchase some property.
Among the questions asked were points about the size of the diocesan budget, and the state of clergy housing.
DIOCESAN STAFF TEAM UPDATE
Diocesan Secretary Victoria James showed a presentation to introduce individual diocesan staff, which you can see here. This is an ongoing item on synod agendas to introduce members to different staff each time. She answered a question about whether it was necessary for staff to have an active Christian faith – it isn’t a requirement unless the particular role demands it.
Simon Butler, Chair of the Clergy Wellbeing Working Group, gave a presentation about the day-to-day work of clergy, which you can see here. He talked about the emotional “handbrake turns” that clergy deal and highlighted that it is also the job of a congregation to look after their ministry team. Synod members were given a chance to discuss wellbeing and a healthy ministry.
The discussion included the need for clergy to have an independent party to ‘offload’ onto; the importance of infrastructure to ensure clergy wellbeing; the need for congregation members to take up roles to allow clergy to rest and reflect.
2018 ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS
Director of finance Lisa Streeter gave a short presentation on the Annual Report (which you can read here) and accounts for 2018 (which you can read here). She highlighted the high rate of parish share collection (98%) and that assets had grown by just over £4m (mainly due to one-off glebe and property sales).
Synod members approved the board’s accounts for 2018 unanimously.
Diocesan Secretary Victoria James also highlighted the depth and variety of the work that goes on in our diocesan offices. With the lack of a Finance Director and Diocesan Secretary, Mary Makin and Jenny Hollingsworth were congratulated on their efforts in acting positions over the past year.
Synod members received the reports unanimously.
LIVE | PRAY | SERVE
Archdeacon of Portsdown Joanne Grenfell gave a presentation about the diocese’s live | pray | serve strategy and its impact in growing our diocese in depth, impact and numbers, which you can see here. She explained how the diocese is working within the structures of the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme, bringing new life and energy to proclaim the gospel and to live out our identity in Christ.
Joanne spoke of the need to make new disciples to see churches be renewed and to grow, to be refreshed by young members with young and old worshipping and serving collaboratively. And she talked about what it means to grow in depth (growing in love for God), to grow in impact (growing in love for our neighbours) and to grow in numbers (making new disciples of Jesus Christ).
Among the questions were the possibility of using Archdeacons’ Visitations to look at issues of growth, not just fabric; and the percentage of parishes that may be unsustainable. Joanne explained the need to recognise where a parish may be in decline and to step in before crisis points are reached.