Diocesan Synod, April 2022
The April 2022 meeting of our Diocesan Synod was the first in which Bishop Jonathan was in the chair. After celebrating a Taize-style Eucharist in our cathedral, he used his Presidential Address to outline how we might work and pray together to reach a new vision for our diocese. And he presented a roadmap to show how we would do that during the rest of this year. You can read more about that here and below.
PROCLAMATION OF ACT OF SYNOD
The following proclamation was read out to synod members.
At the Group of Sessions of the General Synod held at Westminster in November 2021 the Vacancy in See Committees Regulation 1993 in the form it takes following its amendment in July 2021 was formally affirmed and proclaimed as an Act of Synod.
An Act of Synod is the embodiment of the will or opinion of the Church of England as expressed by the whole body of the General Synod. Copies of the Instrument proclaiming and affirming the Vacancy in See Committees Regulation as an Act of Synod have been sent to members of this Synod.
INTRODUCTION TO BISHOP'S COUNCIL MEMBERS
Victoria James gave a quick overview of the Bishop’s Council. Synod members were made aware as to who members of the council are. You can see the list here.
DIOCESAN STAFF TEAM UPDATE
Victoria James gave a brief presentation, introducing new members of the diocesan staff team. You can download the introduction to them here.
BISHOP'S COUNCIL UPDATE
Synod members had received Paper 2 in advance, which outlined recent activity by our Bishop's Council. There were no questions about it.
GENERAL SYNOD UPDATE
Lucy Docherty gave the General Synod update from the February meeting of the Church of England's General Synod. Among the topics covered were: racial justice and the report From Lament to Action (2021); safeguarding; the climate emergency and our carbon net zero target for 2030.
Two dioceses also put forward motions, one regarding challenging slavery and child trafficking and the other regarding persecution in churches. There was also the governance review group, which is looking to simplify the governance of the national Church institutions through rationalisation, simplification, and clarification.
Bishop Jonathan gave his first Presidential Address to synod members, which reflected on what the 'wolf at the door' was - the first big issue on which he should take action. After considering the conflict in Ukraine, safeguarding, post-pandemic tiredness, our vision and strategy, and the importance of bringing the gospel to a new generation, he concluded that the wolf at the door was lack of confidence and trust in Jesus. He invited us to pray about that during Holy Week.
LIVE PRAY SERVE VISION AND ROADMAP
Bishop Jonathan presented Paper 3 which examined the roadmap for our diocese to consider its vision, strategy and finances over the rest of 2022. You can read that here.
He outlined a series of meetings that would take place between now and May, in which area deans and lay chairs for each deanery would be joined by their archdeacon, the Diocesan Secretary, Deputy Diocesan Secretary and Bishop Jonathan to examine and build on the deanery plans submitted in February 2021.
There will be a number of other landmarks between now and November 5, when Synod members will approve the budget for 2023 and a three-year framework for future budgets, empowering members to critique the process and monitor it.
Bishop Jonathan outlined that his vision was to create a Church were everyone belongs, but with a specific commitment to children, young people and young adults. He suggested that our structures should be designed so that children, young people and young adults can have a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ.
He suggested that we might include an Anna Chaplain in every parish or cluster of parishes, who could minister to and value the older generation, so they can deepen their discipleship. Each deanery plan should be tweaked so that it can reflect this bias towards children, young people and young adults, and the possibility of Anna Chaplains across the diocese. This may change the shape of ministry in some area: some may have more clergy; other places may have fewer clergy and more lay leaders engaged in work with families etc.
You can read more about his vision he offered here.
Among the points raised by Synod members were:
- This felt like "a breath of fresh air";
- Prioritising children and young people should be a key strategic point under the vision as opposed to a vision itself;
- Need to make decisions regarding the central diocesan team - ie. which central team members do we most need to make that vision a reality;
- Live | Pray | Serve is a thinking framework rather than a vision;
- The definition of 'young adult' was queried;
- Parishes needed to receive stewardship material;
- There was an encouragement to think ecumenically.