Saturday, 7 July 2018

Synod Observer (1)

Central Hall at the University of York has rarely seen scenes like it, certainly not during the annual series of sessions of the Church of England's General Synod.

Synod debates are usually sedate affairs with at most a bit of polite hand clapping, but when the re-arrangement of synodical business allowed the England match to be shown live on the big screens in the Central Hall, the chamber resounded to the unaccustomed sound of loud and fervent cheers, and the even rarer spectacle of the Archbishop of Canterbury joining in with an impromptu Mexican wave.

Well, we are the Church of England, after all, so what else could we do but support England?

Next up we could get rid of that mauve cross logo and start flying the flag of St George on all our publicity. (Steady on).

But apart from the football, what else have we been doing?

Our July meeting in York began yesterday afternoon with addresses by various members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, followed by an address from the leader of the German Lutheran Church.

A debate on the agenda was followed by Question Time. This must be a synodical record but all 87 of the tabled questions were dealt with and we finished early for dinner, but not before we had had Evening Worship. It is good that the synod programme includes these moments for prayer and worship in the midst of the business of debates.

Morning Worship was followed by stirring Presidential Address from the Archbishop of York entitled 'God is nudging us to hope.'

He concluded his address thus: 'I believe there is no need to overcomplicate Christ's Gospel. So I end with a plea that as we go out with a message of hope to the people we live amongst, we first search our hearts to know truly from where our own hope comes, and that as we deliver our message, we model ourselves on him from whom our hope comes. As the Apostle Peter (said)...'always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you and accounting of the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.'

Next up was a serious and sobering debate on Safeguarding. Synod had to grapple once more with the horrible reality of church based sexual abuse. We will undoubtedly have to return to this subject.

Central Hall, York University

Lunch followed and then the synod took part in a series of seminars, some on the forthcoming teaching document on human sexuality, and others on digital evangelism, children and young people and the environment.

There were 9 seminars in all. The timetable allowed you to do 3 or, if you are a football fan, 2. They were of high quality and this was a welcome addition to the synodical programme, allowing us to meet in smaller gatherings to discuss these important matters.

Dinner followed and thus ended a busy synodical day.

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