Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Synod observer (4)

After morning worship, Synod began with farewells to Jarvis the Guide Dog, at his last group of sessions in York before a well-deserved retirement.

It then spent most of the morning debating the report of the cathedrals working party. Cathedrals are thriving across the country, with growing congregations and huge numbers of visitors, but they are expensive places to run, and complicated to lead.

Some recent difficulties in a few cathedrals has led to this detailled report on how the cathedrals are led and governed. The report easilly passed its first consideration by the Synod, and in due course a draft measure (a bit like an Act of Parliament) will come to synod in order to put into effect some of the proposals in the report.

Prior to that, it was down to the Archbishop of York to propose the re-appointment of John Spence (who was not present at synod today) as the Chair of the Finance Committee of the Archbishops Council, which he did most warmly. Then several members spoke in the debate, including John's diocesan bishop who knows him well. With one voice they spoke so warmly of this remarkable servant of the Church.

John Spence (right) is a Scot, with a keen sense of humour, always on top of his brief, who, in addition to his mastery of the Church's financial position, is an amazing orator who can move and inspire synod with his speeches, full of a passionate love of the Gospel.

His vision is for every person in the country to know the risen and ascended Christ. He has led the re-orientation of the Church's structures, and finance towards mission. In his home church he serves on the catering committee and can often be seen with his hands deep in the sink washing the dishes after a church social. And he is blind.

After everyone had spoken in the debate, the Archbishop of York, was invited to reply.

'What can I say but this?' said the Archbishop who began to sing 'To God be the glory great things he has done. So loved he the world that he gave us his Son (and by now the whole of synod had joined in). Who yielded his life an atonement for sin, and opened the lifegate that all may go one. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice, praise the Lord, Praise the Lord. Let the People rejoice. O Come to the Father through Jesus the Son and give him the glory great things he has done..'

It was one of the best closing speeches ever.

The Synod meets again in February - in London.

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