Diocesan Synod Report Mar 2016

Diocesan Synod Report  - March 2016

The meeting began with Eucharist led by Bishop Robert who ably led the unaccompanied singing of hymns by members of Synod. 

After a brief break, the Synod was opened and members warmly welcomed by the lay chair, Mrs Marguerite Shapland.  We were introduced to the new Chairman of the Diocesan Board of Finance, Mr Giles Frampton and the new Chairman of the Diocesan Board of Education.  We noted, with regret, the recent death of Brigadier Nigel Speller and the Diocesan Registrar acquainted us with an amending Canon from General Synod to do with safeguarding.

The presidential address, given by Bishop Robert, focused on the charges he was given at his enthronement which were, among other things, to inspire evangelism and growth, to uphold the diversity of different church traditions within the Diocese and to bring a fresh outlook and create new energy through the support of Mission Communities.  Having listened to the mood of the Diocese, the Bishop wanted to map out the direction of travel for the next 5-10 years and to do this he introduced his Vision and Strategy document.  He sees three priorities at the heart of the vision:

  • Mission Action Plans should be useful documents, not just box ticking exercises, kept simple so they enable the mission energy of the Diocese to be released
  • More lay training opportunities to enable more lay participation
  • A new round of Bishops in Mission – the Bishops will visit every Deanery in the Diocese to talk about strategy

In a departure from normal practice, Synod members split into small groups to discuss the document and after positive feedback and questioning, Synod voted in favour of the direction of travel proposed by the document.

Next, Synod discussed revised arrangements for the Mission and Growth Fund approved at the October Synod.  The emphasis was on simplicity, both in the forms and the arrangements for applications, which will be approved based on their links to the parish’s MAP.  Encouragement was given to parishes to apply for smaller sums so that more schemes could benefit.  A very complicated amendment was proposed which was not accepted so the original proposed revised arrangements were carried.

A brief financial statement was presented by the Diocesan Secretary, Mark Bedell, who spoke about shortfalls in Common Fund and the success of the Parish Giving Scheme (members of this scheme give an average of £16.86 per week!)

The question of calculation of Common Fund recurs regularly at Diocesan Synod and it was represented this time by a motion from Moreton Deanery Synod proposing a system of ‘Gospel Giving’.  After an interesting presentation based on biblical teaching, we were asked whether our parishes were ‘net givers’ or ‘net receivers’ of income and clergy were asked to preach on sacrificial giving to enable gospel growth.  The suggestion was that parishes should pair up to share each other’s burdens, based on the cost of the ministerial support that they receive.  No parish should be given a figure for Common Fund but each should pay as much as it could.  There followed interesting discussion on the scheme and an amendment was proposed that gave more flexibility for the DBF/Bishop’s Council to look again into alternative ways to get away from basing Common Fund on calculated participants.  The amended motion was carried.

After an amusing report by Canon Andrew Godsall on his experience as a member of General Synod and the future of mission, there were various written questions and answers tabled regarding the Church Buildings Review Group, use of funds for mission and growth and inter faith mission and partnership.

The Synod was closed with prayer by Bishop Robert.


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