Faith every day, at home, and in Living Christ's Story


Diocesan Synod met online via Zoom on a sunny spring morning.

Archbishop Stephen began the meeting with some short reflections; he spoke of his prayers for renewal, for God to open doors for us to share the Gospel, and for our service to the communities where God has put us.

The Archbishop linked this theme of service to the funeral of HRH Price Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, taking place a few hours later in Windsor. What could we as Christians learn from the Duke’s life of service?

  • The UK was Prince Philip’s adopted country; we as Christians are ‘adopted aliens’ in God’s world and we bow the knee to another King.
  • Prince Philip spent his life paying second fiddle. Archbishop Stephen quoted Henri Nouwen: “Give us leaders who know how to be led.” Jesus is our Leader, and it’s impossible to understand HM The Queen without knowing and understanding the depth of her Christian faith.
  • For all these reasons. We as Christians have a special care for the exile, the alien and the refugee.


Chair of the Synod’s House of Laity Dr Nick Land introduced an opportunity to review progress since Synod discussed the Church of England’s report ‘Setting God’s People Free’ (SGPF) in 2018, urging churches to empower and encourage every member in declaring and living out their practical Christian faith from Monday to Saturday each week as well as in church on Sunday.

He reported that the Church of England has gathered the online resources for SGPF together at

Our refreshed Diocese of York vision challenges us to become a Church of missionary disciples, he said, and one that is shaped by the five marks of mission:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom (Tell)
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers (Teach)
  • To respond to human need by loving service (Tend)
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation (Transform)
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth (Treasure)

Synod broke into small online groups to encourage one another with stories of how God is working through us, and how we are working with God, to engage with the Five Marks of Mission. This included Parish initiatives and ways in which we work to equip one another as effective Missionary Disciples in our everyday lives.

A list of resources named and shared would be compiled after Synod met and will be made available in due course.


Carolyn Edwards, Diocesan Children and Youth Adviser, presented the framework of the Faith at Home campaign, which supports the faith development and pastoral care of children and young people alongside and together with our work in schools and churches.

She demonstrated the ways in which the programme maps onto both our diocesan priorities, and the findings and recommendations of the report ‘Faith in the Nexus’ published by the National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER) late in 2020. ‘Faith in the Nexus’ explores how church primary schools facilitate opportunities for children’s exploration of faith and spiritual life in the home.

Highlighting the finding that we are losing 35% of our under-16s from churches every year, Carolyn commented that “In ten years’ time there will be no Diocesan Synod because there won’t be enough people around.”

She made a plea to Synod that Children and Young People should be on the agenda in our diocesan ‘Living Christ’s Story’ ministerial review.

Learn more about Faith at Home and the ‘Children of Light’ festival at


Following a Lectio Divina led by the Revd Matthew Porter on Acts 6:1-7 (the choosing and commissioning of the seven to help with the distribution of food), Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson updated Synod on progress with the current programme of ‘Living Christ’s Story’ consultations across the Diocese. He thanked all those involved in making the initial Deanery responses, the majority of which had been received by the 16th April as requested, and said that these would inform the questions that will be sent to parishes to respond later in the year. He added that the period of parish consultations was to be extended until the beginning of September to facilitate the greatest possible number of responses.

Bishop Paul introduced three brief updates from the externally-supported projects which form part of the ‘Living Christ’s Story’ strategy:

  • Multiply; building new worshipping communities amongst those in their 20s, 30s and 40s

Archdeacon of the East Riding Andy Broom said that the COVID pandemic has unavoidably delayed some of the plans, but that all the externally-funded full-time posts had now been filled although one appointee had now left due to his wife securing a job elsewhere. The ‘Growth Fund’ which offers support to parish initiatives had also faltered but recovered momentum. God is still work among us! For latest news see

  • Mustard Seed; growing disciples in places where life is tough

Bishop of Hull Alison White said that people are now being drawn in to Mustard Seed across the Diocese, with the staff team now complete. The ‘Stepping Up’ training programme had started in the autumn and although the second term had been delayed due to the national lockdown, the groups continue to meet informally online to study Luke’s Gospel. There are six groups in five deaneries with 34 people about to re-start Stepping Up, with the Mustard Seed Ambassadors scheme about to start putting up shoots. For the latest news see

  • Generous Giving and Stewardship

Archdeacon of York Sam Rushton said that the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) is now taking off with over £20,000 worth of donations to parishes being processed monthly across the Diocese. The average weekly gift per PGS donor is £18.30 against an overall average for the Diocese of £10.10 per week. 60% of those agreeing to give through PGS are also agreeing to apply an automatic annual increase in line with inflation; this is estimated to be worth an additional £300,000 of parish income over the next decade. 23 parishes have now signed up—3% of our parishes. The GGS Team has plenty of capacity to work with more parishes to introduce PGS and use it to give, and continues to offer online training in this and other aspects of generous giving. For latest news see


Finance Director Kathryn Rose updated Synod on the financial results for the Diocese in 2020 and a look at the way 2021 is progressing. She reported that despite the potential catastrophe of the COVID pandemic, Diocesan budgets had not been as badly affected in 2020 as had been feared. Revised plans drawn up early in the pandemic included an estimate that Diocesan funds would be depleted by an un-budgeted £1.4 million; in the end this was reduced to approximately £1 million due to a number of factors including reduced activity on a number of fronts, income from the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme, and an impressive 93% payment of Free Will Offer by parishes to our Common Fund.

£7.3 million had been received in Free Will Offer in 2020 and the generosity of local churches in extremely difficult circumstances was enormously appreciated.

In 2021 the budget is based on the same Free Will Offer pledge as that made for 2020 (£7.9 million); at the end of the first quarter payments received are 14% below budget but within the contingency built in to allow for changes in payment dates.


The Revd Stuart Grant, one of the clergy representing the Diocese of York, reported from February’s informal meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod members, which was not a formally-constituted meeting due to the COVID restrictions. He said the webinar format allowed Synod to work in a much more relaxed way than usual. The two Archbishops had offered their own reflections in place of a Presidential Address; Archbishop Justin on the role of what he called ‘the Church FOR England’ in naming and tackling some of the social injustices revealed by the pandemic, and Archbishop Stephen on celebrating some of what the church has been able to achieve in partnership with others in helping the country through a harrowing year.

The Archbishop of York had reported the ongoing development of the Church of England’s vision to be Simpler, Humbler and Bolder, and its quest to reveal “What kind of Church is God calling us to be?”

Presentations on Safeguarding and the Archbishops’ Commission on Housing had followed, but Stuart was inspired by tales throughout the day of hope and salvation, including of a bakery which employs and trains refugees while producing 500 loaves a week to be distributed through food banks. Another described work with people who had lost hope, including setting up a mental health cafĂ© and running a Sanctuary course.