In his Presidential Address, Archbishop Stephen
reflected on his morning prayers beside the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe,
and what we might learn from the purposeful indirectness of a river:
we carry on holding onto only one model of what it is to be a church,
then we might fail to see that if we just allowed the river of our life
in Christ to meander off in this apparently counter intuitively strange
direction – not going from A to B at all, but actually, for the moment,
appearing to go backwards – we would find a way forwards.
“This way of being the church will be based on several vital principles.
that ministry belongs to everyone, to the whole people of God because
of our baptism. We are the Church: the people of God in all our
communities of faith.
“Secondly, that the diocese is us, not someone
else, not head office, wherever that is, not bishop or archdeacon, not
even Incumbent. But us. And we have a commitment to each other and to
every community, not just our own.
“Thirdly, we need the oversight of
bishop and priest. And we need the resourcing for training and housing
and safeguarding and communications that comes from the so called
centre. But as I said to the General Synod last Monday, the centre is
Christ, and our becoming like Christ is the centre of our vision to tell
Christ’s story; and the primary task of those of us who are called to
lead and oversee the Church is to encourage and facilitate the ministry
of everyone.” (read in full)
LIVING CHRIST’S STORY
Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson updated Synod on the different strands of activity flowing from our refreshed Diocesan Vision:
Leadership Teams had been invited to contribute in the spring;
currently PCCs are considering their responses to be collated across the
Diocese in September. This is a process of “taking the temperature of
the Diocese”, not a referendum, and much depends on the tone as well as
the content of PCC responses, said Bishop Paul. The essence is to
explore within what is practical and affordable, how can we in the
Diocese of York share our resources to make Christ known from the Humber
to the Tees?
- Multiply; building new worshipping communities amongst those in their 20s, 30s and 40s
are now seeing signs of the planned and prayed-for ‘ripple effect’ from
the Multiply locations becoming established now developing into hubs of
activity within a deanery or locality. The first additional Curate
trained in ‘church planting’ as part of the Multiply project at St
Michael-le-Belfrey in York is about to begin their new role, and plans
are in place for the future. For latest news see www.multiplyreach.org.
- Mustard Seed; growing disciples in places where life is tough
the Mustard Seed team now complete, the focus has been on the
‘Stepping Up’ training programme to encourage and equip local people
into leadership roles in their own community and fellowship, so far
involving 30 people across five deaneries. The ‘Mustard Seed Ambassador’
programme is about to launch; people interested in becoming advocates
for the Mustard Seed project in parishes across the Diocese are
invited to contact Team Leader Heather Black. See www.mseed.org.
- Generous Giving and Stewardship
at GGS online training events during the COVID pandemic, and ongoing
requests for the team’s intervention, confirm that while Team Leader Jo
Beacroft-Mitchell is moving on after three years, there is still a need
for more than one GGS officer; we are currently seeking external funding
to support a second post. www.dioceseofyork.org.uk/generosity
Paul mentioned our Gratitude to Jon Cook who retired at the end of June
after nearly five years as Transformation & Strategy Programme
Manager. Jon had helped put together our funding bids and was hugely
appreciated for his ability to focus our thought. We are now thinking
how best to replace him.
Bishop of Selby Dr John Thomson introduced Diocesan Green Ambassador the Revd Jan Nobel,
who in turn introduced a motion inviting Synod to support the Church of
England’s resolve to become carbon-neutral by 2030. The motion included
a call upon all parts of the Diocese of York to measure carbon
emissions, and urgently to examine what would be required to reach net
zero emissions by 2030, in order that a plan of action can be drawn up
to achieve that target. Further, it called on the Diocesan Environment
Steering Committee (DESC) to provide practical guidance to churches on
how to measure and reduce emissions, to prepare a draft Diocesan
Environment Policy, and to report on diocesan carbon emission reductions
every three years beginning in 2024.
Jan outlined the journey made
by the Diocese with highlights including the appointment of deanery
‘Deans of Green’ in 2011 (some of whom have been active throughout while
others have not been replaced), and the A Rocha ‘Eco Church’
awards held by 35 of our churches (and counting). The Diocese is
registered with A Rocha to become an ‘Eco Diocese’, but as yet is far
from earning its Bronze Award.
He showed Synod an inspirational video
calling for environmental awareness and action, made by and featuring
students at Archbishop Holgate’s Church of England School in York (bit.ly/ahsclimatevid2021), and described by the Dean of York as “inspiring and visionary leadership from young people”.
small group discussion on the challenges of implementing the motion,
it was overwhelmingly supported by Synod with 91% in favour and 5%
against (4% abstained).
COVENANT FOR CLERGY CARE AND WELLBEING
of Cleveland Dr Amanda Bloor and Bishop of Selby Dr John Thomson
introduced a report collating some of the PCC and Deanery responses to
three questions put to them following the November 2020 Diocesan Synod:
- How could your parish/benefice/deanery better support its
- clergy? What do you suggest could be done at Diocesan level? In the light of your own local context,
- can you identify factors that could negatively affect clergy well-being?
key responses were grouped together under headings Communication,
Encouragement and Practice, showing a high degree of engagement with the
need to care for clergy and their families in order to affirm and
support their ministries. The motion “This Synod notes the Covenant for
Clergy Care and Wellbeing and commits to embedding its principles,
actions and learning into our life together in the Diocese of York” was
FROM LAMENT TO ACTION
Lectio Divina on Romans 12:1-18 led by Canon Linda Ali, she was invited
by Dean of York Dr Jonathan Frost (both pictured above) to lead an initial presentation and
discussion of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce report, ‘From
Lament to Action’, which calls for urgent changes to the culture of the
Church of England through 47 recommended actions.
DIOCESAN FINANCIAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2020
Director Kathryn Rose introduced the 2020 Report and Accounts, after an
unprecedented year dominated by the church closures, lockdowns and
other restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Headlines included
the encouraging news that Free Will Offerings received for the Diocesan
Common Fund (which is used entirely to pay the majority of parish
ministry costs) were within 8% of the original, pre-COVID budget. It was
nevertheless a serious matter that the total of £7.3m fell well short
of the budget of £8m, although the pandemic had also resulted in some
reduced expenditure where activities had been curbed, and the Diocese
had made the greatest possible use of the Furlough scheme to support the
salaries of staff prevented from carrying out some or all of their
usual work by the restrictions. Synod voted unanimously to receive the
2020 Financial Report and Accounts, and to receive the report of the
Audit Committee which scrutinises their compilation and ensures its
compliance with all statutory requirements.
of Cleveland Dr Amanda Bloor presented the annual Safeguarding report
to Synod in place of Archdeacon of the East Riding, Andy Broom, who was
unable to attend. The report noted the huge shift of vital, diocese-wide
safeguarding training from in-person to online, welcomed the
appointment of Jenny Price (formerly Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser in
Leeds) to lead the training programme and of Jane Tillett as much-needed
team administrator, and thanked all concerned for the 100% response by
parishes to the Church of England’s vital Safeguarding Past Cases Review
process. The report was overwhelmingly received by vote of Synod.
OTHER ANNUAL REPORTS
number of other bodies and functions of the Diocese are required to
report annually to Diocesan Synod; the following reports were circulated
to Synod members and duly received by vote of the Synod. Copies may be
obtained on request for the groups concerned:
- Property Sub-Committee
- Mission and Pastoral Sub-Committee
- Diocesan Board of Education
- Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches
All were received overwhelmingly.
GENERAL SYNOD REPORTS
Revd Stuart Grant reported on the April 2021 General Synod Sessions and
Mike Stallybrass on the July 2021 Sessions, the last of the current
Synod’s COVID-extended six-year lifespan. They described a busy Synod
looking forward to the autumn 2021 elections, and urged church members
to consider standing. Their reports may be downloaded here.