Diocesan Synod met at Manor Church of England Academy, York, on a dank Saturday, 23rd November 2019.

“I call on you all to build the way God builds! To watch the way God watches. To repent and believe the good news of God’s reordered world. To give as God has given in Jesus Christ.”

So Archbishop Sentamu ended his Presidential Address on Ps127:1 and Mark 1:15, speaking on the theme of ‘Building for eternity; Humanity’s need for God’s blessing’.


York Minster’s Director of Works & Precinct, Alex McCallion, presented the Synod with a brief overview of the Minster’s plans to develop its welcome to visitors and worshippers outside the building as well as within. The proposals include opportunities to liaise with the City Council in enhancing the Minster’s surroundings, and in providing a new cafĂ©/restaurant run by the Minster. In reply to questions he assured the Synod that the Minster was working in partnership with existing local businesses and that the Chapter continues to work in partnership with the Deanery of York in developing the Minster’s Christian mission in the City.


Chair of the House of Laity Dr Nick Land updated Synod on some of the latest responses from Deaneries in developing every day discipleship amongst all church members. He showed a video of the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, commending discipleship as a week-long activity and ministry for all believers, “From Sunday to Saturday.”

See youtu.be/RHU4XE7vrrw.


The Ven John Day updated Synod on emerging plans and resources; 200 people have attended training sessions and a monthly prayer diary is now available from website comeandsee.uk. Dean of York Bishop Jonathan Frost, and Howard Petch of Cherry Burton (by video), spoke of their experience contributing to a mission in the Diocese of Carlisle, while Ros Brewer of Scarborough and the Revd Liz Hassall (pictured) of Easingwold spoke of plans forming in their own Deaneries. Synod broke into small groups to share ideas for the remaining three months of planning.


Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson introduced a brief update on some aspects of our programme of transformation and strategy.

  • Multiply: Reaching those in their 20s to 40s
    Director of Making & Nurturing Disciples the Revd Richard White reported some of the local initiatives about to occur or already under way in the 13 locations where full-time ‘Multiply’ ministers are starting to make plans for new worshipping communities, and in the first three locations where Growth Fund grants are boosting work of local parishes.
  • Mustard Seed: Reaching People in Poverty
    Bishop of Hull Alison White reported the progress of plans to launch Mustard Seed very shortly, and in particular the excitement with which she looked forward to announcing the appointment of a Director in the very near future.
  • Achieving Sustainable Giving
    Archdeacon of York Sam Rushton reported the imminent launch in our Diocese of the Parish Giving Scheme, a Church of England project initiated by Gloucester Diocese encouraging local givers to transfer to Direct Debits, with a centralised system for administering Gift Aid, and enabling people to opt into automatic annual uprating of their giving linked to the Retail Price Index.


Diocesan Director of Finance Kathryn Rose presented the draft Diocesan Budget for 2020, noting a number of factors feeding into it including:

  • The final picture for 2019 is likely to be a near break-even, due to lower income from parish Free Will Offer and fees being offset by lower expenditure on pay and housing costs and some gains on investments and property sales.
  • The 2020 budget anticipates drawing £1.75 million from finite reserves.
  • While not all Free Will Offers for 2020 have yet been received from parishes (the deadline was the 30 September), those received to date show an overall decrease of about 2% against the Offers made for 2019.
  • While many Free Will Offers have been increased, a significant number of parishes previously making substantial Free Will Offers have made major reductions which have erased the benefit of many modest increases.
  • The majority of parishes’ Free Will Offer remains below the cost of the ministry in that parish.
  • Current projections suggest that the level of Diocesan reserves will fall below the recommended level by the end of 2022 without significant mitigation.

The Synod approved the following motion, moved by Chair of the York Diocesan Board of Finance Rodney Barton:
“This Synod approves the Budget for 2020 as set out in paper DS 19/31B and authorises the Diocesan Board of Finance to expend a sum of £15,211,000 with the facility to draw up to £250,000 of contingency in addition from reserves.”


Diocesan Director of Education Andrew Smith introduced the plan which had been formulated following consultations including at Archbishop’s Council in May 2019 and Diocesan Synod in June.

It maps the journey ahead for Children and Young People in schools, churches and homes over the next 3 – 5 years in line with all that is currently underway across the Diocese schools, in a way that intentionally builds on Growing Faith, Setting God’s People Free (Everyday Faith) and Reach/Grow/Sustain.

He said the next steps would be to seek agreement of the plan from Diocesan Synod, to ascertain from lay and clergy deanery representatives what the top three priorities would be for each deanery based on the vision, mission and strategy plan, to devise the best ways to present the key details of priorities to churches and schools in a short, easily understood format, and to disseminate the plan in various ways and formats to churches and schools from January 2020.

Invited by Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education, Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson, Synod passed the following motion:

“This Synod approves the Vision, Mission and Strategic Plan for Children and Young People as set out in paper DS 19/33.”


General Synod Member the Revd Jackie Doyle-Brett reported on the July sessions of General Synod.
Legislative business had included adjustments to Diocesan Boards of Education, Cathedrals, Faculties, Church Representation Rules, the work of Crown Nominations Commissions in appointing bishops (and archbishops…) and churchyard regulations.

A Danish bishop spoke on innovative ways of encouraging new disciples, such as ‘drop-in’ baptisms, hymn singing with infants, and allowing marriage of divorcees and same-sex couples, while Worldwide President of the Mothers’ Union, Sheran Harper, received a standing ovation for an inspirational address.

A motion about Serious Youth Violence included discussion of the part the church might play in countering the seemingly inexorable spread of drug abuse and trading through so-called ‘county lines’.

Synod discussed the Clergy Wellbeing Covenant addressing clergy wellbeing and support, the Mission and Ministry Covenant which continues the journey of closer union with the Methodist Church, further Safeguarding issues and proposals in the wake of IICSA, continuing work around the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ report, and the development of ‘Anna Chaplaincy’ amongst those in later life.

  • NEXT MEETING: Saturday 21st March 2020

Go to Diocesan Synod pages