Synod met at Manor Church of England Academy, York, on a bright and breezy Saturday morning in an otherwise wet spring.


Archbishop Stephen reflected on how we live together in times of uncertainty—both the uncertainties that unbalance our life together in Christ and the uncertainties and divisions that we experience in the world.

“We need time and spaciousness to discern the mind of Christ, and we must avoid being too quick to exclude or condemn, and always pay attention to what unites us rather than what could divide.

“This is hard, but if we pray for the grace to see Christ in each other, and if we resist the temptation to count each other out, and if we are able to see and seek to learn from the different insights of different people and groups then I trust and believe that God the Holy Spirit will lead us to a place where we can inhabit the church with our differences (and find ways of continuing to lead a common life. And even show the world a better story of peace.”

He spoke briefly about the recent media mis-reporting of the Church Commissioners’ fund for Healing, Repair and Justice in the wake of revelations that between 500 million and one billion pounds of its historic endowment comes directly from transatlantic chattel slavery.

“The sum set aside for this is £100 million – still a lot of money – but not the billion that has been inaccurately reported in bits of the media and social media. Yes, it is hoped that other institutions will examine their own accounts and join this fund. But even if this doesn’t happen, we are making a significant contribution towards healing and repair.

“We are creating a space where we can be honest about our mistakes, particularly the way we failed to see that a false and damaging theology was allowing us to consider some human beings as less than human.”

“I believe that when the world sees the Church living out its story of peace and reconciliation, people will be much more likely to ask, and hear eagerly and thirstily, where this message comes from: which is not our own wisdom; but what God gives us in Jesus, for we are all sinners in need of his grace, beggars crying out for bread, and therefore, with all our differences, sisters and brothers in Christ.

“He is our Father. Not mine.”


Director for Strategic Development Sam Nicol updated Synod on a number of work streams flowing from the ongoing process of diocesan strategy development.

Carbon Net Zero

Working towards the General Synod’s aim of achieving Carbon Net Zero across the Church of England by 2030, the Diocese of York has been awarded national funding of £159, 000 to enable the employment of two people:

  • A programme Leader working closely with the Church Buildings Adviser, Church Buildings Support Officer and Diocesan Environment Officer three days a week for two years, helping to improve the utilisation of the CofE Energy Footprint Tool, develop a costed and targeted implementation plan aimed at the highest carbon emitters, and support PCCs to develop local (plans and “quick win” projects.
  • A post supporting the new Head of Property in developing a comprehensive property plan to retrofit or sometimes replace houses identified as required for ministry with net zero in mind, recognising the national expectation that Dioceses will offset residual carbon footprint from 2030.

Church Buildings Officer
A further external grant has enabled the diocese to appoint a Funding and Community Engagement Officer; Viv Cooling has recently started work, and a further successful grant bid has enabled the launch of a small maintenance grant scheme (Grants & Fundraising at

Diocesan Website
Establishing a new diocesan website has been a significant task, particularly whilst teams, required to develop new content, have been managing other additional demands including the year end, but it is hoped to have a first iteration ready to view soon.

Director of Finance Kathryn Rose reported that the diocesan deficit in 2023 had been £1.94 million, close to the budget figure of £2.1 million, with the difference largely explained by more clergy post vacancies than anticipated, although this masked a higher shortfall in receipts of Free Will Offerings than had been foreseen.

Free Will Offers to the Common Fund for 2024 had been £145,000 below the total assumed in the budget approved by Diocesan Synod in November 2022, and then actual Free Will Offerings received had fallen short of this figure by a further £143,000 (some 2023 payments may still be received in 2024).

The high levels of clergy vacancies had, however, prompted a rise in housing costs, and work was carried out on empty properties in anticipation of new arrivals.

With regard to 2024, the planned deficit of £2.48 million still looks likely to be as predicted. Despite the significant number of parishes who have still not submitted 2024 Free Will Offer pledges, the budget figure of £7,400,000 still appears realistic as the end of the first quarter approaches.

Meanwhile, the Archdeacons are contacting Parishes who are still a distance away from covering their direct cost of ministry, to discuss plans to get to this target by 2026 and establish if this is achievable or not; this will help inform future planning and an update will be provided to the next Synod.

Kathryn noted that our payments into the clergy and staff pension schemes are reducing, that vacancies in parishes and in the diocesan office will bring short-term savings, and that we have attracted significant dedicated funding from the national church for work and advisory posts in Carbon Net Zero, Racial Justice and Church Buildings, with more likely to follow soon.

“Even with such improvements to the original budget, the overall deficit position is still substantial and not sustainable. This highlights clearly why the Living Christs’ Story strategy and all the work behind it to expand the mission but also improve the financial situation of the wider Diocese is so important.”


Following the February sessions of the Church of England’s General Synod, two of the Diocese of York’s 12 representatives reported back to Diocesan Synod.

The Revd Steve Wilcox reported debates on clergy conduct and wellbeing, the need sometimes to regulate the conduct of lay parish officers, the need for parishes to manage their land both efficiently and ethically, the future of clergy pensions and the drive to advance evangelistic and pastoral ministry on new and modern estates.

Lucy Gorman reported discussions on codes of conduct for Parochial Church Councils, safeguarding, racial justice, conduct of lay parish officers, the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households and the future provisions for clergy marrying after divorce.

Both spoke, from differing perspectives, of the resumed discussion of arrangements for implementing provisions of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process. Lucy and Steve both remarked that the debates were more reflective, more mutually accommodating and less strident than in previous sessions, and that a motion to curtail further debate pending more specific proposals to resolve outstanding issues had been passed with strong support.


During a 25-minute refreshment break the diocesan Generous Giving Team were kept very busy at a ‘marketplace’ stand, discussing current and future work to support parishes in developing a culture of generosity not just in giving, but in living too.


Since (as noted above) no specific outcomes from the February sessions of the Church of England’s General Synod needed to be debated or resolved, Diocesan Synod was tasked in its ‘table groups’ generally of ten people to discuss—and individually to submit a brief and anonymous note about—the way LLF to date is or is not affecting their own congregations and communities, and how their needs might be met or resourced as the process continues.

This was a novel exercise for Diocesan Synod, allowing nearly an hour for mutual listening and discussion in facilitated groups of diverse opinions and backgrounds, with no specific motion to be passed or rejected at the end.

Responses will be collated and reviewed by the Diocesan Office team in order to report back as appropriate.


Synod said farewell to Assistant Diocesan Secretary Shirley Davies, who has been the administrative mastermind behind the business and running of Diocesan Synod for 28 years.

Archbishop Stephen paid tribute to her wisdom and thoroughness as he presented flowers and thanks.