The evening session was taken up with a debate on the report on ‘Progress on meeting challenges for the quinquennium’. The Bishop of Sheffield introduced the report and the debate, highlighting in a video presentation that the three challenges to the church are:
serving the common good
The presentation began with Ephesians 1.3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
He pointed out that in terms of ministry we were rejoicing in an increase in younger vocations; in serving the common good so many examples of the church working with the community not least through Fresh Expressions; the real challenge was still in making disciples.
There was a good debate and the report was received by a very supportive Synod. There was then proposed a following motion by the Revd John Dunnett, calling for the bishops to consider a strategy for the re-evangelisation of England. He had been inspired by the bishops of the Roman Catholic church spending three weeks in October of last year considering evangelisation and he was wanting us to catch something of that commitment.
One of the contributors to the debate was Canon Gary Jenkins who is the Rector of the parish of St James Bermondsey in the Diocese of Southwark. He said that in the sanctuary of his church is a large painting of the ascension of Christ with the text ‘Lo, I am with you always’, part of the great commission of our Lord to the apostles and hence to the church. He reminded us of that commission to make disciples.
It wasn’t a long debate but it was an important one. The day was coming to a close but nevertheless there was real enthusiasm to re-engage with this task and with this commission from the Lord. It will be interesting to see what the House of Bishops does with it. But certainly, in Bermondsey, in the Cathedral parish as much as throughout the church we need to be bold in proclamation. After all, it is a great thing to know Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. But as St Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Romans
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? (Romans 10.14)
It was a good place to end the day. We have done a great deal of talking and listening. Let us hope that it will make a difference when Monday comes!
Lighten our darkness, Lord, we pray,
and in your great mercy
defend us from all perils and dangers of this night
for the love of your only Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ.