Back here again

When we left London it was grey and wet and gloomy. Arriving in York was therefore a joy. The sun is shining, it is nicely warm and there was a great buzz in the station. No, that wasn’t the atmosphere being brought by those eagerly arriving to take their seat in this Group of Sessions of the General Synod but the crowds arriving for the York Races. It appears that ‘fascinators’ are still the thing to be worn on these occasions – by the ladies of course. Members of General Synod have enough to fascinate them without having to resort to a bunch of feathers attached to the head.

Fascinating - but not for General Synod!

Fascinating – but not for General Synod!

There is plenty before us in this Group of Sessions – the wearing of robes, the Common Good, Credit Unions, the Armed Forces, even Magna Carta, all important, big and significant things to one degree or another. But of course our minds and prayers are full of the issue that has to be solved – women in the episcopate.

We have set up a prayer chapel in the retrochoir of Southwark Cathedral for the duration of the Synod, where prayers can be offered and candles lit, that God’s will be done. I have learnt not to be over confident. My confidence is in Christ; my hope is that we do what I believe needs to be done and give wholehearted backing to this Measure. My fears … well, my fear is that if Synod does not listen to the voice from the parishes and the dioceses, which is so overwhelmingly in favour of this long overdue inclusion of women in all three orders of ministry, then the nature of the Church of England will change for ever. The whole synodical structure will be found to be wanting, the road to disestablishment will lie before us and our credibility in the eyes of the nation will sink even further. It doesn’t bear thinking about. So I am praying and I remain confident and trustful of the God who loves us so much, despite our ability to betray the divine love we see in Jesus.

I was pleased that a Synod prayer was circulated round the dioceses in preparation for these days. Please pray with us.

Almighty God,
you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church
to lead us into all truth:
bless with the Spirit’s grace and presence
the members of the General Synod;
keep them steadfast in faith and united in love,
that they may manifest your glory
and prepare the way of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

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