Morning broke and Synod met. We began with a debate on the Church and the Armed Forces Covenant. Although people were slightly distracted by the thought of what was coming later in the morning it was a good presentation and a good debate. There is a real feeling around that whatever you might think of some of the wars in which we have recently been involved, the men and women in the Armed Forces have been out there because we as a nation have sent them.
I have on occasions felt ‘Not in my name’ to be my honest position on some of the conflicts in which we have been involved but I cannot distance myself from the society of which I am part and so I cannot distance myself from those who are prepared to go and do what I am not prepared to do, take arms and fight. In just two weeks we will begin the commemoration of the First World War and we will be reading each day in the Cathedral the names of those who died in that war and whose names are recorded on the memorials in the churches and communities of our diocese. It would be hypocritical and wrong for me to say that I will pray for those dead and not have a care for the living, for veterans, for their families, for those who have been injured and will bear forever the scars, physical and mental, with which they have come back home.
So I look forward to hearing more about this Covenant and I was fascinated to discover that in the reign of Elizabeth I in 1593 a law was passed that allowed each parish to be pay a weekly tax of not more than 6d in the pound to support soldiers returning home ‘that they may reap the rewards of their good deservings and others may be encouraged to perform the like endeavours.’ They were dealing with the same issues then as we are now.
Then the debate on women in the episcopate began. I will say no more at this moment except, keep offering those prayers!
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.