I ended yesterday reflecting on the apparent energy levels – or rather lack of energy – that there appeared to be present in the Synod. I suppose today the only word for my experience of Synod is ‘grumpy’. I was only able to be around in the morning and so wasn’t there to experience what happened when people got back into the Chamber in the afternoon. But I was there for the two parts of the morning – small group work looking at discipleship and then a much larger ‘hearing’ on one of the Task Group reports.
The discussion about discipleship was in preparation for the debate that was to take place in the afternoon. People told their own stories of deepening their own relationship with Christ, what it was that created the step change in their Christian commitment. As one person described it it was about moving from being a ‘receiver’ to being a ‘disciple’. I can’t say that anything startling emerged from the discussion and there could have been a lot more passion around, given that it should be a subject that we are passionate about. But it was a good beginning and helped me to understand a little more about what other people mean when they talk about discipleship. We often speak about the same things but use different language!
The Task Group presentation I had chosen to attend was on the ‘Green’ report about selection and training of senior leaders in the church. A lot of the provision is for the development of bishops and deans and so I was particularly interested in that. In fact I have signed up to be part of the mini-MBA which is being run for Deans in the last week of Lent. Having read Public Administration for my first degree I’m really interested in what the language and the direction of the course will be like. But, like many people, I suppose my concern is with a secular management model which seems to be at the background of the proposals, although the Bishop of Ely was at pains to point out that this is not in fact the case.
But the proposals were being rolled out even as we sat there talking about it (hence signing up for the course already) and so this was much more information sharing than giving Synod members any real chance of changing things – and this is what makes us grumpy.
As far as I understand it, and as I say, sadly I wasn’t there, that became more apparent in the afternoon. If we were ‘CofE plc’ and Synod members were the shareholders who gather to hear reports about the decisions and actions of the Board of Directors then we might expect to be treated like this. But we aren’t. The truth is that we are a church episcopally led and synodically governed. We may have some things to learn from business but we are not a business and Synod is made up of two elected house and one house unelected in the democratic sense. If that is ignored then of course people will get grumpy.
We finish tomorrow – so we will see what the mood and the energy is.
Save us, O Lord, while waking,
and guard us while sleeping,
that awake we may watch with Christ
and asleep may rest in peace.