Making a beginning

So the Synod is underway. One of the things that we all try to do is to get the feel of the Synod. This is the penultimate Group of Sessions before this particular Synod ends after the July meeting in York. There will then be fresh elections. So I suppose that some of the things that we have been working on over the past five years are coming to synodical fruition but there is also frustration that we are still going round in circles on others.

Synod meeting in the chamber in Westminster

One of the things that happened to the chariots of the Egyptians as they pursued the Israelites escaping slavery was that their wheels became clogged. It can feel pretty similar for us as we have been pursuing a goal. Take the whole issue of sexuality. We will be getting an update on the LLF process, Living in Love and Faith, during this Synod and there will be a major event at York. But in no way has the church begun to really deal with the issues that are clogging our chariot wheels.

Questions are always a feature of the first day of any Synod and a good test of the temperature of the gathering. Questions yesterday were many and a bit grumpy. There were a great many as a result of both the tone and content, as well as the manner of the publication of the Bishops’ recent Pastoral Statement. The Bishop of Newcastle was at her most honest as she admitted in response to some supplementary questions that she did not know about the authorisation for the publication of the statement. As someone who has given herself to the pastoral work following on from the Shared Conversations it felt as though the rug had been pulled from under her feet.

One of my tasks in this Group of Sessions is to see through the Channel Islands Measure. Unusually all the stages for this piece of legislation will be conducted on the floor of Synod in one go, as it were. So we made a beginning yesterday and despite some of the activity on social media the draft Measure was very warmly received. I hope the wheels on this particular Measure aren’t clogged as we return to it today.

But, for the five Proctor Deans on Synod, today is a lot about the draft Cathedrals Measure. After the Eucharist this will be the first item of business. It will be interesting to see what the mood and attitude of the Synod is with regard to our 42 wonderful and varied cathedrals. Having begun this work in July, this is the second stage and, if all goes well, we will complete the stages before Synod finishes in July.

One thing that is unusual is not having the Archbishop of York sat alongside Archbishop Justin on the platform. As the Synod draws to its close on Thursday we will be saying goodbye and thank you to Archbishop Sentamu. I wonder what the Bishop of Chelmsford was thinking as he looked at the vacant seat?

So lots to do, but we have made a beginning. Let’s see where today takes us. Perhaps the Third Collect from Matins in the Book of Common Prayer might be a good place to begin.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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