Synod – speak

I’m just wondering if it takes a particular personality type to thrive on General Synod (I’m sure it does), and if so, what? Does Synod teach me to think in a particular way, or do I think that way naturally, and have been honed by ten years of meetings?

I know there are quite a lot of things I do really badly. And another load of things I do with very limited skill. But I can look at problems from lots of different directions, and sometimes come up with a whole new way of approaching a solution.

Wouldn’t it be exciting if the skills that Synod teaches were more widely recognised and appreciated; if there were a whole queue of people just desperate to get on Synod next autumn, and use their skills to change the church. So if you were wondering if church politics was for you – don’t be put off by the word ‘politics’. Change is what we are about, by asking better questions, and looking for better answers…

Women in the Episcopacy

The Church of England took another small step towards consecrating women as bishops today.  It’s been 30 years since the Synod agreed that there was no theological bar to women’s ordination.  Now we have got onto the process of making it happen.  We cannot accuse the C of E of acting in haste. As the Catholics and Orthodox have already told us, if they were going to ordain women they would have STARTED with bishops.  Still, at this rate, we might have women bishops by 2015.  And that’s going quickly, for Synod and Parliamentary legislation!

I thought the debate today was careful, considered and considerate.  But then, I didn’t have much problem with the July debate, and the bishops lost the plot over that (see previous post).  There were a few wonderful quotes from the debate:

  • we should welcome women to the episcopate for the sake of the kingdom
  • I can’t compel people to be in communion with me – if they choose not to be, then God bless them, and God bless me too
  • a code of conduct (as opposed to protective legislation) will not allow ministry to flourish – one is left asking, who’s ministry?
  • and, those opposed in conscience cannot stay in the C of E

The latter is really the crux of the matter.  If those who oppose women in ministry cannot ever accept the authority of a woman bishop, what does that do for the authority of the episcopacy.  Most of those ordained clergy on Synod who are opposed, were ordained after the Synod agreed on its theology in the 70s.  Even more so, those ordained since 1992 knew the theological statements of the church they were being ordained into.

Another generation of women are going to be too old to become the superb bishops we know they can be. The sword of time hangs over their heads, just as the sword of Damocles hangs over those who are opposed.  No wonder someone else commented today that there was little joy in this debate.  We have had it too many times, and with the taint of too much guilt and pain, for there to be real joy.  But there will be, one day…

Joyfully Yours…

… or, life’s too short to stuff a turkey!  I’ve put a blank poster on the wall entitled “This is what makes me joyful at Christmas!”  It is my attempt to fight back against the seasonal pressure that I feel is upon me to cook the ‘right’ dinner, buy the ‘right’ presents, create the ‘right’ atmosphere, so that we have a ‘perfect’ Christmas.  I’ve invited everyone who comes to the house to add something, to join our own contributions.

So far, Christmas is made joyful by

  • Christmas lunch at school with Miles (they put the sprouts on to boil last week, I believe)
  • smoked salmon
  • opening presents in front of the fire
  • lie-ins (guess which teenager wrote that!)
  • getting up early on a frosty morning to walk the dog
  • decorating the tree
  • 9 Lessons and Carols
  • and Miles coming home (despite the school report that they give us at 5pm on Christmas day!)

Food is obviously very important, because of the number of contributions in that area, but the hopes are as much to do with the joy of eating simple things as to do with recipes for perfection – mince pies and brandy butter, chocolate, fishcakes (wierd – don’t know who put that on 🙂 and champagne.

Lots of people like the atmosphere – opening presents around the fire, wishing it would snow and then it snowing, Midnight Mass and candlelight.  Or relationships – seeing friends, opening presents in front of the fire, grandchildren, ‘the love in the air’.  And one thought that made my day (yes, I’m a sucker for such things!) – mum’s smile.

I love Christmas.  And I love that my family don’t mind (very much) about perfect presents, perfect menus and an unrealistic perfect atmosphere.  So I’m off to decorate the tree.

Very joyfully yours… Dx


The Times suggested this week that bishops “represent a pre-modern for of Christianity, rooted in nostalgia for a powerful, authoritarian Church” (Theo Hobson).  They have doubled in number over the last 100 years, while Church attendance has shrunk by 50%.  For any Episcopalian, they are a sign and symbol of unity.  I wish!

Three weeks on, and I’m still angry about the aftermath of the debate on women bishops at General Synod.  As I see it, the House of Bishops brought a motion to Synod that they had voted for by a majority of more than 2/3s.  I have always understood that when something is debated and voted upon in committee, it is a matter of honour that those present keep some integrity about supporting the decision made in that meeting.

Not so for the bishops.  They seemed to be having a dog fight on the floor of Synod during the debate, quite unable to support each other (or trust one another).  And when Synod voted for the motion supported by the majority of the House of Bishops, one bishop told us we should be ashamed of ourselves, and another told us that he thought Synodical government was inappropriate for the church, and we should be led by the Bishops!

This week they meet at Lambeth, and most people, church going or not consider that to be irrelevant. What a mess; no visible unity (though there may be behind closed doors).  And while the Church eats with the Queen, avoiding at all cost talking about sex and gender (though the press still thinks that’s all we, the Church, talk about), millions around the world are suffering.  Relevance?