General Synod

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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…

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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?

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