Saturday, 6 March 2010

Diocesan Synod was Dire

After a very early meeting with our treasurers this morning (Saturday), I went on to a meeting of the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod, of which I am a recently re-elected member.
After a couple of hours of listening to presentations on the church’s role in politics and clergy terms and conditions of service I left as tactfully as I could just before the official close.
I am sure — yea, I know for a fact — that the men and women who make up the Synod are genuine and well-meaning, but the whole thing just seemed to me to have an air of death hanging over it.
The one thing that should have been good was the frequency of references to the Bible. Sadly, these only occurred in a way that ripped verses out of context and (just conveniently) fitted the opinions fo the speakers.
You might never have guessed that the new arrangements of ‘Common Tenure’ for Anglican clergy are just like God’s covenant with Israel, but apparently they are. Equally you might not have known that St Paul had staff reviews in mind when he penned Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour,” but apparently he did. And so it went on.
Still, it could have been worse. I could have been at the meeting of the Liverpool Diocesan Synod to hear Bishop James Jones declare his own departure from the House of Bishops collective position on homosexuality.
Then I really would have had something to be depressed about when I got home.
John Richardson
6 March 2010
Anonymous users wishing to paste in the comments box need first to select 'preview', then close the preview box. When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted.


  1. It was my first Diocesan Synod meeting ever (if our paths cross again I'd like to say hello in person) and it left me with an intense headache. I hope they're not all like that.

  2. I think they mostly are. They're a relic of 1980s quasi democracy, whereby the CofE ties itself up in defensive bureaucracy and avoids mission, vision, spiritual renewal and hope... We have as few Diocesan Synods as possible. Sooner or later we shall have to consign them to the dustbin of history and find ways of gathering that can engender mission, vision, spiritual renewal and hope. But I fear that they'll take a while to die.

    Oh yes, and some are used by Diocesan Bishops to declare changes ex cathedra...

  3. Interesting thoughts, Pete! BTW, reading between the lines I suppose this means you are not the next Bishop of Chelmsford - shame!!

  4. I wouldn't change my views in order to become a Diocesan Bishop... but I'm very happy where I am, thank you!

  5. Hi Pete - I wasn't saying you'd change your views, it was the references to "we" do this and "we" will have to do that. It didn't read like someone expecting the "we" (in London) to become "they" (as distinct from, say, Chelmsford).

    It really is a shame - I dread to think who we might be getting!

  6. If Diocesan Synods are bad, spare a thought for Deanery Synods. They have even less to do, bar rubber stamp financial and other decisions handed down from above. I have recently been re-elected to Deanery Synod, but I'm having a hard time wondering why.

    It's a shame that Bishop Pete thinks he needs to change his views to become a Bishop. One imagines that the Commission (or whatever it was) considers things like leadership and vision, instead of whether you've signed up to the latest trendy initiative.

    Still, as Chelmsford has now used up all the Johns in the C of E apart from our Webmaster, we expect another name - I fear a Bishop James coming on...

  7. Diocesan Synods are 'dire' most of the time and it seems there is little to do about it - unless you can help set the agenda! The Deanery Synod can be a source of inspiration and sound Bible Teaching. Again it depends on the Standing Committee or whoever else sets the agenda. Get a good Rural Dean and the blessings are there waiting for you!
    And God's blessing on your ministries