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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

8th July #cofe #synod debates - a bit of a mega summary and 10 things that struck me

Having listened to all 5 hours and 50 minutes worth of the #synod sessions held in the morning and afternoon of last Saturday (and watched a few bits as well) below are 10 things that struck me from the various debates.

Human Sexuality and development of a teaching Document 

1) Sharpest Quote of the session - the chair to somebody in the Q&A session "Stop making a speech - what is your question?"

2) In some opening remarks Justin Welby reminded synod of the practical anglican approach of approaching controversial subjects through scripture, tradition and reason with scripture being our final authority

3) He also set out 3 key assumptions: a) We are all made in the image of God and Jesus lived, died, rose and ascended for us all - and - people are to be treasured , loved and valued; b) All involved in this debate in the CofE want to be faithful to the love, truth, justice and mercy of God; c) we all want to seek to act in a way to reduce fear of each other and the future

4) We have a tradition of listening - this  does not assume reconciliation - but it does assume we get clarity on what we agree and disagree on

5) The teaching document will probably come to synod in 2020

6) We seek the mind of Christ and his call to us, true unity in christian truth in service of mission to the world

7) In the session for questions and answers the following types of Q&A occured (mega summary!)

Q) is the teaching document a back door way of changing doctine?
A) In the CofE doctrine is the responsibility of the Bishops

Q) Will the groups working on this be representative?
A) They will be as far as we can make them - but members will need to have the skills needed to contribute.  Groups will seek views from beyond their membership and learn from other Anglican provinces and other churches

Q) Do you understand the need for urgency on this matter?
A) Yes but it is very complex - 2020 is the likely timescale for the document to come to Synod (via another Q it became clear the synergy between this date and discussions with the Methodists was not intentional)

Q) Will it be a learning and teaching document?
A) The process is learning and teaching

Q) Will moral philosophy and theology be considered by the groups?
A) Yes

Presence & Engagement 
8) Best quote in the debate on the church response to the Grenfell tower fire "We did what the CoE always does in a crisis - we put the urn on".  

PS the debate was interrupted by various timed legislative matters simplifying how legislation can be changed or getting rid of various redundent legislation

National Support for local churches
9) In the debate I learnt about the Archbishops' Council objectives - 2017 to 2020 - some are on evangelism  - and from those I am struck in particular by the following: 

"2020 aim: 
to have halted the fall in numbers of Church of England worshippers in
dioceses representing half the population of England, 
and to see growth in numbers in a quarter of dioceses"

10) Workshops in the afternoon were on: a) Thy Kingdom Come; b) Life Events; c) Digital Evangelism; d) National events as opportunities for community witness; e) Inclusion and Outreach to the marginalised; f) Crossing the Generations.  The final debate drew together views on these.  Amongst the contributions was one from the Bishop of Chelmsford  - some quotes from it are below

"We need to discover the way of doing evangelism 
that flows from our own spiritual traditions"

"It is my hearts desire to make Christ known"

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is good and its beautiful and its true"

and quoting Pope Paul the 6th from the 1960s - 
"None of us is ever fully evangelised.  
Every day I need the gospel to transform my life"
- now thats a dynamic to live out of

And of course the final debate was on conversion therapythat its practice has no place in the modern world, is unethical, harmful and not supported by evidence - which was passed

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