Report from the Diocesan Synod held in November 2016

This Synod had a very full agenda as there were a number of items of interest for discussion, most of them pertinent to recent discussions in PCC meetings.

Strategic Development Funding Grant: Extend and Underpin Growing Younger – Post Meeting Addendum

Synod was informed in November of the progress of an application for a grant to sustain momentum and develop capacity and growth for the Growing Younger project.  On January 11th Bishop David announced that our application was successful and the diocese has been awarded £2.565m. The overall project will cost £4.3 million over 5 years. This is great news because as well as being able to sustain and extend the current activities, some of which are described below, there will also be a new  Mission Learning and Development stream to support the growth of new Christian communities and church plants, new pioneer lay and ordained vocations and intercultural mission learning available to all.

Transforming Church: Growing Younger

Liz Dumain, one of the Assistant Directors of Mission, described some of the exciting developments bubbling up around the diocese which she felt were Spirit –led as they had come from four individual churches, but all had the same theme. These churches have started new services at unusual times with the aim of drawing in new families by providing a mix of food, children’s activities, Bible stories and informal worship. The starting point for all these services was that potential attendees had been asked what time of day would work for them rather than expecting them to fit around existing services.

Liz challenged us to ‘arrange church around modern life’ and move away from forcing people to choose between activities on a Sunday.  The example of children having sports activities on Sunday mornings was mentioned; and how various churches had tackled this: Breakfast Church; Rise and Shine; Start your Sunday Differently, were various titles for early events.  Afternoon church was also happening in some churches.  Both these allow families and others to come to church on Sunday as well as doing other things such as sports in the morning.  ‘Try to stop people having to choose’ was emphasised more than once when aiming to attract new people.  Many of those coming had never attended church before, the advice was to ‘keep it simple’ when welcoming new people. All the services feature hospitality, informality, creativity, joy – and food; and had quickly grown in size.

Liz also mentioned the Stack of Ideas cards which were handed out at the last clergy conference. More are available at £5 per pack.

Q & A on the Strategic Development Funding

Concerning decline in church attendance – there has been a stabilisation in decline overall but this hides serious decline in some areas, demographic and geographic, and due to interregnums in the three largest churches (St John’s in one of these), which is now being reversed.

Concerning the Diocesan bid for funding from the Church Commissioners – our bid is complete, and the proposal will be supported by the Church Commissioners Grants Committee.

Concerning who will benefit? – the money will go mostly to those churches who have ‘an appetite for growth’; a vision for new ideas.

Concerning Gas Street – now growth has started Tim Hughes will be meeting with the Diocese with a view to start on the ‘resourcing church’ element of the initiative, church plants etc.  But Gas Street is not the only plank in this strategy.  Other churches could be resourcing churches as well.

Diocesan Multi Academy Trust (MAT)

Sarah Smith, Director of the Diocesan Board of Education, gave us an overview of the proposal for the Diocesan Multi Academy Trust.  There are 15,000 young people in Diocesan schools about half of these are already academies, 51 schools.

Partnering with the right schools for a MAT is vital to maintain the values and ethos of the land that was historically entrusted to the Diocese for the use of schools.  The Diocese carries the responsibility of every school with Church of England in its name.

The Diocese has applied to the Department of Education to set up of a MAT for Church of England schools.  If this is agreed a MAT could be set up to take in schools from September 2017.  It would be a separate legal entity from the Diocese. It is hoped that the remaining C of E schools would be interested in joining.

Questioned about the possibility of accepting requests to join from Community Schools, the answer was that there would need to be a commitment and guarantee for education to be offered within a Christian ethos. and for this to continue for the generations to come.

Eco Diocese

A Rocha UK runs an accreditation scheme to encouraged churches to become more environmentally aware. Eco Church is a web-based self-accreditation questionnaire. Bishop David has signed Birmingham up for Eco Diocese. In order for the diocese to be successful, churches need to register for the scheme and some need to gain awards. More information at: http://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/

A Motion from Sutton Coldfield Deanery to change Diocesan Goal 8

Following the previous item and in consideration of the need to care for the environment it was proposed to change Goal 8 from:

“To increase the range and spiritual fruitfulness of partnerships and community initiatives across the Diocese.”

To:

“To increase the number, range and spiritual fruitfulness of partnerships and initiatives for social and environmental justice and community building across the diocese and the world.”

After some debate the motion was carried.

Human Sexuality

Bishop David provided an update on the current situation following the ‘shared conversations’ which took place at the last General Synod. The House of Bishops are currently discussing the matter and Bishop Anne is taking part in work being undertaken by the College of Bishops which will go to General Synod next year. Following comments and questions, Bishop David stated they were aware that insufficient attention had been given to the importance of heterosexual marriage, but that was now being rectified. He also mentioned that more information could be found from sharedconversations.org. Bishop David promised to indicate papers that would be worth reading to guide future discussions.

Deanery Synod Representatives 2017-2020

In order to comply with Church Representation Rules the following motion was set out:

From the Chair, the President to move:

In order to comply with Part III, Section 25 (2) of the Church Representation Rules 2011 (Schedule 3 to the Synodical Government Measure 1969), this Synod resolves that the number of parish lay representatives in each Deanery Synod be calculated according to the formula below and approves the composition of the Deanery Synods to be elected in 2017 for a term of three years from June 2017 to May 2020 as set out in [DS 161126 7]:

Number on Electoral Roll                                                   Members

(inclusive)

1 to 25                                                                             1

26 to 50                                                                          2

51 to 100                                                                        3

101 to 200                                                                     4

201 to 400                                                                     5

401 to 800                                                                     6

801 above                                                                      7

The motion was carried.

There being no further business the meeting closed in prayer.

 

24th Jan 2017 Posted in: Hidden Posts by Emma Orton 0

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