A review of Diocesan Synod, St Marys Bramall Lane - 19 July 2014

19th July 2014

A review on Diocesan Synod.  The report contains + Steven’s address on the way forward following the vote on women bishops at General Synod.  In the Address, +Steven calls for a new kind of conversation, particularly in this diocese, marked by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and love.

The meeting began with an Act of Worship led by the Revd Karen Cribb focussing on Psalm 84.

After the opening worship, Bishop Steven spoke to formally record and pay tribute to Professor David McLean as he retires as Chancellor of the Diocese after 25 years plus. Speaking with reference to a special meal to take place for David, Bishop Steven said “I would like to communicate the warmth and thanks of the Synod”.

Malcolm Fair, Diocesan Secretary, also spoke to acknowledge the work of Canon Tony Beck, former Diocesan Secretary who died in May this year.  Tony served as Secretary for 30 years, Malcolm said: “it is a length of time unlikely to be matched in this or any other Diocese, even with lengthening retirements!”.

The Bishop’s Council report was accepted by Synod, specifically discussing the Vacancy in See, where there will be an election for two lay members from Doncaster and two from Sheffield, along with one clergy member for Sheffield and Rotherham.

Jane Patterson gave a report from the most recent General Synod, held in York last week. Commenting on the main room at York University, Jane said “You may have noticed new backdrop - very 21st Century!”. Jane went on to give a report of the Synod, highlighting that each meeting includes vital business to enable the church to function.

There was discussion on: stricter rules on Safeguarding; changes to make texts for holy baptism more direct and clear; a mutual credit union –potentially set for launch in October; and items on clergy retirement.  Also, of course, there was the vote on women in the episcopate.

Bishop Steven gave his Presidential Address with reference to this last subject matter.  A video of the Address in full will be available here by the end of Monday, 21 July.

During his Address, titled ‘Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience’ Bishop Steven told the Synod:

“This morning I want to look ahead to this new beginning and explore what it will mean for the Church of England as a whole and for this Diocese.  Many of us celebrated recently the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in this Diocese.  I would encourage us this morning to look ahead to the next 20 years and ask how we can build together now for the future we all want to see in this place.”

Bishop Steven continued by saying:

“As we move forward into a new chapter, we need a different kind of conversation.  I appeal to you therefore, in the words of St. Paul:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against one another, forgive each other; just as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.”[1]

The full address is also available on Bishop Steven's blog and on YouTube.

Other relevant papers:

GS Misc 1076 - Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops.

GS Misc 1077 - Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops.

Further matters on the agenda were to agree a five year renewal of the links between the Diocese and Hattingen-Witten and also with the Diocese of Argentina.

The annual report and accounts of the DBF for the year ended 31 December 2014 were received (full versions available on request from Church House).  It did trigger an interesting debate on the falling numbers in CofE funerals, and the financial and pastoral implications of this.  The current financial year was also discussed and it was recognised that 17% of parishes have paid nothing of their agreed parish share and 17% have paid less than 50%.  Only 1/3rd of Common Fund pledges for 2015 have been returned.

The annual report for the Sheffield and West Riding Charitable Society was received.  The Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham supported the Diocese as becoming a member of the Dementia Action Alliance.
Bishop Peter gave a review of the Diocesan Centenary so far by showing a video (click here to view).

The meeting closed with Prayers led by the Bishop of Doncaster.

All meetings are Tweeted live @DioceseofSheff

(This is a news report view of the Diocesan Synod and, therefore, not related to the minutes.)

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