Diocesan Synod, 14 July 2018

16th July 2018

[Please note, this article offers highlights and commentary of the meeting, it is not a replacement for the minutes.]

Diocesan Synod took place on 14 July at St Peter’s Warmsworth.  The session started with worship led by the Revd Amanda Barraclough and the Revd Jacqui Jones.

The Chair of the meeting, Jackie Butcher then got proceedings underway.  This started with hearing apologies for absence, and accepting the minutes of the previous meeting held on 3 March at Church House Rotherham.

Questions had been submitted prior to the meeting.  Heidi Adcock answered the first which related to the Diocesan Directory.

In the absence of Ian Walker, Neill Birchenall, Deputy Chair of the Finance & Property Committee led the presentation of the 2017 DBF Report and Accounts.  His presentation showed a selection of the Summarised Financial Statements. The presentation highlighted that for 2018, Common Fund receipts are down 8% on budget on the same time last year. This equates to a drop of £184,000.  Neill was keen to point out that it is concerning, but with six months of the year to go it wasn’t the final result and it could still be turned around. Later on the Revd Eleanor Robertshaw, also made the point that this echoes the national picture, and isn’t just a Sheffield trend.

Before the presentation was opened to questions, Neil Birchenall, presented “THAT the Accounts of the Diocesan Board of Finance for the twelve months ended 31 December 2017 be adopted and the Reports of the Directors and Auditors thereon be received.” This was passed by the Synod.

A good discussion took place and it was agreed that the presentation will be actively circulated so that PCCs can discuss it further in relation to their budgets. A copy of the presentation can also be downloaded here.

Bishop Pete gave his Presidential Address next, starting by saying that it is now 12 months since he moved into Bishopscroft. This completed a round of firsts, ending most recently with the Ordinations at Sheffield Cathedral.

The main focus of Bishop Pete’s address was on the emerging Diocesan strategy.  At the last Diocesan Synod, the strategy was formally presented for the first time.  Since then, feedback on two areas has repeatedly been given.  The feedback has been to ask where the strategy states our commitment to the poor, and the commitment to address social justice. The strategy document has now been steadily revised over the past four months. The latest version restates our commitment to a church in the most deprived parts of the diocese.

Bishop Pete asked Diocesan Synod to now give the strategy document formal recognition.  He asked this based on endorsing three areas as follows:

  • The continued use of the current vision statement as the continuity it represents is to great to be sacrificed.
  • The way the document describes the escalating challenge and the terminology of the four headed beast.
  • The overall shape of the strategic response under the headings of Renewed – Released – Rejuvenated.

A formal launch is planned for the new strategy at the Diocesan Development Day.

You can watch Bishop Pete’s full address below.

The Archdeacon of Doncaster, Steve Wilcockson, gave an update from the Diocesan Safeguarding team.  Three things to report: the 2018 Past Case Review is close to completion; Chris Herbert, the Diocesan Safeguarding trainer, has had his contract extended until the end of 2018; and Cherryl Henry-Leach has joined the team as part-time Assistant Safeguarding Adviser and Safeguarding Adviser to Sheffield Cathedral.

Imogen Clout, the Warden of Lay Readers, presented a new handbook for Readers.  Readers are reviewed every five years, at which point, if the review is satisfactory, they get their licensed renewed. Readers in the diocese are falling for a number of reasons – Ordination, retirement, death, or just ceased their ministry.  Imogen suggested for those that cease their ministry they could have helped them so that they continue.  For this reason, an annual return will now be asked for from the Reader and the Incumbent to ask about DBS and other matters.  The hope is that this will help reduce the number of Readers that cease their ministry.  This is included in the new handbook (A Guide to Good Practice in Reader Ministry for Readers and Incumbents).

Elizabeth Paver, Diocesan Lay General Synod rep, gave a report from the recent July Group of Sessions.  All the papers from the meeting are available on the Church of England website.

This is the last meeting of the current Diocesan Synod.  Next time it meets there will be new representatives from the deaneries.

Dean Peter Bradley concluded the meeting with prayers.

The next meeting of the Diocesan Synod will be held on 24 November 2018 at Wadsley Church, Sheffield.

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