Review of Diocesan Synod - 27 February 2016

29th February 2016

The first Diocesan Synod of 2016 took place at St Peter’s Warmsworth on Saturday, 27 February 2016.  The Synod began with opening worship led by the Revd Jeff Stokoe.  The Chair of the meeting, Dr Jackie Butcher started the meeting with Notices and Apologies for Absence.

Malcolm Fair presented the Annual Report of Boards, Committees and Departments.  This year, the reports have been streamlined and kept to two sides.  This is to make them more accessible and easy to read.  Reports from the Church House Departments such as Admin and Comms have also been included.  An ‘At-a-glance’ sheet has also been produced giving a broad overview of the activities of departments in 2015.  This report can be viewed and downloaded here.

Two of the activities further highlighted by Malcolm Fair in the presentation was The Centenary Fund and the Mission Partnership Development Project.

To delve deeper, Malcolm introduced Mark Cockayne, Director of Parish Support, who talked about the Centenary Project, starting with a video.  Mark gave a review of where the project is currently.  Three workers are currently in place and several more are about to go to advert.  Very shortly there will be nine workers within the project, the project has established itself quickly. Two of the workers were present at Synod, Lucy and Dan.  They spoke a bit about their roles and gave encouraging stories that have come through their roles already.

Dan said:

“I get to connect young people with other people in the church so that they get a wider understanding of the Christian faith, the role is something I get really excited about”.

Malcolm Fair then introduced Graham Millar, Project Manager, who gave a similar update on the Mission Development Worker project.  Graham said

“It is an opportunity to free clergy up across a mission partnership by providing high quality administrative support.”

Following this there was a short time for group discussion on the annual report followed by a period of questions. After a couple of questions from the gathered crowd the reports were accepted with a show of hands.

General Synod took place from 15-17 February.  The review of this was delivered to Diocesan Synod by the Revd Eleanor Robertshaw. More information on February’s General Synod can be found here. Eleanor confessed to “loving General Synod!" This group of sessions was the first proper session of the new quinquennium. The Sheffield representatives were very involved throughout the Synod with Liv Paver taking up as the Chair of the House of Laity, Mark Russell tabled an amendment on the discussions between the relationship between the churches of England and Scotland. Malcolm Chamberlain spoke on Benefit Sanctions and Bishop Steven led a major piece on Resourcing Ministerial Education.

Coffee time!

After the break, the Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham, Malcolm Chamberlain, delivered the next item on the agenda from the Board of Faith and Justice.  Malcolm talked about the impacts of Benefit Sanctions; this update follows on from a debate at General Synod. The involvement in the General Synod debate on this item actually came from a Wath Deanery Synod.  It was further discussed at the Board of Faith and Justice. The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales had a similar idea and had already put a motion forward.  Therefore, an amendment was put to the motion from Sheffield (led by the Archdeacon), which was very welcome by the other diocese.  Both the motion and the amendment was passed by General Synod.

Ian Walker, Chair of the DBF, gave his update on the situation he reported at the last Synod in November.  Not too much has changed since then. The main points are:

  • Net surplus income.
  • Common Fund slightly down on 2014.
  • Stipendiary clergy below target.
  • Central costs are under control.
  • Ingoing works costs slightly below budget.

As ever, there are reasons for encouragement but also with caution.

Bishop Steven then delivered his Presidential Address on the seven acts of mercy of the Christian tradition: to give food to the hungry; drink to the thirsty; to welcome strangers; to clothe the naked; to care for the sick; to visit the prisoners and the seventh, added by the Church to this list, to bury the dead. The full address can be read here.

The only item under any other business was to give a farewell to Malcolm Fair, the Diocesan Secretary, who retires from his role in April this year.

The meeting concluded with prayers from the Centenary Project team.

The date of the next meeting will be Saturday 16 July 2016 at St Mary’s Bramall Lane at 9am.


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