Prayer, Service and Growth

by Gerry Lynch last modified 07 Mar, 2017 08:22 AM

Prayer, social justice, the environment and growth discussed at Diocesan Synod

Diocesan Synod met on a Saturday showing the first flickering signs of spring with an agenda focused on new life in the church.

Read the full text of Bishop Nicholas’ Presidential Address here.

After opening worship, Bishop Nicholas began his Presidential Address by commending the Praying Together resources produced by the Diocese, launched along with Bishop Michael Perham in the Cathedral on Ash Wednesday (see story here). More than 25,000 booklets have been distributed, with an app and daily e-mail also available, which between them had more than 200 subscribers.

Find out more about Praying Together here.

The regular Diocesan Prayer Cycle has also been relaunched, is available on an app and daily e-mail as well as a printable PDF from the website.

All this followed on from four days on prayer held across the Diocese in March and led by Bishop Michael and Brother Sam SSF, which more than 500 people attended.

The Bishop also launched an appeal for South Sudan, where the UN has declared a famine in some areas. Some 3.4 million people are displaced from their homes after more than three years of civil war. Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis have been asked to visit the country jointly by the South Sudanese Council of Churches. If they will go they will need our support in prayer and practical assistance.

Find out more about the South Sudan appeal and how to donate here.

The Diocese’s vision of Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve, Grow is starting to show fruit. There has been a significant increase in vocations to lay and ordained ministry over the past yearwhich we will need to maintain our present pattern of ministry given that many serving clergy will retire over the next decade14 people have been or are going to Bishop’s Advisory Panels with a view to starting training for ordination in September.

The Confirmation Project led by Neil Larkey is showing fruit, with a small increase in numbers last year. The appointment of Debbie Orriss as Discipleship Co-ordinator is an indication of the national C of E focus on discipleship.

This has a financial implication and it will not be possible to contain Fair Share at below the rate of inflation has been done for 10 years. 

After General Synod, Bishop Nicholas will be calling a meeting of General Synod representatives on sexuality, which will include those from the Diocese who took part in our ‘shared conversations’. 

The Agenda had a particular focus on the service of the church in the Diocese to the world.

A motion proposed by the Revd Graham Southgate (Chalke Deanery) was passed unanimously, stating:

In reaffirming its commitment to the 5th mark of mission to ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew the life of the earth’, this Synod agrees the new Diocesan Environmental Policy and notes that this includes our registering to become an ‘Eco Diocese’. We approve of the ambition of the Diocesan Environment Group in helping us to address the care of God’s creation as key to our Christian discipleship and proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This was accompanied by a presentation by the Chair of the Diocesan Environment Group, David Morgan, on how churches can reduce their impact and deepen their Christian teaching on the environment, with particular reference to the EcoChurch awards scheme, and a thorough debate on the issues.

Synod also noted and discussed the finance report for end of year 2016, with the Archdeacon of Dorset leading a discussion on the 2018 budget and the financial challenges for the people and parishes of the diocese to support the Renewing Hope strategy.

After lunch, the Archdeacon of Sherborne led a conversation about churches were meeting social needs in local areas and received a report from the Social Justice Programme Manager, Colin Brady on the work and future plans of the Social Justice working group.

Synod members carried out a mapping exercise of existing work with well over a hundred of projects helping local communities from Poole to Melksham laid out physically on the floor.

The final major item of business was a report from the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, in the context of some exciting news that Wiltshire Council had approved the Cathedral’s masterplan for the next 50 years.

Synod closed with prayer, with much the be grateful to God for in the life of the Diocese.

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