Human sexuality and finance were just some of the subjects discussed at the recent meeting of Diocesan Synod in Lincoln (Saturday, 9th November 2019).

 

Address by the bishop of Grantham

In a wide-ranging address to Synod, Bishop Nicholas (pictured below) spoke of the forthcoming general election and our responsibility to exercise our vote. The bishop also spoke of the importance of wise stewardship of our resources, and our need to build on the legacy of the past while also looking to the future in a spirit of faith, hope, love and generosity.

 

Questions under Standing Order No 72

A question was raised with regard to the possible appointment of Assistant Rural Deans, who might, for example, offer cover in the absence of a Rural Dean. Bishop David responded to this question, stating that there was no reason in principle why it would not be possible to have Assistant Rural Deans.

 

Promulgation of amending Canon 39

Notice was given that, at its July 2019 group of sessions, held in York, General Synod resolved that the Amending Canon No. 39 be made, promulged and executed.

This will mean that, in effect, services of Morning and Evening Prayer must now be said or sung in at least one church in each benefice or, where benefices are held in plurality, in at least one church in at least one of those benefices, on all Sundays and other principal Feast Days, and also on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, rather than in every parish church (the existing requirement).

In addition, the Holy Communion shall be celebrated in at least one church in each benefice or, where benefices are held in plurality, in at least one church in at least one of those benefices at least on all Sundays and principal Feast Days, and on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday.

Sidesmen of the parish or assistants to the churchwardens will now be appointed by the parochial church council (rather than the Annual Parochial Church Meeting). (Nigel Bacon, Chair of the House of Laity and member of General Synod, had tried to change the non-inclusive language but was unsuccessful.)

 

Pastoral Principles

Bishop Nicholas offered a presentation on the Church of England’s newly launched ‘Pastoral Principles for Living Well Together’, which relates to the subject of human sexuality. Bishop Nicholas has been part of a Pastoral Advisory Group, which has a brief ‘to set out some principles of pastoral practice for how the Church of England can live well together within the parameters of its current position on marriage and the different deeply held convictions that individuals and churches hold on these matters’. More details are at https://www.churchofengland.org/PAG)

Members of Synod were asked to review and discuss a pack that contains a set of Pastoral Principles for living well together, and the pack may be downloaded at https://www.churchofengland.org/about/leadership-and-governance/general-synod/bishops/pastoral-advisory-group/pastoral-principles.

The slides for this presentation may be found here.

 

Election for members of the Search and Nominations Committee

Two nominations were received for membership of the Search and Nominations Committee, and Canon Niccy Fisher and the Revd Cameron Watt were duly elected.

 

The structural deficit

In a presentation offered by Bishop David and Chris Clarke (Chair of the Board of Finance) it was stated that the diocese has not been in surplus since 2008. In 2009 the diocese was in deficit by £391k, and by 2012 the deficit (before transfers) on the general account was over £1m.

A Deficit Reduction Taskforce (DRT) was instigated in late 2017, and Parish Share was recognised as one of the main ‘levers’ that could be used to work on the deficit.

Work is ongoing to reinvigorate the DRT with a fresh set of Terms of Reference, but to date the overspend was nearly £3m in 2018 and it is expected that the overspend will be £2.65m this year. Urgent decisions therefore need to be made, and hopefully before the 2021 Budget is put before Synod in mid-2020. This will give a structured plan that will address the deficit and meet the missional and ministry needs of greater Lincolnshire.

The slides for this presentation may be found here.

 

The ministry of all God’s people

Nigel Bacon introduced an item that offered Synod an opportunity to reflect on how the conclusions of the Church of England’s 2017 ‘Setting God’s People Free’ report are helping to shape our understanding of all God’s people in our diocese (https://www.churchofengland.org/SGPF).

 

Sarah Spencer facilitated table-based discussion in which Synod members were asked to consider a recent example of someone witnessing to God’s love or working for the coming of his kingdom. Sarah also drew members’ attention to various resources, including #FollowTheStar (the Church of England’s campaign for Advent and Christmas – see the November/December issue of Crosslincs for more details); an ‘Inspiring Everyday Faith’ event that is scheduled for 13th January 2020; work to promote the Eco Church award scheme (see https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/); and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2020: Saying Yes to Life (Ruth Valerio).

 

Sue Slater (Elloe West) spoke to a paper prepared by Dr Sally Buck (Warden of Lay Ministry) on the future of Lay Ministry in the diocese. Part of the paper refers to Authorised Lay Ministry (ALM) and states that ALM training will be at deanery level to diocesan guidelines and standards, and discernment will involve participation in an open-access 16-session course. Feedback into the selection process will be made by trainers, recommendation for authorisation will be made by the incumbent and the parochial church council, and the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and safeguarding must be met.

The slides for this presentation may be found here.

 

Safeguarding – launch of Safeguarding Dashboards

Safeguarding Dashboards has been created to address the challenges felt by parishes and the increase in administration for parish safeguarding officers in following new policies and procedures adopted by dioceses to make churches safer.

It is said that Safeguarding Dashboards has been designed to display a clear and simple dashboard on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, and that the homepage allows the safeguarding officer, incumbent, churchwardens and other authorised users to ‘see the current status of compliance at a glance’.

The dashboard has been piloted by 11 parishes in the diocese since August 2019, and this free resource is to be rolled out across the diocese. All incumbents, priests-in-charge and safeguarding officers (for whom the diocesan office has an email address) will receive some email correspondence that will provide further details. These details will include invitations to access their specific dashboard, and ongoing support will be provided by the Revd Cameron Watt (project lead) and the diocesan safeguarding team.

 

Bishop David drew the meeting of Synod to a close by leading us in prayer.


A printable version of the above digest is available here.