Lincoln Cathedral welcomed members of the newly constituted Diocesan Synod for their first meeting of the triennium, which was the first meeting in person for 20 months.  As a diocese we are quite a few steps on along a journey to an exciting future, and members will now be key builders of that future of God’s mission to the good people of greater Lincolnshire. Part of the focus was to listen to a few of those people, turning our attention outwards to make sure that our focus is on the right things for the communities in which we are all set. We met in the Church’s season of creation, in the build-up to the COP26 conference in Glasgow, with news of floods, storms, droughts, fires, reducing bio-diversity and spiralling pollution. The pandemic has left many people uncertain, anxious, bereaved or sick. As a body God is calling us to respond in love, hope and faith. How will the church we are renewing help to transform lives in God’s image amidst all this turmoil? It was highly appropriate, as we reflected, that most of our time was gathered around the Lord’s Table listening to scripture, offering prayer and breaking bread together, as we committed to what God’s good grace has in store for us.

The Bishop’s Welcome and Address

The Bishop of Lincoln welcomed Diocesan Synod members to the Cathedral, and confirmed the Covid safe measures that had been put in place to ensure members were comfortable and kept safe. Along with some other housekeeping announcements, the Bishop confirmed that there would not be a meeting of the House of Laity as previously confirmed. Canon Nigel Bacon, as current Chair of the House of Laity, announced that Ruth Brewin of Haverstoe Deanery was the only nominee for the Stow and Lindsey position on the Bishop’s Council of Diocesan Trustees and was therefore duly elected.

The Bishop thanked both new and returning members of Diocesan Synod for their willingness to participate in the governance of the Diocese. Both the bishops and the Diocesan Trustees, as those tasked with leading the Diocese, had come to rely increasingly on the engagement and thoughtful support of the membership. Previous Synods had grown in confidence over recent years as the body that plays the vital role in monitoring and supporting, although not uncritically, our direction of travel as a diocese.

The Bishop described the interesting times that we live in, with events beyond our control meaning that we have had to fundamentally re-think our vocation to be authentically the Church of God in this place and at this time. The Bishop spoke of the habit of some preachers or public speakers when faced with a sermon of speech to look back at what they had previously said on that topic last time. This had led the Bishop to review previous inaugural presidential addresses of Synod and came across a number of recurring themes.

  • That God wishes his church to grow and to reach its full potential as church.

Growth being about number of people who come to faith and in financial resources we need to fund our life and work, but also in our inner journey as Christian people. Growth is also about depth and the life-long pilgrimage with which we are all engaged.

  • That when we move forward we should do so together.

One of the strengths of the Church of England is that we make decisions in partnership. At diocesan level decisions are made within a conversation between the laity, the clergy and the bishops- in shorthand terms the bishops (supported by colleagues) are called to lead the diocese but do so in the context of the governance responsibilities of the diocesan synod. This is sometimes called ‘The bishop in Synod’.

  • That we cannot do this on the basis of our own abilities but only in the strength of God the Holy Spirt.

The Bishop confirmed that this would be the main topic of his homily during the Eucharist, that we as a Diocese pray that God the Holy Spirit will be the source of wisdom, guidance and strength in our common life as a Diocese and particularly as a Synod.

The Bishop concluded his address by stating that this was an opportune moment for change and development arising from the unexpected challenge. This was the time in our long and distinguished history that, encouraged and challenged by the insights that are being placed before us, we can move forward together to build on the inheritance we have received and to be truly a faithful and mission-minded Church for our time.

 

Minutes of the meeting and questions under Standing Order 72

Synod approved the minutes of the meeting held on Saturday 24 July as a true and accurate record. There were no questions raised in advance under Standing Order 72.

 

Key Themes for the next three years

The Bishop of Grantham confirmed to Synod that we were a new Synod and that we are in new times. In emerging from Covid there is a sense of challenge and a sense of newness, which Synod needed to reflect and focus on. Members would first watch a video of different voices from around the diocese discuss their priorities locally and what they think our priorities as a Synod and wider church should be for the next three years.  Synod would then discuss the themes from the video in small groups.

The video can be viewed here. The respondents included the below people:

Adam Kelk, Head Verger and Commercial Manager at Boston St Botolph’s

Lynne Smith, Permanent Deacon and co-ordinator of the Old Clee Community Larder

Andrew Buckley, Farms Director for Lockwood farms and trustee of the Lincoln Agricultural Society

Mike Adnitt, CEO of Scunthorpe St Lawrence Trust and Exec Head at William Lovell Academy

Barbara Hutchinson, Boston Pilgrim Hospital Chaplain and Associate Priest in Elloe Stone

The key themes outlined in the video included community engagement, food inflation and food poverty, wellbeing, religious education, the use of generational talent and the supporting of lay and ordained ministers.

Following a period of reflection and discussion in small groups, members of Synod fed back their main thoughts to the group. This included considerations of community reconstruction, social justice, the importance of digital engagement and in communicating with peopke using understandable language. Synod also discussed the important balance between serving the faithful, outreach and mission and the changes that have been seen over lockdown in rural communities. 

Due to the continuing themes of community and social justice, the Bishop of Grimsby addressed Synod and confirmed the various funds that are available to be accessed for social justice and community projects via the Transformation and Social Justice funds. The Bishop confirmed that a grant of £25k had just been awarded the previous week to a local project and encouraged Synod members to make applications for their own parishes in order to gain access to these funds.

Details of the various funds and how to apply are available here.

 

Notice of the forthcoming elections

David Dadswell, the Diocesan Secretary, presented the election brochure that had been provided to Synod members in advance of the meeting. It was confirmed that there would be elections for the following vacancies during the next meeting of Synod on 20th November. The hope is to elect a skilled and diverse group of people to fill these vital roles, and Synod was therefore encouraged to step forward or consider colleagues that might be suitable. Those who feel inadequately represented on our boards and committee for any reason, should feel especially encouraged to stand.

The vacancies included:

The Chair of the House of Laity and Chair of the House of Clergy (both of which are ex-officio members of the Bishop’s Council of Diocesan Trustees and other sub committees).

A new term (three year) vacancy for a clergy representative from Lincoln on the Bishop’s Council of Diocesan Trustees.

A new term (three year) vacancy for TWO lay representatives from Boston on the Bishop’s Council of Diocesan Trustees.

Two clergy members and two lay members on the on the Vacancy in See Committee.  It was noted that a new membership must be elected in November despite the fact that the current elected membership is frozen until the current vacancy process is completed.

David Dadswell confirmed that the elections for members of the Diocesan Board of Education will be put on hold until we have clarity on how the membership timeline will fit in with approving the new DBE Measure from General Synod.

A copy of the election brochure with the appropriate nomination forms can be found here.

 

Synod then took a 20-minute coffee break, prior to a Sung Eucharist at which the president and preacher was the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, Bishop of Lincoln. A recording of the worship can be found here.

Published 21.09.21