Some Synod Ponderings from Home

July 15, 2014 § 3 Comments

Home now from York. Monday, where we voted in favour of women bishops, was just exhilarating. I’ve been pondering how we turned round the deep feeling of despair of Nov 2012 to the joy (for many) and tentative confidence (for, I hope, all) of July 2014.

A few factors – which I wonder if I can apply to the meetings and church decisions I have a leadership role in

Facing reality. In November 2012, no one was pleased. All, even those unable to receive a woman bishop’s ministry, knew we had failed. Collectively we squared up to this as a fact: rationally, emotionally and spiritually. We agreed we could not go on.

Assessing our processes honestly. We realised that starting with the ‘rules’ meant that we were instantly adversarial. We articulated that, for something as fundamental as this, we needed to talk to each other in a different way.

Thinking outside the box. We stepped outside our previous processes, and used a model of reconciliation tested in conflict zones around the world. The ‘facilitated conversations’ meant that those with differing views had to thoroughly listen to each other.

Using the current box creatively. A defining moment was when Pete Broadbent, who knows how institutions work, proposed a way of using Standing Orders which was within our usual rules, but their creative use meant that there could be both speed and thoroughness. The ‘reconciliation’ model became the way to start the legislative process, and we owe much to the group of people who, on eth Steering Committee, turned intention into action.

Treating each other with lavish generosity. The debates that followed were a million miles away from a succession of speeches for and against. People committed themselves to listening and understanding. Some were very moving indeed.

This was not universal. There remain some who regard themselves as under threat and marginalised.

But: we only really started the process on year ago, in July 2013. We’ve done it in a year. It feels very different. I praise God for it. And I wonder whether this might be a model for some of the contentious things which affect our parish life.

I’m leaving the most important point until last.

Recently there has been a ‘continuous praying presence’ whenever Synod is meeting. I’m convinced that has made a, or the, difference. And as I drove back this afternoon I wondered whether having that for our PCC meetings, and Standing Committee, might change the game too. Hmmm…

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§ 3 Responses to Some Synod Ponderings from Home

  • johnbull47 says:

    Love the outturn from Synod,and your thoughts about PCC meetings are well worth a thought – or three

  • Pam Smith says:

    Not only a continous praying presence, but I was also aware that so many people were asking for prayer for Synod online – in social media accounts, blogs and websites. I was at a gathering of women clergy to watch the debate on Monday, during Synod’s lunch hour we held a midday prayer service where we held Synod in prayer, and we joined in the prayer that was taking place at Synod. I imagine the same thing was happening in many places.

    I hope we take this on board as an institution – it’s so easy to forget to pray when the crisis is over.

  • Val Clarke says:

    I was there, and felt, particularly in the morning, that what I was witnessing was verging on the holy. A joyful surprise, churches could learn a lot.

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