Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For those of you who didn't make it to the hustings

Sunday’s Gospel warned us all against the error of competition amongst disciples. I’m sure my fellow candidates will agree that this is not such a competition to be the greatest but to offer ourselves for service. There are three positions open and I for one am happy to work with any of my fellow candidates here so we can represent you all.

In my written election address I covered the experience I’d bring to the role of representing the clergy of Worcester diocese on General synod both from my work in the grassroots of a team parish in the north of the diocese and from my previous role as Diocesan Youth Officer. In my speech today I want to turn to what I would do as your representative on synod.

There are some issues which we might well expect to arise during the next five years of synod. These include issues arising from the Reform and Renewal documents - put forward by small think tank groups co-ordinated by the archbishops. As some of you, I also have some reservations about the way some of these documents have come about both the lack of wider consultation and in some cases the theological foundations for them but I’m committed to working towards them having a positive impact on the church; preserving those historical aspects of the church which are central to our roots yet pruning areas which could be more fruitful. 

I have particular interest in the reforms to ministerial training and education. My work in theological education and my current participation in IME years 4-7 enable me to speak from personal experience on this matter.

Another issue which is likely to come before synod is the matter of same-sex partnerships particularly with respect to those in ordained ministry as well as to the theology of marriage.

I want to help the church to be a place of inclusion. I believe strongly that mutually supportive committed partnerships are fundamental to building community: “Those who live in love, live in God and God lives in them.” I believe the church should be encouraging people who wish to live in committed partnerships, whatever their sexuality. I am also conscious that many of our churches nationally, and indeed some of our interfaith brothers and sisters and our Anglican partners in some parts around the world, may not yet be ready to accept the change that has already happened in our culture and we need to travel forwards together with grace.

Balanced with these internal issues for the church, synod will also need to continue to demonstrate that the church is interested in the wider world. The current austerity means that the church is already at the forefront of supporting people in local communities affected by welfare cuts and this role will continue and perhaps even increase. I think the church also has an important voice to share on issues including the environment, ethics and education.
Whatever business comes before synod, if elected, I intend to suggest to my fellow representatives that we communicate news of synod business with all those clergy who wish to be informed about it prior to and following each meeting via a self-selecting group email using the same or similar system used by diocesan news. Because being on Synod for me is about two way empowerment between our parishes and our national church. I want to both represent and inform parish clergy in Worcester diocese.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Standing for General Synod

My election address is in a post below.

Tomorrow the hustings for the election take place at the Old Palace and I will publish the text of my speech to those hustings later in the day here.

If you would like to see the addresses from other candidates in the Worcester diocese, see this link here.

If you would like to contact me directly with any questions with reference to the General Synod election please email me.

General Synod Election Address

Revd Dr Sarah Brush - General Synod Election Address

Having served in the Diocese of Worcester for six years as Diocesan Youth Officer, I feel I have got to know a good number of the clergy of the diocese well and would be honoured to represent you all in General Synod. 

I have been involved at the national level of the church in a number of ways. I was a member of the National Executive of the Diocesan Youth Officers network from 2009-2014. Bishop John Pritchard asked me to join the National Board of Education in 2011 and I served on the board until I moved into ordained ministry in 2014. I also served as chaplain to the Church of England Youth Council at their residential meetings from 2009-2013. Although I’ve never been on Synod before, I have keenly followed the business of synod not only to hear the fantastic contributions which synod reps from CEYC have made to key discussions in recent years but also to keep myself informed. 

Through my work as Diocesan Youth Officer I have experience of work with many parishes as well as schools, colleges and universities, particularly supporting the work of chaplains in education, serving on the West Midlands Churches Further Education Council and helping plan the national conference for Further Education chaplains with particular responsibility for worship. I have also been a passionate supporter of the YMCA, particularly our local YMCA Worcestershire in recent years.

I trained at Queen’s Theological Foundation and was privileged to be asked to teach sessions on ministry with children and young people and also to design and lead the new Church History module during my last two years of training. My Master’s dissertation focussed on Faith Development and I presented part of it at the recent International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry Conference at the London School of Theology (January 2015). I have also published on the topic of “Confirmation as Theological Education” in the Journal for Adult Theological Education, written for the Church Times and The Children’s Society and published a confirmation resource through Church House Publishing. Last year I was invited to join the team of writers for the CofE projects team for baptisms, weddings and funerals.

Conscious as I am that some people may think it strange that a curate is standing for synod, in addition to the skills and experience I have already described, I believe my recent experience of Theological training will be beneficial in the forthcoming synod where there are some key decisions to be made about models of training for ministry as well as for the shaping of the whole church as part of the Reform and Renewal programme. As a Medieval historian who has spent much of her working life engaged with young people, you will not be surprised to hear that I am passionate about celebrating and learning from the tradition of the church as well as listening to newer voices so that we can “proclaim afresh in each generation” the faith passed on to us. I believe the church should be a place which is open to and inclusive of everyone.

I grew up in a liberal catholic church and through my work with young people have valued time with charismatic and evangelical Christians both Anglican and from other denominations. In my broad experience of the Anglican Church I have drawn much spiritual encouragement from many places, particularly the Taizé Community, Iona, Greenbelt and our partner diocese in Peru which I was privileged to visit five years ago. It was an incredible experience and taught me a great deal about Anglicanism in the wider world.
As your synod representative I would be honoured to hear your views and concerns so that I could represent Worcester clergy at the grassroots of parish life in discussions at a national level.