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.