Minutes of the meeting of Woodbridge Deanery Synod held on Thursday 24 November 2016 at 19:30 in St John’s Church, Woodbridge.
Clare Sanders, Rural Dean, began by thanking the very talented St John’s church music group for their welcoming prelude. She welcomed Bishop Martin who would be exploring the themes of Change and Growth. Revd Clive Howard, the St John’s worship team and music group, led the meaningful opening worship.
Bishop Martin began by saying how much he valued the support he had received. He was particularly grateful to the clergy who, once licensed were, as he put it ‘cast adrift’ to get on with it, which they did conscientiously with hard work and caring.
Having provided, on the spur of the moment, the theme for this evening, Change and Growth, Bishop Martin hoped he wouldn’t stray too far from that but was exercised by the wider implications of recent world events and wanted to share his thoughts. The Brexit referendum and subsequent cost; the Trump triumph and its associated announcements and appointments, and ersatz policies about which Rowan Williams had written in a recent New Statesman article. Forthcoming events in Europe: a Constitutional Reform Referendum in Italy; Presidential elections in Austria, the Netherlands and France, all moving to the right. This raises the question: What does it all mean, and more specifically what does it mean for us, the church in Suffolk? These events highlight the advantage being taken of the disenfranchised, where there is social fragmentation and alienation. Are we missing out groups of parishioners; of opportunities for engagement with silent people?
What is the church’s role? God through Jesus Christ: loving, caring and welcoming. It is a call to us to live the way that binds us together. Anglicanism, understanding community and relatedness; we are all part of the body of Christ. We have in our roots the capacity to hold things together. If we are faithful we will attract people to us.
In the Diocese, flourishing congregations are making a difference. Together we are committed to Growing in God. A group was set up to look at aligning the central operation of the Diocesan office with the Bishop’s office, a process long overdue. It is painful but working in the right direction. With the burden of a £1million annual overspend, the central budget had to be cut, the first target of half a million pounds has almost been reached, and we are more of a size that we ought to be. We hope that, seeing this, congregations will be more generous.
Details of “Growing in God – Flourishing congregations making a difference” can be found on the Diocesan website http://www.cofesuffolk.org//our-diocese-our-vision. Bishop Martin is particularly concerned with the nature and quality of worship, and supporting leaders through training. Two inspiring “Growing in God” initiatives on enhancing worship were the Pettistree Friday Service, and family@church, a resource to help rural churches grow.
Answering questions, Bishop Martin said conversations about silent voices and those on the margins in desperate need were not confined to this Diocese. Challenges were being faced in diocese across the country. Regarding the Urban/Rural split he said the church recognised the two types of context. They ran on parallel tracks, but he hoped there would be clear initiatives appropriate to each context. Thanks were offered to Diocesan office for making job cuts – difficult but done in the name of progress. Asked about the church and social media, Bishop Martin advised that there was a brief to expand use and the new Youth Officer would hopefully want to do that, recognising that it could be a force for both good and evil.
Bishop Martin advised that Anna Hughes, the new Diocesan Secretary, would take up her role on 30 January 2017.
CS thanked Bishop Martin for sharing his insights. He joined Synod members for refreshments.
Synod recessed at 20.35 and business resumed at 20:50 with thanks to Ivan, Gay and Tracy for the very welcome and particularly delicious refreshments.
The attendance book was signed by 30 Lay Members, 7 Clergy and 4 visitors.
Please see attached schedule.
1 Apologies for absence – please see attached schedule
2 Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 14 June 2016, having been previously circulated, were proposed for approval, adopted and signed.
3 Matters arising not covered elsewhere in the agenda
3.1 Growing in God Pit stop Tony Allwood (TA) thanked Melton for hosting this event and the 40+ people who attended and joined in enthusiastic discussion.
4. Syrian Family Support Update
4.1 Clare Sanders (CS) reminded that at the last Synod it had been agreed she would further explore the possibility of hosting a Syrian family in Woodbridge funded by the Deanery. She was excited over the offer of a house that met the criteria but unfortunately the Suffolk Refugee Council could not accept it. The Regional council was more sympathetic but could not agree to one family being in isolation which would mean finding two or three houses. CS found a benefactor prepared to provide another home but unfortunately Suffolk Refugee Council came to the conclusion that they could not accept housing in Woodbridge at this point as pressure on their services meant there was no support available. In the meantime the first house was no longer available and the process has stalled. CS asked if Synod would consider supporting a family in Ipswich at the original level of £10 per Deanery electoral roll member per year for two years equating to a £20 donation, to the Suffolk Refugee Council.
Questions and Comments: In answer to a question from the floor asking if it could be stipulated that only a Christian family be accepted, CS said this, quite rightly, was not an option. Asked if the decision had to go through the PCC as they may not reflect the views of the Electoral roll members, she responded that that was the mechanism for decision making. Discussion of the issue in other parishes had raised the feeling that one would rather give directly to a charity such as Christian Aid, and another felt donating food and clothing rather than money would be more appropriate.
Proposal: CS said that as there appeared not to be consensus she would ask PCCs to consider donating to the Suffolk Refugee Council when reviewing their giving plans.
CS concluded by saying that a recent multi-disciplinary meeting it was clear that there was no extra money available to support these vulnerable people.
5.1 Rural Dean’s Notices
5.1.1 Music Day Richard Hubbard would be leading a music afternoon in Melton on Saturday 28 January 2017. This was intended to enhance the musical quality in worship and encourage singing for members of congregations not choirs. A fee of £5 was required. CS had supplied clergy with posters and flyers and said it would be good to have a full turnout.
5.2 Lay Chair’s notices
5.2.1 TA advised that the Deanery Pastoral Standing Committee would be meeting next week to consider dates, venues and speakers for Deanery Synod next year. Anyone wishing to put forward ideas should email TA or CS by Tuesday 29 November 2016.
6.1 General Synod: 8 – 12 July 2016 TA said this was a meeting of two halves. The first half covered the conventional business with the second half given over to a shared conversation about human sexuality. Split into small discussion groups the process was both intense and broadening. He could foresee difficult times ahead. A small group of Bishops, including Bishop Martin, were charged with taking the process forward.
TA had attended a fringe meeting at General Synod dealing with Occasional Services and provided interesting statistics regarding Weddings, Funerals and Christenings. Half a million people attend a Church of England Occasional Service every week. Literature to assist clergy was already in circulation for the Wedding Project. This had now been augmented with pamphlets and information for Funerals and Christenings and TA had secured copies that he urged people to take back to their parishes. These were worded appropriately to reach people coming into our churches.
6.2 Diocesan Synod: 12 November 2016
A brief report had been circulated earlier.
7.1 Clive Willetts, our new Deanery Organiser, introduced himself with a short biography. He went on to say that Adam Gurdon outgoing DO, had over the last 37 years provided a firm foundation and we must not waste the opportunity to carry on the tradition of paying our share in full. Finance is never just about money: it is about people and relationships and sharing – team ethic – together we can achieve more. Finance must and should not dominate.
There is nothing more likely to turn off an audience than to talk finance.
7.2 The Diocese have taken a major step towards reducing costs by restructuring the Diocesan office and we must play our part in funding the Deanery share. CW urged parishes to pay their share in full if they could but if that was not practical then to please pay by monthly installments. No one wants their vicar to go unpaid.
7.3 The Deanery Finance Committee would be meeting on 29 November 2016 to review the position of the £0.5M remaining deficit in 2016, and the 2% reduction for 2017.
8 Any other notified business
8.1 There was no previously notified business.
2017 Synod Meetings:
To be decided
Synod concluded at 21:20 with the Grace.
Thursday 16 March 2017
The last Synod of the current triennium will be held at 19:30 in Clopton Village Hall.
The Rt Revd David Gillett, former Bishop of Bolton, currently Honorary Assistant Bishop and Interfaith Advisor in Norwich
Topic: The Church’s role in our multi-faith society