Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
June Synod 2014
This June, Diocesan Synod unanimously voted for growth. After a year’s research and consultation the Diocesan Director of Mission, Revd Dave Gardner, presented Growing in God, a Diocesan Vision for Growth: a distillation of the things we must pray about, focus on and do to encourage church growth – in depth, number, influence and youthfulness. The 21 recommendations ranged from the profound need for prayer to the development and support of one leader (lay or ordained) per church who is identifiable within the church and the wider community. The strategy was not a formula but a framework of wisdom and support, on which parish imaginations could grow new mission initiatives.
Indeed, growth was ever-present. The Diocesan Spirituality Adviser, Dr Anne Spalding talked about her first year: meeting people, learning the landscape and discerning the spiritual needs. She had published a number of ‘Growing Roots’ email newsletters, developed a Lent course and was visiting parishes and deaneries to teach us a wider armoury of ways to pray, and how to discern where God was in our personal lives and in the lives of our churches.
Bishop David, in his address talked of the success of the Centenary launch service in March with the Archbishop of Canterbury. This had left us glowing, which led to our growing, and going forth on our personal and corporate pilgrimages – a theme Dean Frances continued as she related the many activities, especially pilgrimages, that had been organised to celebrate 100 years as a diocese. One of those major events would be the Centenary Celebrations to be held at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich on 6th July, comprising a Songs of Praise service at 3pm that included reflections on the past 100 years and an address from Bishop David, and a contemporary worship service at 7pm, at which Bishop Aaron, from our link diocese of Kagera would speak. There was plenty of space left – bring a party from your church and join in the fun!
The Archdeacon of Suffolk reported that growth had been visible in the Diocesan Marquee at the Suffolk Show this year. With children entering the show free the tent had been packed, while the many chaplains and other volunteers had had dozens of conversations leading people back into a local church. The theme had been ‘Being there’; it was manifest that God had been there too.