The final Synod of the year was hosted by Trinity Park and the Ipswich Showground and began with worship led by the Outward Focussed Synod Focus, with Bishop Mike leading a time of reflection and prayer following the recent passing of Archdeacon Ian Morgan.
The morning session was focussed on the four themes that had been identified by Synod as their focus and priorities for this Triennium:
1. Understand ourselves and be clear about who we are.
2. Tell our story.
3. Outward focussed.
4. Be political.
The four focus groups formed to take forward these priorities had identified that they were all underpinned by a desire to increase confidence in raising awareness of Christian Faith as individuals and through churches and improve reach and engagement with the Suffolk people and communities.
In his presidential address, Bishop Mike gave a wide-angled view on each theme reflecting on how to combat the perceived intimidating front that the Church sometimes has and the need to adapt in order to connect with the ever-changing world we live in.
“Developing this outward focus is challenging to every one of us. All the time the system we have built up has been constructed the way it has because it suits US, we’re comfortable with it, it fits me; to turn outwards, to be outward focused, to seek wider participation and involvement that isn’t about absorption but engagement - that is going to make for disruptions; disruptions such as foregoing our tastes in worship for the sake of others, teaching and training differently to include the differently skilled and being taught and trained by the differently skilled, giving and receiving hospitality to and from those genuinely strange to us – and to understand all this as part of our growth together in Jesus way.”
Synod then spent time discussing two key questions that arose:
1. What do the local church have to offer that will make a difference to people’s lives?
2. What is necessary for the local church to engage actively and confidently for the common good?
Embracing digital technology, (a theme later explore in more detail) responses were captured via the sli.do app. Discussions took place about the need to improve engagement in several areas, including; education, mental health, the accessibility for vulnerable people to services, and how the Church can provide support to those most in need. ‘Community’ was the most commonly used word in the responses and the sli.do results can be viewed on the Diocesan Synod webpage.
Moving on to consider digital evangelism; Tony Allwood, Chair of the House of Laity, provided presented the benefits of using A Church Near You, including the statistics of people finding a Church via ACNY. Tony is to be the Diocesan Champion for ACNY and available to support parishes. If this would be of help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request support.
Leonie Ryle, Communications Manager, and Gavin Stone, Director of Communications, shared information about the national #FollowTheStar Christmas campaign and on-going development of our directory and website respectively.
After a short break for refreshments, The Revd Jutta Brueck, (pictured) showcased memories and experiences of her recent visit to our partner diocese of Kagera in Tanzania with Bishop Martin, where they saw first-hand crucial work in an area of poverty that the diocese had helped fund and support via the Lent Appeal.
New safeguarding team members Karen Galloway, Safeguarding Manager, and Taiwo Ajayi, Safeguarding Training Coordinator, introduced themselves to Synod and outlined revised safeguarding training plans.
During the notices; Dean Joe outlined the 2020 Cathedral celebrations, The Revd Carol Mansell highlighted a Modern Slavery conference being held in the Cathedral and University of Suffolk and Gavin closed the Synod with reference to the national #YouMadeItHappen campaign, expressing thanks to all the volunteers who make such a difference to so many lives throughout Suffolk on behalf of the Church of England.
Minutes | PDF