My third attempt to blog about last week - I must be tired, to be getting so much operator error!
I have just returned from three days in Oban, the centre of our diocese, at the diocesan synod and associated events. Impressions and reflections?
The pre-synod day (which hopefully will have some photos arriving shortly) was a gathering to share the year's worth of 'Building the Vision' - a grass-roots focused initiative to get congregations focused on their vision and mission. People brought models and symbols and presentations of what they had been up to. The excitement of a way forward was there, as well as a creditable degree of the pain and anxiety that being small communities widely dispersed over a massive wilderness can bring. The energy and buzz of this meeting was energising and exciting! The next year, tagged 'Equipping for the Vision,' was opened out in an early form - with some challenges ahead on remaining with the grass roots - watch this space!
The synod eucharist (with a Chrism mass in Lent, an artefact of the difficulty of getting everybody together at the same time) followed. Not a bad occasion, in St John's cathedral, Oban. The bishop cracked his staff ferrule on the stone floor to declare proceedings open. I found a few drips to sit under for some of the time, but the singing was lusty and enthusiastic and we seemed to have lots of folk. I remembered to remove my sporran before I donned my cassock-alb - that would NOT look seemly otherwise!
Drinks, dinner, fiddling and to bed!
Synod itself: one day, from 9.30 to 3.30 or so. The usual mix of dry business and areas of lively discussion. Finances looking up, a new constitution, some gentle elections and trying to focus on canons. All the usual stuff. Then the 'indaba' discussion on the Anglican Covenant, as we had been charged to do by General Synod. No outcomes, just the range of views. At my table of six, four didn't much like the covenant, one thought it was a good idea to bring order and a process and one was about to leave the SEC because of the extremes of imbalanced liberalism. Quite an interesting microcosm of Anglicanism. The synod then ended gently - no more ferrule cracks, just the grace. As a stranger in a strange land with nowhere to go, I went and read a book!
The following day (imaginatively titled the 'post synod day') was for clergy. There were about 16 of us, I guess, including the facilitators. The agenda was back to 'Equipping for the Vision' - this time from the ordained leaders' perspective. We had an interesting debate about the role of education in church growth - and it was noticeable that the vast majority of the clerical collars about the room had been on for about thirty years. Things have changed a lot in those years, in society and in the church. And we were sent away to identify one 'training need' for ourselves. My personal take: this is such a subtle and involved process and competency frameworks and personal development plans such an alien concept to the church - it will take a long time to evolve to the point where this is the norm.
Then back on the road and home - spaced out with the whirl of concepts, socialising and business. A good day - but a year's worth of interactions and business in 52 hours!