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General Synod:Not Just About Women Bishops : The Revd David Keen

david keen

An old friend of Lay Anglicana, the Revd David Keen, blogs as ‘Opinionated Vicar‘. He has spotted what some of us (OK, I) missed, which is that the ‘re-imagining ministry’ part of the quinqennial aims has been dusted off and is being currently looked at seriously under the leadership of Bishop Steven Croft (ie the previous blogs here about evangelism were part of a larger picture). This is how David begins his blog post of 27th June; he has added further related posts on June 29th, referring to ‘Towards The Conversion of England’ under the heading ‘We don’t need any new intiatives’; then on 3rd July a post on Church Growth in the CofE – discussion paper and finally on 4th July Background Reading for General #Synod.

If you are interested in lay ministry in the Church of England, I urge you to read them all.


General Synod: Sneaking in a radical growth strategy whilst everyone is looking at women bishops

I’ve been critical in the past for the absence of mission from the agenda of General Synod. Looking at some of the papers for sessions starting next week, I’m quietly encouraged.

The full agenda is here, and most of the Saturday is going to be spent in small groups trying to thrash out the women bishops issue (again). The day closes with a 90 minute debate on GS1895. Stay awake at the back there! This is a half-time review of the Church of England’s 3 priorities for the current 5 year cycle. They are:
– contributing as the national Church to the common good;
– facilitating the growth of the Church;
– re-imagining the Church’s ministry.

Each of these will be the subject of a major General Synod debate in the next 12 months, with church growth kicking this off in November.

The paper makes it quite clear which of the 3 is considered to be top priority:

The opportunities for contributing to the common good at a time of considerable social and economic distress are enormous. But the Church of England’s capacity will be less than it would wish unless it can also make progress in reversing the long term decline in numbers and increase in the age profile of its membership. (p2)
(there is a)  ‘mistaken conflation of evangelism and evangelicalism…growth is an authentic priority for all the strands within Anglicansim and should be a practical priority for all’
from the conclusion: it is, rightly, the challenge of growth that is increasingly at the centre of the church’s agendas. As in New Testament days there is a sharp awareness of the challenge posed by an abundance of fields white to harvest and a relatively limited supply of labourers (p10)
Hidden away are some radical thoughts: in a section on vocations there is a growing sense that the current stress on the individual’s sense of vocation needs to be redressed to a greater extent by reference to the kind of clergy who are suited to the present mission challenge and especially to meet the need for greater diversity. I.e. the CofE is looking at rewriting the criteria for leadership selection to put mission leadership as a much higher priority.
The paper outlines some of the work being done under each of the 3 headings, and adds in a paper by Steve Croft, bishop of Sheffield. It’s worth a read, outlining some of the reasons why we don’t talk about church growth in the CofE:
“The agendas of bishops meetings and other meetings are dominated by questions of gender and ministry and human sexuality leaving little quality space for deeper engagement with evangelization”…
and suggests ‘7 disciplines of evangelisation’, which is a really interesting section: watch this space on this one. It’s classic Croft: take some practices and ideas which have been beyond the pale in Anglican circles and describe them in terms and ways which bring them into the fold. Thus ‘ecclesial formation’ (church growth) ‘forming new ecclesial communities’ (church planting). You may see a lot more of this quoted in the months and years to come.
The Croft paper is also here, on his blog as Bishop of Sheffield.
Finally, there is GS Misc 1054. Otherwise known as “Making new disciples: the Growth of the Church of England” I almost feel I need to repeat that title, just in case you thought you’d misread it first time round. It’s a companion paper to the Quinquennium review above, and makes the theological and practical case for prioritising church growth in the CofE. It recognises that decline can’t go on for much longer without the parish system ceasing to function, and that traditional Anglican outreach to the ‘church fringe’ is no longer enough. It’s the kind of honest appraisal of where we’re at as a church that I’ve been wittering on about for some time….
[Now please go to David’s blog to read the rest of the post ]

2 comments on this post:

minidvr said...

Great post. Trouble is my diocese has been talking about this for 3 yrs and have reconfigured the diocesan staff to work towards this jointly with lots of cross fertilisation for community initiatives. But the reality for Lay Ministry has been NO CHANGE YET, and this year, No training for laity due to lack of resources (money).

My Vicar had with me, re-imagined a mission based role for me, which was public facing within the local community (9 parishes) but there was no training pathway for such a role (unless I joined the Church Army or Went for Pioneer Ministry (To Old and Not Recommended) neither of which are a possibility. Than he left and it all ground to a halt.

So, what do you do when you are banging your head against a brick wall, get bruised and frustrated. Than I read Bishop Stephen’s paper (and David’s blog) and I’m on fire, with more frustration. This is all discussion and study, for something which has been around for at least three years – when are we actually going to do something worthwhile with it?

I’m sorry if I’m being negative, but my experience so far has been exactly that – negative. I hope and pray that this initiative will do something about empowering laity in new forms of ministry, but I’m not sure that I’ll be around to celebrate.

07 July 2013 14:59
minidvr said...

And as a comment on David’s photograph, it’s exactly right. It looks edgy but approachable, 🙂 And of course he is just that!!

07 July 2013 15:12

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