Round-up of June Diocesan Synod

Diocesan Synod, the primary governing body of the Diocese, met on 22 June, 2019 at St. George’s Secondary School in Gravesend.

It was a packed and important agenda.

Annual Report

The Annual Report and Accounts for 2018 were formally introduced by the Rev Richard Williams, Director of Finance and Judith Armitt, The Chair of the Board of Finance.

They explained that there is an operating deficit on Unrestricted General Funds, but this has been reduced from £0.43 million to £0.38 million. The year had also ended with a growth in asset value and there has been a concerted effort to improve the Diocese’s financial resilience.

Printed copies of the Annual Report – one for every church - were given to Area Deans or Deanery Synod reps to distribute in their areas.

Synod was also shown two posters to accompany the Report which explain the finances and activities of the year in a way that can easily be shared with congregations. All the material can be downloaded here.

With Synod formally approving the Accounts, tributes were paid to Judith as she steps down after three years as Chair of the Board of Finance. Nigel Pope was elected as her successor.

 

Indicative Offers

Next, Synod discussed a motion to approve the introduction of Indicative Offers from 2020 and the renaming of the ‘Unrestricted General Fund’ as the ‘Common Fund’

The motion follows two consultations that have been conducted with parishes across the Diocese on the issue. The Rev Richard Williams spoke about the aspirations of Indicative Offers and how the consultations had informed the final proposal.

Robust debate followed with questions from the floor. Concerns were raised by some about the fairness of the system, while others spoke of the need for us to think about being ‘joyful givers.’

Judith Armitt thanked Synod for the engaged nature of the discussion and the motion was  put  to the vote.. The motion was passed overwhelming. (For = 50 / Against = 8 / Abstentions = 12).

More details will follow in due course.

Safeguarding

Among the other business of the day was an update by Archdeacon Julie Conalty, lead  archdeacon for Safeguarding. She explained that the Diocese had been given permission to go ahead with its second Past Cases Review based on draft guidelines from the National Safeguarding Team.

The Parish Audits had proved incredibly useful and two part-time people have been recruited which will mean an additional increase in resource in this important area.

Environment

There was a good discussion about the Environment, as feedback was given on a survey conducted among the parishes about how they are already engaging with this issue and how the Diocesan leadership could support this further.

Suggestions included encouraging greater awareness and sign-up to the Eco-Church system and learning from the Diocese of Canterbury who have been pushing forward on this area.

Overseas Links

The Rev David Kitley (St. Mary’s, Kippington) spoke about the Diocese’s Companion Link with the Diocese of Harare in Zimbabwe. He updated Synod on the troubled background of the country and the issues they are facing now, including rising inflation.

All were invited to attend a Service to Celebrate our International Links on 22 September at 6pm at

Called to Grow

There was also an update on the work of Called Together, with a particular focus on Called to Grow – the new 5 step process to help parishes review, plan and deliver mission – and the work of chaplains.

The Rev Bryan Knapp, (St. Andrew’s, Paddock Wood), who is leading on Called to Grow, presented the new toolkit that has been created to support this process and which is now available online here

A spotlight was also shone on the work of chaplains – supporting chaplaincy is a key aim within the Called Together vision.

School chaplain at St. George’s, Trudi Oliver gave a lively talk about what it is like to be a school chaplain, and Mark Ball spoke about his role as the newly appointed lead chaplain at Bluewater shopping centre.

Bishop James said he was so encouraged that this diocese is supporting chaplaincy, which is finding many new expressions in these days.

 

 




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