Diocesan Synod began with a celebration of the Eucharist, and inauguration of the 2018-2021 Synod, at which the Bishop presided. This was followed by the Commissioning of Revd David Yabbacome as Bishop’s Adviser on Disability and of the Revd Devin McLachlan as Bishop’s Advisor for Interfaith Matters. Eleanor Puttock was also introduced to the room as Digital Evangelism Officer.
For many in the room this was their first Diocesan Synod. The Bishop welcomed the new members and the room also welcomed the new Chairs of Houses: the Revd Alison Myers (Chair of the House of Clergy) and Canon Simon Kershaw (Chair of the House of Laity). The Chair of the House of Clergy then took the Chair for the first part of Synod.
The minutes from previous Synod were unanimously agreed as being an accurate representation of that Synod and were agreed and signed.
The Bishop then gave his Presidential address. [viewable in full via the link below]. In this he touched on the challenges BREXIT will present and what this might mean for our communities. He spoke of “our godly ambition to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ across all platforms of social media”. He spoke of his excitement around the Diocesan Market Towns project in supporting all three imperatives of Ely2025: to engage, grow and deepen. Lastly he welcomed the newly elected members of Diocesan Synod, and encouraged them to “be alongside me in the journey into real transformation in Christ and joy in service which will become real not only in market towns, but South Peterborough, our different kinds of rural hinterland and in Cambridge, too”.
Bishop Stephen introduced the proposed job description and person specification for the new Bishop of Huntingdon, and outlined the process towards the appointment. Members of Synod were invited to join in table-talk discussing the paperwork, and reflecting on the needs of the diocese Feedback was collated and the room agreed unanimously to ask Bishop Stephen to request the national church’s approval to continue with the process to appoint a new Bishop of Huntingdon. If approved, it is likely a new person will not be in post until September 2019.
The Chair of the Diocese of Ely Finance Committee, the Revd Canon Brian Atling, gave an update on the financial health of the Diocese. Canon Atling told the room that the 2017 audited accounts for the Diocese had been approved by Bishop’s Council and Diocesan Synod was asked to note this. The 2019 budget, approved at the previous Synod, was circulated and Diocesan Synod was again invited to comment if anyone wished to. The room was advised that budgets were online to be balanced. Despite the likely increase in stipendiary costs, the Committee is resolute in its intention to maintain a tight budget. Ministry Share contributions beyond the agreed 3-year 3% year-on-year rise were noted as coming to an end in 2019. Synod heard that it was the intention of the Finance Committee to propose a Ministry Share contribution below 3% in the next period; this is subject to review and agreement.
Synod received an update from Diocesan Safeguarding Independent Chair, Jon Chapman, and Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, Rebecca Boswell. It learned of both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and that, as a Diocese, we are well on the way to being able to focus on looking at the present and further ahead once we complete the recently commenced Past Cases Review.
The last agenda item involved tabled discussions surrounding sustaining future ministry. Tables were asked to consider proposals, presented by the Ven Dr Alex Hughes, Archdeacon of Cambridge, on a strategy moving forward. The room was then asked to vote on the proposal; “This Synod commits itself to formulate a pattern for sustainable ministry and requests the Bishop’s Council to pursue areas for further work and bring forward substantive proposals for Synod to consider in due course”. Tabled feedback included observations on the importance of local contextual ministry, understanding how best to utilise the invaluable skills and support of lay people and reviewing how the structure of selection might help realise this. Synod voted unanimously in favour of the motion.
Bishop Stephen closed the meeting with his blessing at 12.30pm.