I’ve held off commenting or writing at all about “that” General Synod debate this week…the difficulty with being a BBC employee, it quite rightly, prohibits me from saying anything remotely partisan. But here are my humble musings for what they are worth…
I can’t help thinking how comforting it is to live in a country in which all sides of a debate are listened to respectfully…. observing ( via the very good Comms feed) the panelled surroundings of the Church House chamber, listening to the clipped, polite voices of the various Chairs and hearing references to people such as the ” the procurator of the Southern Province”, was to witness what seems like another world, one that is far, far removed from what most of us perceive as everyday reality.
Speakers were respectfully listened to and applauded, by people who both agreed and disagreed with their perspectives, a perfect example of the well-used C of E phrase, ” agree to disagree well” being played out.
A vicar from Southwark, Rosemarie Mallett, spoke beautifully about
showing pride in all wonderful diversity and offering a welcome to all those who feel excluded and unloved, but powerfully and fleetingly, she reflected how, to the outside world, to those for whom the church is another world, there are other matters, matters of social justice that are of importance for so many. And I can’t help thinking that that is the crux of the problem.
Of course, no-one can say the Church is not at the forefront of some incredible, life-changing community work…you only have to see the work of volunteers at foodbanks and credit unions and street pastors for example.
But, the world has moved on, even from the beginnings of the shared conversations three years ago…..people are tired, worried about their jobs, homes, supporting their families…. any previous feelings of stability have been rocked by the various political upheavals of the past year. In effect, people are vulnerable and shaken with insecurity.
Set against this, the “take note” or ” not take note” debate, (while gripping if you like that sort of thing ) to many people, belonged to another era…. one that had its home and it’s time behind those oak panelled doors in Church House, but one which remained static and belonged in a time-warp, while the rest of the world, outside, was moving on.
So perhaps the outcome of yesterday’s debate was always inevitable, the Church, while conscious of its duty to adhere to traditional teachings, realises the only way forward now is Justin Welby’s perfectly judged phrase….a “radical new Christian inclusion”.
What that will mean is anybody’s guess and who would want to be part of the group that decides ( perhaps this time a more cohesive way would be for a report written by bishops, clergy and laity??)
But at least it heralds the beginning of a new Hope that those pannelled doors will in future begin to let in a little sunlight from the outside world.
Thanks for reading,