Inclusion, wellbeing and social action gain strong support at synod

Disability and inclusion, clergy wellbeing and community outreach initiatives all featured prominently at the November meeting of Diocesan Synod.

Held online for only second time, motions on each of these strategic areas were put forward and then endorsed emphatically by members, after separate presentations.

Archdeacon of Pontefract, Peter Townley proposed the motion to adopt, welcome and support the new Diocesan Disability Strategy and said it aided progress towards a “colony of heaven”, adding:

“We still haven’t got it right, but this is an important step along the way.”

Disability and Inclusion officer Katherine-Alice Grasham, pictured, told how the work of a group set up in 2018 had created a document in line with the goals of the Diocesan Strategy.

Archdeacon of Halifax, Anne Dawtry appealed for people to be mindful of the needs of others, even if people with disabilities were not present in worshipping communities.

“People say, ‘but we haven’t got anyone with disabilities at our church’. We need to get into a different frame of mind about this issue.”

Revd Rachel Firth of Huddersfield called for intersectionality, in that different minority groups of people could work together to make progress and lay member Kay Brown made the point that active measures to include people are much needed.

The motion was approved with 99 for, one against and two abstentions.

Rector of Leeds, Revd Canon Sam Corley proposed a motion to adopt, welcome and support a new Clergy Covenant for Wellbeing.

He told how a working group was focussing on specific proposals and recommendations to deepen and extend support for clergy and that these would be brought before March Synod, 2021.

Points raised included how the laity should be consulted on how they could input into clergy support, as they would provide valuable perspectives on local situations – including parishioners’ opinions.

The motion was approved with 97 for and four abstentions.

Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Toby Howarth proposed a motion endorsing the work of Wellsprings Together, the joint venture between the diocese and the Church Urban Fund to support social action and encourage flourishing neighbourhoods.

Joyce Hill, of Allerton Deanery said how Wellsprings Together and its director Mark Waddington, picutured, had been extremely helpful in developing St Aidan’s food share scheme which now provides more than 300 food distributions every Saturday.

Revd Mark Umpelby of Batley said how Wellsprings Together’s work was very important across the diocese and that details of what it offers should be more widely explained.

Details of the motion were that Suynod:

1) Affirms the rich engagement of parishes with wider society in the work of “Transforming Communities” envisioned in the diocesan Strategy;

2) Commends Wellsprings Together in encouraging and resourcing engagement with wider society in the work of “Transforming Communities”; and

3) Requests the Diocesan Secretary to write to each parish to encourage clergy and lay together and PCCs to:

a. study the activities of Wellsprings Together outlined in the leaflet DS 20 11 06, and

b. explore how Wellsprings Together, as a resource for engagement with wider society in the work of “Transforming Communities”, may be able to assist them in their context.”

The motion was approved with 91 for and three abstentions.

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