October Synod hears of facing the future with confidence

How the diocese faces the challenges of the next few months and beyond with faith and confidence was considered at the recent meeting of Diocesan Synod.

The Synod met virtually on Saturday, October 15, and looked at topics such as the recent General Synod meeting, Parish Share, and our new ‘Barnabas: Encouraging Confidence’ work, while considering motions on topics including Deanery Synod allocations, the use of individual cups in Communion, the Church Representation Rules scheme for our three cathedrals, and the Diocesan 2023 Budget.

The Bishop of Leeds, and President of the Synod, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, started the meeting with his presidential address, which concentrated on the “big vision” of the diocese, sound in the knowledge of God’s strong and encouraging presence.

Acknowledging this to be a time of exceptional political and economic turmoil, Bishop Nick said: “We are about the business of Almighty God, creator, sustainer and redeemer of the cosmos. 

“A biblical vision of God is bigger and broader than our narrow perceptions, our limited priorities and passionate commitments. 

“It is God’s kingdom we serve, and that kingdom is shaped by God’s character which is rooted in love, mercy and justice.”

A full copy of Bishop Nick’s address can be read here.

Synod heard a report from our representatives on General Synod from the most recent meeting, which took place in July 2022 in York.

Topics there included the war in Ukraine and the Church of England’s path to carbon net zero, while Team Leeds also had success on the social side, winning the General Synod Quiz.

Diocesan Synod then moved into a useful discussion around parish share, which started with an informative presentation from Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Geoff Park.

Synod heard about the recommendations of our Parish Share review, which led to a useful debate about its importance and effective communications about the positive things paying share allows to happen.

Synod then passed a motion regarding lay representation on Deanery Synods, before moving into our Leeds Diocesan Board of Finance company members’ meeting, where a motion making some minor changes to our committee memberships, to make sure we have the proper expertise on our committees, was approved.

After a coffee break, Synod engaged in a robust and substantial debate around a motion from the Outer Bradford deanery calling on the Church of England to withdraw its opposition to the use of individual cups in Communion.

Many interesting points were raised in the debate, including comments about canon law, theology and health.

The successful debate showed the broad range of views in our church, and highlighted the importance of respectful and thoughtful discussion.

Voting was was close, but the motion was not carried by Synod.

Synod then passed three motions approving new deanery representation schemes for our three cathedrals, before moving into looking at the 2023 Diocesan Budget, which was approved after another presentation from Geoff Park.

Finally, Synod ended with an update from Diocesan Secretary Jonathan Wood on our church support and deployment work, which now has the title ‘Barnabas: Encouraging Confidence’. 

Jonathan shared our vision for this work, rooted in the story of Barnabas, who supported early churches, investing in them and training others to do the same.

Jonathan said: "We want to be confident in our mission, our future, our witness and our leadership.

"We want to make sure the support offered is what's needed, and is known about."

Bishop Nick closed the meeting with a blessing.

Diocesan Synod will meet again in March 2023.

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