Team Leeds put up good show at General Synod in York

Representatives of the Diocese of Leeds have put up a good show at General Synod, which has just concluded in York.

From speaking to leading music, from chairing sessions to winning the quiz, the Leeds contingent has played a full part in proceedings.

The first debate of the Synod was on the Routemap to net zero - the challenging drive by the Church of England to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

Both the Revd Ruth Newton, from St John’s, Sharow, who is on the General Synod Environment Group, and the Revd Che Seabourne, from St George’s, Leeds spoke in the debate.

Revd Che said: “I spoke in favour of the Routemap as part of my maiden speech to General Synod. 

“This is how I began: ‘Synod. I am a climate hypocrite! It’s true! 

“‘In the words of St Paul in his letter to the church in Rome, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out: at least not all of the time! 

“‘All too often, I drive to meetings when I should be taking the bus, I boil more water than I need to, I stay too long in the shower, and worst of all, as my parents would have said when I was growing up, I’ve left the big light on! 

“‘But Synod, whatever our individual shortcomings, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the Five Marks of Mission… we are indeed called to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation.

“‘I urge you to vote for the Routemap.’
“I am pleased to say that the speech was well-received in the hall!”

Canon Jane Evans, from St Mary’s, Luddenden in the Calder Valley, spoke in support of the motion on the War in Ukraine, which was moved by Bishop Nick (see his blog for his full speech). 

She made the point that the war is complex, with no simple win/lose end in sight.

The Ven. Paul Ayers, Archdeacon of Leeds, contributed to two debates, one on the Clergy Discipline Code of Conduct, asking about the publicising of penalties on the national website, and the other about the review of requirements for PCCs and Electoral Rolls, where he asked for consideration of a Code of Conduct for churchwardens and PCC members as many charities and other organisations have.

In a motion about the Clergy Discipline Measure, the Revd Canon Joyce Jones (Clayton West, Scissett and Skelmanthorpe) called for clergy support to apply to self-supporting as well as stipendiary clergy.

But speaking during motions is not the only way of contributing to General Synod. 

Canon Professor Joyce Hill is one of the team of people who chair Synod sessions, an often-tricky job as the process of the discussions - who speaks, for how long, whether interruptions and points of order are allowed, and how the voting works - is far from straightforward.

When not in the chair, Joyce was able to speak to a motion on Resourcing Ministerial Formation, when she supports proposals for a block grant to help Theological Education Institutions (TEIs) with their budgeting and planning but pointed out that timing needed to take account of the budget planning cycles of the Institutions.

Alex Berry, who is Director of Music at Bradford Cathedral, has stepped forward to lead the music at morning and evening worship during all the General Synod sessions for the full five years. 

And this time, he assembled a Synod Choir, which included the Revd Canon Rachel Firth, from Huddersfield Parish Church, and Catherine Stephenson, from Christ Church, New Mill near Holmfirth. 

After rehearsing hard, they sang at the final Compline and the final worship of the session.

On the social side, the Synod Quiz on Saturday evening is something of an institution. 

In a moment of triumph, the Leeds team (team name: The Leeders) swept to victory in a hard-fought tie breaker, when Revd Canon Joyce Jones demonstrated the breadth of her knowledge by knowing that the first woman ever to preach in St Paul’s Cathedral was Martin Luther King’s wife Corretta in 1969.

Jane Evans said: “There are many different ways to contribute to General Synod, as we debate a wide range of subjects, from the environment and the Ukraine to detailed provisions for PCC membership.” 

“In the end, though, the most thing is to listen carefully and to use your vote, which I know we all did."

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