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Diocesan Synod tackles busy agenda in last meeting of triennium

First published on: 17th June 2024

How we continue to grow God’s Kingdom here in our region was the theme of the most recent Diocesan Synod, which took place on Saturday, June 15 in Leeds.

The busy agenda covered topics including the work of our Children, Young People and Families Team, diocesan finances and an update from our Barnabas team on a new tool to help parishes chart ways forward.

After gathering for tea, coffee and pastries, Synod opened with welcomes from the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, and Jonathan Wood, Diocesan Secretary.

Bishop Nick especially welcomed the Ven Cat Thatcher, at her first Synod in her role as Archdeacon of Pontefract; and several Diocesan Interns, who kindly stepped in to help support the smooth running of the Synod.

Bishop Nick then gave his Presidential Address, which highlighted the desperate situation of Christians in war-torn Sudan and their need for our prayers and support, and also examined the intellectual challenge of deciding personal priorities in the face of constant and often conflicting media.

His full address can be read here.

After this, Bishop Nick outlined the process for choosing a new Bishop of Wakefield to Synod, which was a moment where members showed their full appreciation for the work of the outgoing Bishop, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson.

Synod then heard from Liz Morton, Team Leader for our Children, Young People and Families Team, as part of a motion about Synod received the annual reports from all our diocesan teams.

Liz spoke about the work of her team, outlining all the support parishes have received over the last year and all that the team offers to all parishes across our diocese.

More on what the team can offer can be found here.

Synod voted to receive the annual reports, and offered thanks to all diocesan staff for the work they do in supporting parishes.

Synod then heard from Elaine Swinhoe, Mothers’ Union President for our diocese (pictured, right), about the work of the Mothers’ Union, which has over 4 million members in more than 80 different countries.

Elaine spoke of the organisation as a Christian one all about putting faith into action, supported by prayer, and talked about the various campaigns the Mothers’ Union runs, including ones to support women who face domestic abuse.

After a coffee break, Synod voted to approve changes in how we elect people to our Area Mission and Pastoral Committees, to make sure their important work is done by people with the right knowledge and skills to wisely chart paths forward for different churches.

Irving Warnett, Chair of our Finance, Assets and Investments Committee, and Geoff Park, Chief Finance Officer for the diocese, then gave a presentation on our 2023 accounts, looking at the current situation and giving an outline of where we would like to be in the coming years.

After a good debate, Synod approved the motion receiving the accounts.

The Revd Jude Smith, Diocesan Director of Church Revitalisation, then gave a presentation of Compass, a new tool for parishes from the Barnabas: Encouraging Confidence team.

Compass is a tool designed to help churches work out where they are in ministry and mission, chart what they are currently doing, and help them decide what comes next, the barriers to this and how the diocese can support churches to move forward.

The Compass process is all about honest conversations, working together and using data to plan paths forward, on a journey that looks at how to grow the cycle of engaging, nurturing, discipling and leading people in our parishes.

Synod members got to have a go at a bit of the Compass process, and then gave feedback, before Revd Jude encouraged all to keep an eye out for a soft launch of the tool, which will be happening very soon.

More on Compass will shortly be shared in our Barnabas: Encouraging Confidence website section, which can be found here, and has lots of support and help for parishes in it already.

As Synod drew to a close it ended with a Eucharist for members, as it was the last Synod of this triennium.

Bishop Nick thanked all Synod members for their contributions over the tumultuous last three years, with a particular thanks to Matthew Ambler, outgoing Chair of the House of Laity, and the Revd Canon Rachel Firth, outgoing Chair of the House of Clergy.

The new Synod will meet in October for the first meeting of the new triennium, with more details to follow.

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