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UK:Opening day of General Synod saw new approaches to Synod's way of doing thing

UK: Opening day of General Synod saw new approaches to Synod's way of doing things

By Rev. Chris Sugden
Anglican Mainstream
November 18, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for a continuous cycle of prayer while Synod is in session, based in the chapel of Church House where all are welcome, but also embracing Anglicans throughout the land to pray for Synod's deliberations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also gave his own report to Synod of his activity. This can be read here http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5187/archbishop-justins-presentation-to-the-general-synod

He ranged over the murderous attacks in Peshawar and Nairobi and the suffering and courage of Christians in Nigeria. He was surprised at the way the WCC meetings in Korea held together an extraordinary diversity of people united by the love of Jesus Christ. He announced that from January a Catholic order with an ecumenical and teaching vocation will be created, initially with four members, at Lambeth.

Of his visit to GAFCON2013 he said: "I had the opportunity to benefit from meeting a number of primates who had arrived for it. This was a great pleasure, and, as always, an education.

As leader of GAFCON Archbishop Wabukala was as gracious as could have been wished. There were naturally, as you may have noticed, different views expressed about different aspects of the Anglican Communion while I was in Nairobi and subsequently, including views about me, it has to be said not invariably warm and cuddly, but I was genuinely most glad to have had the opportunity to meet, and I have to say that the overwhelming response was not only kind but also deeply encouraging."

Archbishop Sentamu introduced a debate on Intentional Evangelism (Read his speech here http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3001/archbishop-speaks-on-intentional-evangelism#sthash.a0R2kRpA.dpuf Philip North argued that the battle for the soul of England would be in the white majority urban wastelands. He urged that the Church consider these as priority areas for its evangelistic work.

Tudor Griffiths reminded Synod that it had much to learn from the Churches of the Anglican Communion about integrating the call for evangelism into all we do and are. He recalled a visit to Sabah in East Malaysia where no one was allowed to proceed for theological training for ordination without two years experience as an evangelist. As a result the church had doubled in ten years.

In proposing his amendment which asked that those home mission agencies with expertise in helping local churches engage in effective evangelism in be included in the new Archbishops' Task Force on Evangelism, Rev Angus Macleay (St Nicholas Rochester) recalled Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian Christians that rather than identifying themselves with Paul, or Cephas or Apollos they should regard themselves as all belonging to Christ.

This meant today that skills from all traditions in the church should be drawn on for the evangelistic task, especially those with a proven track record in evangelism and who had planted Churches. He successfully moved an amendment The Archbishop of York argued to those who had urged that the Church review how attractive or otherwise its brand was, that no amount of changing the brand will make up for the issue of getting the content right.

In replying to the debate Archbishop Sentamu said that our goal was to be life transforming not life enhancing since our gospel was of Jesus' death and resurrection. And he insisted that when people come to know Jesus they are hungry to read the Bible so that Bible Study groups did not only belong in middle-class churches.

A bishop commenting after the debate noted setting up a task group ( instead of a committee) which would be composed of people who were focused on and experienced in the task of evangelism represented a culture change in the Church in.

Another bishop said that while there were many good things about belonging to the church such as a sense of belonging and fellowship, and many aspects of our faith such as being in the image of God, they were not the gospel which needed continually to be clarified as the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for us as fallen human beings.

It was also continually stressed that our main resource was prayer and people. Earlier, in the debate on the agenda, Mrs Alison Ruoff made a plea for action by the church to address the abandoning of God in the Girl Guides Promise and stressed the contradiction of Girl Guides meeting on Church Property but denying God in their new promise.

She tabled a Private Members' Motion to debate this. She noted later that Guide Leaders who were resisting this change had been threatened with removal of their warrants. In questions the Bishop of Oxford clarified that while the Church of England endorsed the Religious Education Council Review of RE, it did not endorse the parity which that review gave to humanist and atheist worldviews with the beliefs of the Christian faith.

Also in questions the Archbishop of Canterbury said that now completed and soon to be released Pilling Report on Human Sexuality would not be a new policy statement of the Church. If any change was proposed to the teaching of the Church as set out in the 1987 motion of General Synod that would be a matter for General Synod. The House of Bishops will be meeting on December 9 -10 and is expected to discuss the report there.

The Bishop of Rochester set out the package of proposals for the women bishops' legislation. He stressed that the term "provision" had been dropped since the aim was to make provision for all. These will be discussed in groups as first business on Tuesday morning.

The Rev. Dr. Chris Sugden is a Member of General Synod for Oxford

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