Monday, September 11, 2023

So, we had a Synod ... and the All Blacks lost ...

A few posts back I mused about the challenge of the All Blacks playing finals matches on successive Sundays in October at 8 am in the morning (NZ time) and coinciding with 8 am / 9 am / 9.30 am services and pushing limits of faithfulness (for Christian rugby followers!) as long, over-refereeed games could take up till 10 am to finish.

Then, yesterday morning, the ABs were well beaten by France in their opening pool game and that is two losses in a row, so the chances of the ABs progressing beyond the quarter-finals seem remote and the challenge noted above recedes ... or, does it?

I watched the first half of the game yesterday morning before making my way to the second full day of our Synod, which began with a lovely service on Thursday evening (view here - with apologies in advance for the music sound - our music group used an independent system which was not feeding into the Cathedral's own livestream system). 

A synod is many things to the many people who gather. A steep learning curve, perhaps, for those who have never participated in a synod before. A nervous experience, maybe, for those hoping a decision will go one way and not another. Hard work, of course, for the organisers (my staff, the Resolutions Committee, our Chancellor and Vice Chancellor) and hosts (we have been hosted by the Parish of Avonhead for many years now). A surprise, it could be, for those not anticipating being elected to a committee or board.

Speaking personally, I have generally enjoyed synods and have been to many diocesan synods in two dioceses and a lesser number of General Synods. However being bishop is something different again. On the one hand I am now the President [chair] of Synod and so run its proceedings. On the other hand I can't speak to issues and proposals in the way I used to :).

I acknowledge that in the Nelson Diocese I was a fairly influential synodsperson. I once received feedback that some critics thought that I bent that synod to do my will. As if!? The truth was much more prosaic. There was a synod where I brought three proposals to it. One was passed. One was lost. One was not resolved - I think we moved onto other business or something.

I learned my lesson. Thereafter I only brought proposals that I thought the synod would agree to. I discerned well, made modest but, importantly, agreeable proposals. But my learning from experience then led to the criticism noted above. Oh, well!

Our Christchurch synod, this weekend past, saw some excellent debates and adroit amendments brought to significant proposals. One line of amendments, relating to the ongoing implementation of our Diocesan Mission Action Plan, enabled us as a diocese to acknowledge clearly the challenges of developing healthy ministry in small towns and rural districts, compared to engaging the challenges of ministry in Christchurch city and Timaru (our largest urban areas).

Another proposal, which gained prominence in secular media (e.g. here, here, here, here), concerned the dissolution of the Parish of St. John's, Latimer Square. The bare report of the resolution we reached is in our media release below. The debate was wide ranging and included concerns that the iconic, award winning Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral not be lost to the city as an important building along with what future we envisage for ministry in our inner city. We will form a working group to take matters forward.

The brilliant thing about synods is that they enable a range of views to be brought into open consideration. Overall - working from comments made as the synod ended and people headed home - it was a good synod, and I think that is because we had useful open discussions on important matters.

Media Release

Saturday, 9 September, 2023

The Right Reverend Dr Peter Carrell, Bishop of Christchurch

The Dissolution of the Anglican Parish of St. John’s, Latimer Square

This morning (Saturday, 9 September, 2023) the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch agreed to the dissolution of the Parish of St. John’s, Latimer Square. 

This decision opens the way to consider the future of the property associated with that parish, on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets, Christchurch.

The Christchurch Transitional (or Cardboard) Cathedral is part of that property. 

When we resume worship and other activities in the Cathedral in the Square, planned for late 2027, the Transitional Cathedral building will no longer be required as a cathedral.

The Synod has requested that a working group explore all issues regarding the future of the land and buildings on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets, and report back to Synod in 2024. 


Peter Carrell said...

(This comment from BW)

Remembering something said in about 1979 at the College of William and Mary by C. Claude Vache, then the celibate Anglo-Catholic bishop of the traditionally evangelical diocese for Southern Virginia. In that year, there was a new Book of Common Prayer with eucharistic prayers A, B, C, and D that were the Roman Missal's 1, 2, 3, and 4 in better English, so he and the RC bishop of Richmond had used one of them to concelebrate with their chaplains and students in the Wren Chapel.

All were dining in the Great Hall when someone asked the bishops about the difference, if any, in their episcopal roles. One bishop had a synod that would be meeting in town in a few weeks; the other did not.

Bishop Vache reframed the question in terms of the old maxim that the fullness of the catholic church subsists in every local church. A variant of that maxim in the Second Vatican Council's Lumen Gentium had put that quaint verb on the tip of ecumenical tongues to whom it was not yet as controversial as it has become.

When he said this, he noted drily, laymen assumed that he was talking about the parishes that were all most of them knew but clergy usually supposed that he was referring to the diocese where they were working out their careers. In either view, synods were a sort of legislature.

To his mind, he and his counterpart across the table were both figures of unity for the church in approximately the same southerly counties of the Old Dominion. But he had a synod that helped him to be that as a community that integrated a shrine, congregations, chaplaincies, schools, a retirement home, a hospital, a seminary, etc into one ecclesial body.

The good people of Southside and Tidewater needed an expression of unity because they were subtly distinct from those of the Blue Ridge Mountains, never mind the liberal suburbs of Washington. Someday Catholics south of the Rappahannock River would also want a synod, he thought, but it was unclear whether they would start their own or join a union synod with Episcopalians and maybe Lutherans.

Decades have passed. Neither TEC nor the RCC has been quite what either bishop expected. But along came Francis whose *synodality* sounds close to the communal but not so institutional synod envisaged by Bishop Vache.

Anonymous said...

Richard Hooker on *sola scriptura*

Whatsoever either men on earth, or the Angels of heaven do know, it is as
a drop of that unemptiable fountaine of wisdom, which wisdom hath
diversly imparted her treasures unto the world. As her waies are of sundry
kinds, so her maner of teaching is not meerely one and the same. Some
things she openeth by the sacred bookes of Scripture; some things by the
glorious works of nature: with some things she inspireth them from above
by spirituall influence, in some thinges she leadeth and trayneth them
onely by worldly experience and practise. We may not so in any one
speciall kind admire her that we disgrace her in any other, but let all her
wayes be according unto their place and degree adored.

Richard Hooker, Lawes II.1.4.1:147.23-148.6.