Strategic Plan, discussion of the same in small groups and a potentially divisive but in the end not so discussion on the ordination of folks in same gender relationships. We ended with a dinner hosted by the St Barnabas home at which Phil Clark of the Church Army spoke. Phil is the best public speaker I have heard in a very long while. He was thought provoking and eloquent and surprising and very funny - his table companions spent much of the meal fighting for composure as the liquid bits of their dinners ran out of their noses. He spoke of taking over the Church Army, an organisation which was formed a long time ago to evangelise the working classes. The methods and structures which proved so successful through the first half of the 20th Century have not proven durable however, and the Church Army has been in decline for a while. Phil Clark is not a man to be bound by either convention or expectations, so he is taking the organisation off in a whole new direction, basing its operations on an expression of urban community: same aims, different context, different methods.
Which was a providential thing for Phil to be saying, because I guess that is pretty much what I was trying to say in both my long sweated over charge * and the Strategic Plan. Bronwyn, our Diocesan Manager also said it when she delivered a brutally honest, very clear statement of our financial position. Now you might expect that being reminded that we were in significant decline and that we were pretty much broke into the bargain might have had a depressing effect on people, but if you expect that, then you're obviously not from around here. This synod was calm, reflective, hopeful and even, at the end, excited. It was also, despite the differences between mutually exclusive viewpoints, deeply respectful and united. We are, like Phil Clark and the Church Army, embarking on a process of profound change in almost every aspect of our Diocesan life. We have an agreed pathway to do that and we have the energy, and more importantly, the will to take that path to wherever it is that the Spirit is leading us.
*the charge as it is printed here is the official version which will go into the yearbook. I didn't use this script, however but extemporised to cover the same ground. On Friday night I desperately needed to speak to my diocese, and you all know how rude it is to speak to someone and read at the same time.