Report on Latest Diocesan Synod

Click here to see Chris Carnall's Report on the Diocesan Synod held on 17th June 2017

Click  here  to see the notes from the Diocesan Synod held on Saturday 11th March 2017

From the Diocesan Website:

Diocesan Synod 5 November 2016

Diocesan Synod met at Manor School on Saturday, 5 November 2016.

The meeting opened with prayer and worship during which time the Archbishop gave the presidential address, the theme of which was The Church on Earth is a Colony of Heaven. Members split into deanery-based groups at the end of the address to consider the emerging themes on the priesthood and diaconate.

The Bishop of Whitby thanked all, both those present and everyone across the diocese, for the engagement in the Transformation & Strategy Roadshows and Survey. It was reported that analysis was ongoing and there would be a report brought to the next meeting of Synod in March alongside the expected report on Developing our Deaneries.

Mrs Catherine Evans, the Diocesan Finance Manager, presented to Synod on the Freewill Offering and the year to date in finance. It was hoped that, based on giving in the year to date, to achieve the receipts budgeted for the full year. The forecast for the year suggested a reduced deficit mainly due to underspends on vacant posts at the Diocesan Office and a reduced grant to Wydale reflecting the strong performance of Wydale in the year to date.

Canon Peter Warry, Diocesan Secretary, presented the draft budget for 2017. It was noted that for the first time since the move to Freewill Offering there was sufficient confidence from the offers received to anticipate a 1.9% increase in income for which very grateful thanks were expressed. However, it was noted that 2017 would see the first effects of the predicted drop in income from other sources. A brief outline was given of the effect of markets on investment gains noting that although a surplus was anticipated for the end of 2016, this was a reflection of market performance and these gains could be lost as the consequences of Brexit and the U.S. election manifested over time. The commitment to 180 posts remained with there being more clergy in post at the start of 2017 than at the same point in 2016. The five year forecast demonstrated a rising deficit, albeit at a slower rate than presented at the Roadshows. However, action would be required sooner rather than later as there would be a time lag between agreeing actions and the final outcomes being realised.

Mrs Maureen Loffill, Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance, was invited to address Synod on the future actions required in the light of the 2017 budget. Three principles were outlined: the recognition of the three diocesan goals as a part of the Generous Churches Making and Nurturing Disciples continuum, the need to manage the deficit budget, and the recognition of the need for culture change to continue as a healthy diocese. Actions to be taken included: a strengthening of the link between the Freewill Offering and mission & ministry; use of the funding streams available from the Church Commissioners; root and branch reviews of training, and of property repairs and maintenance; a fresh look at budget protocols and procedures including a resetting of timelines and alignments, and zero-based budgeting. It was reported that work had commenced to address the actions.

Questions from the floor were taken and the motion to approve for budget for 2017 was carried.

The Archdeacon of Cleveland, Warden of Readers, and Mrs Lynn Comer, Director of Reader Studies presented an item marking the 150th anniversary of the Reader Ministry. An overview of the creation and development of Reader Ministry was given as well as a reflection on the changing faces of parochial ministry in recent times. The aim of forming men and women to be participants in God’s missions and ministries in the world and in the church, interpreters of the Word, exemplars of loving service and instruments of dynamic service were at the heart of the York School of Ministry reader programme. It was hoped that Readers would continue as a part of an energised, equipped and enabled ministry team leading the church into the future.

The Bishop of Whitby, Chair of the Board of Education, introduced the new Diocesan Director of Education, Mr Andrew Smith. A presentation was given on the newly published Vision for Education giving a fresh articulation of why the church is involved in education. The vision was for all schools, not just Church schools, and available to all. The diocesan themes linked with the vision for education for wisdom, for hope and aspiration, for community and living well, and for dignity and respect. The new Understanding Christianity resource was being rolled out to all schools to raise religious literacy and theological understanding with a return to looking at the whole bible story. It was noted that this involved a spiral curriculum that carried through each of the key stages, building and developing on the common themes as children grew. The work and engagement of schools was seen and remarked upon throughout the Archbishop’s pilgrimage with there being very tangible connections between parishes and schools. Members were encouraged to pray for all aspects of school life and mission.

The Diocesan Secretary was invited to present the key findings of the external Safeguarding Audit completed in June as well as comment upon the direction of Safeguarding over the coming year. It was noted that approval had been given by the Archbishop’s Council to appoint to two 0.5 FTE posts to assist with both the case work and training requirements of the diocese as recommended by the audit team. The motion to formally adopt en bloc the House of Bishops Guidance on safeguarding was carried.

The motion moved by Dr Nick Land, Chair of the House of Laity, to agree the number of lay representatives elected by the House of Laity of the Deanery Synod for the triennium 2017 to 2020 was carried.

Items for information included the draft Minutes of the Archbishop’s Council and Standing Committee from 4 October 2016.

Mowbray Deanery Synod – Report on the Diocesan Synod Meeting on 16 July 2016.

The meeting opened with prayer and worship. In his presidential address the Archbishop reflected on his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing. Members of Synod were encouraged by the breadth of engagement across the Diocese. Financial considerations should not hinder the engagement of the many and varied lay people, whose gifts should be recognised and harnessed for the Kingdom. Different ways of ministry needed to be embraced so that every place is covered.

Mrs Catherine Evans, the Diocesan Finance Manager, gave a presentation on the Freewill Offering and the year to date in finance. Based on giving thus far, it was hoped to achieve the receipts budgeted for the full year. The first full-year forecast suggested a reduced deficit, mainly due to underspends on vacant posts and a reduced grant to Wydale, reflecting the strong performance of Wydale in the year to date. Freewill Offers received to date had shown an overall increase of 3.24% for which there was much thanks. Were that to be continued in the offers still to be received, the budget to be approved in November would be significantly better.

Mrs Maureen Loffill, Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance, gave Synod a strategic overview of the financial situation. Members were encouraged to be risk aware rather than risk averse when considering the challenges ahead. The many exciting developments within the Diocese were highlighted including the arrival of the new Diocesan Director of Education, the continued trend in significant numbers of curates, and the hope for some form of worship in every church every Sunday. All were inspiring, but all would have costs attached which would need to be met. It was noted that the deficit would not exist had the Freewill Offering not stagnated over the previous years. The impact of the changes to funding through the Church Commissioners was considered. There were choices to be made and the consultation roadshows would enable wider participation in the making of the choices. Members were asked to consider the longings and groanings of the heart for the church – what sacrifices would be made and what would be given in order to realise those visions.

The Bishop of Whitby updated Synod on the Renewal and Reform Programme, and on the work of the Transformation and Strategy Group. Synod was reminded of the three goals

  • reaching the people we currently don’t,

  • moving to growth, and

  • establishing sustainable finances.

Members were asked to consider how the goals connected with their hopes for the Diocese and for their local area. It was hoped that everyone would feel a part of the Diocese and able to influence the shape and direction for the next five-year period.

Dr Nick Land provided members with an overview of the recent sessions of the General Synod held in York. Items included an emergency debate on Europe, a presentation from the Archbishop of York on his pilgrimage, reports from the Church Commissioners, and debates on legislation. The time included two days of shared conversations on human sexuality.

One question had been received for consideration – “When will there be an opportunity for a discussion by the Diocesan Synod to consider renewable energy sources, and the effects of fracking on health and climate change?” The Bishop of Selby was invited to answer. He noted that this was a very important issue for many in the Diocese and that a sub-group had been convened to consider the emerging themes and challenges in this area. However, until the national church published a view, it would not be appropriate for the Diocese to discuss in Synod. The urgency with which such a view was required had been stressed and it was hoped that work would be available in the Autumn. It would be for the Agenda Committee to determine when such a discussion would take place at Diocesan Synod.

The Bishop of Hull led Synod in an extended time of prayer.

Chris Carnall

A fuller version of this report is available at: