Diocesan Synod November 2020 Update


First published 26th November 2020

Diocesan Synod met on Saturday 14 November 2020 to review the impact of Creating connections, approve the 2021 budget and prepare for the future.


Bishop Viv: rewilding the Church

In her address to the Diocesan Synod, Bishop Viv asked what it would look like to “rewild the Church”.

 

National news

Synod heard about:

  • the way Church of England through the Archbishops had responded to the current Covid impact, making public their representation to government to continue public worship and calling the nation to prayer.
  • the response to the IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) report into the Church of England and the action being taken follow its recommendations.
  • the launch of Living in love and faith, a new process of discernment and decision-making on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, starting with the publication of resources which draw together theology, science and history with people’s experiences and stories. The aim is to listen and learn together and there will be a programme in the Diocese to support this in 2021.
  • the November General Synod being introduced for the first time to the work on a national vision for the Church of England in the 2020s led by the Archbishop of York.

Environmental progress

In response to the declaration of a climate emergency a year ago, Clare Fussell, Diocesan Environment Adviser, reported on a range of steps forward in support of the Environment and Climate Justice policy and towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030. As well as lots of examples of local church action, the Diocese has been awarded a bronze EcoDicoese award.

Read the report

Evangelism and social action in lockdown

Synod was encouraged and inspired by stories of people coming to faith and churches serving those in need during lockdown. As part of a report on the two years since they were planted, St Nicholas, Bristol and Pattern Church, Swindon, shared how the churches had sought to respond to spiritual and practical needs by running Alpha online and partnering with others to support those struggling in communities.

Clergy at the churches expressed their gratitude to those across the Diocese for supporting them in getting started, the impact that was now having and how they were now giving, partnering with and resourcing the wider Diocese as a result.

Read the report

Where are we now? Reviewing Creating connections

The Synod received a report on the implementation, outcomes, impact and learning from the Diocesan Strategic Plan 2016-20 to support Creating connections. The report shows growth in vocations to ordained ministry, stipendiary clergy deployment, indicators of Christian commitment, including giving, and parish finances. Prayer, focused attention and targeted supported have enabled this. Despite local examples of numerical growth, however, attendance has continued to decline and age overall prior to Covid-19.

Oliver Home, Diocesan Secretary, set this against similar trends and initiatives to address them across the Church of England. He explained the early impact of initiatives that form part of Renewal and Reform like everyday faith, growing faith, growing vocations, funding to support new mission and churches in low income communities and the high levels of contribution to the common good through the life of the Church and church schools.

Having considered what was going on from a national and diocesan perspective, Synod members met in groups to share and feedback the change they had seen in their local contexts over recent years and what had enabled it.

All the learning is being fed into the Transforming Church work.

Read about Renewal and Reform

Read the report

Transforming church: discovering how to be a better church for everyone

Bishop Viv is inviting the whole Diocese to participate in Transforming Church, a one year process that will set the vision, priorities and plans for the years ahead. The Synod helped shape the listening and engagement that would be happening across and beyond the Church on the diocese in the first few months on 2021.

Find our more about Transforming Church.

2021 Budget

Andrew Lucas, Chair of the Bristol Diocesan Board of Finance, presented the diocesan budget for 2021. He explained that expenditure reflected our commitments from the current strategic plan given Covid-19 had intervened in renewing our plans for the future. As a result, the Diocese is sustaining its increased investment in local clergy ministry and curates in training. Additional funds are also being received to support this investment and the work to develop Transforming Church.

However, as Parish Share had not grown to the levels expected prior to Covid-19 and expectations are limited following it, a deficit of over £0.7m against expenditure of £10.1m was proposed.

“I commend this budget to you,” said Andrew, “despite the size of the deficit, in faithfulness to what we have collectively discerned God’s calling to this diocese to have been and in anticipation of how God will lead us forward in discerning our calling over the next few years.”

The expenditure was approved with one vote against and three abstentions.

Read the Budget commentary