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Synod report, October 2009

Brian McKinlay and Kerry-Anne Cousins
27 October 2009

St. Philip's representatives' report from the meeting of Synod of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, 18-20 October, 2009

To attend Synod is a joy and privilege. We meet wonderful people from across our region for conversation and worship. During this Synod gathering, we heard some wonderful faith stories as people told of their personal journey in short interviews with Bishop Stuart. We also heard two superb Bible studies and attended fine worship in the Cathedral.

Organising for mission

In his presidential address, Bishop Stuart reflected enthusiastically on his many visits and conversations around the Diocese in recent months. "I see so much hope at work because our Diocese is deeply grounded in God's mission, God's passion for the world," he said. The Bishop strongly encourages prayer as we consider the challenges of mission—with planning, good preparation, clear presentation of Jesus through incarnational living, partnering with each other, and pioneering of new ministries—"cooperating with what God is already doing in our midst".

Bishop Trevor Edwards reviewed our progress on the Diocese's plan of Growing communities confident in Christ. There have been some fine new ministries and congregations established, but there are lessons to be learned as well. Bishop Trevor observed that we often overestimate what can be done in one year but underestimate what can be done in five!

Bishop Trevor is to be full time Assistant Bishop from early 2010, leading ministry, training and development. John Barnes will become full time Diocesan ministry facilitator. Dean Phillip Saunders is now Dean of Canberra and Goulburn (not just Goulburn!). A centre for lay ministry training and development is to be established at the Cathedral.

Bishop Stuart has appointed an archdeacon for each region of the Diocese to grow "grass roots regional strategies for mission". The regions will increasingly become centres for prayer, fellowship and planning. The Ven. Susanna Pain of Holy Covenant, Jamieson, is Archdeacon for North Canberra and Bishop Stuart, will lead a gathering at Jamieson on 15 October, 7.30-9.30pm/

The Diocese's budget is now in balance and the Registry's management and services continue to develop impressively well. A new property management system is keeping track of assets. We now have access to shared documents through the Internet. The new Bishop-in-Council is settling in well following the long period between permanent bishops. A special committee will examine the size and structure of Synod and is expected to be consulting with parishes.

Most of the ordinances (church laws) dealt with were to agree with or adopt decisions made by the General Synod in 2007. For example, it is now no longer compulsory for at least one partner to a marriage in an Anglican church to have been baptized.

Themes of conversation

The Bishop-in-Council recently adopted the Diocesan Environment Code of Practice, which gathers together previously adopted policies on environmentally friendly buildings, water use and motor vehicles. While strongly supporting the Code, Synod overwhelmingly decided that it should be voluntary, and that instead of imposing law on each other, we should freely covenant together to implement environmental best practice.

There was a proposal that we recognize the importance of population growth as the source of the world environmental crisis and call for a Senate inquiry into a population policy for Australia. This turned out to be rather controversial and the Synod asked for it to be reconsidered.

Caring for our clergy was a theme of this Synod meeting, with decisions to study and report on the clergy working week, leave entitlements and safe working practices (important for us at St. Philip's!).