Synod report 2007

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Reverend Rob Lamerton
16 September 2007, Pentecost 16

Jeremiah the son of a priest began his ministry about 627BC OR he was born about that time. (dating is in chapter 1) He died some time after 587BC in Egypt.

His book is a collection of oracles against Jerusalem and surrounding Judah, dictated to his aide Baruch. There are also Baruch's memoirs, some oracles against foreign nations, as well as an introduction and a historical appendix.

Today's passage from the time of King Josiah and Jehoiakim speaks in very dark terms about the current situation.

But the language is very much that of Genesis before creation because he sees things have degenerated to this primeval state. This of course sets up the hope of the creation of a new relationship with God for a better future.

Paul writes to Timothy reminding him of his own very poor record: "blasphemer, persecutor, man of violence" and of his restoration due to the grace of God.

Then of course the gospel: Jesus challenges the Pharisees and scribes with the stories of the
Lost sheep
Lost coin
and the one which is missing today!

The Lost son

…pointing the Pharisees and scribes to a God who does not reject but restores… and pointing us to the Mission of the Church which is to restore people to God.

The theme of our Diocese and of the Synod was "Living the Mission".

Traditionally the Synod reps would have given you a report on the gathering of the Synod of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. — Unfortunately, all our synod reps are currently away, so I will give you a short synod report.

As I said in the pewsheet, Synod is about travelling together—it is a body of people who meet to form policy and plan how we as a diocese can most effectively Live out the Mission we have as God's people.

Synod gathers together the clergy and three lay reps from each of about 60 parishes as well as school chaplains, caring and welfare agencies. So in all about 300 delegates gather for Synod.

Synod, like Parliament, is elected for a 3 year period and usually after three sittings a new Synod is elected.

Synod meets in Goulburn, close to our cathedral where we go for Synod services. Each year we consider reports of the various activities of the Diocese as well as Diocesan Finances. We consider a Diocesan Budget for the administration of the Diocese because it is as a family of parishes that we are able to pool resources to do what we would not be able to do as an individual parish.

I should say that annually we are asked to contribute 13% of parish income to the management of the Diocese. The 13% pays the bishops and the administrative staff as well as contributing to Clergy Training, Youth Ministry and other things…

The Diocese also runs a central payment agency to pay clergy and other diocesan workers. [to deliver the pay, not to provide it!]

One of the great contributors to Diocesan Finances is the Anglican Development Fund which operates like a bank but which directs a proportion of its profits every year to Diocesan Funds. Almost half of the Diocesan Budget comes from the parishes. $700,000 of a total budget of 1.8million.

This year we received reports of which we discussed in detail only a few.

We established ordinances or legal frameworks to enable:

Diocesan legislation to be understood more easily;

Governance of the Dioceses—to assist with the election of the new bishop;

Care for the Environment Ordinance which established The Diocesan Commission on the Environment.

Then we came to various motions:
  1. About shrinking our environmental footprint
  2. Provision of a Green Guide to parishes
  3. Care of species and ecosystems on Church Land
  4. We agreed to encourage the work of Synergy Youth and Judy Kocho-Douglas
  5. Possibly the most contentious issue was the motion about welcoming homosexual Christians into our congregations.
    Although the main purpose of the motion was to welcome and include and be understanding of as well as to encourage the use of their gifts some quite strong opposition arose and a motion was drafted which allowed synod to agree to it.
    In his synod address Bishop Browning was very affirming of homosexual people (I hate the terminology because I don't get described as heterosexual) AND expressed the hope that such people could experience the intimacy and closeness of relationship and still be included in the church.
    In his address AND his sermon delivered on Saturday evening he was dismayed that the argument over the ordination of homosexual people and the blessing of same sex unions had divided the church.
    You really need to read his address to see what he said. Suffice it to say we travelled a very short distance in the struggle to be fully inclusive of gay and lesbian people.
  6. A motion about the need to insure certain buildings or to save on that cost was passed to Bishop in Council to investigate.
  7. A motion was carried that affirmed the various chaplains and chaplaincies.
  8. We affirmed the role of women in the Church and agreed to look into the balance of participation in various organisations and roles.

Synod was also treated to some very good presentations and talks from people and parishes about how they are "Living the Mission" in… [Holbrook et al]

As it was Bishop George Browning's final Synod before retiring it was a time to consider the considerable achievement of his time as Bishop. Unfortunately the motion listing his achievements (or those while he has been bishop) was not available. What can be said is that we are in a better position NOW than 13 years ago.

So Synod was a very positive gathering in which we reaffirmed the task of "Living the Mission".