Pentecost 9, 13 July 2008
Report to St. Philip's on the first meeting of the 43rd Synod of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, at Goulburn, 4-5 July 2008
As Synod will meet again from 31 October to 2 November to elect the new Bishop, this was a shorter meeting than usual—just a day and a half—to conduct essential business.
This was first meeting of the 43rd Synod, new members of the Bishop-in-Council and a number of other bodies were elected, as well as representatives to the Provincial Synod and the General Synod.
The 2007 annual accounts were received and the 2009 Budget approved—the finances of the Diocese are in good shape. Anglicare continues to operate at a loss, but management improvements well underway and it expects to break even by 2009-10.
The Synod assented to a new national long service leave canon which will bring clergy long service up to accepted standards and extend long service leave coverage to part time clergy, and potentially to stipendiary lay ministers.
We also adopted a national Episcopal Standards Canon. Our local professional standards rules cannot realistically be used if the Bishop is an offender, for the Bishop would then be judge in his or her own case. Therefore, national rules are being adopted for Diocesan Bishops.
It's now settled that a women can become a Diocesan Bishop. Yet anachronistic laws remained that made it difficult for a woman to be an Assistant Bishop. So Synod acted to remove this anomaly—the last step in a long process toward legal equality for women in our Diocese, as in much of Australia.
Synod then agreed to the establishment of a Green Fund to assist projects throughout the Diocese directed to reducing carbon emissions—solar energy projects for instance. A Sustainable Vehicle Policy was endorsed, strongly urging purchase of smaller, more fuel efficient, vehicles for church work—hybrids and diesels, by and large.
A motion was passed supporting participation by our Bishops—George, Allan and Trevor—in the Lambeth Conference.
There was also a resolution giving thanks for the life of the late Bishop Owen Dowling, acknowledging his love and witness and his contribution to many facets of ministry.
Archdeacon Ranse, the senior deacon in our diocese, preached at the Eucharist on Friday night. She told us about the ministry of deacons in love and service, bringing the needs of the world before the church and the Christ's ministry through the church into the world.
Bishop Alan's presidential address reflected on Being the Body of Christ. He ended by saying, "The Diocese is greatly blessed with many people of vision and ability." "I believe", he said, "that this is so that, as part of the body of Christ, we might be a blessing to others and speak of the Kingdom of God."