As Parliament sat for a historic Saturday sitting at the weekend, Bishop Peter asked those on Diocesan synod to reflect on the role of the Church at times of national crises.
He said he believed that God’s call to us all in the current situation is to be “bringing people back together, helping people to listen to each other and offering welcome and hospitality to all we meet”.
“Today we hear a lot of talk about there being a national crisis. And wherever we may stand on Brexit or Extinction Rebellion we must all agree that the United Kingdom is facing challenges and decisions which will affect our political, constitutional, social and economic future for a long time to come. We need to be asking how should we as a Church respond to those challenges? That is not easy but in our nation at this time do we not need goodness, righteousness and truth? Should we not be a nation which seeks first the Kingdom of God and which seeks to live and walk in accord with God’s ways and God’s righteousness?”
Bishop Peter said he has written to all Members of Parliament in the diocese to thank them for the work they do and assure them that they are being prayed for across the diocese. He is also writing to all churches to ask them to open their doors on the 31 October – which may be the day of Britain’s exit from the EU – in order to offer a sanctuary or prayer for all who feel anxious or troubled.
The Chaplaincy Advisory Group presentation shared “stories of love and grace” and the work of just a few of the diocese’s 128 chaplains who serve an growing range of people and communities.
The Archdeacon of Bath and the Archdeacon of Taunton then updated synod on the progress on the Aligning Resources for Mission element of the diocesan strategy, focusing on two key areas, the Review of the Common Fund Model and the Deployment Strategy and Plan for People. Members were asked to take time to discuss and feedback some of their thoughts, before Finance Chair, Harry Musselwhite presented the 2020 budget, which was approved by synod.
Canon Dr John Spence from Archbishops’ Council spoke on Renewal and Reform, which he described to synod members as “not a Church House agenda, but a Church House response to your agenda.” It is about “taking Christ back into the centre of our communities,” and he reassured those present that “the Church of England can do anything!” as he encouraged synod to be innovative and to engage with initiatives like contactless giving.
The Magnificat parishes group returned to update synod and reminded them that while they are seeking to ensure their needs are considered, they also have something to offer. As the Revd Dr Catherine Sourbut, who serves in the only Bath parish that voted Leave in the 2016 referendum, says, “We have a different view of things that we can share with the Church of England.”