In his presidential address to Diocesan Synod on Saturday, 25 November, Bishop Michael shared his gratitude for the inspirational stories from parishes shared at the autumn deaneries. He also reflected on the challenges that he has heard during those visits, including the impact of the Covid pandemic, faculties, finance and living in love and faith (LLF).
Bishop Michael said, “During this year we’ve been talking about giving focus to our common vision through working in four particular areas – valuing and cherishing the people and resources we already have, developing new Christian worshipping communities, sharing in ministry and leadership and deepening and growing faith. The gatherings were extraordinary experiences of seeing these priorities happening every day among real people in local contexts.
“The gatherings were wonderful opportunities to celebrate so much good that’s happening around our diocese. They were also opportunities candidly to name difficult and challenging issues that we are facing together.”
Bishop Michael took some time to update Diocesan Synod on the previous week’s meeting of General Synod, in particular the LLF process. He also shared what he suggests is the best way forward for Bath and Wells.
He said, “for the strongest pastoral reasons, and in pursuit of the unity to which Jesus commanded us as the people of God in this diocese, I would like to make the strongest possible plea that we should all commit to make ‘opt in’ the way we do things round here. The ‘opt in’ approach I have in mind is that the prayers would only be used be used by those ministers who wished to do so, and who have the full backing of their church’s PCC.”
Recognising the fear and uncertainty about what the future holds and the fact that the full pastoral guidance has not been published in full, he added, “My second proposal is that we should work together here in Bath and Wells to develop our own guidance in a number of areas.”
Bishop Michael finished with the words of Jesus, ‘As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’ (Jn 17: 21b-23)