House of Bishops needs to lead C of E, says Dr Sentamu

02 November 2006

House of Bishops needs to lead C of E, says Dr Sentamu

THE SYNOD took note of a report about the Church’s vision for the next five years.

The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, introducing the report Into the New Quinquennium on Wednesday of last week, said that the Church was being invited to find a new language. "We can’t go on as we are. Too many Christians want a ‘me-shaped’ Church instead of a Christ-shaped Church."

There needed to be an appropriate relationship between structure and the community of faith. The C of E needed to be built into a healthy Church by finding common ground among its members, building truthful and trustful relationships. There needed to be a "holy" and magnanimous tone to its conversations.

The Church needed to be Christ-like in its openness to everyone. "Our internal immune belief systems often close things down instead of opening them up," he said. The Church was both Catholic and Reformed. "We need to hold on to both."

"How do we believe in Jesus organisationally and thereby do the works of God?" he asked. One way was to clarify the relationship between the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops, the Church Commissioners, and the General Synod. The Synod should not expect an executive body to do its work.

"The time has come for the House of Bishops to offer real leadership in this Synod, which would help this Synod as a whole to hold and shape a vision for the Church of England," he said.

The Archdeacon of Berkshire, the Ven. Norman Russell, said: "We need to read the signs of the times and find ways of engaging more robustly with Government — for example, over civil partnerships."

Professor Glynn Harrison (Bristol) wondered whether the challenges had been grasped fully. "Where are our goals?"

The Revd Robert Cotton (Guildford) said that the boards and councils also needed an opportunity to "tell a story" about the quinquennium that was past.

Rosalind Fuller (London) wanted young people to be included in drawing up the Church’s vision. Dioceses all needed two reps on the Church of England Youth Council.

The Revd Mark Ireland (Lichfield) wanted more about apologetics: "We need to be out there, winning the battle of ideas."

Vasantha Gnanadoss (Southwark) found the report lacked urgency in what it said about global warming.

The Revd Richard Moy (Lichfield) thought that a 20-per-cent target for ordinands under 30 was too low. "We need real effort on this."

The Revd Stephen Coles (London) asked how the Archbishops’ Council proposed to help along the process of listening to the experience of lesbian and gay Anglicans before Lambeth 2008.

The Bishop of Dudley, the Rt Revd David Walker, wanted a steer on Pensions Board ethical policy.

The Revd Nicola Milford (Exeter) wanted ordinands to have "a voice straight to Synod".

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, wanted resourcing seen as a mission activity. The "unfreezing of meanness" was God’s mission to the Church.

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