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Future goals

12 July 2013

THE first debate during this group of sessions was a review of the progress towards the Challenges for the Quinquennium - a series of proposals submitted to the Synod in 2011 by the Archbishops' Council and House of Bishops. The challenges set out three priorities: to contribute to the common good, to grow the Church, and to re-imagine ministry.

The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, used a picture-slide presentation to introduce a take-note debate on the challenges' progress report. He reported that had been a significant rise in the number of younger vocations to the ordained ministry.

He said that the C of E needed to "recover the simple, deep disciplines of learning and teaching the faith to make disciples in annual rhythms and patterns in every parish". The growth of Fresh Expressions had been "remarkable".

The Revd Professor Paul Fiddes (Baptist Union) called on the C of E to include other Christian denominations when developing its "narrative of growth".

Canon Simon Taylor (Derby) said that it was "more than a little disappointing" that re-imagining ministry was "a top-down exercise". He suggested taking "the opportunity to see what different parishes and dioceses are doing".

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry MP, called for "a campaign that unites every tradition in the C of E . . . that gives churchgoers the confidence and licence to take the Christian message and the Church of England into the wider community".

Rachel Beck (Lincoln) said it was important to recognise the importance chaplaincy plays. She had been "blown away" by stories of how people who would not go to church feel comfortable talking to chaplains.

The Revd Ann Hollinghurst (St Albans) sough more clarity: "How does our own process of embedding Fresh Expressions work out with our ecumenical partners?"

Gavin Oldham (Oxford) said a website for dioceses to enter details of their projects was to be piloted in Oxford before being rolled out across the country. He said: "Evangelism flourishes best when it is hand in hand with community action."

The Revd Mark Ireland (Lichfield) welcomed the paper as "a significant step towards a national mission strategy". The Church should "recover confidence and don't assume that people won't be interested".

Anne Foreman (Exeter) said that Exeter diocese had created a Million for Mission Fund, releasing money from reserves to fund local mission.

The Revd Dr Patrick Richmond (Norwich) called for more research: "Many of those going to Fresh Expressions might be termed the relational fringe. What does this mean to discipleship? What commitment do they have?"

The Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, chairs the Central Readers' Council. Readers were not intended to be quasi-vicars, he said, "but to be lay evangelists".

The Revd Paul Cartwright (Wakefield) said there "seemed to be a blockage" when minority-ethnic Christians were ordained. "We need to find ways of getting our young priests to become bishops."

Kay Dyer (Coventry) was "very excited" about the section of the report on apologetics; and felt it could help with young people, "in getting, or re-claiming, disciples from things in society that have pulled them away".

The Synod took note of the report, after which the Revd John Dunnett (Chelmsford), chair of the Synod's Evangelical Group and general director of CPAS, introduced a following motion, calling on the House of Bishops to devote "a substantial amount of time over the next two years to considering a strategy for the re-evangelisation of England".

Dr Croft said he was not resistant to the following motion, nor did he think the Bishops would be.

Canon Gary Jenkins (Southwark) spoke of St James's, Bermondsey, with its painting of the Ascension. It reminded him that, in making disciples, "the Lord will be with us."

The Revd Richard Jackson (Chichester) praised the following motion, as "it puts at the forefront of our thinking the call to re- evangelise our nation."

The vice-chair of the House of Laity, Tim Hind (Bath & Wells), expressed caution at the timescale for the House of Bishops: "They are all men, and can't do two things at once."

The motion was clearly carried:

That this Synod, noting: (i) that the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church spent three weeks in October 2012 considering the new evangelisation; and (ii) the observations of the Bishop of Sheffield in section 2 of his paper annexed to GS 1895, encourage the House of Bishops to devote a substantial amount of time over the next two years to considering a strategy for the re-evangelisation of England and how they might lead the Church in that task.

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