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Synod to focus on youth violence and knife crime

21 June 2019

Other debates will review progress of long-term initiatives


Clergy stand together against street violence at the Standing Together rally in Trafalgar Square, London, in April

Clergy stand together against street violence at the Standing Together rally in Trafalgar Square, London, in April

REPORTS that teenagers are being offered money to stab other young people will form part of the backdrop to a debate on serious youth violence at the General Synod’s meeting next month.

The BBC reported this week that sums of up to £1000 were being offered by gang leaders in Liverpool. Across the country, 22,041 knife or weapon offences were recorded in England and Wales in the past year: the highest number since 2010.

On the second day of the Synod, 6 July, Canon Rosemarie Mallett will move a motion on behalf of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, calling on the National Church Institutions to “recognise the opportunity the Church of England has to contribute to understanding of Serious Youth Violence and strategies to prevent it and to make available resources for those affected”.

It asks diocesan boards of education to “recognise how the use of exclusions impacts on serious youth violence and encourage alternative provision”, and calls on dioceses to invest in “information about locally based resource and support networks, and training for church leaders in best practice for supporting those affected by Serious Youth Violence, including gun and knife crime”, and to work with other groups to “provide pastoral care for people affected by serious youth violence”.

Canon Mallett, Vicar of St John’s, Angell Town, in Brixton, has urged churches to work together across denominations to tackle youth violence (News, 12 April) and to offer young people a safe haven (Comment, 17 August 2018).

Safeguarding has been given a more prominent position at this year’s meeting. A dedicated slot for questions on safeguarding matters has been created on Sunday afternoon. The Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, will also be delivering a presentation.

On the Friday afternoon, there will be a presentation from Living in Love and Faith and pastoral advisory groups. On the Saturday, Standing Orders will be suspended to enable members to participate in seminars and workshops exploring this work.

There will also be a debate on adoption of a Covenant for Clergy Care and Well-being, first commissioned two years ago (News, 7 July 2017, 2 October 2018). Central to the proposals is a “Big Conversation” on clergy well-being at both parish and national levels.

Several debates pertain to reviewing the progress of long-term initiatives. Members will debate a motion marking the 15th anniversary of “Mission-shaped Church”, celebrating “the planting of thousands of fresh expressions of church” and encouraging every parish to “be part of this movement forming new disciples and new congregations through a contextual approach to mission with the unreached in their community” (News, 11 November 2016).

There are plans for “1000 revitalised churches from resource churches, and 2000 more from other forms of church plants and revitalisations”.

The Synod will also have a take-note debate on a progress report on the work of Setting God’s People Free, the strand of Renewal and Reform which sets out a vision to “liberate and disciple” the laity (News, 14 October 2016). The report suggests that the culture change called for is “beginning to happen”. Among the strands is “remodelling the selection, training, and ongoing ministerial development in line with the priority of lay formation and discipleship”.

There will also be a debate on a motion from the diocese of Rochester, commending the work of Anna Chaplaincy and the Gift of Years, a movement dedicated to the spiritual care of older people (Features, 27 January 2017). It calls on all dioceses to “raise the profile of work with those diagnosed with dementia and their carers”, and asks the Government to report on progress on the Prime Minister’s challenge to make England the best country in the world for dementia care, support, research, and awareness by 2020.

Legislation includes the final stages of amendments to relax the requirement to hold certain services in every parish on each Sunday; to recognise formally religious communities; and to establish a national ministry register. First consideration will be given to a Diocesan Boards of Education Measure, which is intended to “make better provision for the structure and functions of diocesan boards of education, reflecting developments that have taken place since the 1990s”, the Business Committee’s report says.

The Draft Cathedrals Measure will be presented for first consideration (News, 10 July 2018).

On the first day, there will be a presentation from the first non-British Worldwide President of the Mothers’ Union, Sheran Harper (News, 12 October 2018).

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