Thinking Anglicans

Publication of General Synod papers

In conjunction with today’s release of General Synod papers (see my article below) the Church of England has issued the press release below.

Publication of General Synod papers
20 January 2017

The Church of England needs to undergo a major “culture shift” to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives, a new report being presented to members of the General Synod argues.

The report, entitled “Setting God’s People Free”, calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere – from the factory or office, to the gym or shop – to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.

Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation, it insists. The paper is a key element of the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church.

The report is among papers being circulated to members of the Church of England’s General Synod which meets in Westminster next month. The first circulation of papers also includes further updates on the process of simplification of Church regulations. There is also material on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a background paper on clergy risk assessment regulations which will be debated on Thursday February 16.

The first circulation of papers is available here.

A second circulation of papers will be published on Friday, January 27.

The synod timetable is available here.

The General Synod will meet at the Assembly Hall, Church House, 27 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London from 3pm on Monday, February 13 to 5.15pm on Thursday, 16 February.

Further information:

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of Church Army and member of Archbishops’ Council explains why a culture change is needed in the Church.

Fr Paul Cartwright, Parish Priest, St Peter the Apostle and St John the Baptist, Barnsley and General Synod Member writes on how he encourages his congregation to live out their faith in the world.

Renewal and Reform is the Church of England’s initiative to promote growth in the church in every community in England. The paper, Setting God’s People Free (part of the Lay Leadership strand) and the Simplification of Church regulations are part of Renewal and Reform. More information is here.

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Susannah Clark
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“The Church of England needs to undergo a major ‘culture shift’… Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation…” Yes a major cultural shift is needed… but what message does the Church send out to the public when it refuses to endorse anything but heterosexuality? It’s like trying to fight a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back. For every one person you manage to engage, five or ten don’t want to know, because of prejudice. I’d agree that it’s great to encourage (and value) lay ministry, but the actual… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Yes, indeed. A real culture change is needed, so that all of God’s children may be acknowledged to be equally precious in the sight of God AND of His Church! No artificial barriers on account of gender or sexuality.

Andrew Lightbown
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Andrew Lightbown

evangelizing the nation implies reaching out to and serving all people in all communities – indeed this is what a national and established church should be doing. Susannah is correct the cultural change must be one that moves the church from exclusivity at worst and a weak from of tolerance for certain groups to one of radical inclusivity. The cultural change must start in the heart and in the heart of the institution.

David Runcorn
Guest

I want inclusivity and I want the culture change others do here.
But I know of Christians and churches doing radical work and making a real impact in communities who nevertheless on sexuality are conservative. So no. It is an issue I care deeply about but I don’t accept it is the only measure people recognise as validating Christian faith.

David Keen
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David Keen

If implemented, even only in part, ‘Setting God’s People Free’ could radically change the way that churches catechise and equip lay people for ministry, and what we see as ‘ministry’ in the first place. I’d be interested to see comments from people who’ve read it and engaged with it.

Kate
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Kate

“I want inclusivity and I want the culture change others do here.
But I know of Christians and churches doing radical work and making a real impact in communities who nevertheless on sexuality are conservative. So no. It is an issue I care deeply about but I don’t accept it is the only measure people recognise as validating Christian faith.”

Evangelism should not be our reason for inclusively, but I think you are wrong. It is a lowest common denominator effect. People will judge the Church on its weakest area – and maybe they are right to do so.

David Runcorn
Guest

Kate I did not mention evangelism did I? I had in mind Christians working in areas of poverty, domestic violence/abuse and racism among other things. I am not prepared to grade social evils on a moral league table of importance. Evil is evil. But my point was that a conservative approach to same sex relationships does not automatically mean zero social conscience.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Of course a conservative approach to same sex marriage does not automatically mean a zero social conscience. Indeed there are individual Christians who oppose same sex marriage with strong and active social consciences. But same sex marriage is an area where the Church of England is behind secular society in terms of social conscience and that badly impacts the credibility of Anglicanism in England.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I agree with Kate on this one – that while of course Christians who are ‘conservative’ on human sexuality issues may have a fantastic sense of social justice in other areas (and my experience of 36 years of evangelical church tells me so)… nevertheless, the way the Church lags behind society on the sexuality issue makes it seem, to be honest, bizarre. And that then leads people to take other (and maybe valid) claims of the Church less seriously, because… people don’t usually think deep, they are more likely to feel deep, and the reactionary attitudes to gay and lesbian… Read more »

RevDave
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RevDave

“what message does the Church send out to the public when it refuses to endorse anything but heterosexuality?” I hope the Church does what Jesus did and accepts *everyone* regardless of who they are or what they’ve done… and calls *everyone* to follow Him. He taught that to follow Him means to love and care for *everyone* (good or bad, right of wrong – even social conservatives), to build strong close relationships (same-sex and opposite sex), and to be committed to each other. But He also taught that sex outside marriage is always wrong – no matter who it is… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

@RevDave I agree to an extent. A large part of the problem is that most Anglican ministers fail to set a proper example by failing to remain single and celibate. They set up an expectation of marriage, sex and family life that lay Anglicans then want too. There are debates within Catholicism about same sex relationships but they are less heated because the Catholic Church is universally conservative. In Anglicanism, ministers marry, couples divorce and remarry, contraception is seen positively, even abortion is not universally condemned but the one exception is same sex marriage. That clearly is going to appear… Read more »