Alternative Synod?

Jul 26, 2017 by

by Peter Sanlon, Evangelicals Now:

Nicknamed a ‘shadow synod’, it marked a new form of partnership between Anglican churches in Kent and Sussex.

Pressing problems

The clergy and lay leaders (PCCs) met at that first meeting to pray and ponder whether widespread denial of the gospel in our denomination meant that we needed to partner together in fresh ways.

Gavin Ashenden gave a prescient analysis of the Church of England’s failure to discharge its mission to England. After praying, we agreed to keep meeting as a ‘synod’ of churches. Synods used to be informal gatherings of churches to resolve common pressing problems. Our new synod would be like that. Rochester Diocese accepted that our new synod was one of many legitimate ways Anglican churches can support one another. Their press statement noted: ‘Many like-minded parishes join together in a range of organisations, meetings and assemblies to share mutual support and debate.’

Lay people fully involved

Churches have joined the synod by means of PCCs passing a motion: ‘As a PCC that is determined to uphold the Jerusalem Statement we commit to an Anglican synod of churches whose PCCs have likewise resolved to uphold the Jerusalem Statement. As an Anglican synod we will send representatives to confer, pray and assist PCCs in said synod as needful. We will seek to ensure our mutual support is in deed as well as word, and therefore enthusiastic, missional, financial and prayerful.’

By having churches join the synod via PCC resolutions, we ensure that lay people are fully involved in decisions and leadership. Bitter experience has shown that organisations almost exclusively led by Anglican clergy become talking-shops! Our churches see the Jerusalem Declaration as a valuable rallying point. Some churches have additional doctrinal commitments. In addition to the main synod meetings – attended by all our PCCs, there are occasional Clergy Chapters. These offer fellowship and training to clergy who are happy to sign a statement similar to the PCC motion.

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