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«Item Action Opening Prayers 1. Synod opened with prayers Welcomes and apologies 2. The Secretary reported 16 apologies had been received. Notices and ...»

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Diocesan Synod


Meeting on: 6 February 2016

Time: 9.30-1.00pm

Location: St Nicolas Church, Cheltenham (GL50 4PA).

Item Action

Opening Prayers


Synod opened with prayers

Welcomes and apologies


The Secretary reported 16 apologies had been received.

Notices and Questions



Minutes of the previous meeting


The minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2016 were approved.

Matters arising from the minutes 5.

The Chair reported that Helena Arnold, Director of Education, is to retire and move to Cornwall on 7 March 2016. She will continue with a more focused part time role with DGAT. A farewell Evensong to give thanks to Helena over the past 7 years will be held in the Cathedral on 24 February.

Safeguarding Annual Report 6.

Bishop Rachel introduced the item. She explained that Safeguarding underpins who we are and what we do as a diocese.

Margaret Styles introduced herself as the Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Board. She explained how this was an opportunity to ask questions about the work of the board and safeguarding across the diocese.

She welcomed thoughts on how to improve and develop the Board’s work.

The Plan for 2016 is comprehensive but hopefully comprehensible; she would appreciate comment if Synod felt it was going in the right (or wrong) direction.

Synod was asked how many members of the Board were present (4 hands were raised) all senior members evidencing how seriously this matter is to be taken. Mrs Style’s work elsewhere suggests very good practice within this diocese but historic safeguarding short comings in the Church continue to attract attention in the media. Safeguarding nationally has required significant additional infrastructure and that will need to grow further; risks and harm done need to be investigated and addressed to protect all. The Diocese of Gloucester will be at the forefront of the national agenda in the coming year with both the Goddard Inquiry and SCIE review. SCIE is a very significant audit of what we do as a diocese right through from parishes to the Safeguarding K:\Synod, Councils and Commitees\2016\Diocesan Synod\June\Diocesan Synod Minutes Feb 16.docxK:\Synod, Councils and Commitees\2016\Diocesan Synod\June\Diocesan Synod Minutes Feb 16.docx Item Action Board to understand the effectiveness of our work in protecting people. This will involve the Safeguarding Board, professional officers and those involved in implementing policy. It was important to engage fully with this process.

Mrs Styles felt that in discussions with others the Diocese of Gloucester’s safeguarding work compared favourably, which meant people here were safer.

She urged parishes not to treat safeguarding as bureaucratic or an irrelevance but to know it is there to serve and protect. She promised a fuller report after the SCIE audit but for now welcomed questions and comments.

Mrs Judith Knight spoke of her work in distilling the myriad policies and resources on safeguarding into a digestible and achievable form for parishes.

Only policies which are understood can be effective. She also noted the importance of knowing their Safeguarding lead. In a show of hands all but one knew their local contact. She also championed good record keeping and communications to ensure clarity of understanding and make a robust system imbedded in culture. She reported that there was new guidance and a new teaching and development programme coming from the national team which would start on a rolling programme in the diocese towards the end of the year. Goddard, SCIE, Safer recruitment are all hugely important but they need to be manageable – please call the diocesan office for comprehensive advice and support if necessary.

Bishop Rachel thanked Mrs Styles, Mrs Knight and her team for their incredible work in translating complex guidance and always being accessible. She challenged Synod to ensure it rippled out the culture of safeguarding across the whole diocese. Questions were invited.

Professor Jenny Tann (Stroud) was worried about the subjective decription of “vulnerable adults”. It was necessary to avoid stereo-types.

Revd Mike Smith (Stroud) asked for a single sentence response to those who say they don’t need a safeguarding officer.

Revd John Swanton (Cirencester) asked for printer friendly documentation sympathetic to parish volunteers.

Mrs Anna Venables (Tewkesbury and Winchcombe) asked that safeguards were in place for elderly members engaging with giving/stewardship initiatives.

Mrs Knight responded:

To Professor Tann; whilst there is a wide a complex issue ion vulnerability the key to the legal definition has clear national guidance linking the description to social care categorisation and those at risk of harm.

To Revd Smith: A safeguarding officer is a necessity (regardless of the presence of children) to which the Archdeacon of Cheltenham confirmed meant the PCC’s insurance was invalid and the incumbent would be subject to a disciplinary action if not addressed.

To Revd Swanton – happy to ensure this is considered, will review next week for suitability for local printers.

Bishop Rachel concluded the item by thanking Mrs Styles and Mrs Knight again.

Synod gave an appreciative applause.

Financial Update7.

Mrs Julie Ridgway updated Synod on the initial financial outturn for GDBF in

2015. She noted Parish Share receipts improved in the last quarter and ended up at £6.12m, £80k below budget. She expressed her thanks to all those who helped raise Parish Share and helped in its collection. She noted parish fees were down, in part due to later returns, she asked members for their help in reminded parishes that these are legally due and it is helpful for cash flow if they are remitted promptly. She also noted clergy costs were higher than forecast which together with low income from fees and parish share led to an K:\Synod, Councils and Commitees\2016\Diocesan Synod\June\Diocesan Synod Minutes Feb 16.docxK:\Synod, Councils and Commitees\2016\Diocesan Synod\June\Diocesan Synod Minutes Feb 16.docx Item Action expected deficit in the region of £400k. Administration costs were broadly on target, including significant legal and professional costs which were now being managed down.

Mr Rank gave thanks to Mrs Ridgway and her team for their excellent work.

He asked members to pray for the team and all who work in our parishes to fund the Church’s mission. He noted the Statutory Accounts would be presented at the next meeting.

+Rachel commented how often finances were raised with her during her deanery tours, and how important it was to know that finances were a means to enabling God’s work.

Reappointment of the Bishop of Tewkesbury8.

+Rachel explained that she had known of +Martyn’s departure for some time and apologised if she had thereby seemed not to be involving him fully in new work. She expressed immense gratitude for the effort and grace he had put in to leading the diocese, she wished to acknowledge all that he had lived and carried through a very difficult time in the life of the diocese. She was sad that he was leaving but glad that he has heard a call from God to a new ministry.

She hoped members would mark his ending with her at a farewell service in the Cathedral at 4:30 on 12 March. It will be a very good send off.

She explained that it was now time for Synod to consider if the diocese needed a replacement Bishop of Tewkesbury, Suffragan Bishop’s were not permanent offices. If Synod decided it wished there to be a new Bishop of Tewkesbury she would write to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Diocesan Commission to request a replacement. It was not guaranteed.

She noted that it was only three years since the last request to replace the Bishop of Tewkesbury and the reasoning for that appointment was the basis of the current request. She asked members for questions or clarifications.

Mr Graham Collins (Stroud) commented that as a Reader the role of the Bishop of Tewkesbury having oversight of Readers was very important. The past two office holders had been good validation of a sometimes forgotten ministry. He asked that this role was part of the new appointment.

Revd Nick Davies (Cheltenham) asked that the appointment helped balance the Bishop’s Staff Team as a whole, which was important for the confidence of parishes in diocesan leadership.

Mr Robert Cook (Severn Vale) warmly welcomed Bishop Rachel’s historic appointment but asked if gender balance could be considered in the process.

Canon Margaret Sheather (Stroud) noted that as more goes on in the diocese more is demanded of its leadership capacity so that parishes may be resourced and supported to fulfil their work. There is no such thing as “back-office” in the Church.

Mr Bob Sims (Tewkesbury and Winchcombe) hoped the roles with Readers and Churches Together in Gloucestershire will be given prominence.

Canon Richard Mitchell (Severn Vale) asked that due consideration is given to where the new appointment is asked to live.

With a sense of de ja vu the Dean formally proposed that Synod approved the request for a new appointment to the See of Tewkesbury. He expressed the hope that he would not need to make such a proposal again for some time.

Item approved nem con.

Bishop’s Council update 9.

DS16/3 was shared with members.

Mr Bruce Coles (N Cotswolds) asked if the reference to Willersey could be explained more fully. Mr Rank responded that there was a fund established to help resource “in house” planning applications. He noted there was a legal

–  –  –

10. Shared Conversations on Human Sexuality Bishop Rachel referred Synod to the circulated report on the Shared Conversations on Human Sexuality (DS16/02). This comes from the local group participating in a national series of conversations which Synod will be aware of. The group is officially anonymous but some members declare there own involvement for the purpose of sharing the experience. Bishop Michael commissioned the diocesan representations and Canon Robbin Clark has facilitated the group.

The group asked for the report to be shared with Synod. Bishop Rachel was encouraged that it conveyed Christians staying together through a difficult discussion of real human struggles.

She reported that General Synod in July will be running its own series of Shared Conversations amongst representatives. After this she will look to roll out a similar process across the diocese, trying to ensure it does not become entangled or confused with the Vision process and its series of different conversations. This would require resources for the local Shared Conversations Group.

Bishop Rachel asked for questions or clarifications.

Revd Jonathan Perkins (Severn Vale) noted the reported focuses on feelings/experience and believed that without a scriptural grounding to tie these conversations to our faith they risked becoming emanations of the Daily Mail not Scripture. Bishop Rachel recognised the concern and wished to assure Revd Perkins that scripture and prayer had been integral to the process but she recognised this was not necessarily clear from the report. She agreed that truth in our daily lives must be rooted in a theological interpretation of our experience.

Canon Richard Mitchell (Severn Vale) noted an age and clerical bias to the group. He felt it would have been good to have seen more diversity. The Archdeacon of Gloucester asked if the group was true to the original brief for the process. Canon Clark responded that there was a difficultly in the timescales required to get the spread originally sought and therefore the availability or volunteers was a deciding factor in the ultimate makeup of the group.

Revd Dana Delap (North Cotswolds) believed the Church needed to listen to its communities on this conversation.

11. Understanding our Communities

The Archdeacon of Cheltenham introduced the item asking members to gather in deanery groups to undertake an exercise in exploring their understanding of their communities. After this members would be asked to feedback their discussions and reflect on how this might affect the future diocesan vision.

He was recently involved in an appointment process where the PCC knew what they wanted and believed they should reuse the profile they drafted 15 years ago for the last appointment. When asked if there may have been some changes in that time the PCC seemed confused but humoured the Archdeacon and locked themselves away for a short time to draft another profile. It had a front page of the building, but no people. Inside was a picture of an empty church interior and an empty high street. It seemed good bait for a lazy priest.

The text described a community of elderly middle class childless households.

Somehow it omitted the town’s secondary school and Church of England primary school.

It can be a challenge for our congregations to work out what their community K:\Synod, Councils and Commitees\2016\Diocesan Synod\June\Diocesan Synod Minutes Feb 16.docxK:\Synod, Councils and Commitees\2016\Diocesan Synod\June\Diocesan Synod Minutes Feb 16.docx Item Action is actually like, rather than who they know. The Diocesan Office has however found a useful tool which helps understand what our communities are really like, who we are called to serve, using Experian profiling data. This is a powerful check to us in understanding who we are ministering to and who we are missing in our communities.

In deanery groups Synod was given a series of questions about their deaneries to answer including an Experian profile. They were then asked to compare “their answers” to “the answers” once they have completed the exercise and then feedback in plenary what most surprised their group.

The surprises fed back by deanery were:

Gloucester City was surprised by the number of children in Church of England schools.

Stroud was also surprised there were so many children in Church schools and also that they overestimated the number of worshippers in the deanery.

Forest was surprised by the number of churches and readers in the deanery.

Cheltenham was less deprived than they had thought.

Wotton was less rural than they had thought.

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