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UNITED REFORMED CHURCH SOUTHERN SYNOD Synod met at Oxted United Reformed Church on Saturday 15 March 2008 The Opening Worship was led by The Revd Adrian Skelton, minister of Marsh Green and Oxted United Reformed Churches. The Moderator welcomed members of Synod and gave a particularly warm welcome to those taking part in the Peacebuilder and Peacebuilder Plus events for children and young people. The children and young people would join Synod at the close of the morning and afternoon sessions. 08/192 Ecumenical Guests: The Synod Clerk introduced Bishop Zan-Fabian Sandor and Pastor Kacso Geza from the Reformed Church of Sub Carpathian Ukraine. Local ecumenical guests were also greeted by Synod. They were Mrs Marion West, Methodist Circuit Pastoral Worker and Mr John Roberts, Oxted and District Churches Together and Mission and Unity Adviser for the Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. 08/193 Reception and Welcome to Synod of new ministers, retired ministers, local church leaders and students. All were introduced and welcomed by the Moderator on behalf of Synod. Included was The Revd Richard Wells, retiring after 37 years at Christ Church, Swanley. The Moderator paid tribute to Mr Wells’ ministry in Swanley and to the wider URC. 08/194 Personalia: The Revd David Skitt brought matters of pastoral care to the attention of Synod, including the deaths of two retired ministers, The Revds Tom Shepherd and Ranald Macdonald. Synod stood to remember Tom and Ral in prayer. 08/195 The Synod Roll was presented by the Synod Clerk. It contained the names of 116 ordained members of Synod, 186 lay members and 76 retired ministers (associate members of Synod). 08/196 Present: The Moderator presided over: 73 ordained members, 128 lay members, 5 retired ministers, and 12 visitors/observers. 08/197 Apologies had been received from 18 ordained, 17 lay members of Synod and 9 retired ministers. 08/198 The Minutes of Synod on 23 February 2008 were approved and signed by the Moderator as a true record after the following change had been made: Item 08/182, line 3 - “2020” should read “2010”. 08/199 Matters Arising: There were no matters arising. 08/200 Synod elected The Revd A Jack Beeson, Mr Michael Pritchard, Mr Richard Proctor and Mr Clive Snashall to be Tellers. 08/201 General Assembly Resolutions: (i) GA Resolutions 12, 14-16 - Section O - Ministerial Incapacity Procedure: The Synod Pastor reported following discussion at the Synod Pastoral Committee on 11 March. The Pastoral Committee had taken into account the comments made and now recommended that Synod did not dissent from these Resolutions but asked General Assembly and Mission Council to note its concerns. With this assurance Synod resolved, by a significant majority, not to dissent from GA Resolutions 12, 14-16, but asked that there should be a re-examination of the terms and sanctions. The Moderator thanked the Synod Pastoral Committee for their work on this matter. (ii) GA Resolution 24: The Revd Michael Davies presented the paper (Appendix A of the Mission and Strategy Committee report) which had been prepared following the Mission and Strategy Committee’s consideration of General Assembly Resolution 24. On behalf of the Mission and Strategy Committee The Revd Michael Davies proposed that Synod does not dissent from Resolution 24 of the General Assembly 2007. Synod approved the proposal nem con. 08/202 Report from Mission and Strategy Committee: The Revd Michael Davies introduced the report. (i) Synod Nominations Committee: The Terms of Reference of the Synod Nominations Committee were set out in the Mission and Strategy Committee report. There was no discussion and Synod considered the proposal Synod agrees to the terms of reference of the Nominations Committee suggested by the M&S Committee. It agreed that the Moderator should serve as Convener and the Synod Clerk as Secretary and asks each ACT and UA in the Synod to appoint one person to serve. Synod approved the proposal nem con. (ii) Election of Synod Representatives to General Assembly 2008: The proposal that Synod agrees to the names set out in Appendix B to represent Southern Synod at General Assembly 2008 and authorises the Clerk to substitute others from the list of names proposed in the event of a nominee being unable to attend was approved nem con. (iii) Election of Six Members of Synod to Serve on the M&S: The Moderator invited the four candidates to stand in order to be made known to those present. They were: The Revd Nicola Furley-Smith, The Revd Derrick Dzandu-Hedidor, Miss Avril Hiscock and The Revd Andrew Mills. The Moderator led Synod in prayer, after which the votes were cast and papers collected by the tellers. It was subsequently reported that, by a very significant majority, all four candidates had been elected to the Mission and Strategy Committee. (iv) Other Appointments and Vacancies: The Revd Michael Davies asked Synod for leave to withdraw Mission and Strategy Committee’s suggestion that The Revd Pauline Sparks (Synod’s representative on the Assembly’s Mission Committee) be a member of that Committee. Mrs Sparks was willing to maintain a close liaison with M&S but felt she was not able to make the time commitment to be a member of Mission and Strategy. Synod agreed to withdrawal of the proposal Synod agrees that the Synod’s representative on the Assembly’s Mission Committee shall be, ex officio, a member of the M&S Committee. The Synod Clerk drew Synod’s attention to four vacancies, three of them in the area of youth and children’s work: Children’s Advocate, Communications Officer, Regional Pilots Officer and Youth Secretary. The Moderator stressed the need to find people to fill the three vacancies related to youth and children’s work. Synod had an excellent YCWTDO but these posts needed to be filled in order to enable and support his work. Please think about people who might be approached and pass names to the Moderator or Synod Clerk. Synod approved the names of Mrs Sue Wootton to represent the Synod on the Court of the University of Kent and The Revd Pauline Sparks to be the Synod representative on the Assembly’s Mission Committee. (v) Synod Meetings in 2009: Synod voted in favour of the proposal (with one against) that Synod agrees that it will meet in 2009 on January 17, March 14 and October 10, or at such other times as it may be called together by those charged with the direction of its affairs, at venues to be announced. (vi) Synod Office Accommodation: At the Convenor’s request, the Moderator asked Synod for permission to withdraw the proposal as set out in the Mission and Strategy Committee’s report and to substitute the proposal contained in the Supplementary Report distributed to members on arrival. Synod approved this request, nem con. The Moderator explained that the new proposal left options open and was sensitive to the fact that we did not have time to wait for this matter to be resolved at the October Synod. Following discussion, which included the offer of Synod Office accommodation at two local churches (in Sevenoaks and Brighton), Synod voted on the resolution that Synod authorises the Synod Officers, after taking professional advice, to proceed to purchase or rent suitable accommodation for the Synod Office. The vote was carried, with one against. (v) Synod Priorities: The Revd Michael Davies presented the proposal that Synod notes the review of Synod priorities and roles as set out in Appendix D and invites local churches, ACTs and the United Area to comment on the items included and the priority they consider should be attached to them and to send comments to the Synod Clerk by July 31 2008. In addition he asked for Synod to agree that it is too early to undertake a review of the work of the ACTs and United Area and asks the M&S Committee to institute this later in 2008 and to report to Synod in March 2009. The Revd Richard Alford believed that “Mission” should be the Synod’s number one priority. Synod approved the proposal nem con. (vi) Synod Trust Arrangements and Charitable Registration: The Revd Michael Davies reminded Synod that he had spoken on this matter at Synod on 23 February. In order to have Synod’s permission to take the necessary legal steps to safeguard our position, Mr Davies proposed that Synod notes that, to comply with changes in Charity law, it may be necessary to transfer the Synod’s assets into the URC (Southern Province) Trust Ltd and authorises the Officers, the Finance Committee and the Synod Trust to take such steps as are necessary to comply with the legislation. Synod approved the proposal nem con. The Moderator recorded grateful thanks to The Revd Michael Davies for presentation of the report. 08/203 Synod Nominations for Moderators of General Assembly 2010-2012: The Synod Clerk reported that none of the nominees suggested to him, either lay or ordained, was willing to be nominated. 08/204 Moderator’s Sabbatical: The Synod Clerk informed Synod that the Moderator would be on Sabbatical Leave during the first quarter of 2010. 2 08/205 Report from Synod Pastoral Committee: The Revd Sue Henderson presented the report, pointing out that the Committee had “noted” the call of The Revd Charles Martin to Lindfield and Balcombe - concurrence having been given by the United Area. Since the report had been written, the Pastoral Committee had concurred with the calls of The Revd Amanda Harper to Dulwich Christ Church UM and Herne Hill United Church and The Revd Malcolm Wright to Emmanuel UM, Sidcup. The Synod Bags contained papers on “Lay Presidency” and churches were urged to send comments on these to either The Revd Jenny Snashall or the Synod Pastor in order that a final version could be produced. There were some questions about Elders’ training and Mr Des Colechin responded. The Moderator thanked The Revd Sue Henderson for the work of the Committee. 08/206 Council of Christians and Jews: The Moderator said he had been pleased to find an opportunity for Mr David Gifford, Chief Executive of the Council of Christians and Jews, to address Synod on issues which were so frequently before us. Mr Gifford brought Synod the greetings of the Presidents of CCJ, who included the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Free Churches Moderator and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop, amongst others. CCJ began in a crisis - in 1942 - when the world was at war. The crisis persists, most especially since 9/11. Our society today was in a crisis of fear, a fear of the “other”, a fear of Muslims. Mr Gifford spoke about the importance of the inter-faith initiatives taken by CCJ at grass-roots level. Ordinary Christians and Jews - and now Muslims, Hindus, etc - were encouraged “to enter each other’s space”. CCJ worked with chaplains on university campuses, getting them to talk to each other and relate to the students in order to identify estrangement and problems within the student body and to encourage the students to grow into what God wanted them to be, whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Hindu. Mr Gifford also spoke about workshops where senior rabbis and Old Testament lecturers would speak about how they viewed the scriptures, where student rabbis and theological students discussed New Testament and Old Testament scriptures. Often this would be the first opportunity for those young people to meet a person of another faith - “imagine what we could do if Muslims were included”. Mr Gifford thanked Synod for the opportunity of sharing his message, for the United Reformed Church’s involvement in CCJ and asked for their work to be remembered in regular prayer. The Moderator asked members of Synod to speak with Mr Gifford during the lunch break and to visit the CCJ stand. 08/207 Address by Bishop Zan-Fabian Sandor: The Moderator said how pleased he was to welcome Bishop Zan-Fabian Sandor and Pastor Kacso Geza, the Bishop’s outstanding translator, from the Reformed Church of Sub Carpathian Ukraine. The Bishop greeted Synod in the name of the Synod and local churches in Sub Carpathian Ukraine. The denomination had 110,000 members in 108 churches, served by 72 pastors. 135 people worked with children, in addition to social workers and music leaders. It was a great joy to be present and to renew the engagement which was signed six years ago. The Bishop spoke about the history of the Church and how in 1992 it was acknowledged by the State. It is a Protestant (Hungarian speaking) Church in a high Orthodox sea. In the tradition of the Reformed Church there were two important things - the Church and the School. The process of opening Church related high schools, after a 70 year absence, began in 1993 and there was an emphasis in the schools on Christian education. The Bishop spoke of the importance of nurturing links with other Reformed churches and how much encouragement was gained by the Moderator’s visit to the Ukraine in 2005. Although a very small Church in a very big country, the State acknowledged the Church because of its links with foreign Churches. The Bishop said that economic stability was needed for his Church and he therefore appreciated the engagement of the URC in the business and work of the Reformed Church of Sub Carpathia. The Moderator responded to the Bishop’s address and referred to their discussions which pointed to various meaningful opportunities for continuing the development of sharing in the Gospel. He looked forward to a reciprocal visit to the Ukraine in November this year. The Moderator presented the Bishop with a book about Reformed Theology and a replica of an ancient Cross from Canterbury. Pastor Geza was presented with a book about Reformed Spirituality and also a replica cross. 08/208 Youth and Children Joined Synod: The Moderator welcomed the children and young people from the Peacebuilders and Peacebuilders Plus events. Mr Nick White, YCWTDO, spoke about the Peacebuilders resource and introduced Mr Grant Gulczynski, Synod’s FURY representative, who reported from the recent FURY Assembly. Child Friendly Church Awards were presented to members of New Malden URC and The Temple URC St Mary Cray. 3 The Moderator wished to place on record his thanks to everyone involved in the two Peacebuilder events taking place alongside Synod. 08/209 Members’ Time: The Revd George Watt, Southern Synod representative on GEAR, invited members to attend a celebration service to be held at Cheam on 1 April 2008. Information on this event and the Dunamis Conference were in Synod Bags. He also mentioned the Global Day of Prayer event to be held at Millwall Football Club on Pentecost Sunday, 11 May 2008, at 2.00pm (information in Synod Bags). The Revd Mike Hensman spoke about publication, in a few weeks’ time, of his book about death, sex and Jesus. The title was likely to be “Live Dangerously - Talking Death, Sex and Jesus”. The Revd Richard Alford spoke about the 125th Anniversary of the Boys’ Brigade, the first uniformed youth organisation in the world for young men and boys: there would be a celebration at Chatham Dockyard on 31 May 2008. The Revd Andrew Mills issued an open invitation to Synod members to come to Staplehurst United Reformed Church on the weekend of 26/27 April 2008 when the church would be moving back into the main Sanctuary following redevelopment. He also encouraged members to read the information in the Synod Bags relating to the South East Institute for Theological Education. 08/210 The Synod Clerk gave information about the afternoon’s events which would take place from 2.00pm until 3.10pm. There were workshops covering Other Faiths, Church and Society issues, The Ukraine, in addition to a Field Staff “Surgery” with the Synod’s Ecumenical Officer, Development Officer and Mission Officer. 08/211 Welcome to Oxted: Mr Chris Bruce-Jones warmly welcomed Synod to Oxted and thanked Oxted School for use of their premises. Members were invited to visit the Oxted URC premises at lunchtime, just along the road. 08/212 Report from Implementation Group: The Moderator assured Synod that the Implementation Group was being very careful in consulting with ACTs and the UA to find out how things were working “on the ground”. He had written recently to ACT/UA personnel asking for feedback on any issues of concern. 08/213 Financial Matters: Mr Ian Fleming, Synod Treasurer, informed Synod that he had written to Church Treasurers on matters of Ministry and Mission Fund Contributions for 2009 and the new Manse Policy. Copies of these letters had been included with the Synod papers. Church House had recently circulated a leaflet concerning the M&M Fund which showed how it was used, with 7/8th being used for the costs of ministry and of training new ministers. He pointed out that Southern Synod contributed more to the Fund per head than most other Synods and hoped that Synod would rejoice in that fact. Assistance was being given to ACT/UA finance representatives to find a way forward for 2009 M&M assessments and this matter would be before the Finance Committee at their meeting in April. The October Synod would receive the budget for 2009, together with audited accounts for 2007. In closing, the Synod Treasurer thanked members of all churches for their continued support, particularly of the Ministry and Mission Fund. The Moderator said he was very grateful for the way in which Mr Fleming was undertaking his new task - it was a great pleasure to be working with him. 08/214 Safe Church Group: The Moderator welcomed Mrs Maureen Lawrence who was pleased to introduce new members of the group, The Revds Zam Walker and Amanda Harper. The opening prayer of their presentation came from new publications entitled “Worshipping Together”, Relating Together” and “Life Together” (copies in Synod Bags). The material had been put together by the All Synods Safe Church Working Group for the purpose of helping the churches to become more aware of the issues around how we lived, related and worked together in our various congregations. It was designed to help us all engage in reflecting upon our life together and in teasing out the things which marred those relationships. Mrs Lawrence informed Synod that the Safe Church Group would meet with the Synod Development Officer in April in order to discuss how awareness training could be offered and asked that churches let her know of ways in which such training would best be received by them. The presentation included the story of Jephthah’s daughter, a commentary on “boundaries” and closed with a prayer and hymn. 08/215 Bread to Spare: The Moderator reported that the Partnership Forum had met for the first time and had drafted Terms of Reference which would be submitted to Thames North Executive and Southern Synod’s Mission and Strategy Committee for their consideration. 08/216 Vision4Life: The Moderator reminded Synod of the Vision4Life booklets which had been sent to all churches and asked that the material be used to shape and enrich lives, with renewed emphasis upon the 4 three fundamental dimensions of Christian life - Bible, Prayer and Evangelism. Ministers and Local Church Leaders would receive further information and encouragement about Vision4Life at the Conference to be held on 23 April 2008 at The Temple URC, St Mary Cray. The Synod’s Mission Officer, Mr Martin Hayward, would attend the Vision4Life Advocates’ course at Windermere. The Revd Geoff Felton asked whether there were any plans to release resources for children and teenagers and the Moderator promised an opportunity to ask this question at the Conference on 23 April. 08/217 Report from Mission Council: The Synod Clerk presented the report from the meeting of Mission Council held on 7-9 March 2008. Copies had been made available on arrival at Synod and the report would be circulated with the Minutes of Synod. Synod asked that the Synod Clerk write to The Revd Roberta Rominger, General Secretary (elect), to greet her on her appointment. 08/218 The Closing Worship for all ages, led by The Revd Jane Rowell, included the Induction of The Revd David Skitt to the post of Synod Pastor. 08/219 Thankyou: The Synod Clerk thanked the minister and members of Marsh Green and Oxted United Reformed Churches, particularly Mr Chris Bruce-Jones and Mr Godfrey Keynton, for all their hard work. The IT team of Richard Westbrook, Neil Percival and Martin Hayes were thanked for their efforts in making the day run smoothly. The Synod Clerk thanked the Moderator for his chairmanship of Synod. The Moderator declared the meeting dissolved until it gathered again. Date of Next Meeting of Synod Saturday 11 October 2008 at Trinity United Reformed Church, Wimbledon 5
"UNITED REFORMED CHURCH SOUTHERN PROVINCE"