The Dean, Very Revd Ian Barcroft presided at the Synod Eucharist and read the Bishop’s Charge on behalf of Bishop Gregor who could not be there as he was still recovering at home from a stroke.
The elections to various positions were undertaken early in the agenda before the main topic on the agenda, changes to Canons which had received a first reading at General Synod 2016.
The first of these was to Canon 22 sections 2 & 3 – Of Divine Worship and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church – changes to liturgy should in future undergo a similar process within the Church as changes to Canons. This was carried without a vote.
The next was the proposed changes to Canon 63 – of the Office of Lay Representative – in order to represent the congregation appropriately when called upon to do so, the Alternate Lay Representative would be best informed in that role by being a member of the vestry. After a brief discussion this was carried.
Finally Synod explored the proposed changes to Canon 31, Of the Solemnisation of Holy Matrimony – removal from the Canon of any doctrinal statement regarding marriage and also the introduction of a conscience clause making clear that no cleric is to be obliged to conduct any marriage against his or her conscience.
The processes and background were explained by Revd Paul Romano. Synod then discussed the matter with members queuing to take their turn at the microphone. Both sides of the debate were well represented and respected and eventually a vote was taken to determine whether Synod approved the proposed alterations to the Canon, in both houses. The result was:
Clergy: for 26, against 14 (65%) Laity: for 33, against 19 (63%) Overall: for 59, against 33 (64%)
Diocesan Treasurer, Mr Bob Burgon, presented the accounts and his budget, concluding that although budgeted income for 2017 is £30,000 down on 2016, the accounts are “sound”.
Miriam Weibye, the Church Relations Officer at the General Synod Office told Diocesan Synod of the preparations for the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly in 2021 in Glasgow.
Dr John Davies reported on the work of the Worship and Liturgy Development Team which had prepared new booklets for vital ministries to the sick and housebound and of 2 familiarisation training days taking place in May – on 6 May at St Aidan’s, Clarkston and on 13 May at St Ninian’s Castle Douglas.
The Canon Missioner, Revd Canon Audrey Stewart, gave an account of her work since coming to the Diocese last summer. She invited Synod to consider “What does mission mean” – in one sentence – which produced an interesting variety of responses. Mission Action Planning (MAP) had produced an emphasis on “Growth” with Numerical Growth being a regular goal. Audrey urged us to understand that Mission is NOT Numerical Growth and concentrating on this goal can become disheartening.
This year sees the 20th Anniversary of the Provincial Youth Network and there was a lively presentation by Emily and Simon from the Network, on the planned activities.
Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth gave a brief update on the Diocesan Constitution Review which is on hold because of the Bishop’s absence.
The Revd Cedric Blakey provided some detail on the Holy Land Pilgrimage planned for 2018 and Revd Canon Tom Montgomery spoke on the Thanksgiving for the Anglican links with Kentucky and Byumba.
The results of the remaining elections were announced and the Dean closed Synod with the Blessing.