Well, the pews at Palmerston certainly weren't designed for a comfy experience! And much of today was not too comfy either. After a decent session on Mission & Ministry, where I desperately wanted to speak but was afraid of the continued squeakiness of my voice, we entered into a mind numbing debate on rural ministry. An early tweet proclaimed that someone didn't really "do" rural, and our minds were numbed to match our bottoms for what seemed like an eternity.
I was really quite open and up for it, but the presentation started badly and went downhill. Being shown maps where there are supermarkets in Scotland and where none exist was the highlight. I feel that the Pisckie Church should immediately plug the hole in the market here. We need to invest in setting up One-Stop Superstores, with chapel attached, fulfilling the needs of these rural communities that have been badly let down by TESCO, and finding a way of funding Bishop Mark's cunning plans for rural areas.
It was one of the sad things this morning that +Mark had obviously been told we have to do this rural stuff on the cheap, and the Provost of Glasgow taking the huff because he hadn't been aware that they might need some IT money out of his I&C budget. Let's go for it! Build the Superstores with the Investment Portfolio, it would be much more ethical, and the rural places could actually begin to fund the urban mission that we so obviously need.
I worry that our Church is retreating into the suburbs, and the rural lot didn't do themselves any favours today, but if major initiatives in mission and ministry present themselves in areas of poverty, whether rural or urban, then our Church damn well better start finding the money to support them. Where is my Church that was heavily committed to the Gorbals Group, the East End of Glasgow, Pilton, Wester Hailes, and all the rest? Are we retreating to the suburbs to minister simply to the comfy?
We were decidedly uncomfy in our seats as the afternoon dealt with admin. Jeremy's lucky yellow socks got him through the Canons. I looked forward instead to clear crisp presentations on Edinburgh 2010, the Porvoo partnership and the EMU situation. I shouldn't have. There are times I wish that God had not created Powerpoint, and this was one of them. Cheered, however, by the news that South Africa were one up in their match against Mexico.
And then the culmination of the day. We were being addressed by +KJS. The Presiding Bishop of TEC obviously had her hands tied, and had been told not to say anything too controversial, so we were obviously treated to a history lesson, underlining the special relationship we had with the Church in the USA, and why they could be no longer referred to as ECUSA. They certainly seem to have their own wee Communion on the go if the Anglican thing doesn't work out. Impressed, I was, though, on the variety and depth of mission within TEC, and the commitment to the poor and dispossessed.
Her presence was not universally welcome, though, and I know of some Synod members who absented themselves. I know the same folk would have reacted in the same way if someone from GAFCON had been invited. It's the principle. While we obey the moratorium, should we be seen to encourage either side of the great divide? I was glad that there was no standing ovation, but she sure deserved the response she got from what she had to say.
The embarrassing moment came early today when it became obvious that the Synod Dinner had been booked for the wrong date! The Sheraton came to the rescue at the last minute, bless them. I was unable to take part, as I limped home to my hotel with a numb backside and a hail of coughs and sneezes!