Friday, 11 June 2010

More Bottom Numbing Synod

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!


susan s. said...

Oh, poor Kenny! You need to purchase a pillow for your rear end! Many people(notice I am inclusive of women here) develop less padding in the place needed as they age. It's a fact of life. I have what Africans call the traditional build and I am still lacking in the places where padding is truly needed! Yes, I know, Too Much Information. :-)

I'm glad you stayed for the PB. She has been doing the Mission speech all week, I think. Did she speak without notes? She usually does. I am amazed how much knowledge she carries around in her head!

Did you get to speak to her? Just wondering!

Fr Kenny said...

I didn't speak to her, but was glad to have heard her! As far as I could see she had perhaps a bit of paper before her, but spoke freely without notes, as such. Tremendous amount of info.... most of which we already know, and are proud of, in the SEC!

Chris said...

I felt there was a whole discreet agenda here, both in the invitation and in the stressing of the links. And I don't think she had notes. I was impressed. Think she'd rather be Bishop of Argyll? ;-)

Fr Kenny said...

I think you are spot on Chris. Here is what I heard: "Our history is entangled and so we have this special relationship, I've practically got a ne Communion in waiting with our world-wide dioceses. So you will obviously want to be a part of it when the crunch comes - won't you?"

Martin Ritchie said...

Think you're on to something there, Kenny and Chris. I was in the public gallery to hear her speak. Although there was definitely an element of lining up the possibility of future ties I found two things striking:

1. The graceful way in which she represented herself and The Episcopal Church.

2. That the Episcopal Church is already very diverse and perhaps not the white liberal protestant caricature that it is made out by some to be.

Well worth experiencing her short presentation - I'd loved to have heard more from her.