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Revd Clare Herbert’s reflection on February 2014’s General Synod

News St Martin – Talking Points

Thursday 20 February 2014

Thank you for your prayers through Synod. I had a good week, including chairing the Human Sexuality Group in Synod on Tuesday over lunch and was pleased with my capacity to get something useful re Pilling out of a room full of 50 munching men and women!

I also spoke on the floor when Sir Joseph Pilling and the Bishop of Sheffield presented the report on Wednesday afternoon, although sadly another representative from St Martin’s, Anirban Roy, had a less fortunate time in the Ethical Investments debate when his question was not answered at all.

I send three reflections :

  • The main result of the Pilling Report will be a listening process but, we all hope, with better resources for discussion in the parishes, especially in the area of Biblical interpretation. What I was able to secure with my question was that “prayers” may continue in churches when pastoral circumstances suggest following Civil Partnerships or other secular rites of commitment. Gay marriage in church is a very long way off, as is an authorised service following Civil Partnerships.
  • The general atmosphere of Synod has improved no end since the introduction of formal listening processes to ease through the consecration of women as Bishops. Everyone is being encouraged to be more honest about “where we are coming from” in our speeches and there is a greater sense of prayer (continual prayers in Church House Chapel plus prayer cards used). It helps that the present Archbishop of Canterbury looks so happy in his skin on the platform, lowering the tension and permitting us to laugh more often at ourselves.
  • It was a good Synod, one in which things which concern us at St Martin’s were at the forefront, particularly Ecology and Ethical Investment. And I was pleased too that there was a very good presentation indeed regarding gender based violence.  

It is time for St Martin-in-the-Fields to start thinking hard about who we want to stand for General Synod in 2015. Members need two essentials – to know and love the Church of England, and to be confident enough to speak on the floor of Synod. I can think of many lay and ordained members of St Martin’s who would fit that bill – if you think you are one of them please feel free to approach either Anirban or myself to discuss.

Thank you once again for your prayers – I felt truly supported.

Revd Clare Herbert
Lecturer in Inclusive Theology at St Martin-in-the-Fields