Monday, 8 February 2010

How connected are we? 3

How connected are we as a District?
Not sure if anyone was waiting for part three of this series looking at how connected we are but here it is! In this one again I will be looking at how connected we are to the district from my perspective. I do realise that the experience of readers may be different but I share this as my view.

I have recently started attending Synod after a 26 year gap so I have had two very different experiences. My early visit to Synod in the early 80’s led to me going to Conference in Plymouth so was in some senses a meteoric rise to fame as they say. As I remember it Synod back then was very much a business meeting and very formal in the way that things were done and CPD was always quite obvious sitting in the front of the Chairman (proper title for this back then). I was almost certainly the youngest person there and as I looked round I saw what appeared to me at the time as a fairly exclusive club and while there was some interaction between people I got the feel that they were people who knew one another quite well. As a newcomer I found it very difficult because I knew no one apart from the people I had gone with from my home circuit.

Our Synod is different in the way it works now – while there is business we also have workshops and special speakers come along and I find this quite interesting. As the new boy I don’t feel much different to when I went years ago – I always seem to have to make the effort to engage people in conversation and still feel that there is a degree of an exclusive club about it.

I am certain that there are some people who have been at Synod ever since I last went in the early 80’s and I know that one of the ladies in our circuit has apparently been going for thirty years. In our circuit meeting when we look at selecting representatives to Synod most people duck or look at the floor just in case they get chosen. It often seems that even the people who go automatically would rather not.

I suspect that many of the points about circuit events are even more applicable to District Events – a number of our District Meetings are held at a church that is fairly central to the district but attendance will still be quite poor.

I am aware that many of the people in our churches are very committed to what they do, but it seems unfortunate that they often end up going to circuit meetings and then to Synod.

I don’t have any answers for most of these points but it may be a good idea to apply the six year rule to Synod to enable some new blood to be involved – I know in our circuit meeting there was always one person who volunteered as soon as the Chair of the meeting asked if anyone was interested in going. I think other people were then able to stand back because we had a willing volunteer.

One of the other issues with the system at present is the lack of feedback to the local churches –although we do have a session in our circuit meeting I am not sure that then goes back to the churches. I wonder how many of our folk could tell you the name of the Chair of our district or who the secretary is or even the treasurer but then I suspect they would not be able to tell you the name of the circuit officers either.

Next time a look at Conference and Connexional Offices.

1 comment:

Rev Tony B said...

Ah, the joys of Synod (aka 'sigh-nod' which may say something...)

There is an argument that with the tendency to larger circuits there will soon be no need for Districts. I'm not sure. Just as the circuit provides a larger network for the resourcing of the local churches, the District provides a wider network for the resourcing of circuits. Expertise can be shared more easily - so in W Yorks we will soon have 2 half-time Mission Enablers, each being a presbyter who is half-time in a circuit post and half-time available to all the circuits in the District to help with mission projects. It is hard to see how even a large circuit could resource a half-time post on its own; to be big enough to do that would make it so big it would be too distant from the churches it should be resourcing. So there probably is a place for both District and Circuit in our structures.

The question is partly "if we were starting now, what structures would we put in place?" and partly "this is what we've inherited - how much of it do we need, and what needs to be changed without spending all our time adjusting ecclesiastical nuts and bolts?"