So, the 2010 Church of England General Synod elections are in full swing. These fortunately only come around every 5 years. Synod is a marvellous and somewhat dysfunctional institution, that many people seem to love to hate – but it is the system of national church governance, along with the bishops, that we’ve got to work with at present. ‘Episcopally led, and Synodically governed’ as the phrase goes.

I don’t really like pushing myself forward (less of the ROFL, thank you…) but having been a Proctor in Convocation (ok, member of synod, in English) for the last quinquennium, several people actually asked me to stand again, so I am taking a bit of a punt again. There can be no assumption of re-election…

Synod Address/Statement
Synod Address/Statement

Candidates are invited to have an address or statement, and this is mine. The text is included below the fold:

General Synod
I served in the 2005-10 General Synod quinquennium as one of Chichester’s 6 clergy representatives, and hope you will give me your first, or second-ranked vote this time. I was called to speak in debate in synod on several occasions, and asked and received answers to a number of ‘Questions’. Apart from good contact with my two ‘link-deaneries’ (East Grinstead & Rotherfield), I have reported back on General Synod several times at Diocesan Synod, and possibly most visibly have been the primary driving force behind the General Synod Blog and twitter feed which you can access at www.GenSyn.blogspot.com and twitter.com/GenSyn.

Since the introduction of synod’s electronic gadgets, my voting record is public. Over women bishops I have supported and will continue to support the cause of traditional catholics and evangelicals wherever possible; though as a proponent of women’s ordained ministry as deacons, priests & bishops, I will also continue supporting women in the episcopate.

Synod has discussed many lively, exciting, and fresh topics, that are not often adequately reported; there are many signs of hope to be shared. However, the global recession, rising pension costs, and in places falling numbers/income, are all exerting overwhelming financial pressure on the church locally and nationally. That, coupled with some areas of synod’s painful decision-making processes, or apparently inward-looking agenda, make me think that after 40 years in use, this machinery of synodical government is looking like it is reaching the end of it’s useful life; we need to be preparing for what will come next to best help us be church, building and strengthening relationships between God & his children. I have a passion for that.

Chichester Diocese
I recently moved parish, staying within the diocese, as incumbent at Henfield, Shermanbury & Woodmancote, with a staff team including two women priest colleagues. I was previously fortunate to be vicar of St. John’s, Copthorne for 14 great years. I have always been committed to active involvement within the deanery & diocese; and I was elected Chair of the Chichester House of Clergy and vice-chair of the diocesan synod in Nov 2009.

I served for several years as Assistant Rural Dean of East Grinstead, and co-chair of the East Grinstead Deanery Review Group in one of the largest and most diverse deaneries in the diocese. I have been an elected member of Bishop’s Council for over a dozen years; and through that I was linked with first the Mission & Renewal and then the Ministry and Adult Christian Education departments at Church House, Hove. I was a member of the group involved in creating the CARM Ministerial Review scheme.

During my time at Copthorne, I taught the Bishops Certificate Course, and was local area Tutor for S.T.E.T.S. ordinands, and mentor to a number of S.E.I.T.E students. I also assist occasionally as a Vocations Consultant. At Copthorne we had 4 ordinands in 10 years. Copthorne also hosted 3 youngsters over the years in the Y.E.S. Year-Out Scheme.

Personal Background
I spent my childhood in rural South India, where my British parents were doctors at a mission hospital. I finished school in Watford, and did a teaching degree at Westhill College, Birmingham. After 3 years theology at St John’s Nottingham, I was ordained in 1987 in Sheffield, to a first curacy in a mining village just north of Doncaster. A brilliant second curacy in Sheffield also included an opportunity of church planting; involvement with alternative worship in the best years of the Nine O’clock Service; and something of a baptism by fire when the Hillsborough Disaster took place 100 yards from our door three weeks after we moved in.

For 5 years I ran one of Britain’s most significant church-based arts centres, The Nave, at St. Margaret’s, Uxbridge, West London; where the dialogue between faith, and the arts and the media, and the world of work, played a key part in the exploration of the involvement of the Church and its Mission in the 1990s. The Uxbridge Team Ministry encompassed both rich catholic and lively evangelical traditions, and the scope for traditional, as well as experimental liturgical worship, including what the 1990s knew as Rave worship. The breadth and mixture of these traditions were key formative influences on me, invaluable now at Henfield.

I have served on the boards of a couple of national Christian arts organisations. In early 2000 I shared in a personally very significant Parish Exchange for 3 months in Auckland, New Zealand, bringing back some useful insights from a church from another Province. Partly as a result, in 2003 I completed the MA in Spirituality at London University’s Heythrop College, with a dissertation on Maori and Celtic Spirituality. I was also privileged that year to attend the St. George’s House, Windsor July Clergy Course.

I am married to Kay, who teaches children with special needs in Cuckfield; and we have two girls, Hannah (20), and Laura (18) who are now both at university. I am a committed Apple Mac user; and occasionally dabble in a bit of piano/keyboards playing.

Proposed · The Venerable Philip Jones, Archdeacon of Lewes & Hastings
Seconded · Rev’d Canon Julia Peaty, Dean Women’s Ministry, East Grinstead Deanery