It’s never too late to recalibrate and set in place habits and disciplines that attune us more closely to the will of God and continue to reshape us more closely in the image of Jesus Christ.
So let me now say something about the process going forward. As you know, I didn’t come to this Diocese with a clear vision to lay before you, or a strategy to get us there. Indeed, as a rule, I’m not so comfortable with that kind of language which is currently widely deployed in the church. It risks, it seems to me, putting too much emphasis on our human powers – that if only we try hard enough and pull together well enough and all follow the same programme, then we can solve the problems and challenges and ensure the future survival of the church, either much as it has been in the past or preferably producing a shinier, bigger, better version. The language of vision and strategy risks ignoring the reality of frailty, brokenness, sin – all of which can be redeemed of course. But it risks missing the blessings in that which is small and vulnerable and marginal, the unexpected, the surprising. It leaves us relying heavily on our own strength instead of remembering that everything depends on our faithfulness and our reliance on God.
So as I begin to draw to a close I want to ask each of us to think about making a choice as we step into the future. Do we want to be victims who continually notice the deficiencies, find faults and look for places to lay blame elsewhere for every problem and imperfection? Or will we use the agency we each have, to notice what positive contribution we can make, individually and as communities, and so each one play an active part in shaping the future, not just of what the church will look like but how we can continue being a transforming and a gentle presence in the world, sharing the good news of the Gospel, speaking out and acting for justice and helping to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most?
Diocesan Synod Presidential Address
11th June 2022