In an exciting, last-minute addition to their plans- Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York- is to attend a conference event hosted by campaign group Save the Parish (STP) this week in York.
The conference– which is to take place this Thursday (7th July)- is billed as a day to “hear from and meet with those on the STP team, listen to some excellent presentations by friends of the campaign, and get to know fellow supporters.” It is hoped it will be a ‘rallying cry’ for the Parish campaign one day before this summer’s General Synod.
STP confirmed that the Archbishop will attend the beginning of the conference to greet attendees and engage in a dialogue. It is a big coup for the campaign, which has welcomed increased use of pro-Parish language in recent Church of England announcements. Now, they want action to back up words.
The Rev’d Marcus Walker, Chairman of Save the Parish, reacted to the news saying “This shows STP is being taken seriously at the highest levels of the CofE. Now we need to know that we’re being heard.”
The group have asked their supporters for “incisive” questions to put to Archbishop Cottrell to make the session as productive and interesting as possible. The Rev’d Canon Giles Fraser, of St Anne’s in Kew, will be leading the session and asking questions of the Archbishop.
The day conference- which is due to take place in heart of York the day before General Synod- ends with a choral evensong made bespoke for the day, with music provided by professional singers from the city.
Speaking about the event, Jacob Groet- one of the organisers- said: “We were incredibly happy to invite the Archbishop of York to our event. Since the triennial funding announcement, the Archbishops have been keen to emphasise their love of parishes and support for the Parish system.
“This is a big moment, and a real opportunity to hear from the leadership of the CofE. Crucially, however, it is an opportunity to probe that support. We want to see real, material support for parishes, and that won’t happen unless the very top of the CofE is properly onboard.
“This event could well be a highlight of the summer General Synod.”
Tickets are free, and attendees can come in-person, or attend online.