Yesterday the General Synod ended. The final morning spent most of its energies on the Church Herald and the assessments (assessments are the only way the synod gets to the budget). The debate was spirited. The result was to cease denominational financial support of the every member reception of the Herald. Where then does that money go? The synod accepted the proposal from the GSC that would have some go to reduce assessments, and the rest to fund “Our Call.”
In this observers opinion, this was the issue least amenable to the new way of doing business through major issue advisory groups. The way the choice was put was difficult to get hold of in the short time available. And it was difficult to get clear information to all the groups. But so the synod ended.
In general the new process worked very well. And it worked well because the decision was made not to have staff present in the groups — nor with the moderators as they convened to write a common report. That allowed the delegates to work through the issues thorougly. Several elders told me that when staff is present, they tend to defer to the staff. That’s natural. Without them present elders felt freer. The point for this church order person is that the offices themselves were active and participating.
Throughout the synod the theme of trust emerged. I heard it uttered even from folk who supported the MSTF report. I must say that some have been raising this issue for a long time, including CI. The last day Wes spoke of the need to work on trust. Well, well…
It is too early to assess the impact of this one synod. That it adopted Belhar is a matter of significance. We can’t begin to know that significance, and we can’t because it is confession. This has begun a conversation. The Dutch church had a phrase that has always struck me. In their church order they said (and still do) that “we confess in communion with our fathers [and mothers].” Now with our sisters and brothers, too. But it is “in communion.”