I’ve got a long weekend booked off work, so of course I’ll be faced with the question
“Going anywhere nice?” My answer will probably be something along the lines of
“Just going to Synod (pronounced sigh-nod, inside joke – I mean it is a strange word!), we’ve got the sexuality stuff to discuss, so…”
The guys I work with all know that I’m on General Synod, they played the Champion’s League music when I got elected and we’ve talked about it a fair amount since, so it’s no secret where I’m going, but nice isn’t really what I’d describe it as!
Let me explain, the Church of England have been undergoing a process over the last 18 months called ‘Shared Conversations’ which is exactly what it says on the tin. Each Diocese has had representatives go away for a few days with neighbouring Dioceses to discuss the ‘How the Church should respond given the cultural changes in relation to human sexuality’.
I went on the Yorkshire Shared Conversation back in May last year, and although I wasn’t looking forward to it then either, I found it an overall pleasant (if not shattering) experience. Saying that, the conservative wing of the Church was missing, which meant at times we had little to discuss because we all agreed with each other to a certain extent!
We’re now in the final stages of the Shared Conversations which involves members of General Synod sitting down and discussing the same question. So that’s exactly what I and many others will be doing from Sunday through to Tuesday lunchtime.
I read the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker’s blog earlier today, it’s brilliant, and if everyone takes that approach, I doubt I’ll have much to be nervous about.
But I am nervous, even scared, as much as I want to do this, because I do believe it’ll help, at the same time I want to turn and run as fast as I can. I want to stay where it’s safe, were I won’t get hurt, because I (along with others) know how much it hurts, we’ve been here before. At the same time I’m fed up of discussing it…me, sharing my story that is so often just asked on the spot. I’m fed up of being told to wait, that the Church is moving too quickly when in reality, in the outside world, it can’t move quickly enough!
But I know, that all the above is, my mortal, human reaction, and I’ve got to rise above it. I’ve got to realise this is bigger than me, and how I feel. That I can do this, it’ll take a hell of a lot out of me, it’ll probably hurt, but I’m putting my trust in a God who can heal. Let’s face it, He put me here, so He can deal with it!
I remember when I went off to the Yorkshire conversations, I’d been listening to a particular song quite a lot, and I’m drawn back to the lyrics again.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me”
And that’s exactly it my trust, our human trust has borders, usually based on previous experience. But, I firmly believe I’m in Synod because that’s where He wants me, and that this weekend He wants me in those rooms having those conversations and if that’s where I am supposed to be, then He’ll look after me and He’ll be there with me.
So if you’re the praying type send a few up for us, that the whole thing will be productive, that we’ll find a way to disagree at the same time as showing each other love and respect, that we can build a Church that is all inclusive, where there truly is room for everyone.