A total of 13 from the Chaplaincy have just returned from a stimulating, rewarding, inspiring and very friendly Archdeaconry Synod meeting at the La Zenia hotel, in the south of Alicante province. Our clergy, and 4 of our 5 lay reps (Margaret Rivers is recovering from surgery) were joined by 6 “visitors”, including spouses, other interested folk, and our safeguarding coordinators, Gail and Dennis Johnson.
On Tuesday morning Fr Ray led a session for clergy on Addiction. Ray talked about how he had worked with Archdeacons in a UK diocese to establish a network of information and support for clergy experiencing problems with addiction, particularly alcoholism.
This was very well received and developed into a very animated discussion about the pastoral care of clergy. The session could have easily continued beyond its allotted time and possibly indicates that a similar, facilitated, space for clergy ‘sharing’ and mutual support might be a helpful addition to the synod programme.
The worship during the week was all prepared and coordinated by Fr Marcus. Everyone agreed that it was the best worship programme that attendees can remember. Our final evening Eucharist, held at a nearby Catholic church, was a Candlemas service, presided by Bishop David. Representatives of our parish read the lessons, led the intercessions, and assisted in the communion of the people. At the end we handed to everyone a lit candle in a glass to process back to the hotel, led by the bishop in his robes. It was very moving.
At the annual meeting on the first evening, we discussed the finances and business of the Archdeaconry, and were then able to focus on the more spiritual programme prepared for us. Our bible study, focused on Jonah and Daniel, was insightful, and entertaining. It was led by Revd Dr Richard Briggs, Director of Biblical Studies, Cranmer Hall Theological College, Durham.
Our keynote speaker was the inspirational, the Right Revd Jack Nicholls, retired Bishop of Sheffield. Several of us already know Jack, and were delighted to be led by him again. His focus was on 1) The praise of God – being grateful to go with a thankful heart; 2) The pain of the world – our role in it, and its transfiguration; and 3) The repentance of the church – our role in spreading the gospel. With +Jack we considered the influences on our lives, and ours on others. His words provided us thinking material ….. and he included thinking space, as he gave an opportunity for private thought/meditation with each topic.
We had an encouraging session on Safeguarding; a thought provoking session on Environmental issues, and a detailed consideration of our role in leading the Church forward. In support of that session Fr Jim had produced a short video summarizing what we are doing. Revd Deacon Francis Hiller introduced the Pilgrim Course, a template of resources for better understanding our church, our worship, and the meaning of much that we say and do.
The Spanish “section”, namely churches in Spain, met to consider issues of relevance only to us.
We considered issues of liability, and shared details of our excellent insurance policy with other attendees. We were presented with the challenges of data protection; and received a very good presentation on improving our communications from Revd Paul Needle, Diocesan Communications Officer – always a positive session. And I sold 21 more forecast fundraiser entries, on the basis that a) they might win 250 euros, and b) they would feel less guilty when they copy the idea, as many doubtless will.
At our annual parish AGM (The APCM, or annual parochial church meeting), in Calpe on March 21st we will elect our representatives for the next 3 years. If you are interested in offering yourself please get a message to Fr Marcus, with the names of a proposer and a seconder (who need to be on the electoral roll).
Feeling uplifted, Andrew