Spring Synod 2009

Spring Synod met on May 9th at Southgate Methodist Church, Elland in the Elland and Ryburn Circuit. In his opening address Rev. Peter Whittaker, the District Chair, said that Synod is a fellowship meeting where we meet to deal with matters of concern to God's people. Peter led our opening devotions as we sang the hymn 'Love Divine' and Peter read prayers from two of the WYS Books of prayers and a passage from the Letter to the Romans.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun. Conrad Winterburn, welcomed us to Southgate, his home church. Peter Whittaker said that Conrad came from a long tradition within Methodism of civic service as part of Christian Discipleship.

Rev. Nick Blundell, the District Mission Enabling Officer, led our first session 'Mission Matters'. He asked us to consider what shape we were, not as people but as churches. He wondered if we could become a mission shaped church. This would involve being prepared to go to where people are rather than waiting for people to come to where we are. He offerred three tools from the Fresh Expressions movement that could help with this. A series of 'Vision Days' are being organised to help churches think about their vision for mission. These will be held at Skipton Baptist Church (September 26th) and West Wakefield Methodist Church (October 24th). Mission Shaped Intro is a six session course that will be running in Bradford and Skipton in November and December. 'Mission Shaped Ministry' is a year long course that will start in the District in January 2010.

Nick also mentioned the new Extending Discipleship, Exploring Vocation (EDEV) programme that will be starting in September. This is a new initiative for anyone who wishes to think more about their Christian discipleship and explore various ways of livng out their Christian vocation. More details of this will be available soon.
In the second part of the 'Mission Matters' session Nick and Rev. Ruth Parry gave us an update on the two church exploration groups that we first met at the Touring West Yorkshire (TWY) event in Ilkely, who are now at Camp 1!

Ruth updated Synod on the work of the Mission Enabling Team within the District. The team are forming new objectives for their work following on from TWY which will include relating to the new District Development Enabler and working with new circuits to ensure they have mission as one of their priorities. This work will continue the TWY themes of faith sharing, story telling, shaping the church for mission and sharing stories of good mission.

John Robinson, the Convenor of the District Grants Committee, updated Synod on plans to establish a second Mission Enabling Officer. This new post will be split between Mission Enabling across the District and circuit work as is Nick Blundell.
Synod then heard from Rev. Mark Wakelin, the Secretary for Internal Affairs in the Connexional Team. Mark explained that his role was to do with the many relationships that exist in the Connexion that he worked to link together as part of the Methodist family. He outlined that challenge facing the Connexional team of working out what it could do best to support local churches, circuits and districts.

Mark told us that the stories we tell have to be Godly stories and that the best story of all is that God is with us. We should be positive about today and the future and trust in God.

There are more details about the Connexional Team on the Methodist Church website.
Rev. Dr Clive Barrett was then welcomed as a new Associate Minister in the Methodist Church. Clive is the County Ecumenical Officer at the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC). Clive spoke about his passion for ecumencial working. His current role involves promoting and encouraging local initiatives of churches working together. He asked that we let him know about church's stories of ecumenical work so that he can help to celebrate them.

Following lunch the afternoon session opened with the singing of 'Brother, sister, let me serve you'. Michael Noble, the District Development Enabler was presented to Synod and gave an outline of his role. He is working in the West Yorkshire and Leeds Districts helping circuits to discern what God wants of us as a church as we regroup for mission. Rev. Peter Whittaker led prayers for Michael and the work he's doing amongst us.

Deacon Gill Atkinson-Heck spoke to Synod about a set of resources produced by the Diaconal Order on Faith and Work. She spoke of the importance of connecting our faith with the real world and with the world of work. The resource consists of 20 worksheets that are available online on the Methodist Church website.

Synod then heard about the Methodist Church in Gambia which is to become an autonomous church later this month. Rev. Robbie Bowen, minister in the Upper Calder circuit, is to travel to Gambia to be part of the celebrations. Robbie is a former Mission Partner in the Gambia and he was presented with a letter of greetings from Synod to the Methodist Church in Gambia to take with him.

Synod heard an update on the Mapping a Way Forward process which is looking at the circuit configuration within the District. Three new circuits are to be created in September 2009: Airedale, Bradford North and Bradford South. These are being created from seven exisiting circuits.

A DVD presentation on Back to Church Sunday (which is on September 27th) was shown to Synod and churches were encouraged to participate in this, which the Methodist church is supporting officially for the first time this year.

Rev Rita Armitage, the Convenor of the District Community Relations Working Group spoke about the forthcoming European elections and encouraged us to use our vote to oppose the British National Party.

Rev. Peter Whittaker gave thanks for the work of three ministers who are retiring at the end of this connexional year, Revs Peter Bedford, Andrew Scutt and Geoff Reid, and for Rev. Peter Hancock who is leaving the District. Congratulations were also given to Amy Walters who has been accepted for training for ordained ministry and will also leave the District in August to start her studies.

Synod closed by sharing in singing 'Now the Green Blade rises'.