After a wide ranging series of conversations involving many Synod members, representatives of just about every constituency that makes up the complex and varied ecology of the Church of England, and many voices that do not always find themselves invited to the decision-making table, we were led to a simple answer: to be a more Christ centred church.
I don’t think we would have arrived at such a simple statement were it not for the experience of Covid. The restrictions and isolations we have lived with have been hard. Our world is suffering. But stripped of the familiar comforts of worship and common life we have discovered a new and clear vision of Christ, the one who stands at the centre of our faith, the one in whom we have access to God. This is ludicrously obvious. It is hardly a surprise to say that our life is centred in Christ. It is unceasingly profound. The new life we have in Christ is received in one ‘gigantic gulp of grace’, as St. Cyprian put it. It is also a never ending story. St John’s Gospel ends with the declaration that if everything about Jesus was written down then “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21. 25)
St John also tells us that we are called to beloved discipleship, ‘dwelling close to the Father’s heart’; and courageous discipleship: ‘As the Father sent me, so now I send you’. As we recover and emerge from Covid, we believe that God is asking us to become a church of missionary disciples; a younger and more diverse church that looks like the communities it serves; a safe church and a church that is a place of welcome for everyone; a mixed ecology church where we reach and serve our nation in many different ways.
At the centre of this, and as the means whereby we will serve and reach our nation, is a parish system revitalised for mission. And I’m dismayed that anyone would think this work – work, by the way, that is still a work in progress – is aiming at anything else.
In St John’s gospel he tells us that we are called to beloved discipleship, ‘dwelling close to the Father’s heart’; and courageous discipleship: ‘As the Father sent me, so now I send you’. #synodhttps://t.co/PJo4rOS5AQ
— Stephen Cottrell (@CottrellStephen) July 12, 2021