Diocesan Synod

It was the Edinburgh Diocesan Synod this evening (Thursday), and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it.

I mean, it’s a little frustrating that there is no opportunity for any in-depth discussion about issues (as was raised by someone), and the pew seats were both short of leg room and terribly uncomfortable, but I enjoyed being with my clergy colleagues once again. Life in parishes, even in teams, can feel a little isolated at times, and I look forward to being with friends again, catching up over a polystyrene cup of orange juice, or hanging over the back of a pew for a few minutes for a quick conversation.

You’ll all be wanting to know what kind of people attend diocesan synods on an otherwise uneventful (but oddly warm) Thursday evening in October. I thought you would, so during some of the … ok, during the budget, I had a look around the room and took down some stats.

  • I counted 112 people there; 72 men and 40 women.
  • I noticed that 21 people (I only counted the men on this one, out of respect) had facial hair (eyebrows-only didn’t count!)
  • 67 people wore glasses, so I guess it was an intelligent-looking gathering.
  • Only 17 of the clergy wore dog-collars, and of those only 6 were dressed entirely in black (including the bishop — I excused his bishop’s shirt for that statistic); and 3 leather jackets (two on priests and one sported by another church employee).
  • Microsoft PowerPoint was used only once … and rather well, too. No exploding bullet points, or words flying onto the screen with the subtlety of an aerial aerobatics demonstration!
  • Two people took photographs.
  • The Revd Steve Butler came in late and upset my statistics for the total number of people there, the number of men there, and the number of men with facial hair!
  • At least one person didn’t pay full attention to some of the discussions and instead took down pointless statistics instead.

My highlight of the evening was the presentation of and discussion on the new Holy Baptism 2005 and Affirmation of Holy Baptism for Confirmation and Renewal 2005 liturgies, led by Fr Ian Paton. It was clear, enjoyable and practical. We had some interesting theological debate, and I came up with another article for Taking the Episcopalian out of it! Some of the revisions made to the 1998 Initiation Rites I thought were helpful, particularly given that these have come out of people’s practical experience of using these within the lives of congregations. Good practical theology, faith in action.

It must have been an interesting Synod, I’d brought this week’s Private Eye with me, but only got a couple of cartoons read!

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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