Ideas were flowing when some 70 people attended a Thinking Day for the Synod held at Jesmond United Reformed Church on Saturday 28 February.
Synod Moderator, Revd Lis Mullen, had invited the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne, the Ven Peter Robinson, to facilitate the day, with the aim to “reflect together on the options for future mission and ministry within the Northern Synod and to do so by being visionary and realistic at the same time.”
Synod Clerk, Melanie Campbell, and Elders Sandy Ogilvie and Fred Robinson also helped to run the event, which was also described as an open-minded conversation.
A contextual Bible study of the healing of the paralysed man in Mark 2: 1-12, gave fascinating insights into seeking God, purposeful love, lateral thinking, risk-taking, and reactions to change.
Lis reminded us of the current reality of 71 churches, one mission and two mission projects meeting in 69 buildings, with 20 stipendiary ministers and 2,758 members. Denominational targets would see ministry reduce by one for each of the next five years.
Participants shared the things that they cared about in the church, and produced lots of ideas for how to do church differently. We then voted for our five favourite dreams: worship well, life cycle church, live and let die, inspired to think and share, travel more lightly and declutter.
After lunch, we continued to reflect on these dreams, seeking to identify how they might build on the good things already happening in our churches, and how to overcome potential barriers to change. It was clear that this would require some support and direction from Synod, as well as enthusiastic engagement and a willingness to rethink expectations in local churches.
Synod Executive has been tasked with picking up these dreams and running with them, to see if they can be developed into a visionary and realistic strategy for the Synod and its churches. An exciting challenge! No doubt we will hear more on this in the months to come.