Synod Advisory Committee Reports on Third Session of Diocesan Synod

STATEMENT BY THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE REGARDING THE THIRD SESSION OF THE DIOCESAN SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF FALSE BAY

Synod Representatives totalling 170 members under the leadership of the Bishop of False Bay, The Rt Revd Margaret B Vertue, met at the Parish Church of St. George the Martyr, Kuils River from Monday, 24 to Wednesday 26 February 2014 for the third session of the Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of False Bay. The theme of the Synod was ‘The Abundance of the Spirit’.

The Opening Eucharist attended by Synod representatives and other invited guests was celebrated on the Monday evening when Bishop Margaret attended to the preliminary business of Synod as well as to deliver her Charge to the Diocese of False Bay focussing on the four priority areas emanating from discussions relating to the Strategic Planning sessions held over the past 8 months within the Diocese. (The Bishop’s Charge is posted on the Diocesan Website – www.falsebaydiocese.org.za) The congregation was excited that a few pages of the Bishop’s Charge was also in braille and that sign language was used towards the end of the service which reflects a strengthening mechanism to the existing inclusive approach of the Diocese.

Bishop Margaret delivers her Charge.

Bishop Margaret delivers her Charge.

At the opening Eucharist, Bishop Margaret conferred the honour of ‘Bishop Emeritus’ on Bishop Merwyn, the first Bishop of the Diocese of False Bay. Bishop Michell Hansrod from the Cape of Good Hope Methodist Church, representing our Ecumenical partners brought greetings as well as Professor Nico Koopman of the University of Stellenbosch representing Academia.

Each of the following days started with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 7 am which included a reflection on the theme for Synod by the Synod Homilist, Canon Xola Mlandu. Following the daily order of proceedings and the suspension of Rule 44 which relates to a clear day between the second and third reading of Measures, Synod proceeded on the Tuesday dealing with proposed Measures to amend some of the Acts of the Diocese of False Bay which included some sundry amendments which also provides for a more gender friendly publication as well as a new inclusive pastoral code of conduct relating to Parish Councillors and Church Wardens. Synod also discussed a further measure relating to the composition of Parish Councils so that it may reflect and cater for women and men as well as for younger members to be part of that operational structure. Further Measures for inclusion in the Acts of the Diocese of False Bay focussed on a model for Cluster Ministry and the appointment of up to two Lay Canons as part of the Diocesan Chapter. Inter-active and participatory debate during Synod and the openness of proposers and seconders resulted in only two of the Measures referred to the Committee of Synod being set aside for discussion and amendment in the Committee.

Under the very able chairpersonship of Bishop Margaret flanked by the legal advisors, the Chancellor, Mr Ewald De-Villiers Jansen and Registrar, Mr Patrick Arendse, Synod kept to the time slots with motions to Synod being presented shortly after lunch on the second day. Only one petition was tabled with regard to negotiation with Standard Bank for high charges to Parishes as well as two motions in terms of rule 30 (a) (i) (iii) (iv) of the Canons and Constitution of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa which related to the Bishop’s Charge.

A Motion regarding Church Wardens and Chapel Wardens was merged with a Measure relating to the same subject matter regarding the composition of Parish Councils, the second edition of the Diocesan Manual was received as the official Manual subject to the provisions of the Acts and Canons and Constitutions as well as a Commission to be set up to further discuss and investigate the re-imbursement of non-stipendiary clergy. Further Motions, some with amendments which will be tabled in the Acts and Proceedings of the third session of Diocesan Synod included:

  • Lay Training to be enhanced on Archdeaconry level
  • Appropriate definition to be given relating to the qualification of Parish Auditors
  • A commission to be set up under the guidance of the Chancellor to ensure that the constitutions of Diocesan Organisations is in line with the Acts of the Diocese and relevant to the modus operandi of the Diocese.
  • Guidelines to the Bishop’s Award and the appointment of a committee to deal with such requests.
  • A discerning process regarding the Mentorship of New Rectors
  • An alternative introduction in addition to the one in the Anglican Prayer Book for the remarriage of divorced persons
  • The publication and reading of the Banns of Marriage
  • The incorporation of the Church Unity Commission more fully into the life of the Diocese
  • The consideration and suggestion of Canon John Collins to be remembered in the Church’s calendar, a matter to be further investigated and possibly presented to the Synod of Bishops.
Bishop Margaret Vertue and Mr Phillip Saunders at the Synod.

Bishop Margaret Vertue and Mr Phillip Saunders at the Synod.

A Motion regarding the process, time-frame and age of Confirmation was suspended as a result of a team presently working on a Syllabus for the related subject matter.

There were also a few Motions presented relating to Social Justice, which asked the Bishop to either set up a Commission or encouraged the Diocese of False Bay to be more fully involved with existing organisations or commemorative days. These included issues surrounding Gender Based and Domestic Abuse, Social Justice Advocacy, Substance Abuse and Land Reform in South Africa.

Out of the Conference of Synod on the third day which included two topics; The Environmental Networking, a Motion was passed towards Parishes in the Diocese of False Bay moving towards eco-friendly Parishes as well as requesting the Bishop to set up commissions in relation to the Fishing Industry and Permits as well as looking at the remuneration and living condition of farm workers. The second part of Conference of Synod focussed on discussion groups looking at the four priority areas; Contextual Worship and Liturgy, Institutional Strengthening, Social Development and Skills Development in relation to the Strategic Plan of the Diocese and respectfully requesting the Bishop to appoint a representative working group and individuals to continue championing the development of each focus area. A further Motion was also tabled relating to people living with disabilities and for a working group to be established.

Reports from the different Diocesan Organisations as well as affiliated organisations were received. The report from the Bernard Mizeki Men’s Guild was accepted with the proviso that a clause therein be ratified and discussed with the relevant branches.

The Bishop of False Bay also proposed a Motion in the form of a vote of welcome to all clergy and their families who have joined the Diocesan ranks since the second session of Synod, as well as a vote of appreciation and gratitude to those who have retired or resigned and those who have passed on from this transitory life respectively.

It is noted especially that the third session of Diocesan Synod managed to fill all the relevant nomination lists of Diocesan Boards and Diocesan Representatives as required with alternates through the process of elections held on the third day. The results of elections will also be tabled in the Acts and Proceedings of the third session of Diocesan Synod.

A Vote of Thanks  towards the end of Synod was tabled and as omitted on the day, we would also like to extend our gratitude to Canon Xola Mlandu as Synod Homilist, Revd Dean Apples as the Bishop’s Chaplain and Lady Cilla Bromley for all the typing and typesetting of the Measures and Motions for Synod.

All minutes were duly scrutinized by the minute scrutineers and duly signed by the Bishop who dissolved Synod on the Wednesday evening at 19h30, all business of Synod having been covered.

Advisory Committee of Synod: Bishop Margaret Vertue, Mr Phillip Saunders, Sir Rupert Bromley, Mr Patrick Arendse (Registar), Advocate Ewald De-Villiers Jansen (Diocesan Chancellor), Revd, Cheryl Uren, Mrs Nicole Johannes, Ven. Stafford Moses, Ven Clarence E Bester, Mr Basil Cupido (Secretary).

Advocate Ewald de Villiers Jansen helps inaugurate Bishop Merwyn Castle as Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese.

Advocate Ewald de Villiers Jansen helps inaugurate Bishop Merwyn Castle as Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese.