For the first time in the history of Connor Diocese, the annual Diocesan Synod took place online due to the ongoing restrictions related to Covid-19.
Around 150 members took part on Thursday June 24, joining the hosts via the Zoom platform. Earlier, a Service of Holy Communion was held in St Stephen’s Parish Church, Millfield, led by Bishop George Davison, assisted by the Rev Canon James Carson, rector of St Stephen’s, and the Dean of Connor, the Very Rev Sam Wright, who preached.
As attendance at the service was strictly limited, it was livestreamed on the Connor Facebook page.
The business of Synod got underway at 2pm. The hosts were members of the Connor Development Team and the meeting began with scripture read by Dr Allison Campbell, Skerry, Rathcavan and Newtowncrommelin; and prayers led by the Rev Peter Blair, All Saints’, Belfast.
As Judge Derek Rodgers has stood down as Chancellor, Bishop George nominated the Ven Barry Forde, Archdeacon of Belfast and Chaplain at Queen’s University, to be assessor for this Synod.
Bishop George commented that Judge Rodgers had served as Chancellor for many years. “He was a source of wise advice to us all, and we appreciated his willingness to serve. We thank him for all his work in this role,” the bishop said.
Following the acceptance of the minutes of the last Connor Synod, Bishop George delivered his Presidential Address – CLICK HERE for separate report and full address.
CHILDREN’S MINISTRY OFFICER
Connor’s new Children’s Ministry Officer Victoria Jackson introduced herself to members of Synod in a pre-recorded video. The Rev Canon William Taggart read communications from General Synod and results of the various elections were outlined.
The Report of the Diocesan Council and Associated Notices of Motion were proposed by Jim Neill, St Paul’s, Lisburn, and seconded by the Rev Emma Carson, Ballymena and Ballyclug.
The Diocesan Council Report included updates on the diocese during the coronavirus pandemic, ordination anniversaries, diocesan administration, the development team, communications, youth ministry, children’s ministry, the North Belfast Centre of Mission, and diocesan accounts.
Lay Secretary Ken Gibson thanked Diocesan Development Team members for all the work they had done during lockdown.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Notices of Motion were all passed unanimously. They related to the approval of changes to Diocesan Regulations, proposed by Archdeacon Forde and seconded by Canon Carson; Agreement that the Diocesan Fair Share should remain at 9.5 per cent, proposed by Cynthia Cherry, Antrim Parish, and seconded by the Rev Canon Kevin Graham; and a report from the Down and Dromore Diocesan Board of Education, proposed by the Rev Dr Andrew Campbell, Skerry, Rathcavan and Newtowncrommelin, and seconded by Raymond Gilbert, Carrickfergus.
In discussion of the Council Report, Bishop George highlighted the report by Diocesan Warden of Readers, the Rev Peter Jones. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our readers, both diocesan and parish,” the bishop said. “They are a vital part of the ongoing ministry of the diocese and a huge support to the clergy they serve.”
The Diocesan Council report was adopted by Synod.
Synod then heard a proposal from the Council for Mission that the diocesan partnership with the Diocese of Yei in South Sudan be extended for a further two years to June 2023, when the formal partnership, which began in 2007, will conclude.
The motion, proposed by the Ven Paul Dundas, Archdeacon of Dalriada, and seconded by Ken Gibson, was passed unanimously after some debate. A separate article on the discussions around this motion will follow.
Closing Synod, Bishop George thanked everyone in attendance for helping to get through the business of Synod. “Zoom is a challenging platform at times, it is not the same as meeting in person,” he said.