1. I'm dyslexic, do me a favour, keep it to one side of A4, use a font like Arial and font size 12. Simple. Oh, and I like pictures.In both local meetings there has been a lot of talking dirty about mission and Extreme Being Nice. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” asks the Prophet Amos. Well, apparently they can, in England anyway. That’s nice.
2. Be open and honest. If you are against Women Bishops, say it, don't make me glean it out of clever phrases.
3. Tell me what five or six issues you feel will come up at the next synod, and which way you are inclined to vote. (Without lots of words as to why, and what a jolly good chap you are).
4. If you want, tell me one legislation that you would like to see come up and why.
5. If you can, give me evidence that you are good at politics and lobbying.
6. Tell me if you are associated with any groups that aid you in your politics and lobbying.
7. Don't give me 25 points of things that are important to you. Just tell me your top three (and make it real rather than bull shitty). I will roll my eyes if you say you are passionate about mission - what does that mean?
8. I don't care whether your hobbies are paragliding or stamp collecting - really - I don't care.
9. I don't care whether you have been a priest 100 years or you are a curate.
10. I don't care whether you are single, divorced, married with 17 children.
Like Lesley, I looked for trenchant Conservative conviction, and have to say I picked up a curious mood music from semi-professional church politicians, appealing to rather than contesting inclusivity as a value. Better late than never, I suppose. A visitor from another planet would never have known, on the basis of what was said, that any candidate did not bleed for radical inclusivity.
Mindful of Lesley’s top ten tips, one speech stood out head and shoulders for me. It suggested what synod is about apart from Extreme Being Nice — a place to become aligned to our gospel values, and to articulate them to outsiders. In sheer hard headed terms I found this very much the Gettysburg Address of both evenings, from my learned friend, chaplain, and local Vicar Rosie Harper. Having covered Lesley’s points (3) (4) and (6) in her written paper, this is what she said:
Good evening. I’m Rosie Harper, the incumbent here and also Bishop Alan’s chaplain. I had a real wake-up call a couple of weeks ago.
A group of us were working with a very senior consultant around the nature of our institutional processes. It fell to me to give him a lift to the station at the end of the session -so of course I asked him what he made of what he had learnt about us.
This is what he said: ‘It seems to me that you are working as if you didn’t actually believe in what you are doing.’
Scary or what?
We all know that fabulous stuff is going on at the local parish level, and here in Bucks we are trying to be an Archdeaconry which models a very high degree of actually doing what we believe.
General Synod undoubtedly sets the tone in the country -mostly because of its fairly high media profile. What the country hears are not our gospel values; they hear that we don’t do equality, we are locked into archaic financial systems, and there is still a considerable lack of transparency.
But, you might want to say -we are all equal in the church -well yes -so long as you are white, middle class, straight, male and preferable with at least one degree. Whilst this remains the case our integrity is so severely compromised that –to be frank -anyone with any sense struggles to take us seriously.
The good news is that we can change all that. We can preach a gospel that is good news for Everyone. We can get grown up about the way we do money and we can begin to put our passion and energy in to what the Lord requires: to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.’ Micah 6.8I would like to be one of the sensible people at General synod — forward looking, a bit radical and full of faith that God will continue to build his church. To do that I need your vote. Please!