The meeting was devoted almost entirely to discussion of two motions proposed by Keith W concerning the current proposals coming from the House of Bishops within General Synod to allow for blessing of same sex relations in church. The first motion called on the PCC to support Dan’s right not to bless same sex relationships at St James' by the Park, irrespective of whether all PCC members agree with his theology. The second motion proposed that PCC should withhold a proportion of our Common Mission Fund contribution from the Diocese as an expression of concern about the process and direction of travel.
Tracy opened the meeting with three verses of scripture: John 3 v16-17 “For God so loves the world”, Mark 12 29-31 ““Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” and John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another”. As a PCC we reflected on which words struck us from these passages and prayed for our discussions.
Dan introduced the topic, saying that the CofE is a broad church and when one group of believers tries to institute change that is difficult for another group tensions arise. It was inevitable that this debate was going to arise, however it has now become something of a can of worms. Not only is there a disagreement about the fundamental issue, but objections are being raised about the process that is being followed within General Synod. We have to acknowledge the hurt that has been caused by the church to same sex attracted people over many years. There is already an impact to our congregation from the debate in terms of people leaving the congregation or reducing their giving in response to the vote at the February General Synod meeting in favour of blessing same sex relationships.
Simon C joined the meeting remotely from York, where he has been attending the July General Synod meeting as a representative of Winchester Diocese in the House of Laity. He explained that there has been a 7 year process of dialogue within the Anglican Church which has now crystallised into two equally principled positions. It is difficult to see how these two positions can be reconciled. This is going to impact us as a church family at local, national and global level. The impact on local churches doesn’t seem to be appreciated by the Bishops. If change is enacted then the current plan will produce a whiter more western church. He finished by informing us the final text of the blessings for same sex relationships together with pastoral guidance and arrangements to protect dissenting clergy are due to come back to General Synod in November this year for final approval.
Keith introduced the first motion by saying that as a PCC we should support Dan, even if we disagreed with his position. He felt that it is important for Dan to have a formal expression of support to help deal with pressure from above, other clergy and below. Dan was asked if he needed this motion, and responded that at present it isn’t necessary but is good to have something in place for the future. Other questions raised included why the PCC should have this motion given that the choice not to bless same sex relationships rests with Dan, not the PCC, and what does “support” mean, could it be interpreted as support for Dan’s theological position, even if the motion as written doesn’t say this.
The PCC passed the first motion by a large majority.
Keith introduced the second motion saying the proposal is not designed to address the underlying theological proposal, but instead concerns the process and the impact on the wider Anglican communion. He said he felt there should be more opportunity for direct dialogue with the Bishops.
Nick opposed the motion, having read 1 John 4:18 “perfect love dries out fear”. Withholding money from the Diocese is not a supportive act, it forces the Diocese to make decisions about which areas of expenditure should be reduced, eg number of clergy in post, training of ordinands or Church Schools? He asked how as a PCC we can ask the congregation to support Dan, but then take action which will harm the church at a higher level? Bishops Debbie and David do not have a vote to cast in General Synod, and the incoming Bishop Phillip has only just been announced.
The PCC rejected the second motion by a large majority.
This was one of the most intense PCC meetings for several years, we appreciate the congregation’s prayers for us as we continue to think about this issue in the coming months.
Once upon a time, we used to let people eat a piece of bread that wasn't soggy (having been dipped in wine) and take a sip of wine from a cup. Then along came the big bad monster of covid - and everything changed!
For a while, of course, we weren't even able to meet in the church building. Then we could stream but not have a congregation. Then we could receive communion but we all had to wear masks still (apart from for a brief second to pop the bread in your mouth). To be honest, I've lost track of all the changes we've been through!
The Church Council has agreed that it's time to go back to how things were pre-covid - with one or two improvements hopefully!
From July 23rd, we will resume serving bread and wine separately for most people.
For those who are concerned about the hygiene of having a 'common cup', please read this document, which draws on some relevant research.
It could be easy to get caught up in the practicalities and hygiene concerns of how we share bread and wine. So let's make sure we don't take our eyes off why we share bread and wine. Receiving is a wonderful reminder of Jesus' love and forgiveness for us personally, supremely expressed in his death for us; it's also a reminder that we are one body - one family together - sharing 'one bread' and 'one cup', just as Jesus did with his disciples. Draw near with faith, Eat and drink in remembrance that he died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
David Wagstaff read Revelation, chapter 4, which emphasised the awesomeness and holiness of God. We listened to Only a Holy God from City Alight. We then prayed that the church would reflect God's holiness, as well as praying for the meeting.
Dan reminded us of the vision for the church: God is calling us to become a community who embrace different expressions of church in order to make disciple-making disciples who increasingly reflect the diversity of our local area. The main outcome is to make disciple-making disciples. If we do the disciple-making right, we will reflect the diversity of the local area.
Our buildings are a priority for this vision, as is leadership structure due to staff changes. To pursue the vision, the leadership structure needs to be broadened as having Dan as a bottle-neck is hindering our vision. Another priority is reaching younger people. We have made some work on this but it’s not complete. Dan shared that Josh, our youth worker, gave out donuts this week outside church to young people from Upper Shirley High and this led to conversations about God.
PCC members were assigned areas of mission to take an interest in based on preferences they had already specified, such as teaching, worship and communications. The idea being that PCC members would keep their ear to the ground and be aware of what was happening in the different areas during and outside of meetings.
We discussed plans for parish hall. The congregation had previously wanted a 2-storey design but the council had indicated that wouldn’t be approved, partly due to the heritage of the building and the design not being an improvement to the area. The architects have now suggested a 1 ½ storey design which may be considered more suitable by the council. However, it represents a compromise for us and may still not get planning permission. The large hall is not as large as hoped for and is upstairs, which is far from the kitchen and may affect bookings. Architects fees etc are expensive and getting drawings to the quality needed for planning application would be significant. It was decided that Nick would communicate reservations to the buildings group.
Marie went through the budget for the year and the expenditure for the first four months of the year.
We approved pay rise for contracted admin staff and our cleaner from July.
Rosie gave us a safeguarding scenario.
We talked about potentially changing back to taking bread and wine separately in line with the latest guidance, and agreed that those that wanted to keep the current ‘dipping’ method could choose to do that whilst others could choose to take bread and wine separately.
We discussed choices for a new communion table. Nichola and Theresa agreed to give two options for the PCC to vote on in the next meeting.
Same sex relationship blessings – we talked about the importance of being sensitive when talking about this issue as it affects some members of the congregation deeply.
We have received this message from Bishop James of Sittwe diocese in Myanmar, one of our mission partnerships, following the cyclone you may have seen reported in the news earlier this week.
By the grace of God, We are still alive in the strong Mucha cyclone but our Church compound, houses and Sittwe Boarding house were affected by the Cyclone.
We have to rebuild everything.
Please pray and help our needs.
And also thank you for your concern and prayers for us.
I will send more information after we write the report.
St James has calculated its Carbon Footprint for 2022 and offset it through Enable Busoga. This will help to pay for the monthly monitoring of thousands of trees planted to sequester carbon across more than a dozen sites in the Bugiri district of Busoga, Uganda.
Would you like to offset your own Carbon Footprint? Enable Busoga has set up a fund for further tree planting and one for on-going monitoring and training to which you can donate. Work out your annual footprint using an online Carbon Calculator from for example, Climate Stewards or WWF, multiply by 25 –the price per tonne of carbon used by Climate Stewards – to give you the amount in GBP. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating whether your donation is for planting or for monitoring and we’ll send you the required bank details.