News - December 2009
December 2009 Newsletter (abridged): Rod Thomas reports on the Reform National Conference and the Manchester Revision Committee
Posted on 1 December 2009
Rod Thomas, Chairman of Reform, writes:
Our national conference last October was a very encouraging time. It was good to see attending a healthy number of younger men who are at the start of their teaching ministries, as well as those of us who are longer in the tooth - whether lay or ordained. We had challenging bible readings, thought provoking addresses about the global struggle for the gospel as well as very practical sessions on working in smaller churches and preparing for ministry. There was such a good feel to the conference that we have decided to abandon plans for a day conference in London next year and instead arrange another residential conference at High Leigh. The dates are 19th - 20th October 2010. If you missed out this year, please put the dates in your diary for next year!
Reform in the media
Since our conference we have increased our public profile a little with press releases on the Vatican's approach to disaffected Anglicans and the latest developments on women bishops. This had led to several interviews on Radio 4 as well as coverage in the national press. We have also been trying to get on the front foot in drawing attention to the need for reform in the church's approach to non-residential training - a topic that has been picked up in the pages of Church Times.
General Synod Revision Committee
Progress with our work can sometimes seem frustratingly slow. A recent example was in the General Synod's Revision Committee looking at legislation on Women Bishops. At one point a decision had been taken to draft legislation to provide for the statutory transfer of functions from a female bishop to another bishop where parishes asked for this to happen. However, when it came to working out the details of which functions would be transferred in this way, the committee voted down every single proposal. The result was that we are back where we started, with the Revision Committee working on legislation that will clearly be inadequate to provide safeguards for those who, like us, cannot accept women bishops. Does this mean that we have now lost the argument? The answer is no. It simply means there is much more work to do to try to get the proposals amended in General Synod.
Opportunities for influence
It is important to recognise too that there remain many opportunities for influence in the Church of England and that we have a wonderful God who delights to demonstrate His power in our weakness. I was reminded of this in my own diocese when my curate decided to stand for election to the Vacancy in See Committee, despite the fact that he was largely unknown. It turned out that not enough people stood to make an election necessary and so he was automatically elected!
When progress is slow we need to encourage each other to keep going:
- Remember that we have a great heritage in the Church of England and we should not let others take it from us.
- We do enjoy successes from time to time. Some recent Episcopal appointments have been encouraging - even if we are still awaiting the appointment of somebody who can clearly affirm the Reform Covenant.
- There are positive plans for the future. I am very much looking forward to all the events surrounding the Passion for Life Mission next March, as we seek to bring the gospel to the nation.
- By keeping going we develop the godly characteristic of perseverance - one of the qualities according to 2 Peter 1:8 that keep us from being ‘ineffective and unproductive' in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus.