Synod – A View from the Other

15 Oct

Like many Anglicans, I have been attending Synod online. This has been a mixture of interesting, frustrating, and amusing as well as technologically challenging for all involved.

It has allowed me to observe from a distance some of the inconsistencies we accept as normal and rarely critique as a community. The observations I will make are simply observations, not criticisms, which may allow us to critique and reimagine not only Synod but the assumptions we make about ourselves and our structures.

Observations:

The following is not an exhaustive list and you may wish to add more but it is where I will begin.

  • The dominant image is, as has been mentioned in previous synods, white educated male heterosexuals.
  • In terms of management of synod, even when a female person is in the chair they are only “acting” president, not the real president.
  • Noticed that when male clergy persons move a motion or a point of order they are referred to by their title, but on at least two occasions a female clergy person was referred to as Miss.
  • With appropriate exceptions, the majority image of people moving motions or making points of orders are educated, white heterosexual male persons.
  • The language of the synod is a technical language based on parliamentary practice and legalese thus referencing those who are fluent in such languages.
  • The structure of the synod remains essentially the same as the structure inherited from the Church of England in the 18th/19th century.
  • The language of the synod is technical and English. There is no evidence of the multicultural nature of our church as there is no visible translation services or sign language for the deaf.
  • Synod is an empirical literal process relying on a particular knowledge base and almost 1,000 pages of documentation. These are English language documents and there are no obvious processes for those who are unable to read such complexity or in English (which may be their second/third or more, language).

My question is:

  • How do we dismantle the colonial matrix of power in the embedded coloniality/modernity at the roots of our institution?
  • This is not about colonisation but coloniality which affects all that/who is other to the dominant normative paradigm of heteropatriarchy European, state centered, economic, academic, and legal focussed world view.
  • What would our system look like if it acted decoloniality and preferred the other over or at least equal to the prevailing status quo?

My suggestion is:

I suggest that until we begin this process of reflexive praxis, Synod and our institution will continue to marginalise the other and be out of step with the space we occupy.

One Reply to “Synod – A View from the Other”

  1. Thank you Glenn. I find your observatIons really interesting. Perhaps the whole Anglican church, as we are in Melbourne, (I won’t speak about the whole Communion), is an anachronism?
    We are no longer the same community which originated in the English church of the 17th, 18th, 19th or even the 20th century. We are changed, and perhaps to an unrecognisable degree? As a woman, ordained, in ministry in this Diocese, and an archdeacon, I still find there are things which are inequitable and frustrating for me, and I am a white, educated, cradle Anglican, brought up in the church – even though female and left-handed and with severely diminished hearing.
    As we come out of lockdown, and continue in this pandemic, perhaps we need to explore an entirely new way of being which has hitherto not been tried? I have been praying about it very earnestly, but ultimately God will be the agent of transformation, with our willingness.k
    Personally, I love the diversity and the wonderful differences of our city. I don’t want the church to devolve into an unrecognisable entity. I want it to be a place of worship, comfort and prayerfulness, where all ought to feel welcomed, honoured and embraced. However, we cannot be all things to every person. I think we need to identify what makes us uniquely ourselves, and welcome everyone into it. For the time being, it is overtly male, white and heterosexual. I look for the traces of the feminine, the coloured and the differently gendered. I rejoice in the glimpses of the deaf, the blind and the lame. What else can we do?

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