Synod – Another View from the Other

18 Oct

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More Observations on Melbourne Synod 2021

An observation I would like to make is of the hard work and effort that went into presenting Synod 2021 online. I recognise the technical team for their efforts to connect over 500 people all working with a range of computer expertise and equipment, not to mention the variation in internet connection and speed. I also acknowledge and thank the Archbishop and the Assistant Bishops, Chancellor, Chairman of Committees, Registrar and the General Manager and all who supported them for a difficult task executed well.

I can honestly say that I stayed more engaged with Synod this year than I have in previous years. The ability to sit back without distraction and observe has been appreciated and, dare I say it, something I enjoyed.

The following observations are my musings and, as I wrote previously, not meant to be criticisms but perhaps reflections allowing us to see ourselves from the Other.

  • Diversity is defined in binary terms, male and female. Diversity in these terms seemed to dominate all discussions.
  • Diversity is defined as “godly or ungodly” and it was made clear by at least one speaker, LGBTQI+ people are in the latter group.
  • Violence in domestic relationships was spoken about only in terms of the binary equation. With the variety of domestic arrangements practiced today,  perpetrators and victims of violence are as diverse as the relationships.
  • Action on climate change, according to one speaker, is not core business for the Synod as “there are more important things to worry about.” (If I heard it correctly.)
  • Motion on climate change action was not put because it asked for a financial commitment and that breached standing orders. (If I understood it correctly.)
  • No mention of the called for report to Synod in response to the motion put in 2019 by Rev Dr. Garry Deverell and myself. It was included in passing in a report from the RAP group/AIC working party but not tabled for discussion. As no one raised a question, obviously not missed.
  • Voices and faces remained distinctly representative of colonialism.
  • Factionalism appeared to be alive and well.
  • The overall structure, language, and operation of Synod maintained the practical exclusion of the majority from full participation in debates, etc, with the only exception being voting.

The further the event went, particularly on the last day, I  became more and more aware of the disconnect between the Anglican Church and its Synod, at least here, and the culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse world we find ourselves in. I became aware that the real issues facing our society: ongoing racism, unseen genocide, climate change, deep diversity, violence in all its forms, equity, and more, seemed to be beyond the scope of the present model for/of Synod.

Now, these are only my observations. Others may see it differently and that’s ok.

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