This year’s synod was again held in Dongen, near Gent Belgium. Holy Trinity is represented by the clergy and her 4 elected lay representatives. The main topic was the bishop’s strategy for the Diocese. We also went into vocations and the deanaries. Apart from that we took part in services and met and talked with clergy and reps from other congregations in the archdeaconry.
Synod Delegates 2015: Rosemarie Strengholt, Adrian Los, Sandra Sue, Peter Boswijk (not able to attend), David Phillips, Sam Van Leer
Walking together in Faith: a Strategy for the Diocese in Europe
This was presented and led by the bishop himself, the Right Reverend Dr. Robert Innes, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. This strategy was drawn up by the bishop with a small working group and is currently being presented and discussed throughout the Diocese. Now it was our turn to listen and make suggestions.
There are 5 strands of thinking:
- Building up the Body of Christ and fostering growth:
This focuses on Christian growth of all current and future members through worship, prayer and teaching. Special attention is given to new disciples and young people.
- Sharing, with other churches in the evangelisation of Europe by Proclaiming the good news:
This is about promoting a culture of welcome, invitation & hospitality and seeking new opportunities for growth.
- Striving for the creation of a just society and a sustainable environment:
Here we can think of defending the poor, the disadvantages, and those in need, of safeguarding, combating slavery and human trafficking. The bishop wants our churches to challenging the comfortable (also our own comfortable members) and encourage care for the creation.
- Working for Reconciliation within the Church:
This looks at reconciliation among nations, ethnicities and religions and through intentional engagement with European and international institutions.
Resourcing means we develop and use our gifts and talents, increase the numbers of full-time clergy and candidates for ordained ministry and work at well-structured Archdeaconries, and hopefully, in time, with stipendiary Archdeacons.
William Gulliford, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) (left), gave a presentation on the discernment process. That is the process people have to go through in order to become a priest. The DDO gave an insight into who are involved in the selection procedure and how difficult the procedure can be. The candidates from Europe, for instance, have to write and submit papers and have to go through several interviews, including a six hour interview with William Gulliford. Apart from the various interviews, the candidates have to pass vocational, pastoral and educational criteria.
William Gulliford also spoke about the CEMES scheme, which is an initiative to attract younger people (under 30 years of age). CEMES aims to contribute to an increase of younger ordinands by 50% by 2020. It is a scheme where candidates (if selected) are placed as an intern in a chaplaincy for a year, so they can find out what it means to be a priest. At the moment Brussels and Ghent both have a CEMES intern, who both attended Synod and spoke about their experiences since September when their internship began. They were young (22), well trained (with degrees from Oxford and St. Andrews), full of humour and full of life and they certainly weren’t afraid of presenting themselves and leading compline during Synod. For me (Sandra), this was one of the best parts of Synod, to see the ways in which the church is growing through people who feel a calling.
Deaneries in North-West Europe
The archdeaconry of North-West Europe has two Area Deans. One is responsible for Belgium and Luxemburg, and the other for the Netherlands. The Netherlands consists of 19 congregations. The area dean provides guidance to priests where necessary and works closely with the (acting) Archdeacon Meurig Williams, who is responsible for the Benelux.
Our former Area Dean was the Rev Mark Collinson, from Christ Church Amsterdam. Mark has moved back to England and on to other great things and we are happy to receive the Rev Sam Van Leer (yes, Sam assures us it is “Van” not “van”!) as our new Area Dean. Sam is currently residing in Groningen and officially member of our Church Council. Sam has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Deanery
for a while before this. The new Area Dean of Belgium and Luxemburg is the Rev Stephen Murray, Chaplain of Ghent and Knokke. Both gentlemen were installed into their new positions by Bishop Robert during a communion service at the Archdeaconry Synod.
Within a short while, the Rev Sam Van Leer will of course have another congregation in his deanery. That of (if the Bishop approves the name) All Saints Anglican Church Amersfoort. We are very excited about this, but we need volunteers! If you are interested in even attending one service a month in Amersfoort and are willing and able to help out in some way, please contact either members of TACA or one of your Church Wardens so that we can help make the start up easier!
Anglican Church in the Netherlands (ACNL)
On Saturday we had the Dutch deanery business meeting. The deanery is the collection of all the churches in one country or region combined. So Belgium and Luxembourg have one deanery together and the Netherlands have one deanery, called the ACNL.
The ACNL has an executive committee which prepares the business meeting and works on different issues. So for the past year the executive committee of the ACNL has been working on ‘Guidelines for establishing the identity of Anglicans in the Netherlands’, which has been submitted to the Diocese for approval. This is to help church plants to establish themselves. The committee has also put together a table of benchmark fees for the clergy and chaplaincies in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, Jan de Beij, the ACNL representative on ICO (Interkerkelijk Contact in Overheidszaken), has been working on matters concerning our ANBI status (charitable status). From 1st January 2016 all churches will have to comply with the ANBI rules. The Rev Ruan Crew took over from Sam Van Leer as the representative on the Netherlands Council of Churches. Issues there this past year were, among others, safeguarding and the refugee crisis. During the business meeting the Rev Francis Blight was elected to the executive committee as the clergy representative for the ACNL. The area council is looking for 2 lay volunteers with skills in communication and in human resources. If you can contribute, please talk to Sandra Sue, who is the elected lay member on ACNL.