Taking the temperature of Connect09
I'm fairly new to Synod. I've been along to hear the Archbishop's presidential address a few times. And last year I was in the public gallery listening to questions about some new venture he called "Connect09". Unbeknown to me I'd soon be immersed in the campaign. Funny how things turn out!
But this year is the first time I've watched a whole Synod from the public gallery. What a valuable experience it has been. As someone whose field of view is completely filled with Connect09, this has been a rare chance to step back and hear where others are at with the campaign; to sit again in the public gallery and see whether the things we have been working very hard to provide centrally (information, ideas, resources etc) have had any effect where it really counts " at the coalface, within the 800 Anglican congregations and 65,000 individual believers who are Christ's ambassadors in this city.
It's a bit like taking the temperature of Connect09 one year on. At Synod 2007, Connect09 was little more than an idea. People had many questions and few answers. Almost 12 months later there are still plenty of questions " but questions of a different kind. They are the questions of action and intent rather than confusion and objection. There are also " praise God " some answers! Most of all, there is a groundswell of anticipation and expectation; the sense that we have lots to do, but we are doing it together under God.
Some people I talked to:
"¢ The senior rector of one of the biggest churches in the Diocese, whose recent parish research uncovered a whole area that no-one even realised was part of their patch. He shared his church's enthusiasm to reach out to their whole parish " including the bit they didn't know they had!
"¢ The rector who shared his worry for the leaders at his church. As is often the case, 20 per cent of the people are doing 80 per cent of the ministry and they are exhausted. Whilst connecting with people is close to their hearts, it just feels like even more work ahead with Connect09. (I know the rector of my own church shares this concern.)
"¢ A rookie rector who is very excited to have just joined the ministry of a smaller, community-based church at a time when there is so much momentum for looking outward and building new connections. The right thing at just the right time.
"¢ The many lay Synod reps who enthusiastically loaded up with brochures and info from the Connect09 stall to take back to their churches and parish councils. There was particular interest in the new Luke's gospel " The Essential Jesus.
"¢ The person who joked (half seriously) that if he heard the word "connect" one more time at Synod" I can't remember now what he said he'd do.
Overall, the reaction from people of all shapes and sizes has been incredibly positive. Not the over-the-top, hand-waving kind of enthusiasm that can be fleeting, but the steady sense that this is our
course now; that this is right, and we are committed to it together " so let's get on with it.
Andrew Nixon is the Executive Director of Connect 09 and a minister with many years of parish-based ministry.