Friday, 17 September 2010

General Synod Election Address

General Synod: House of Bishops Southern Suffragan Elections 2010

Election Address from Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden & Acting Bishop of Stepney

I confess that I still quite enjoy General Synod, having served on it, with one break caused by consecration, on and off since 1985. You were kind enough to elect me to represent you in 2004 in a by-election, and again in 2005. Synodical structures in the Church of England are creaking – and are probably not fit for purpose – but we need to ensure that they serve the mission of God and can reflect our concerns as bishops and leaders in that mission.
Here are some matters to which I would want to give attention if elected:
·         Mission is top of my agenda. I have no desire to serve as a bishop in a dying institution, and will work for all that will help the Church of England to flourish in re-evangelising England and continuing to serve every community in pastoral and social care. To that end, I believe that we need to take radical steps to renew ordained and lay ministry (and undo the damage that has been done in that area by the bureaucratisation of ministerial training through the Hind Report); to revitalise inherited church and plant new missional communities; and to ensure that the National Church Institutions serve the dioceses and parishes through the legislation and policy that General Synod devises.
·         I’m absolutely committed to the consecration of women as Bishops, and hope to see it happen during the next quinquennium. Having sat on the Revision Committee, I know that what we have produced thus far does not meet the expressed concerns of those opposed, and believe that we have more work to do together as we devise a Code of Practice to see whether we can better provide for them while not trammelling the episcopal leadership of women.
·         If elected, I will work hard on your behalf to press the case for a better theology and practice of episcopacy. The role of suffragan bishops is one which is still not clearly understood, even by some of our diocesan colleagues! If our collegiality in the College and in the House is to make sense, we have to find better ways of working together, both in Dioceses and at a National level.
·         The Anglican Communion will continue to exercise us. We should give maximum support to Rowan in his attempts to hold things together, but this may well entail reinventing the ways in which we relate to Anglicans in other parts of the world. The instruments of communion are looking pretty threadbare! What is most important to sustain is our solidarity with those Churches in the two thirds world who are under the greatest pressure from poverty, persecution and political structures.
·         We shall have to work together as Bishops on the way in which we express our role in the nation in the face of increasing demands for the UK to become a more secular post-Christendom country.  This will entail ensuring that Synod understands the context in which we, as Bishops, operate. I’m privileged to be bishop in the most multi-faith and multi-cultural areas of the country (Willesden and currently Acting Bishop of Stepney). Articulating the importance of faith to Government, national and local, and engaging critically with the Coalition agendas such as the “Big Society” and education and housing reform will form a major part of our concerns both as a House and as a Synod. We will also have to help Government better understand the distinctiveness of the major world faiths and our role in the public sphere.
·         There are great challenges to be faced in relation to clergy “recruitment” and deployment; the number and shape of dioceses; and a realistic appraisal of our church buildings and whether we can continue to sustain them. I want to encourage episcopal colleagues to become much less risk-averse, more entrepreneurial, and to take the radical decisions that will ensure that, ten years hence, there is still a Church of England serving the whole country. The situation is probably more serious than the House of Bishops and the NCIs have yet acknowledged, and we cannot continue to sleepwalk into the future.
·         There will be some major questions to be faced in relation to those groups of conservative catholics and evangelicals who feel disenfranchised in the current Church of England (not merely in relation to the ordination of women to the episcopate). I have been working with other episcopal colleagues on how we might make provision for them going forward – I’d like to think that they can continue to have a life in the CofE, rather than seceding from the Church to which they have always belonged. This may make for some uncomfortable ecclesiological reshaping and necessitate some robust debate between us as to what might be possible.
Previous Form (which can be held against me!)
General Synod (Proctor in Convocation, London) 1985 – 2001
General Synod (Southern Suffragans)                    2004 – date
Chair, Vacancy in See Committees Regulation Working Party                       1991 – 1993
General Synod Standing Committee                                                                       1992 – 1998
General Synod Appointments Sub Committee                                                   1992 – 1995
Member of Archbishops' Advisory Group                                                             1993 – 1998
Chair, General Synod Business Sub Committee                                                  1996 – 1998
Chair, General Synod Elections Review Group                                                    1996 – 2000
Steering Committee for National Institutions Measure                                   1997
Member of Archbishops' Council                                                  1999 – 2000
Chair, Business Committee                                                            1999 – 2000
In the rest of life, I serve on the Urban Bishops Panel, and have just finished as Chair of St John’s College Nottingham Council. I’m also a Trustee of the Church Urban Fund. One major sign of hope that I enjoy being involved with is Spring Harvest, where I chair the Board of Management which organises our annual Easter event (attended by 35,000 Christians, 40% of whom are Anglicans), and our other work to equip the Church.
I hope that you’ll consider giving me your first preference vote, please. Do be in contact if you have any questions about anything I’ve written here.
Telephone: +44 208451 0189
Thank you for reading all this!