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Report from the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar Synod 2018

The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar Synod of 2018 was held at the Hotel La Zenia within the Chaplaincy of Torrevieja from Monday 29 January – Friday 2 February 2018.  Santa Margarita again sent us, her two representatives, together with Revd. Paul plus Kate as a self-funded visitor.  Getting to La Zenia involved a car journey to Mahon airport, a delayed flight to Barcelona (air traffic control issues, only one runway at Barcelona and extreme weather!), a rapid dash at Barcelona airport, only to re-alight on the same ‘plane with the same crew and the same seats! Delayed flight to Alicante airport, safe arrival for us, but sadly not our luggage! and finally over one hour’s car drive to La Zenia

The Standing Committee who had organised the whole event, consisted of the Archdeacon the Venerable Geoff Johnston, Revd. David Waller (Area Dean & Chaplain at Mallorca), David Coulston (Archdeaconry Treasurer & Deanery/General Synod Rep), Terry Weineck (Lay Vice-Chair & Portugal Rep), and Joan Berry (Archdeaconry secretary, Torrevieja Rep, and Deanery Synod Rep).  The theme this year was ‘How do we Sing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land’ chosen by Bp Robert.  On Sunday 28 January, the Standing Committee arrived at the venue and made final arrangements in preparation for Clergy & Reps arrivals during Monday 29 January.  The first Evening Prayer was led by Revd. Bob Keane (Algarve).  Readings from Hosea 9, 1 Corinthians 12;12– end and the Gospel Luke 1:46-55.  After the first Evening Prayer, there was an informal reception for Clergy & spouses hosted by Fr. Geoff & Carol Johnston.

Tuesday 30th January began with Morning Prayer (Charles, King & Martyr) led by Revd John Chapman (Barcelona). Readings – Psalm 100, Psalm 93, Genesis 18: 16-end, Matthew 27:27-44 Gospel Luke 1:68-79.  Prayers also included the Diocesan Prayer cycle – Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod meeting and everyday prayers for the day and its tasks; the world and its needs; the church and her life.  As a break in tradition, Taize music was played before all morning services.  This resulted in mixed comments.

All Clergy attended a Chapter Meeting led by Bp Michael Colclough.  Bp Michael is Canon Pastor at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. (we think it is well worth reading about this amazing man).  Bp Michael’s first talk to the clergy was on “Rekindling the First Love for the Ordained”.  Bp Michael hoped that all clergy may be given a renewed look at God, themselves and their vocation. Later the Clergy Chapter meeting continued with a short presentation led by Bp Robert.  Although reps weren’t invited to this presentation, it was a timely reminder that we shouldn’t take our clergy for granted and we really should show that we care for them.  Clergy wives gathered for a morning of support and fellowship, hosted by Bp Robert’s wife Helen.

The Opening Eucharist of this year’s Synod was celebrated at 18.00hrs, by Bp Robert Innes, celebrant and preacher, and Deacon, Revd. Ray Andrews, (Costa Blanca). Readings being Proverbs 24.3-7; Romans 8.22-27; John 16.13-15.  In his sermon, Bp Robert spoke on “Seeking the Guidance of the Holy Spirit”.  When we need help we ask for God’s guidance, but are we really asking for God’s approval of a decision already made in our own mind?  Do we truly listen?  Bp Robert highlighted biblical instances of God speaking to people, especially including women and children, who he believed we had previously under recognised. He offered that being prayerfully open to the Spirit’s guidance had led the church along the paths of the ordination of women deacon, priests and Bishops and of the protection, the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.  He hoped and prayed that at Synod the Holy Spirit would lead us into truth as we consider the mission of God in the debates ahead on the affairs of our Archdeaconry and Diocese. (full sermon attached).  Trevor & I were invited to act as ‘welcomers and sidespeaople’ at this opening Eucharist and we were very thrilled to be able to represent Santa Margarita.  Included in this service was the collation of Revd. Paul Ormrod (Madrid) as Canon to the Pro Cathedral, Malta and the admittance of Peter & Ginny Smith as Readers (both Torrevieja).

At 19.30 hrs, the Archdeacon opened this, the First Annual Synod of the Triennium, with a huge business agenda.  125 people were in attendance.  He gave an introduction and general welcome, particularly to Bp Robert, Bp Michael and to Bp. Jorge Luis Aguiler, one of the Anglican Bishops in Peru, to new Clergy and new Reps and visitors   Fr.Geoff spoke of the Clergy who had left the Archdeaconry, including our Dean of Gibraltar The Very Revd. John Paddock, and a minutes silence was held to remember Bp Geoffrey Rowell, and Synod Reps Alan Brown & Jean Fountain-Wilson who had all sadly died over the past year.  Fr. Geoff also reminded us that there would be a ‘silent collection’ before the Eucharist on Wednesday evening for the usual donation to the Anglican Churches in Peru.

We will not bore you with the routine matters of a business agenda but, needless to say, a goodly length of time was taken over the Archdeaconry Finances which were presented by David Coulston.   David asked that the Diocesan Treasurer, Nick Wraight, be thanked for his skill and management of DiE funds, as well as thanks to Audrey Singh (Gibraltar) and the audit team.  David reminded the meeting that he was standing down as Archdeaconry Treasurer after over 10 years in post.  Fr. Geoff thanked David, on all our behalves, for his service.  An additional item on the business agenda was the nomination and election of a House of Clergy rep, as a casual vacancy following the resignation of one of the Archdeaconry clergy who had returned to the UK.  There were 3 nominations and Fr. Richard Seabrook (Torrevieja) was elected.  A further item was the nomination and election of the Standing Committee – these being Fr. Geoff Johnston as Chair will continue, Revd. David Waller (Mallorca), our Area Dean will continue, secretary Joan Berry (Torrevieja) will continue, Terry Weineck (Porto) standing down and David Coulston (Mallorca) accepted as Lay Vice Chair and Gwen Furmston (Tennerife) accepted as Treasurer.  After a very long and full meeting, we were all well ready for a tasty dinner and our beds.

On Wednesday 31 January, (John Bosco, Priest and founder of the Salesian Teaching Order 1888). The day began with Morning Prayer led by Revd. Bob Horrocks (Fuerteventura).  Readings Genesis 19:1-3,12-29, Matthew 27:45-56 and Gospel Luke 1:68-79. Diocesan cycle of prayer – Costa Blanca, all chaplaincies and all their clergy team.

After a hasty breakfast, the first sessions of the day started with Bible Study, based on the Book of Ruth ‘Ruth – Love, loss and the goodness of God’ led by Revd. Paul Needle.  Today’s study entitled Ruth 1 – Leaving and cleaving.  Revd. Paul Needle suggested that the bible study title fitted in well with the theme of this year’s Synod, it being an Eastern love story, a migrant’s story, a culture clash, lessons in hospitality and a book that looks to the future.  The hour seemed to fly by and we both felt this book now taught us so much.

The next session was led by the Interim Diocesan Secretary, Mr Mike Fegan specifically on ‘common fund increases 2018/2019’.  Mike Fegan was appointed interim Diocesan Secretary following the retirement of Adrian Mumford last year.  He comes from a a career as a Chartered Accountant working as a Financial Director and has spent a number of years working on improving financial management working with charities and non-profit making companies.  Before joining the DiE he worked for the Dioceses of St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich and Rochester.  He began with a personal introduction and then offered a clearly, thoroughly researched presentation in 5 parts.

  • Why is an increase necessary? He spoke on the Bishops’ Councils decisions on funding Archdeacons, Safeguarding and other issues.
  • The financial position of the Diocese. Here he showed analyses and projections of Diocesan rising costs and falling reserves.
  • Comparative analyses. He gave comparisons with other UK Dioceses.
  • The financial position of chaplaincies. It was accepted that some Chaplaincies are financially sound and some are not.
  • Some questions answered. Unsurprisingly the questions from the floor centred on the financial strain on chaplaincies trying find these increased ‘dues’.

Having previously received from Diocesan Office a report on the Bishop’s Councils decisions regarding common fund increases and having seen video presentation by our Bishops, Robert & David positively commending the Bishops Councils decisions your PCC has already been considering this issue.

The final session of the morning was a keynote presentation by Bp. Robert: ‘Strangers at the gates: welcoming the migrant and refugee’.  Bp Robert started by saying welcoming migrants and refugees was one of the most pressing moral, ethical and political issues of our times and reminding us that many chaplaincies throughout our Diocese are directly involved in the work of caring for migrants and refugees.  He offered definitions of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker and some basic facts including numbers and percentages, from where people are leaving and to where they might be arriving.  He quoted from a survey of UK public opinion highlighting a wide misunderstanding there of the actual situation.  Bp Robert then turned to the Bible for reference points.  The book of Genesis records people in movement from Adam and Eve forced from the Garden of Eden through to the Exodus and eventual settlement of the Israelites in the ‘promised land’.  Israelites are commanded and solemnly instructed to welcome strangers and refugees and to treat them as native born because they themselves were once slaves in a foreign land.  There is also instruction to the foreigner to respect and embrace the host society but the greater biblical duty is to welcome and care for the vulnerable foreigner.  Turning to the New Testament, Jesus was born away from home, became a refugee in Egypt, and during his itinerant ministry often had no place to rest his head.  The Bp went on to offer 5 principles for thinking about the ‘Crisis’ that the arrival of large numbers of refugees in Europe has provoked:-

  • National/international responses have been insufficient or shamefully unethical
  • We must actively recognise a limit to the generosity of host countries
  • Portraying migrants as threatening or dangerous people is untrue and reprehensible
  • Principles of religious freedom should prevail
  • Principles regarding integration

He expanded on each, drawing out the scale of the human suffering, deprivation and trauma suffered by so many people, all worthy of compassion and support.

Finally, Bp Robert asked, ‘what can we do?’ when it is mostly assumed that responsibility for refugees lies mainly with the state.  He spoke of various initiatives by churches, Roman Catholic, Protestant and others and by churches and states in partnership. (full presentation available on request from info@anglicanchurchmenorca.com).

The afternoon session started with another keynote presentation by Revd. Deacon Christine Saccali, entitled ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ focusing on the Anglican Church in Greece response to the vast movement of people sweeping through Europe.  Christine described her involvement with the refugees and how she was eventually appointed Refugee Response Facilitator, which is a post sponsored by the USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel which is a United Kingdom-based charitable organization).  She is a very busy and committed lady who tries to show her concern and despair for refugees in practical ways along with balancing her liturgical and community diaconal role with her family life as well as working as a teacher for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).  A major concern is the continuing effect the crisis is having in Greece on both the indigenous population and the refugees.

Her talk was linked with and complemented by a further moving presentation by Paul & Gemma Carr, who had founded a Charity called ‘Collective calling’ following their experiences on working with refugees in Greece.  This young couple are from the Chaplaincy of Costa Brava South.  They spoke passionately about their lives and work, how the Lord had come into their lives and how their lives had changed.  For people interested in just what this couple are doing, please visit their website: www.collectivecalling.org

Following a quick refreshment break, Celia Paterson (Madrid) gave a talk on ‘Supporting children/young people’s ministry’.  Celia advised that every Archdeaconry is to have a Childrens/Young persons co-ordinator – she being the co-ordinator for this archdeaconry and will be working with the Archdeacon.  It is hoped that eventually SKIPE meetings can be arranged so all youth workers can liaise with each other.  There is no training for youth workers in this Diocese, although some Dioceses within the CofE do offer training.  Celia herself is a ‘Godly Play’ trainer for Spain.

The final session of this long, heavy day was on Safeguarding and as sadly none of the Safeguarding team could attend this year’s Synod due to work demands, Mike Fegan gave the presentation.  He told the meeting that the Diocesan Safeguarding team in Diocesan House was fully staffed apart from a manager who was in the process of appointment.  He gave a brief résumé of the results of the Diocesan wide audit which had been undertaken with the involvement of all Chaplaincy Safeguarding officers at the end of 2017.  He felt that the Diocese had achieved a positive outcome and he stressed, with support from Bp. Robert, that Safeguarding within the Diocese and Chaplaincies was “non-negotiable”. The audit results and report will be circulated in due course.  Bp Robert joined the presentation and the meeting was made aware of just how big the problem of safeguarding is.  He was relieved to report that there had been no child deaths within the Diocese, but that one Priest had been banned for life when allegations against him had been upheld.  He expressed great concern about Clergy well-being in respect of ‘bullying’ and asked all to look at whether ‘bullying’ was a problem in our Chaplaincies.  The meeting was also told that there will hopefully be a condensed Chaplaincy Safeguarding Protocol available soon which will be much easier to negotiate.  Fr. Geoff also thanked the Chaplaincies Safeguarding Officers for their hard work and co-operation in completing the audit and reminded the meeting to request that if anyone does contact the Diocesan Office team that they show respect to them.

The Evening Eucharist was celebrated at the local Roman Catholic Church, a short walk from the hotel.  The ‘welcomers/sidespeaople’ were two of our friends from Costa Brava. The Celebrant was Fr. Geoff Johnston, the Preacher was Bp Michael Colclough supported by Revd. Frank Sawyer (Greater Lisbon).  The readers and intercessor were from Casablanca. Readings – 2 Samuel 24:2,9-14: Mark 6:1-6a. In his sermon, Bp Michael spoke on ‘Pilgrim People’.  He gave an outline picture of the life and work of St. John Bosco, whose day it was.  The Gospel message is powerful but it is easy to allow familiarity to weaken it.  There must be an openness to be led by the Gospel on our pilgrimage of faith. He spoke of the active part which should be played by all individuals in our church congregations, in confession, absolution, reconcilliation and the joyful expectancy in worship.  When making (not “taking”) communion we hold out our hands to receive the bread of life and to offer ourselves open and vulnerable to the Lord.  Bp Michael described this as food for the journey, the life of pilgrimage leading to our true home in heaven. (full sermon attached).

Thursday 1 February (Brigid, Abbess of Kildare c525) began with Morning Prayer led by Revd. Alaric Lewis (Costa del Sol East).  Readings – Genesis 21:1-21, Matthew 27:57-end, Gospel Luke 1:68-79. Diocesan cycle of prayer – Gibraltar

Our second Bible study session then took place, again led by Revd. Paul Needle continuing with the Book of Ruth, entitled ‘To you in David’s town situations!).   Another fascinating, informative and uplifting presentation by a passionate speaker who presented both sessions with much humour and knowledge.

The next session was another keynote presentation by Obispo Jorge Luis Aguilar from the Anglican Diocese in Peru.  He began his presentation with prayer.  He then talked about Peru as a whole, having a population of 32million people, how originally it was an Inca community and then the Spanish invaded.  How now there are 3million Peruvian nationals living outside Peru.  He described both the beauty of the country, the beaches, the mountains, the food which contrasted against the many problems there.  Lots of violence against women, quoting figures of 7:10 women are abused.  A great lack of scurity – himself being mugged and robbed a few weeks before he came to Spain.  Many roberries are at gunpoint; much corruption, especially within the political classes; earthquakes; strong rainstorms and flooding – reminding us of the flooding disaster in Jan/Feb 2017.  He expressed his gratitude for the sums of money sent from Europe and also help from the Anglican Church which aided many, many people.  He then gave a brief history about the Anglican church in Peru, how it originated in 1849 but the diocese closed in 1990 when the then Bishop was threatened with death.  He spoke warmly of Bp Bill Godfrey, who arrived in Peru in 1997 who managed to re-instate Anglican Chaplaincies which grew from 1 – 8.  This Archdeaconry has strong links with both Peru and Bp Bill, who retired to North Yorkshire 2 years ago.  Bp Jorge then spoke emotionally about his own life and how, always believing he had a calling from God, became a Roman Cathlic priest, being licenced by Pope John Paul II.  He fell in love! and had to leave the priesthood, his family and himself being excommunicated and many of his friends foresaking him.  He is glad to say that he is still happily married with 2 sons.  However, Bp. Bill ‘found’ him and he converted to Anglicanism and is now one of 3 Anglican Bishops in Peru.  He told about the growth of the church there, and felt it was imprortant to maintain friendship and the link with our Archdeaconry.  It is important that we pray together, talk, listen and communicate and look to the future together. He closed by saying that Love is at the centre of all relationships. The meeting gave him a standing ovation at the conclusion of his presentation.  The meeting was reminded that Revd. Deborah Chapman (Barcelona) is now the Archdeaconry link with Peru and she will identify what help or assistance this Archdeaconry can offer to the Anglican Diocese in Peru.

The last session of the morning was presented by Liz Hudson, the new Diocesan Communications Consultant.  She has taken on this mantle from Revd. Paul Needle who has ‘retired’ from this role after many years dedicated service.  As her title describes, she is not directly employed by the DiE but is working in a Consultancy role and as she herself said, she is ‘very good at delegating!’  She has a great deal of experience working with the Church of England for over 15 years and she spoke with such enthusiasm. We were all entranced by her description of her work with the re-interment of King Richard II at Leicester Cathedral.  She reminded the meeting that there is a mass of technology available but care is needed in using social media safely.  She referred to our Revd. Paul’s prolific use of ‘Tweets’ on our church website.  She told the meeting there would be many changes on the DiE website, with DIET which would become ‘Europe Link’ and she is looking into new and extending traditional ways of sharing information across this huge Diocese (over 42 countries and one sixth of the geographical world).  One suggestion was that maybe the creation of an Archdeaconry website might be effective.  Liz can be contacted via email to Diocesan House – communications@eurpoe.anglican.org.

The first afternoon session was divided into ‘mini’ meetings.  Reps and Clergy could choose between a meeting principally for treasurers (or their representatives), a Bible study led by Canon Medhat Sabry, (Casablanca) or a Meditation led by Revd. David Waller.  This year, Revd. Paul attended the treasurers’ meeting. Although ‘nothing new’ arose, the group was able to support a rep from a Chaplaincy who had many questions. Trevor attended the Bible Study on ‘Bright Morning Star’ and Margaret and Kate shared in the Meditation (opened and closed with prayer) based on ‘the story of Zacchaeus’.

Following these meetings the Spanish & Portugese reps and Clergy separated for respective business meetings.  The Spanish meeting, was chaired by Revd. Paul Ormrod, (Madrid) supported by Celia Paterson (Madrid) and Caroline MacFarlane (Costa del Sol East).  Celia advised that all chaplaincies must notify the Spanish Ministry of any change in their Chaplaincy legal reps, with a 3/12 window so to do.  Also that at every APCM the names of the legal reps must be read out and recorded.  Revd. Deborah Chapman (Barcelona) will now be the new rep working with Celia & Revd. Ormrod to share the FEREDE workload.  She requested that all chaplaincies make sure that the Archdeacon and the Archdeaconry Secretary and herself have correct details, especially of worship centres. She reminded the clergy to check that the FEREDE membership cards were still ‘in date’ and if not to contact her for their renewal.  Finally she advised the meeting that when the Chaplaincy financial accounts are presented they must be in a format which is acceptable to the Spanish legal system, a copy of which must be in Spanish.

The next session was presented by David Coulston (Mallorca) on the Diocesan Strategy.  David reminded the meeting that this strategy was on the Diocesan website for all to see.  Further work was in progress and Joan will circulate this update in due course.  He invited Fr. David Waller (Mallorca) to describe a way that his chaplaincy had adopted one of the elements of the strategy.  Fr. David described how there are 3 Chaplaincies on Mallorca and they have now started to have a yearly ‘away day’ to discuss what each chaplaincy was doing, who was responsible for the ‘doing’ and what about the future.  Fr David had found that by taking people away from a PCC or agenda’d programme it had freed people to talk more.  David Coulston suggested that at our own PCC meetings the strategy could be looked at and worked on.  He referred to the 7 marks of a healthy church and the ‘setting God’s people free’ paper from the General Synod.

Fr. Geoff closed the final session thanking everybody for their active contributions over the week.  He gave personal thanks to the Standing Committee for their preparatory work.  He thanked Fr. Marcus (Costa Blanca) for ensuring that the Worship sessions were helpful and supportive, Revd. Paul Needle for his keyboard playing and all the speakers saying how excellent they were.  Finally he thanked the hotel staff for their care and attention.  He thanked the Reps who would not be standing for re-election for the next triennium and also Clergy who would be retiring in the next year.  He confirmed the dates for next year’s Synod were to be Monday 4th– Friday 8th February 2019.

The final Evening Eucharist was entitled – ‘Called to be whole’.  The celebrant was Revd. Doreen Cage (Malaga), preacher, Caroline MacFarlane (Reader, Costa del Sol East) and Deacon, Revd. Deacon Frances Hiller (Bp David’s Chaplain).  As you will note, the service was officated wholly by female clergy.  All clergy and most reps attended but some clergy present chose not to receive Communion from the Priests at this service, but as Bp Robert had mentioned earlier, everyone’s views and beliefs were to be respected and the Peace was shared by all with all.                                                                                                       Caroline’s sermon was concerning the welcome we offer in our Chaplaincies to people who come to us with all kinds of needs, needs of healing and wholeness.  She spoke of the ways of making first contact welcome at the door, the ways of sharing the Peace and the ways that the whole congregation has to make a welcoming impression. Caroline quoted Jesus’ instructions to his disciples “if any place will not welcome you……as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them”.  She asked that we should not be such a place.  She said that we are all disciples of Jesus called to be the means of His Grace, the voice of His message and to heal and so, we must be sure to offer a genuine welcome to enable healing and wholeness to begin.

The evening ending with a lively dinner followed by entertainment in the form of a ‘Beetle Drive’ – you can imagine the comments like ‘gosh, haven’t played that since…..’ – not that we were showing our ages!.  Trevor looking relaxed joined by friends from Mallorca & Costa Almeria & Calida.

The Friday morning service broke with tradition from Morning Prayer to be a Said Eucharist – the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, celebrant, Revd. Marcus Ronchetti (Costa Blanca) who lit the Candlemas candle during the service.  At the end of the service, Revd. Marcus carried  the candle from the service room and everyone made their final departure.  Breakfast followed and this was quite a subdued and emotional event making fond farewells to many friends.

This year’s Archdeaconry Synod did have a different ‘feel’ at first, as there were many new faces, both of Clergy and reps and it took a good 24+ hours for people to become a ‘family’.  It was different also having Bp Robert in attendance, the Synod being used to Bp David. A special ‘touch’ was that Helen, Bp Robert’s wife, made a point of going to everyone and spending time talking with everyone, and she listened to what was said.  Also, Bp. Michael’s wife, Cynthia went to every table at meal times and joined that table and talked with ‘non-clergy’ – she really had a strong gift of welcome and helped many people who were attending Synod for the first time, feel more comfortable.  It was good (in our opinion) that Revd. Paul got to spend time with other clergy for fellowship, learning and support, including inviting a newly in-post Priest on the Peninsula to join the ‘clergy cluster’ group now a fixture within the islands and northern Spain.  Likewise for Kate, as a visitor and clergy wife she could meet and relate to other clergy wives, even though she was unable to spend much time attending sessions of her choice due to illness which incapacitated her for most of the week.  The hard work of the Standing Committee in preparing and arranging this Synod has not been in vain, neither has the difficult travelling.    The Synod was hard work, but we shared fellowship, teaching, prayers, laughter and tears and love – shared with our friends (old and new) within this huge Archdeaconry Synod.  Besides the challenging yet uplifting spiritual side we all enjoyed the wonderful singing from the wide selection of hymns chosen throughout the week.  What a joyful noise we made accompanied so melodiously by Revd. Paul Needle on the keyboard.  We came home exhausted but happy we’d been able to attend and represent Santa Mararita and to share with you all through this report a taste of the whole event.  We make no apology for its length, we have followed the Archdeaon’s instructions that ‘a full report be given to our own Chaplaincy’.

Trevor & Margaret Jones
Santa Margarita, Menorca Archdeaconry Synod Reps

February 2018

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