Catholics on general Synod

Mary Nagel urges others to stand for election

Twenty years after I first came on to General Synod and I am still willing to stand for elections again! Why? There is a sense of duty to the Catholic cause; there is also a sheer stubbornness not to be defeated.

In 1990 I was warmly welcomed into the Catholic group – it was there that I found a ready-made circle of friends who were prepared to help me and show me the ropes. I remember the crush in a church hall near Great Smith Street, a lot of noise and a feeling of warmth. From there, new friendships were forged and a whole new world was opened up of Church politics. I found out quite early on that much of the work of the Synod is done over coffee during the Synod sessions. It is interesting to watch how many members of Synod network at this time. Ideas are discussed and speeches written, and then at the appropriate time they may be delivered if the speaker is lucky enough to catch the chairman’s eye in the chamber. Is this how it is done over the road in Parliament?

The early 1990s was a difficult time for those of us from a traditionalist point of view. The women priests measure was making its way through Synod and then Parliament and many of us could have felt isolated. The friendship and support we found together sustained many through those trying years.

Throughout the last twenty years I have been privileged to serve on a number of revision committees – in fact I was the only one to serve on both the committee which failed to produce the new Eucharistic prayers for Common Worship and the committee which succeeded! I am also serving on the Council of the National Society (Church Schools) and on the CofE Board of Education. The appointments committee is always fair to all on the Synod so that there is representation from all points of view. I have enjoyed my role on these bodies and am happy that in a small way I can contribute to the workings of the wider Church.

Being a member of the General Synod is much more than attending meetings in February and July. There are fringe meetings which help develop understanding of issues such as work in prisons, ethical investment, global warming, beating poverty and so much more. The mission agencies are active in promoting their work in all parts of the globe and so on.

It is perhaps at the Synod in York in July that we can get to know other people and have the time to talk, to listen and to try and understand another point of view. It is in shared meals, drinks at the end of the day, and trying to find just where your room is, that friendships are made. The Catholic Group always meets for Compline at the end of the long day of debating and we always have a party on the last evening. Here we also get to know many of the staff who work at Church House and serve us so well.

So why would anyone want to stand for election to the General Synod? To serve the Church they love? Well, yes. To be a part of the decision-making process, to increase their own knowledge, to take back to their own dioceses and parishes an ability to help further the mission of the Church and just maybe to have some fun!

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