This is a slightly adapted version of the second part of my posting assignment for Church Mouse Publishing.
A little while ago, I discovered a website called 'Wordle' - I even wrote a little about it here - so as an experiment before writing this post I thought I would make a Wordle of the rather long post I wrote for the Church Mouse last week. It looks like this:
It turns out that the graphic is a pretty good summary about what went on. The big word, right through the middle of it, is 'Church', and indeed for most of the time that's what we were talking about - what kind of a church we wanted to be. The word 'pension' is quite prominent, and our various discussions on pensions forced us to think not only about our own stewardship but also about how the outside world perceived us. 'ACNA' is also prominent, and the ACNA motion forced us to think carefully about what it meant to be Anglican (another prominent word in the picture) - especially in churches quite different to our own Church of England. Both of these strands raised issues of sexuality, but although that was an important factor in what we did, it didn't dominate. You can see 'sexuality' clearly in the mix (right above 'ACNA', in fact) but it's much less important than 'Church' and indeed 'Anglican'.
Mouse has already written an excellent post on what Synod didn't do, and has also rightly highlighted the importance of the address given by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Methodist Conference. There is, I know, a long distance between aspiration and action, and there are issues that need to be sorted before the kind of union to which they alluded could take place. However, the fact that we were assured that the dream of unity restored, after two centuries walking apart, is still alive in both our Churches is great news.
If last July's Synod was the stroppy synod, then this one is, I think, the hopeful synod. We managed to demonstrate that, collectively, when faced with difficult and potentially divisive issues we could listen to each other - we proved it over ACNA and again over pension rights for civil partners - and that leaves me feeling more optimistic about our prospects as a church than I was this time last week.