………. but there was nothing cold about the welcome from members of the residential meeting of the
Synod of Scotland as I joined them for the weekend. Attending a Synod as a visitor is an interesting experience – no responsibility, no requirement to make up your mind about anything and time to absorb the atmosphere, chat to people, learn about the joys and challenges of being the church in that particular geographical area. It is also a great privilege and one of the best things about such times are the conversations over meals or whilst waiting in the coffee queue. �
I have no doubt that every Synod has its own characteristics but of course this was a national synod, churches working in a different culture from that of England, and a different political climate where the parliament is closer and there is direct access and involvement in those processes too. Matters relating to resources (including buildings, ministry and finances) are high on all our agendas just now but here was a demonstration of churches seeking and acting on creative and different ways of being church. Some had sold buildings and were worshipping in other places. The Synod was looking at the best use of ministry – both lay and ordained – and in both these areas ecumenical possibilities were never far from the surface. I had been asked to run two workshops in which we discussed lay and team ministry and we shared stories, good stories of initiatives, activities and witness. Stories which demonstrated how churches are seeking ways to appropriately serve their communities. Stories which told of churches seeking ways to work in partnership with other Christians and also with other agencies. This is a small Synod where everyone knows everyone else and yet some of these stories were new to others present which just served to emphasise how important it is that we do tell our stories, share our good news and our work. We have so much to learn from each other. Jesus said something about not hiding our light under a bushel and we usually take that to mean sharing the good news with those outside our churches but I think we might well take it to apply to the work we do and should be sharing within the denomination and with other Christians. At the final lunchtime I talked with one of the ecumenical visitors who complimented the United Reformed Church on its work with children and young people (there had been a youth synod meeting in parallel) and its ecumenical engagement. We have much to share let’s not be shy about sharing it.