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Archbishop speaks at Synod on senior church leadership

Saturday 11th July 2015

The Archbishop contributed this afternoon to a debate on senior church leadership at the meeting of the General Synod in York.

Archbishop Justin spoke in support of a Private Member's motion moved by Canon Simon Kilwick: "That this Synod do take note of the report of the Faith and Order Commission Senior Church Leadership: a resource for reflection."

Archbishop Justin's contribution follows below:

We should all be very grateful to Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) for the work they have done in this report. Like all words, leadership comes to us with a lot of baggage; that sets for us the framework in which we hear or see the concept of leading. 

We inherit models of leadership that were for centuries authoritarian, ignoring the poor and the voiceless. The question the report addresses is: how is leadership continually redefined into a model that is truly Christ-like?

How we develop and prepare some of those who have wide responsibilities in leadership is both demanding and potentially prophetic as regards the world around. Our interest is in discerning and developing God's gifts and graces in his people. Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night: that we're committed to nurturing vocation across the whole of God's people, regardless of sexuality and regardless of whether lay or ordained. 

The FAOC report shows that leadership needs preparation: in prayer, in theology, in skills of every day matters, in collaborative working, in interpreting the times, in safeguarding, in how to ensure that what the church discerns as necessary, the church does. We must have a system that is pastorally sensitive for those being formed, self-consciously inclusive of all those we too easily exclude, and ensures that those being considered for appointment in posts of wide responsibility are from all areas of the church, and are diverse especially in the areas of major weakness: BAME people and gender balance, disability and others. Our theology and practice must challenge inherited or widely accepted bad models through prayer and also theological thinking. 

There is much more that could be said, but the heart of what I feel, in supporting strongly this FAOC report, is that theology and practice must go forward at the same time, in dialogue, and that in all areas of the development of leaders we will always continually be adjusting what we do, not only as the context changes, but also as our understanding develops.

 

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