11 February 2015, The Tablet

Management procedures second to the Gospel, Welby reminds Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has entreated General Synod not to lose sight of its call to evangelise by entangling itself in jargon and procedure.

In his presidential address today, Archbishop Welby told the Church’s governing body, which is meeting this week in London, that it risked losing sight of its mission when it became enmeshed in arguments and divisions.

Training, management and issues of resources were a means to an end, he said, not the final aim of the Church.

The archbishop opened his speech by satirising management jargon, telling Synod to develop “the widest possible range of stakeholders in order to achieve maximum acceleration of disciple input.”

After pausing for laughter, he continued: “That last paragraph is, of course, complete rubbish. To be honest, I just put it in in order to reassure you, as it is well known that I am in fact a businessman who put on the wrong clothes this morning.” 

Yesterday Synod was told that it needed to act swiftly to save small parishes in rural England. John Spence, chairman of the Church’s finance committee, warned that church attendance had dropped and congregations were ageing in many of these small communities.

Later in the day, Labour councillor and lay member Samuel Margrave, of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council in Warwickshire, questioned Synod over bishops’ “lavish” lifestyles, as it emerged that 26 of the 42 bishops lived in homes that have more than six bedrooms, and four bishops have chauffeurs. 

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