Kelvin has written nearly everything you need to know about the listening process that we endured at Synod today, and you all know what I thought of it before this started. If you haven’t already, read his first.
I knew precious little about what we were getting at Synod. I knew that we were expecting a presentation on what happened at Pitlochry and then small group table discussions, and I knew that there would be no time for discussion as a whole Synod or feedback from the groups. I knew the last part because I went hopping mad at my own Diocesan Bishop when I learned of it at our pre-Synod meeting last week.
Let me tell you something about a whole Synod discussion and about small group table discussions. The Scottish Episcopal Church is changing the way we train people for ministry, and this morning we had a conversation about that in our small groups and then we had an incredibly fruitful conversation and Q&A as a whole Synod. Because the changing of TISEC to the Scottish Episcopal Institute is important business that means a lot for the life of our Church and that a lot of people have a lot of questions about, and so we discuss it in this way, together, so that concerns can be raised and answers given and lively debate had. I ask you, what is less important about the inclusion of LGBT people in the life of our Church and the way we treat them and their relationships that means that we do not discuss that together and that it does not have to appear in Synod minutes?
Does it appear to you that the people who decide how we talk about these things might be frightened of what might happen if we actually talked about them? It appears that way to me.
The presentation on Pitlochry was worse than I expected. And “worse than I expected” is an awfully low bar to clear; I did not go into this with high standards. It became clear to me very quickly that nothing of substance was going to be shared with us in that presentation and I have my suspicions that that means that nothing of substance was discussed in Pitlochry. I began weeping during the presentation and I continued weeping all the way through the table discussion. I feel angry and disrespected and (unsuccessfully) manipulated by the people in charge of my Church, and I feel ashamed of what I have from this Synod to take back to the LGBT members of my congregation, which is nothing.
The table discussion was better than the one I sat through at Diocesan Synod, but I credit that to my having been on a table this week with good people. Unlike at Diocesan Synod, where I sat through chat about Holy Mother Church and sodomites. The fact that I was blessed with sensible people to talk to does not change the fact that we weren’t allowed to achieve anything of substance or to share our views, including the view that same-sex marriages are already part of the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church whether they like it or not, with Synod as a whole.
All around the room, the question was being asked of why are we not just getting on with this? But, of course, God forbid that any Synod members should be allowed to express that view to Synod.
What I have seen in the last two days is that the views of people in the Church are changing and that the Church is growing restless, and that a small number of people who have more power than they should are silencing our voices.
The Primus spoke afterwards about the value of this process in that it does not turn the issue into a debate with winners and losers.
He forgets about those of us who are already losing.
Losing our faith.
Losing our patience.