Today, the Sydney Anglican Synod begins. It is my intention to provide a brief blog each day. Don’t forget to contribute to our survey to see where the Diocese sits on the church lifececyle model.

When one looks at the opening Business Paper, it is easy to be overwhelmed. In past years, synods have been known to finish early. There is little risk of that this year. The agenda is packed.

What will synod be discussing this year? Lots. Perhaps too much. There is a proposal to provide financial support to Bathurst; the Property receipts Levy (again); Domestic Abuse issues; Gender Identity; Assistant Ministers; Professional Standards issues. Then there are already a raft of private motions (anyone who is prt of synod can lodge something).

In my view, the most significant item should be the triennial budget. This represents our agreed allocation of resources to further the Diocesan mission. Indeed, this is a significant year – with a substantial increase in the level of funds available in addition to a further notable increase in the levy for each parish. This discussion is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Finally, I am always interested to observe where the “energy” of synod is spent. Synod is something like 700-800 people meeting together. What are the issues that are important to them? Is it the core business of reaching Sydney? Is it tightening up the structure and administration of the Diocese? Is it in the mission hour, that focusses outside of Sydney? Is it in the “politics” of procedure? Or, is it something else.

Last year, Bishop Peter Lin and I presented a “Mission Update” to the synod. You can download the slides here. It was a concerning presentation of the facts, which saw pretty much every major indicator go backwards.

To this, you can add the disturbing data from the following graph – the Diocese has pretty much been in plateau from 2002-2015 (even the most optimistic numbers indicate we have struggled to keep up with population growth).

SydAng Stats 2002-2015

How will all of this impact the deliberations and energy of synod this year? We’ll see.