GENERAL SYNOD SUPPORTS CATHEDRALS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
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GENERAL SYNOD SUPPORTS CATHEDRALS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Synod votes in favour of motion from Diocese of Southwark

In this week’s debate, the General Synod voted in favour of a motion that underlines the Church’s commitment to tacking climate change. The motion, brought forward by Canon Giles Goddard, Priest in Charge of St John’s Church in the Diocese of Southwark urged the Church's National Investing Bodies to ensure that their investment policies are 'aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities' of the Church on climate change.

In his speech Canon Goddard said that he ‘wanted to pay tribute to the work of the Shrinking the Footprint Group and the Diocesan Environmental Officers as well as individual dioceses’. There is now general acknowledgement that this issue needs to be raised higher up the church’s agenda and as a result a new working group on the environment will report directly to the Council, to monitor, facilitate the co-ordination of, and promote the responses of all parts of the Church of England to environmental challenges.

Canon Goddard's speech on the motion is available here

The explanatory notes on the motion are available here and here

A lunchtime session for synod members on the theme of cathedral growth attracted around 80 people. The session was Organised jointly by the Dean’s Conference, Association of English Cathedrals, and ChurchCare and chaired by the Dean of Canterbury. It was opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, himself formerly a cathedral Dean.

The Archbishop’s message for cathedrals was clear: they are there to be bold expressions of a living, vibrant church. Cathedrals are models of innovation, melding tradition and development, providing stability through their strength and stature, whilst also being big enough to take risks. Cathedrals are centres of mission, full of passion, life and vigour. He quoted a French idiom, translated as “We step back to leap forward” – the great lineage of cathedral worship gives fresh expression to new and old ideas. And cathedrals are centres of spiritual maintenance for their dioceses, providing morale, hope and succour.

The Dean of Lichfield then presented the findings of Spiritual Capital, a 2012 report which look at who is visiting cathedrals and why. It highlights the power of cathedrals to inspire, to awe, to educate and to build people up. Not only has attendance at cathedral worship risen by 35% in the last 10 years, outside of that almost 11.3m people visit a cathedral each year. Phenomenal cathedral buildings form a large part of the reason people visit, along with the music and artistic traditions. There are lessons to be learned and work still to be done, but the growth of cathedrals continues on an upward trend.

Several short presentations were made on topics including education and pilgrimage. The session showed the huge range of what cathedrals are doing and the important place they hold in the growth of the church. To end with a quote from the Archbishop, “Cathedrals are a fresh vision of what it is to be the people of God.”