Presidential address to Diocesan Synod - July 2024

A Presidential address given by the Acting Bishop of Coventry, The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, at the July 2024 session of Coventry Diocesan Synod.

What a weekend.  The last few days have been full.  On Sunday, twelve priests were ordained; and then in the afternoon, six deacons with another two on the way; not forgetting being able to join my own son ordained priest on Saturday in Wells; and then the licensing of a new Rector yesterday.  In addition, there have been conversations with some of the twenty people who are having their calling discerned at national panel this year here in Coventry diocese.  Much to thank God for! 

But there’s more… the second of the Archdeacons’ Visitations takes place tomorrow, where many churchwardens will be making their commitment to be Bishop’s officers.  I hear that the first of these brought much joy to our Archdeacons as well as, I hope, the churchwardens themselves.  I am so grateful to you for taking on this role, one of such significance and yet challenge.  Thank you!  I’ve noticed in a couple of the recent confirmation services there have been people who have taken that step of commitment because of the sense of call to being a warden.  What a gift.

Confirmation services have been very special in recent weeks.  We are seeing numbers of those being confirmed rise this year over last, and also that many of those coming are either discovering vocations of varying kinds or have come to faith in the last year.  It has been the welcome and inclusivity of their local church that has made them feel a part and has helped them to discover the grace and love of God.  So, thank you for your care and witness to those who might otherwise feel they don’t belong.

Tonight, we shall be considering the work of the new conflict transformation group, a response to how we might love one another more effectively.  Reconciliation is at the heart of our life together here in the diocese.  It begins in our first steps of following Christ, knowing ourselves forgiven and finding His friendship extended to us.  And it extends beyond, into how we then seek to heal those wounds which so often we inflict on one another; how we resolve our differences through valuing the diversity amongst us; and how we then go on to build a culture of trust, peace and justice.

It is hard to imagine that we are already half-way through this year.  2024 seems to have gone so fast.  Can you believe that we also now come to the end of the triennium, of the three years of service that each of you has offered in being part of this diocesan synod? As you entered this evening, we invited you to offer your reflections as you look back on those years.  We shall be given a little time this evening to consider what we have learnt and how we might shape how we work together in the next three years of a new synod.

Looking back and taking time to hear what we can celebrate and what we might do better next time is always of value.  Tonight, we receive both the Board of Finance’s report on the life of the diocese, and the report from the DBE on its work across our schools, in the past year.  There is much for which to be grateful and I hope we will encourage brothers and sisters in their work and ministry through our comments.  I want to record a huge thank you to all our team who have supported us in our desire to live and tell the story of Jesus within all the varying and diverse communities of the diocese. 

However, we must not become complacent as there is still much for us to do.  Tonight, we are going to discuss further the challenge that many of our parishes face in meeting their financial obligations.  We will be invited to support other dioceses who, like us, are feeling the squeeze.  The motion before us asks the Church Commissioners to redistribute some of the funds which we as a diocese contributed into the common national pot, through our ‘Share’ during a time of constraint on national resources.  

It is important however that we don’t just think of those things which particularly affect us personally.  During this coming week there are some important decisions to be made which have an impact on everyone within our society.  On Thursday we make our mark by each having a voice in who represents us within Parliament, and the shape of the new Government to come.  I hope that you all have been sharing in the #Pray your part Church of England initiative of the last three weeks.  Praying for those who will be elected, for respect and truth to temper political debate, and for wisdom, compassion and trust to shape our future Government.  I’ve already posted by ballot.  Make sure you make time to cast your vote on Thursday.

If that were not enough excitement, on Friday the General Synod will meet.  You would be forgiven for thinking that the Living in Love and Faith conversation will take up much of our time.  And it will be a significant area of debate.  But there is plenty more on the agenda!  I ask for your prayers for our General Synod reps and for myself.  Let us pray for listening hearts, the discernment of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to speak truth, show grace, and learn more of God and what is means to be the Church.

Tonight, we have been led in worship, remembering to allow God’s presence to still us.  Amidst the uncertainties of a future not yet known, when we feel besieged and fear that we will be overcome, we are reminded that the Lord is the stronghold of our lives (Psalm 27).  Isaiah 35 gives us a picture of what the future will look like.  A time when water will flood a thirsty land, flowers will bloom in the desert, when the people of God will be brought home via a way that will be clear, and where everlasting joy will be ours.

I ask you this evening to hold Jenny Dymond’s family in your hearts and minds.  Some of us will be alongside Dan, Jessica and Sophie on Friday, when we will remember Jenny with thankfulness and gratitude for all she gave as our Registrar and as a sister in Christ.  She told me in the days before she died that she wanted us to sing ‘Shine, Jesus shine’ at her funeral.  We will sing these words…

‘Lord, I come to your awesome presence, From the shadows into your radiance,

By the blood I may enter your brightness, Search me, try me, consume all my darkness,

Shine on me.  Shine on me.’

Jenny now fully understands what it means to know that everlasting joy.

Psalm 27, read this evening, is still in the realm of the ‘not yet’.  The future is not yet realised, the kingdom is near but not yet inhabited.  The psalmist leaves us with these words…

‘I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.’

Trust, patience and strength are called for.  Sisters and brothers, let us wait for the Lord.

With love and thankfulness for you all,


First published on: 3rd July 2024
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