Bishop John gives thanks to Synod participants

In a letter to churches across the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney, Bishop John Armes thanks all those who attended the Diocesan Synod meeting in Aberdeen last Saturday and highlights three key parts of the day.

“We had a good Synod last Saturday, honest, robust and courteous,” writes Bishop John. “Thank you so much to all who attended, especially those who travelled great distances to be with us. It was good to meet in person after such a long time, and to begin our day in prayer, recognizing that whatever divides us we are one in Christ Jesus, for we all share in the one bread.”

The first matter highlighted in the letter is the attendance of Honorary Assisting Bishop Dorsey McConnell who has settled with his wife, Betsy, in Orkney. The former Bishop of Pittsburgh spoke of his experience in the United States where his diocese was deeply fractured over theological issues, and told of their move towards healing and reconciliation.

“It seemed to us, at Synod, that Bishop Dorsey has come to us at just the right time, God’s time,” writes Bishop John. “He will provide pastoral support and guidance to the Islands, he will help us in our own quest for reconciliation, and he will be an episcopal guide and mentor within the diocese as a whole when I am absent.”

Bishop John goes on to explain the arrangement that has been put in place to provide support while the Diocese is without a Dean, with three of the Chapter Canons asked to take on specific duties. Canon Terry Taggart will support the diocesan office and its staff, Canon Vittoria Hancock will be available pastorally to clergy, and Canon Jeremy Paisey may be consulted on Canonical and governance matters.

The third highlight described by the Bishop is Rev Jenny Holden’s new role as Diocesan Advisor for Christian Life, a new post designed to support all congregations as they seek to live their faith as disciples of Jesus. “One priority Jenny and I have agreed is that she will contact some of our smaller congregations struggling through long vacancies at the moment,” writes Bishop John. “But I know that she will be happy to hear from any clergy or vestries who may wish to talk with her. She will be in touch with every charge in the near future.”

Rounding off, the Bishop acknowledges that conversations during Saturday’s gathering made it clear that many clergy and laity are exhausted after the pandemic and with all the other pressures that exist. “If that is how you are feeling, it may be that Lent could be used less as a time for busy-ness as an opportunity to seek rest and solace,” writes Bishop John. “Lent, in part, is a recognition of our human limitations, and Easter comes as a promise of forgiveness and hope.”

Bishop John signs off by saying: “Your prayers for me, for Bishop Anne and for all those caught up in the ongoing Canonical processes are much appreciated.”