COVID-19 Update – Synod and Parish Annual Meetings
Dear sisters and brothers,
- Full Synod will not be held in 2020
- Virtual Synod may be held to receive reports and conduct electronic elections if arrangements can be made
- Parish Annual and Special Meetings not yet possible
- Arrangements for virtual special meeting in parishes and conducting electronic elections are being explored
- Diocesan Council has adopted rules to enable the review of ministry arrangements in parishes which are experiencing financial distress due to COVID-19.
We recognise the pastoral need for people to be able to be released from their governance roles and their successors appointed. The Diocesan Office is currently exploring the way that a variety of elections can be conducted electronically. I hope to be able to update you on this soon.
The holding of Synod is very much an Anglican legislative dance!
Being able to gather as the Diocesan Bishop with the clergy and laity to consult together is an important part of our polity.
The Metropolitan of NSW, Archbishop Glenn Davies, has received sufficient advice that the Public Health Orders in NSW take precedence over a legal requirement to hold a Synod each year. He has shared this with the Diocesan Bishops.
Earlier this year I issued a mandate for the election of Synod Representatives in parishes. By virtue of section 4 of the Synod Administration Ordinance, all parish representatives became vacant.
When we are able to conduct elections electronically I will need to issue a new mandate which means that all the representatives, in parishes which were able to hold annual general meetings, will be vacant again.
If we are able to conduct the elections and if arrangements can be made for a virtual Synod (for limited purposes) then we will conduct what business we can.
We will need Public Health permission to gather for an extended people with 300 people and be able to do this in a CovidSafe manner before a face-to-face Synod can be convened. Given the time needed for electing Synod Representatives and calling Synod business the earliest possibility is now February 2021.
I will keep you updated on Synod.
Parish Annual Meetings
It is a principle of enfranchisement that I cannot authorise parishes to hold annual meetings where the number of electors exceeds the maximum permitted attendance or capacity of church buildings.
The Diocesan Office is looking at virtual processes and electronic elections for parishes.
I will seek to keep you posted on this as well.
Responding if needed to financial distress in parishes
The Diocesan Office is monitoring changes to Jobkeeper very carefully. Jobkeeper has provided a financial lifeline to enable ministry to continue across the Diocese. It has been a significant stimulus package from the Commonwealth Government.
The Diocesan Council and NACC Board is conscious that parish income has dropped by 30% (this is an improvement on the April projections). The NACC has ensured that there is a safety-net in place to ensure that the Diocese can navigate this complex time.
Diocesan Council has established a process by which the Bishop can authorise a review of a parish experiencing financial distress which seeks to honour the interests of the parish and clergy as best as possible. The review rules will be available on the Diocesan website on Monday.
It may not be necessary to use these arrangements given the generosity of time and talent by church members to ensure their parishes are fully supported.
Grace and peace