Synod in Cyprus: 1st– 5th February 2016
Tricia and I flew into Larnaca on Sunday morning and, very shortly after, I was plunged into the meeting of the Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee, much of the business relating to the coming Diocesan Synod which began the next day.
Those who have experience of synods in their home church will find it hard to believe that these are occasions we look forward to. The setting in a comfortable hotel adjacent to the sea with the green of Cyprus in February certainly
helps when you come from the aridity of the Gulf, but it is much more than that. There is an excellent balance to the five days which includes well led worship, excellent teaching, a quiet morning at a monastery, shared meals, the business of synod which is conducted well, discussion groups and a celebratory party to conclude. The focus of our synod this year was Our Common Mission and particularly using the Five Marks of Mission as the springboard for our discussions. www.anglicancommunion.org/identity/marks-of-mission.aspx
Undoubtedly the highlight of the Synod for me, and I think for many others, was a series of addresses by Bishop James Jones, formerly Bishop of Liverpool and, as bishop, Chairman of the Hillsborough Independent Panel that was established in 2010 to report on the events that led to the 1989disaster inwhich 96 football fans were killed. His four addresses were titled the Jesus; The Example of Love; The Icon of the Father; The Child of Adam; and The Suffering Servant and they were linked in to the Five Marks of Mission in a very subtle way. He has a gift of telling stories that open up rather than being a distraction from the theme and many flowing from his ministry. I especially appreciated his linking of Jesus who washes his disciples’ feet in John 13, an account we are familiar from Maundy Thursday services and liturgy to his receiving of washing with perfume from Mary in John 12, the previous chapter, and the challenge not only of being a servant, but being willing to receive the service of others.
One big encouragement for the Bahrain team was the opportunity to take the books that had been collected – several suitcases and box loads – to the refugee camp, the humbling
experience of receiving hospitality from those who had so little, to hear at first hand some of the harrowing experiences that they had faced in coming to Cyprus, and to experience the sheer delight on the faces of the children as they looked for a book that they wanted to read or have read to them.
On the final Friday evening, after Synod had formally finished, several members of the Bahrain team were invited to a meal with Nicola and Craig, Marie and Bernhardt from Freedom Dolls Initiative. Nicola and Marie visited us last year for a week, so it was good to catch up with them, to hear of new developments and in particular the possibility of an airline sponsoring a magazine which would be available in every airline seat.