Diocesan Synod took place from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th August 2018, at Christ Church Cathedral in Polokwane
Here are important documents about Synod as we meet to discern God's will for our life, mission and ministry.
- First Agenda Book: Click on "First Agenda Book"
- Second Agenda Book: Click on "Second Agenda Book"
- Outline of Synod Opening Eucharist: Click on "Synod Opening Eucharist"
- Synod Order Papers - giving the detailed plans for each session of Synod: Click on "Synod Order Papers"
- Budget Overview - †Martin's 2019 Budget Overview Presentation to Synod: Click on "Budget 2019 Overview"
- Bishop's Charge to Synod - Click on "Bishop's Charge" (Charge in full) or "Bishop's Charge Presentation" (PowerPoint)
- Minutes of Synod - Click on the day to see the minutes: Thursday 16th; Friday 17th; Saturday 18th; Sunday 19th August
- Election Results - Click on "Election Results" to see the results of the elections conducted on Sunday 19th August.
Report and Photographs
Synod has a team of dedicated Intercessors meeting and praying for Synod. The intercessors also share with Synod Words of Knowledge received.
All motions referenced below can be found in either the first or second agenda books.
Thursday 16th - Opening of Synod and Service of Holy Communion
Synod began with a spectacular opening service of Holy Communion. Bishop William Mostert of our Link Diocese of Christ the King in Johannesburg visited and brought greetings
Bishop Martin delivered his Charge and challenged the Diocese to prepare prayerfully and obediently for the next three years of ministry, and for his and Colleen's departure at the end of February 2019.
This was followed by a meal for all, after which Synod resumed and dealt with a few important preparatory matters in preparation for Friday's matters.
Friday 17th - First Full Day of Synod
Synod resumed at 08h00 with Morning Worship, conducted in LuVenda, and a Bible Study in which we focused on Living a Jesus-Shaped Life.
Synod has accepted that a late Motion (24 - Order Paper) be brought before it concerning the sale of a portion of our land in Jane Furse. Because this land was a land claim granted in our favour some years back, Diocese requires the approval of the Minister of Land Affairs to sell it. The proposed purchaser will be the local District Municipality. Synod debated this motion and expressed a desire the land usage be properly dealt with and that the environment be protected. Synod approved this Motion.
Synod debated (Measure 1) the requirements for full membership and leadership in the church, and agreed that such membership and leadership is not related to gender or age. Synod therefore approved a rule change to remove any confusion over this matter, and to use instead the nomenclature of being 'God-fearing' as apposed to being 'mature in years'.
Synod has approved that Ms Betty Monyemorathoe (Motion 12) and Ms Muriel Wagenhauser (Motion 13) be awarded the Order of St. Mark - an award given for exceptional service and leadership by lay people in the Diocese of St. Mark the Evangelist.
Synod also agreed that while financial giving is important, it is not the only indication or requirement for membership of the church. This is especially pertinent to those who are poor or unemployed. Synod accepted that people be encouraged to give financially, but also be permitted to give of their time and talents if they cannot otherwise give money (Motion 2).
After a break for morning tea, Synod broke into Conference with an opportunity for discussion over the Bishop's Charge delivered the evening before. A number of people then spoke to matters pertaining to the Charge when Synod resumed. There were however no motions arising from the Charge.
Synod has approved a motion (Motion 7) calling the church to be intentional in its commitment to learning more about God's Word. This commitment to Discipleship must include an intention to make disciples of others as well. There are numerous resources available to use, and the Diocese will search for other relevant material to share with the Parishes in the Diocese.
Synod has also committed itself (Motion 17) to forming a dedicated team of professionals who can respond to any and all accusations of abuse by clergy or leaders in the church. Although we do not currently have any issues of this nature before us, it was felt that as a church we were compelled to be ready and proactive in dealing with any possible future eventuality.
After lunch Synod goes back into Conference to discuss reports pertaining to the Department of Growing the Church. Synod has now resumed and a time for discussion on these reports is now being held. One motion arising from these reports has been placed onto the agenda (Motion 25).
Synod is now debating the admission of baptized children (Motion 5) to receive communion before confirmation. A good debate ensued and members shared their personal experiences and concerns. The biggest objections were to do with the minimum age for children to be admitted. Synod voted in favour, albeit the nays were not significantly lower than the ayes. Bishop appealed that we roll this new ministry out cautiously and respectfully.
Synod now considers how best, if at all, to bury people who were not members of the church and may even have been non-believers Motion 1). This can be a contentious issue as it is felt some people abuse the hospitality of the church in using the church's resources for this ministry, others believe it is an opportunity to minister through Grace to those bereaved, which ministry may even grow the church. After a substantive debate the motion was approved with an amendment. This motion now goes to Bishop and Chapter for further work in developing guidelines for use by the churches.
Synod now addresses the generational gap (Motion 9) between our young people and their elders. How do we facilitate young people feel they are part of the establishment of the church? How do we permit the voice of young people be heard, and not drowned out or forbidden by the older generation? This motion seeks to facilitate inter-generational gap conversations and the maintaining of contact with our young people who move out the church to study at tertiary institutions outside of the Parish boundaries. The motion was approved.
Continuing with our focus on young people, Synod now addresses the urgent requirement for adequate budget funding for youth ministry (Motion 20). Synod approved the motion unanimously.
Our third motion (Motion 21) on young people encourages Parishes to give young people an opportunity exercise leadership. Synod approved the motion unanimously.
Synod now addressed the new motion placed onto the agenda earlier today (Motion 25). This motions seeks to measure and continually improve any ministry and resources provided by the Diocese. Synod approved the motion.
Saturday 18th August - Second Full Day of Synod
Synod has resumed, starting with a time of worship and bible study.
A new motion (Motion 26) has been added.
Synod is now debating Motion 16; how can we best make use of retired clergy and leaders in mentoring of Parishes and new leaders. Synod approved the motion.
Synod moves now to Motion 19; Unity in Worship. Synod approved the motion, with a caution that united churches can be both very helpful but also frustrating.
Synod now addresses motions raised during the sitting of Synod. The first is how to encourage those Parishes who have resources share with and assist those who are struggling. This is a very important motion as it speaks to our Christian culture and our African culture of Ubuntu. This motion was approved.
Synod returns from morning tea and goes immediately into it's third conference in which they will discuss reports from the Diocesan department of Development, as well as reports from Organisations.
Synod then discusses issues and questions arising from the reports. Discussion now concerns the needs and vision of young people. Synod then noted that our Registrar, Ms Pam Oberholzer, will be retiring early 2019. Synod gave Pam a standing ovation in recognition and honour of her incredible commitment and professional advice and work to the Diocese. In no small way her wisdom and expertise has made this Diocese what this Diocese is. We thank her.
The following unopposed motion concerning Ms Pam Oberholzer was formally submitted and accepted: Proposed: Dean Luke Pretorius Seconded: Ven Philip Moseki. This Synod notes with both sadness and appreciation the intended resignation of Ms Pam Oberholzer early 2019. Synod is deeply appreciative of the work done by Pam. This was always done both professionally and expeditiously. We will miss her calm and considered wisdom in matters legal and property. Synod is also aware that Pam was strongly supported by her husband, Anton, who made possible the many hours of pro-bono work and travel Pam has undertaken on behalf of the Diocese. For all this, Synod expresses it’s deepest appreciation. Pam, you are an incredible person and an inspiration to us all. We will miss you, but wish you all the very best in your future. We assure you of our love and ongoing prayers for you and Anton.
Synod also approved the following unopposed motion concerning the death of Kofi Annan: Proposed Ven. Robbie Novella Seconded Dean Luke Pretorius This synod notes the death today 18 August 2018 of Kofi Annan, former secretary General United Nations. This synod notes that he was an African and a world leader. We mourn his passing. Synod recognizes that he and many other outstanding world leaders are African. This synod acknowledges with appreciation the important role which African leaders can and must play in the affairs of the world.
Synod has adjourned for the day, and concludes with evening worship. Synod resumes Sunday morning after joining the Cathedral Congregation for worship and the Celebration of Holy Communion
Synod now moves to Motion 14 and discusses the feasibility of moving toward a paperless Diocese by 2021. The debate generated much debate, largely in support. People warmed strongly to the idea, albeit they were nervous about having to learn something new. Synod approved this motion.
After lunch Synod addressed the budget for 2019, and related motions concerning the finances of the Diocese.To this session of Synod are invited the Wardens and Treasurers of the Parishes of the Diocese for them to hear and participate in the presentation of the budget for 2019. Synod noted with appreciation that a number of Wardens and Treasurers have joined us.
A large discussion has ensued regarding those Parishes who are struggling to pay their monthly pledges, often through no real fault of their own, and who are requesting their arrears be written off. Synod notes that the Diocese is dependant on the monthly pledges / assessments from the Parishes, and when these are not paid the Diocese cannot grow and develop as they had planned, and Stipends remain low. However, grace must also be exercised in assisting Parishes so that they might recover and once again assume their rightful place in ministry.
Synod debates Motion 6 calling on the Diocese to implement a strategic plan for effective communication. Synod were very aware that modern and effective methods of communication was necessary and important. A caution was sounded that there is a financial implication and a need to learn new systems. Synod approved the motion.
Synod debates the issues around the costs of travel and vehicle maintenance (Motion 18). Ours is a vast and rural Diocese with often vast distances between our Parishes. This increase in distance and the often poor states of the roads places a large burden on those who travel far for their ministry. Caution was sounded that SARS has a maximum stipulated travel reimbursement rate and we should not exceed this without incurring additional tax burden. Synod agreed that a clear policy, taking into account the cautions raised, should be accepted. Synod approved the motion.
Sunday 19th August - Final Day of Synod
Synod worshipped with the congregation of Christ Church Cathedral. After a shared tea Synod resumed. Two additional motions were added to the agenda.
Synod is now addressing Motion 8 which calls on us all to strategically and intentionally evangelise. Synod approved the motion.
Synod addresses Motion 11 addressing the retirement age of clergy. Should this be compulsory at 65? Should those who wish to remain longer be permitted to do so? Synod debated this with enthusiasm, both for and against. Synod did not approve the motion.
Synod now votes for elections. The Diocesan Chancellor, Justice Matsaro Semenya, directs Synod on procedure. The first vote is for the Chair and deputy of the Electoral Advisory Committee. By Canon Law these must be laity. The second vote is for clerical representatives to Provincial Synod. Third vote is for lay representatives to Provincial Synod. We now vote for clerical representatives to Provincial Standing Committee, followed by the lay vote for their representative. Synod now votes for representatives to Diocesan Trustees, and then for Diocesan Finance Board. Synod finally votes for the clerical and lay representatives to the Elective Advisory Committee.
The results of the Lay Chair of Elective Advisory Committee is; Chair Mr Peter Lekalakala, Deputy Mr Nyatlo.
Other results will be announced later.
Synod begins to draw to a close with the final Unopposed Motions, followed by the Vote of Thanks.
Synod then closed officially in prayer.