Extraordinary by name…
…extraordinary by nature. Communications Officer David Hammond-Williams reports from April’s Extraordinary Diocesan Conference.
It was supposed to be held last October but Covid-19 lockdown put paid to that. So the 2020 Diocesan Conference finally convened on 24 April 2021 and not in a hall but in those little computer boxes we have come to know so well, although not love all that much.
But business is business and has to be conducted even if it has to wait six months. Hence the date in April, hence it was officially Extraordinary, held in an extra - i.e. out-of-the-ordinary, way.
Otherwise, things proceeded more or less as you would expect. There were motions, all carried overwhelmingly. including the adoption of the 2021/22 budget. Most significantly, though, conference agreed to two measures that sought to enhance diocesan democracy:
The first of these was to introduce a system whereby LMA Councils can, in future, bring motions to conference for debate. Previously, these had to be adopted by Standing Committee (the executive arm of the conference) or go forward as private members’ proposals.
Bishop Joanna said she believed this would encourage greater participation by laity in the life of the diocese, which she sees as of paramount importance.
Diocesan members of Governing Body are also encouraged to support similar proposals at provincial level.
The second of these was an agreement to fully integrate the Fourth Archdeaconry – the Archdeaconry for New Christian Communities and Evangelism – into diocesan structures. This means its lay representatives will become voting members of conference (they were merely observers this time around) and take their seats on the Standing Committee.
In effect, the three Centres of Mission – Merlin’s Bridge, Cross Hands and Morfa (Llanelli) - will jointly have LMA status with all the powers and possibilities that that brings.
The centres – collectively branded Impact 242 - were also the subject of the main presentation to conference. Each one produced a video introducing themselves and laying out their vision for the way ahead. These can be seen on the diocesan YouTube channel and via the conference page on the diocesan website.
The Archdeacon, Mones Farah, paid tribute to the support provided by the Church Army in establishing the centres. But he pointed to the size of the task they face. “Less than two percent of the population attend Anglican worship,” he said. “There is a discrepancy between what [Anglicanism] means and how we present it. Our mission is to bridge that gap.”
The 2021 conference is scheduled for Saturday 2nd October at a venue or on a platform yet to be decided.