"The five marks of mission" by Rt Revd Robert Springett

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15th February 2019 at 12.15 – 1.30pm

The Jerusalem Room, No 4 College Green, Gloucester

Present: Bishop Robert, Jerry and Sue Barr, Ernest Nelson and the Revd Julie Nelson, Peter and Brenda Emberson, Ron Keasley, Sarah Hargreave, Robin Gilbert, Helen Arnold, Anne Cranston, Sue Hudson, Revd Joe Knight, Revd Arthur Champion, Pauline Farman, Revd Noel Sharp, Chatal Whitehouse, two guests from Bristol Diocese

Apologies: Martin Davis, Margaret Champion, Elaine Keasley

Intorductions: Each person in the room said a few words about themselves, their local church and their particular environmental interests.  Bishop Robert started engaging with the group by asking what sounded like a straightforward question: “Please tell me about EcoChurch”?  Jerry Barr responded by giving an overview of how the scheme is working. The Revd Arthur distributed a handout on the Five Marks of Mission which express the Anglican Communion’s commitment to, and understanding of, God’s holistic and integral mission:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth

Bishop Robert's talk

Bishop Robert set the context by quoting President Bill Clinton who famously once said: “It’s the economy stupid” and in the same way today the Church could be saying “It’s the kingdom stupid”.  The first Mark of Mission, “To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom”, is expressed through the other four.

Bishop Robert addressed his own challenging question: “What does it mean to be a Christian?” It is of course about discipleship and that is one of the predominant themes in the contemporary church but (citing a recent talk by Paul Gooder) it is not the only one especially as we think of the kingdom of which we are citizens.

Christians as citizens of God’s Kingdom have certain rights and responsibilities of which caring for the environment is an integral part. Further, God’s kingdom spreads across all the nations of the world and as Christians we cannot live in national isolation. This has implications for many things, for example, our aid budget certainly and the environment which is no respecter of national boundaries.  Christians need to engage with these big issues and to make connections and be careful not to be ‘single issue Christians’ (citing Archbishop Robert Runcie) but to live out our faith in all we do Sunday to Saturday.

He then posed a question that occupied us for the rest of the meeting: “How can the culture be changed so that caring for creation is just something we do around here?”

Summary of the Q&A session

Ernest Nelson – “CofE Bishops are failing to lead on caring for creation; for example, lack of awareness about the EcoChurch initiative.  

Bishop Robert – It’s one of many priorities.  Brexit was a huge shock and revealed massive discontent. Politicians talked about the economy without realising so many people felt excluded from it through zero hours contracts etc.  Brexit showed that people aren’t listening to one another.  

Jerry Barr – Greta Thornbery (16 year old) at Davos gave a well-argued speech

Ernest Nelson – Why isn’t environment part of clergy training and cathedral values?? 

Bishop Robert – Glos Diocese will try to make up for this via CME.  

Arthur Champion - Glos City Council had insisted that cathedral could have PV cells so long as they couldn’t be seen from ground level

Sarah Hargreave – God’s love must be the starting point for Christian action which means conflict against capitalism.  

Bishop Robert – “Where does power reside?”

Consensus – we all have power!

Bishop Robert - “Our culture wants to take the wait out of waiting” eg. credit cards

Bishop Robert - US President Trump’s election caused sadness to his mother.  She assumed the world would keep getting better and better.

Someone pointed out that “Bible Belt Christians are supporting Trump!”

Bishop Robert – the cathedral was isolated from the Diocese but less so now

Arthur Champion – A lesson from Cold War is for Christians of all political views to be united in regular prayer meetings as happened between 1980 - 84 at St Thomas Crookes, Sheffield.

Pauline Farman – If enough individuals make small changes this will add up eg. Story of someone throwing star fish into the sea.

Jerry Barr – Please pray for Ruth Jarman who will probably go to prison.

There was a round of applause for Bishop Robert before he led us in a closing prayer

Next meeting: Ernest Nelson proposed 15thApril to coincide with direct action by Extinction Rebellion. Arthur Champion admitted that he felt more inclined to be praying rather than on the streets demonstrating. Arthur promised to consult and be back in touch asap.