I'm Bishop of Willesden which means I look after the Church of England in north-west London. I'm at the General Synod all week and therefore not doing most of the things I would normally be doing. I go down to Church House in Westminster where we sit in session all week.
It's based on how the House of Commons works. We discuss internal church business and make legislation because we have the privilege of making our own law as the established church. We debate, argue and try to move the church forward. The main business today is talking about the progression of women ordained as bishops. Most evenings you go out with mates, go out for meals, have a drink, catch up and network.
We spend today deep in legislation which is both incredibly boring and incredibly necessary. There's a lot of discussion about fees we charge for weddings and funerals, pioneering different ways of doing church and, finally, pensions. The Archbishop of Canterbury also speaks today; he's very compelling. A lot of what we are doing at Synod is on Twitter. It's great to see social media drawing people into what goes on. It's very encouraging.
I chair a debate on television coverage of religious issues. There's a danger it will turn into a "Let's bash the BBC" session, but loads of people contribute to their experience of how good religious coverage still is on both the BBC and commercial networks. There's a very moving presentation from some military chaplains who tell us about what they do to help people serving in Afghanistan and other places. I have a nice meal in the pub in the evening.
The Methodists address us, talking about if we should amalgamate the two churches. There's much discussion about buildings too. We have lots of Grade I-listed buildings and ask how we can keep them sustained and open. Contrary to popular opinion, we don't have loads of money. What do we do with all this heritage we've had since medieval times which we still have to pay for upkeep? Then we look at how we can help children and young people engage with the Christian story. For many it's not a question of rejecting Christianity; they simply don't know about it.
We have a great debate about the compatibility of science and Christian belief. Darwin believed that science and Christianity were entirely compatible. Next year is 400 years since the authorised King James version of the Bible was first printed so we discuss the big commemorations surrounding that. It's a pretty good Synod: good debate, good interchange and a wonderful atmosphere.Reuse content