Following recent elections to the Church of England’s General Synod, commonly known as the Church’s Parliament, nine representatives from the Diocese of Winchester have been chosen by the local Church to represent Hampshire and East Dorset.
The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England, commonly referred to as the Church’s Parliament. It considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the Church of England, authorises new forms of worship, debates matters of religious and public interest, and approves the annual budget for the work of the Church at national level. In 2014, it was the General Synod which voted to enable women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England. At its next meeting, members of the General Synod will consider the appropriate response of the Church of England to the current refugee crisis.
Eight of the nine newly elected representatives are joining the General Synod for the first time, and will be representing the clergy and the lay members of the Church across the Diocese of Winchester.
The Rev Dr Benjamin Sargent is one of the youngest members of the clergy in the Diocese, having been ordained when he was 26 in 2009. He and his wife Kelly have six children and live in Bransgore, where he has been the vicar since 2013. Ben decided to stand for General Synod because he wanted to do more to support young people.
“Before I was ordained I worked as a youth worker and I still run a summer camp for teenagers every year. I think it’s really important that the Church reaches out to young people with the good news about Jesus Christ and it’s really important that the General Synod includes people who have experience of working with the youngest members of our parishes. As a parent and former youth worker, I’m hoping to be able to use my practical experience to shape national Church policy.”
Alison Coulter is a director of a leadership development consultancy, and lives in Winchester with her husband Ian. She has previously been a member of the Church of England’s local decision-making body, the Winchester Diocesan Synod.
“I’m looking forward to bringing my experience from a local level to the national General Synod. I am really excited about the possibilities for growth in the Church and exploring how we reach new and different people. In order for the Church to grow we need to find those examples of good practice from around the country and share them across the wider Church – I hope to be able to help to facilitate that.”
Lucy Moore is the founder of ‘Messy Church’, a way of exploring the Christian faith which is designed for people of all ages and which invites families and others to worship in engaging and participatory ways. She lives in Bishopstoke with her husband Paul (an archdeacon in the Diocese).
“Since Messy Church began in 2004, it’s been exciting to see new families coming to their local church and growing as Christian disciples together. The Messy journey has taken me to churches around the world and given me the opportunity to explore how best to carry out the mission of the Church to grow disciples of all ages and I look forward to bringing that experience to General Synod to help the Church of England to grow.”
Notes for editors
Each Diocese has a number of places on the General Synod, some reserved for clergy and some for laity. Elections are held every five years and the successful candidates from the Diocese of Winchester are as follows:
House of Clergy
The Rev Andrew Micklefield, Alton
The Rev James Pitkin, Romsey
The Venerable Dr Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth
The Rev Dr Benjamin Sargent, Bransgore
House of Laity
Dr Simon Clift, Southampton
Alison Coulter, Winchester
Christine Fry, Basingstoke
Jay Greene, Romsey
Lucy Moore, Bishopstoke
In addition, the Rt Rev Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton, has been elected to represent the Suffragan Bishops in the Province of Canterbury.