Newly appointed Synod Elections Officer Anne Gray introduces herself

Born in Leigh-on-Sea – a real Essex girl – I was fortunate that my parents took me from birth to St Clement’s church, soundly Catholic in those far-off days. Baptized and then confirmed there, I later married Philip, one of the curates, and we immediately moved to a large vicarage in rural mid-Suffolk. Forty years on, we are still there – half that time a resolution ‘C’ parish under the pastoral and sacramental care of the Bishop of Richborough.

I educated our five children at home until secondary school age, obtained a law degree from the University of Essex, then commuted to London to study for the Bar Vocational Course. Called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 2005, I completed pupillage and thereafter practised as a barrister.

A member of FiF, SOM, SOLW and CU, I am also on The Guild of All Souls’ Council. I have served variously on PCC, deanery and diocesan synods and was for 10 years an ABM selector.

When Fr Simon Killwick and Bishop Norman first asked me to consider the role of Synod Elections Officer, I can’t honestly say I was keen; in fact I only said I would think about it to keep them

quiet, with every intention of saying, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ The synodical machinations of the last 22 years and more have taken their toll and, like many in our constituency, I was weary of Church politics. Grateful that last July’s vote provided sufficient leeway for us to remain, I looked forward to the establishment of The Society as a kind of safe harbour providing respite from those storms.

Two things changed that. The first was a talk by Bishop Norman at Walsingham. When speaking about the

Five Guiding Principles, he emphasized that the CofE is now committed – at least on paper – not just grudgingly to put up with us, but to enable us to flourish within its life and structures – and without time limits. ‘But,’ he added, ‘we have to play our part in those structures order to flourish.’ The second was on the same evening while kneeling in the Holy House: a distinct sensation of being told, ‘You’ve asked for guidance; what more do you want?’

So here I am, back into the fray with renewed vigour, ready to play a small part in encouraging others to play theirs, so we can indeed flourish! ND