Some new faces on General Synod

At the end of At the end of the last session of the General Synod, many members of the Catholic Group retired after accumulating many years of faithful service between them. The good news is that, after the recent elections, Catholic representation will be even stronger in the new Synod. Both the Bishops of Beverley and Fulham have been elected by the Suffragan Bishops, and only one sitting member has lost his seat. In addition, a good number of new members, both clergy and laity, have been elected – and often in dioceses where there has not been any Catholic representation for many years, if at all.

It was particularly heartening that, rather than becoming polarised on any single issue, the main concerns our candidates expressed in their election addresses concentrated largely on mission and evangelism, education, and care for the poor and downtrodden. We are equally thankful that other Catholic candidates stood, as – even though they were not elected – this signalled a genuine willingness to play a full part in the life and structures of the Church of England in accordance with the Five Guiding Principles.

Here is a random selection of six new members of the Catholic Group in General Synod:

Fr Adam Gaunt – Diocese of York

Fr Adam Gaunt trained at St Stephen’s House, and was ordained to the priesthood by the then Bishop of Whitby in July 2006. He is now Rector of Loftus-in-Cleveland and Carlin How with Skinningrove.

Fr Gaunt hopes to see the General Synod being less apologetic and more self-confident about the position that the Church of England holds at the very heart of our nation, and within each and every community. He also hopes to see the parish system reinvigorated and acknowledged as the point of delivery and primary interface between church, community, and society.

Dr Nigel Aston – Diocese of Peterborough

Dr Nigel Aston is a religious historian in the School of History at the University of Leicester, with specialist interests in eighteenth-century Britain and France. He worships at St Mary’s, Kettering, and is also on the electoral roll of St Mary’s, Stamford, just over the border in the Diocese of Lincoln.

Dr Aston believes that traditionalist Catholics elected to serve in 2015-20 owe a lot to those who fought so hard over the previous five years to defeat the deficient 2012 legislation, and says that he will do all he can to support the Catholic Group over the next five years as the Church of England seeks to move away from managing decline into resourcing growth.

Ann Colton – Diocese of Chelmsford Ann Colton grew up in Leytonstone, in East London, and now worships at St Augustine of Canterbury, Rush Green, Romford. She has served on both Deanery and Diocesan Synods, and hopes that the Five Guiding Principles will enable those of all integrities to continue to flourish. She is passionate that the Church should remain united in its mission to reach out into the wider community and claim disciples for Christ.

Fr Damian Feeney – Diocese of Lichfield

As parish priest in Ettingshall, Wolverhampton, Fr Damian Feeney enjoys the daily round of pastoral and evangelistic challenges, rooted in a local community of faith and seeking ways to help the church grow. As a Mission Advisor he finds it a joy to work in partnership with people across the diocese to help and encourage the ministry and outreach of a number of parishes. He is a member of the College of Evangelists, and a former Vice-Principal of St Stephen’s House.

Fr Gary Waddington – Diocese of Leeds

Fr Gary Waddington is now Team Rector of St Wilfrid’s, Harrogate; and his ministerial experience has taken him through the sweep of socio-economic settings and given him insight into the different challenges faced across the parishes. He has been a member of the Church of England’s Liturgical

Commission for nearly ten years, and is a placement supervisor for both pre-BAP candidates and those already in training; and has been a training incumbent.

Rhian Ainscough – Diocese of Leicester

Rhian Ainscough is a psychology student at Leicester University, and the youngest member of the Catholic Group. She worships there at St Mary de Castro, where she is also a member of the PCC. Formerly a member of the Diocese of Derby’s Youth Council, she is passionate about ensuring that young people are heard within the Church, and are continually given opportunities to develop their faith. ND