Archdeaconry of Gibraltar Virtual Synod

Joan Berry and friends from the Archdeaconry tell us more about their Virtual Synod 2021 which met 1-3 February:

Just as the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar Synod was ending in January 2020, the world was waking up to the numerous news reports coming out of China about a coronavirus that was likely to become a pandemic. The rest is history …

The Synod Standing Committee were compelled to join the multitudes of people whose lives now seemed to revolve around holding zoom meetings. What an experience that is! An emergency meeting was held via zoom to decide a plan of action for 2021. It soon became clear that a physical gathering would not be feasible due to the number of reps who have to travel by air which was already facing severe disruptions. (Our Archdeaconry covers Spain and all its islands, Portugal plus Madeira, Gibraltar, Morocco and Andorra.) 

Reluctantly, and with much trepidation, we opted to hold a virtual Synod and the planning began. The usual residential synod is held over two and a half days with the Clergy Chapter taking place during the day before the Opening Worship at 18.00.

Realising that no one would have the appetite to sit though that amount of time but wanting to try to keep the Synod ‘as normal as possible’, we settled on two full days.

The first most obvious question was, could all the reps use Zoom? Training sessions were arranged until the ‘fearful’ felt confident enough to cope.

One of the greatest advantages to holding a virtual gathering was that we decided to invite speakers who we knew would otherwise be unable to accept.

The Dean of St Albans, The Very Revd Jeffrey John, was invited to lead the two morning Bible Study sessions but could only offer one morning so Dr Jane Williams, McDonald Professor in Theology at St Mellitus College, kindly agreed to cover the other.  An invitation was extended to the new Archbishop of York, The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, to be a keynote speaker and we were delighted when he accepted it.

This Archdeaconry has always welcomed spouses, partners or church officers to attend the Synod (at their own cost) and we were pleased to continue this. The total number this year with clergy, lay reps, speakers and guests totalled around 100.   

The theme for synod was “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” Rev 3:20

(Living the Gospel during the pandemic) and each speaker gave an enlightening talk on the topic.

Bishop Robert gave a presentation on ‘Looking back and Looking forward’ and Bishop David talked in depth about the new Clergy Covenant.

Archbishop Stephen spoke of ‘Opening a door of hope – sharing the gospel in a world of restrictions’.  You can watch this video of his presentation here.

As always, we were pleased to have Diocesan Office staff with us to give updates or answer any questions of concern.

From comments received since Synod, all the reps were particularly pleased that we had included several breakout groups in the programme which gave them a chance to interact rather than just to sit and watch.  We even managed to keep up our tradition of ending synod with a quiz!

Whilst we all missed the worship and fellowship of past Synods, the virtual one has had its own benefits: no long journeys to the venue and more importantly, no demands on much depleted chaplaincy funds.

Taking all things into account, it was considered to be a successful Synod.  


We are grateful to friends at St Vincent's Anglican Chaplaincy in the Algarve for sharing this video of Archbishop Stephen's presentation.   Here also is a flavour of activity in chaplaincies across the Archdeaconry on social media: