North-West Europe Synod meets in Drongen

Gathering at Drongen Abbey near Ghent over the weekend of 7-9 October, the North-West Europe Archdeaconry held their Synod.  They focused on Climate Care, Racial Justice and Stewardship. Archdeacon Sam Van Leer tells us more ...

"The last couple of years have isolated many, so gathering both in person and online for our Archdeaconry Synod was a blessing. The Revd Dorienke de Vries, who led our pre-Synod Quiet Day, noted that  Acts 2:1 at Pentecost this year was itself profound: ‘When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.’ An achievement coming together, safely, in the Spirit, for which we are thankful!

On Thursday’s Quiet Day, we reflected on the unexpected growth of the Kingdom of God in light of Mark 4:26-29, and produced creative artwork using leaves and seeds we’d picked up outside while pondering God’s Harvest.

Creation Care and Racial Justice was the focus of Synod this year. Our Diocesan Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Caspari, also joined us online to inspire and motivate us on Church Stewardship. All three vital topics in improving our care for God’s creatures and creations.

Revd Dr Dave Bookless from A Rocha International gave us brilliant insight on climate change and our Christian calling to respond, which resonated deeply. Zélie Peppiette, who worked for the EU Commission on Agricultural Development, shared wisdom and practical eco-friendly guidance on how to change what we do, as churches and individuals. We had small group discussions, identifying opportunities and priorities to take home and to our chaplaincies. 

Revd Pat Jackson, Co-Founder of Interwoven Congregations, an interchurch anti-racism initiative in the US, got us thinking about ethnic prejudice, how to address it and seek reconciliation. Revd Canon Smitha Prasadam, Chaplain in Copenhagen, zoomed in from her own Nordic and Baltic Deanery gathering in Helsinki to share her own experiences in ministry. Also, the robust work on the Breathing Life report on Racial Justice. Sandra Sue coordinated a plenary conversation prompting meaningful feedback and sharing of pain, as well as constructive perspectives for making progress.

We also had our ‘Benelux Café’ – an opportunity to walk around and learn about three further features of our Archdeaconry work: the Living in Love and Faith curriculum, led by the Revd Prof Jack McDonald; the rejuvenation of our twinning link with Luweero Diocese in Uganda, presented by the Revd Geoff Read; and Moira Hogg shared the latest Safeguarding news, online training and Dashboard.

We had the pleasure of welcoming Bishop Robert and Helen Innes to our delicious festive dinner on Friday evening. After that, Bishop Robert spoke to us about the Church’s resilient life in the face of crises these past years (economic, Covid, climate…). Before Compline, we had our much-loved Pub Quiz, prepared by Heather Roy and run by the Revd Ruan Crew.

On Saturday, we held our business meetings – for the Netherlands and the Belgium-Luxembourg Deaneries as well as one for the Archdeaconry. We conducted a special election to fill a vacant clergy seat from NW Europe on Diocesan Synod. The Revd Grant Crowe of All Saints, Amersfoort was duly elected. 

Though busy as ever, Synod was enveloped in prayer and worship, with Morning Prayer and Compline in the Abbey Chapel each day, and concluding with a Eucharist on Saturday, all coordinated by the Revd Canon John Wilkinson.

We give thanks that our time of collective prayer, fellowship and attention to the fourth and fifth Marks of Mission was possible. We pray for God’s guidance in continuing our calling to grow in his caring Kingdom of righteousness."