Children from the St Vincent's Anglican Parish in the Algarve provided leadership in music, reading and prayers at the opening eucharist of the synod of the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar meeting in Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal. It was a joyful celebration of the feast of the Presentation, Candlemas, at which the chaplain of St George's Madrid, the Revd Ian Hutchinson-Cervantes, presided. My own chaplain, the Revd Deacon Frances Hiller, was the preacher who reminded us of the gifts which more senior members bring to the community of faith, drawing on insights from the Gospel story of the role of "ancient Simeon and Anna". Deacon Frances also paid tribute to the Revd Deacon Dr Lindy Jordan, the Assistant Curate of St Andrew's, Costa del Sol East, whose sudden death on 23 January has touched so many in the Archdeaconry and Diocese.
Over 120 people, clergy and lay representatives from the 70 Church of England congregations in Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands), Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar, and Morocco are meeting for 3 1/2 days for synod business, prayer and worship, fellowship and shared learning and planning for the mission and ministry of the Archdeaconry. Daily Bible studies are being led by Reader Eckart Floether of St Vincent's. The theme of the synod is "Making a Difference" and much time will be spent focussing on pastoral care issues in the Archdeaconry, with some specific recommendations being presented on several topics:
- the role of the laity
- the appointments process
- pastoral support to the clergy
- the role of the Archdeacon and Area Dean
The Revds Haynes Hubbard and Bob Bates are the priests who serve the three congregations which presently make up St Vincent's, the host parish for this year's synod meeting. The sessions are chaired by Archdeacon of Gibraltar, the Venerable David Sutch. The good wishes and prayers of the synod were sent to Area Dean of Gibraltar, Canon Hugh Broad, who is recovering (well!) from some recent surgery.