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National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women’s Ministry

National Executive Annual Report May 2016-2017

Unless you never look at the news or have been living in an enclosed monastery until today you will probably be sick to the back teeth of American, French and British politics at this stage. But apart from that, most disturbing of all amongst this politicking is the talk of ‘fake news’, as if we had any real way of checking how true the news is. There are seven billion people living on the Earth today and with that many people, lots of interesting things happen but the main evening news only lasts half an hour including the weather forecast. All our news has to be filtered and all of it is filtered by a tiny group of people. It is they who get to decide what we hear and see. In a funny sort of way, it’s the same in the life of the Church of England – let’s take one example – the bells debacle of York Minster. I think as DAWMs we have learnt above all to employ a healthy degree of scepticism when we work in our Dioceses – we have learnt to look below what is presented to us and see what can indeed be ‘fake news’ and discern where there is injustice and bias.

I want to thank our brilliant visitors Archdeacon Jennifer, Nicky McGinty of 3D Coaching, Ally Barrett for her outstanding Bible Study, Claire Whitmore National Young Vocations Advisor and last but not least Christina Rees for her ongoing inspiration and sharing the work of the Li Tim-Oi Foundation with us.

“Come and See” is our title and we need only come to you all to see Jesus in so much of what you do.

I want to thank the North West Region for organising this conference so well – especially Marcia Wall, our northern Vice president, and Alison Fulford the conference secretary….these things don’t just happen but involve a huge amount of work. I want to thank the executive for their hard work over this past year particularly Jane Manley, our poor secretary, stuck at home with her leg in plaster who has made me re-think the ministry of donkeys on Palm Sunday, and Paula Hollingsworth, our treasurer who has been tried and tested by fire as she tackled the arduous task of changing signatures on the bank accounts. These two have had to inherit the mantle of these roles last year and they have learnt quickly. But grateful too to Penny Seabrook who over this year agreed to step in to the Vice Chair role for the southern province, and now finds herself taking care of the website. At the beginning of the year once more I sent out a working prayer list which includes each Diocesan DAWM (I reckon it has changed hugely in personnel just in 4 months) and an email networking which I hope is up-to-date – I revise it each month. It is not surprising that the exec. has changed hugely because it only reflects the very mobile population of DAWMs.

This is the third conference held when the Church of England has rejoiced in women bishops, so much so that it has become the new normal for us. But although our roles in the Dioceses continue to be questioned in this new world, we always knew that there was work still to be done in and this has surely come to the fore in Sheffield Diocese where Abi’s work has been invaluable and essential. One day she was just going about her business and the next day she was drowning under 300 or so emails. Abi, we pay tribute to the work, prayer and love you poured into that ghastly time, and hope, by now, that you’ve caught up with your sleep. But you have all been beavering away where it still matters and I think you are brilliant. You continue to raise awareness of the specific issues facing female clergy which are as yet unresolved. They continue to include: a marked lack of young female vocations (although loads of work happening here now); very low numbers of female Area/Rural Deans (but increasing); a lack of women leading numerically large congregations (3 out of 130 large churches); talent-drain owing to a lack of flexibility in ministry; and the ‘disappeared’ – SSms and retireds who have dropped off the ecclesiastical face of the earth!

I urge you to ‘keep awake’ on issues of injustice, notice when the wool is being pulled over our eyes in a ‘fake newsy’ sort of way and continue to notice the unintended consequences arising from women in the episcopate.

Keep going in this wonderful work that you do. Above all remember that what we do and who we are has only one aim – to encourage people to ‘Come and See’ Jesus.

 

Canon Wendy Wilby       NADAWM Chair

10 May 2017