Synodality – opening up the conversation

The series of Lenten lectures focusing on synodality which have been running at Brentwood Cathedral have been thought-provoking. For those interested in more on the subject, a good place to go is The School of Synodality, launched last July by Avril Baigent and Chris Knowles as a partnership between the Diocese of Northampton and Synod Fruits. It exists with the intention to facilitate the Church in regaining a sense of purpose and mission. It also seeks to build upon the methods that parishes and diocese had previously employed in experiences of encounter through the Synod process.


Through conversations, the development of resources, webinars and parish and innovation programmes its founders hope “to enable an openness to the Holy Spirit in our Church through listening, sharing and discernment”.

The School for Synodality has launched two programmes, one for parishes wanting to take the next steps in responding to their synodal listening, the other for those leaders creating new pastoral ventures that will support our Churches synodal conversion.

A successful webinar series looking at developing synodal practice at the local level has already taken place and, because it was oversubscribed, is set to be rolled out again in April and May. Three online evening workshops are designed to help people experience, facilitate and lead conversations in the spirit.

The series will introduce the principles of holding prayerful, truthful and safe conversations which value gracious listening and courageous speaking. You can book here:

Synodality 101 April/May Tickets, Wed 17 Apr 2024 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

The school is also working on developing and strengthening networks of practitioners across England and Wales engaged in work on synodality and engaging with different disciplines to ensure its work is grounded in church teaching.

Sr Nathalie, Undersecretary of the Synod Office, has recommended the project, saying that “growing as a synodal Church means constantly learning and being formed as we walk together, and the School for Synodality is an exciting opportunity to do precisely that on the path ahead to serve the synodal conversion of the Church in England and Wales”.

Chris Knowles says that “synodality has been used to resolve contentious issues in parishes; to look for creative solutions to diocesan finances; and even to create safe listening spaces in response to clergy sex abuse. The result of becoming synodal, of truly encountering one another, heart-to-heart, is a new sense of purpose. This purpose brings people together, helps prioritise finances and resources, allows people’s gifts to flourish and enables us to take risks for the Kingdom”.

You can find out more about the project at

ACTA (A Call to Action) is another synodal initiative set up by a group of Catholics, both clergy and laity, across the UK. Its website (ACTA – A Call To Action ) holds a wealth of useful documents and links and its mission statement states: “We are brought together by our love of Christ’s Church and our anxiety about its future. Still inspired by the Second Vatican Council, we want to contribute fully to the life of our Church so that we may be a more effective sign of the Kingdom of God. To do this, we believe that an atmosphere of openness and dialogue both with each other and with our church leadership needs developing. Accordingly, we aim to supply channels of free and frank communication. We desire to help create a climate of trust and respect for all where this dialogue may be fostered.”

ACTA is holding workshops on Zoom this Lent on three successive Sunday evenings to consider the key points and recommendations of the October Synod which are of direct concern to lay people and their parishes.

These will be on 10-24 March 2024.
The six areas chosen for discussion include:

Session 1

Part 1 Chap 1 – Synodality: Experience and Understanding
Part 1 Chap 4 – People in Poverty, Protagonists of the Church’s Journey

Session 2

Part 11 Chap 8 – Church is Mission
Part 11 Chap 9 – Women in the Life and Mission of the Church

Session 3

Part 111 Chap 16 – Towards a Listening and Accompanying Church
Part 111 Chap 17 – Mission in the Digital Environment

You can book onto the Zoom sessions on ACTA – A Call To Action But hurry, places are going fast.