This past week has not been an easy one for the Church of England. The debates around sexuality and how the Church should proceed have, for the most part, been conducted with a great deal of dignity and grace, but there can be no denying they have made the disagreements even clearer than they were before. Justin Welby, as Archbishop of Canterbury, has been holding together the two sides incredibly well, but he and the leaders of the Church know full well that the task ahead of them is not easy.
Yet despite all of this, churches across the country are still doing what they have always done so well - being the first line of support for those who need them most. Churches and those who belong to them provide countless hours of voluntary service, they stock and support Foodbanks, they grieve with those who have lost loved ones and they pray and intercede for their communities to be places of love and peace rather than bitterness and division. This point has been made with much more lucidity by many, including Archbishop Cranmer on his blog (which also contains a good summary of actually happened at Synod).
None of this will change, despite the Synod's divides and decision not to 'take note' of the sexuality paper. Christians across the country will not cease their compassionate ministry. And behind the sensationalist headlines, this needs to be remembered. Only last week, Justin Welby led the calls for the government to reconsider their dropping the Dubs Agreement, which would mean effectively abandoning thousands of migrant children who need our help.
Sensationalism sells, so it is hardly surprising the media have been predicting the collapse of the Church of England as a result of this week. That is not the case.
Yes, there are divisions. Yes, further conversations need to be had - hard, emotional conversations. No, it will not be easy. But the mission of the Church to reach out to those around it, to support those who need it and to be a light in the darkness has not changed at all. In fact, in a year that has already offered so much uncertainty, its mission is clearer and more needed than ever.