Report from the Chair for the AGM of CSCS, 11 February 2006
CSCS has continued to meet its aims of providing opportunities for sexuality to be discussed honestly and openly and to help others in the churches to provide similar opportunities. This process has been steered along the way by the commitment and energy of its committee members who have continued to meet quarterly to discuss policy, topics of relevance to our aims and the interests of our membership, items for the Newsletter and finance. In addition to these meetings there has been regular contact and discussion through the medium of email. Following a request made at the last AGM, we recruited Martin Pendergast to serve with us and to contribute from his extensive experience of the Roman Catholic perspective on sexuality issues. We are grateful for the generous hospitality of John and Daphne Cook for these meetings and Daphne’s diligent oversight of membership fees and CSCS finances. Jean Mayland and Colin Coward demonstrate their commitment to CSCS in travelling long distances to our meetings and we have benefited greatly from their fund of experience of church matters and their wide range of contacts. Anthony Woollard has acted as our minutes secretary so efficiently that there have been times that they have arrived on our computers before we returned to our homes!
Over the last year we have faced a number of challenges, both financial and structural and this may well be the case for the year to come. Following advice from the membership through a survey, backed up by discussion at last year’s AGM, we have introduced a two-tier membership subscription and had a thorough review of our membership list. Members who had not paid a subscription over the previous year were dropped from out mailing list as we could no longer afford to subsidise their membership. Current members have chosen to receive the newsletter three times a year and the journal Theology and Sexuality or to receive the newsletter only. This move was brought about by the need to increase membership fees to reflect the cost of three publications of the journal (now published by Sage Publications) instead of two. It was also designed to reflect the wishes of about a quarter of our members who did not wish to receive the journal.
Anthony Woollard continues to play an active role in the production of the CSCS Newsletter, both as commissioning editor and as a stimulating contributor. We are grateful for his oversight of current issues of concern to the membership and his ability to stimulate lively debate among the membership. We were delighted to have a contribution from one of our Patrons, The Rt. Revd. John Gladwin, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, and look forward to similar contributions from The Revd. David Gamble, Co-ordinating Secretary, Legal & Constitutional Practice in the Methodist Church and The Revd. Roberta Rominger, Moderator of the Thames North Synod of the United Reformed Church. Their commitment to the aims of CSCS is reflected in the willingness of John Gladwin and Roberta Rominger to contribute to our Annual Conference today. David Gamble was extremely disappointed not to be able to attend and has sent us a letter extending his good wishes for the event.
We continue to develop our links with other Christian organisations with agendas that overlap with our aims. Colin Coward is our main link with Changing Attitude. Three of our committee members serve on the Council of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union, Anthony Woollard and Jean Mayland as elected members and your Chair as a CSCS observer, together with two other CSCS members. In addition, Colin Coward, Anthony Woollard and I have attended regular planning meetings with Professor Elaine Graham from Manchester University and John Plant from MCU in order to plan this summer’s MCU conference at the High Leigh Conference Centre, entitled Passion for Justice:Global and Faithful Perspectives’. This is the result of a partnership of MCU, CSCS and SCM and will run from Tuesday 11 to Friday 14 July. Members have received flyers giving details of the conference and it is hoped that it will not only be supported by the CSCS membership but will be an opportunity to raise our profile there. We also maintain links with LGCM to our mutual benefit. We have circulated the CSCS Newsletter to Theological colleges and seminaries as an experiment to stimulate interest in CSCS and its aims. We have yet to evaluate this move.
We are grateful to Philip Gardner for his continued work on updating the CSCS website
despite other pressures on his time and expertise.
In the meantime, our thanks are due to Daphne Cook, in her capacity as our Treasurer,
for drawing up the end of year accounts for us and for keeping us within our budget.
Thanks are also due to Michael Egan for auditing the accounts.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the membership who contribute to the aims of CSCS
by encouraging education and informed debate on the issues around Christianity and sexuality within your church communities and congregation.