The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from 8 to 12 February 2010. The following press release was issued a short time ago.
See our adjoining item for links to online Synod papers.
Full agenda published for February’s General Synod
18 January 2010
Debates on children and young people, mission, TV coverage of religion, science and religious belief, church buildings, relations with the Anglican Church in North America, clergy pensions and legislation feature in sessions of the Church of England’s ‘parliament,’ the General Synod, to be held in London from February 8th to 12th.
Children and young people
Synod will debate the report Going for Growth, on the Board of Education’s new strategy for children and young people. This offers both a theological framework and practical proposals, and is a sequel to the debate at the July 2009 Synod on the major inquiry into childhood commissioned by The Children’s Society, A Good Childhood.
The report and motion from the Mission and Public Affairs Council will follow up the 2004 Synod debate on ‘Mission-shaped Church’ and will encourage action in training and deployment; the making of Bishops’ Mission Orders, and research on the growth of the ‘mixed-economy Church.’ Bishop Graham Cray (Archbishops’ Missioner and Fresh Expressions Team Leader) will give a presentation on the current programme and future plans for Fresh Expressions.
TV coverage of religion and ethics
A Private Member’s Motion from Mr. Nigel Holmes (Carlisle) invites the Synod to ask the BBC and Ofcom to explain why British television marginalises TV coverage of religious and ethical issues.
Synod will be asked to complete several items of legislative business – chiefly the Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure, which will put in place a new framework for the making of orders for parochial fees. Synod will also be asked to approve two codes of practice issued by the Archbishops’ Council, which set out the capability and grievance procedures that will apply to the clergy under the new common tenure arrangements.
An Archbishops’ Council report sets out the reasons for the proposed changes to the Clergy Pensions Scheme. These include increasing the pension age for future service to 68 and increasing the accrual period for future service to 43 years. There is a separate report on changes being proposed in relation to ill-health retirement.
There is also a Private Member’s Motion from the Revd Mark Bratton (Coventry) which asks the Archbishops’ Council and the Pensions Board to bring forward changes to the pension scheme’s rules, to provide pension benefits for surviving civil partners.
Science and religious belief
Synod will debate a Diocesan Synod Motion from Manchester, expressing concern at the perceived need to choose between the claims of science and belief in God; and urging the House of Bishops to promote a better public understanding of the compatibility of science and Christian belief.
The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division will give a short presentation on what the Division has achieved since the publication five years ago of Building Faith in our Future, and the challenges that cathedrals and church buildings face today. This will preface a debate on the Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod Motion, which seeks to increase substantially the amount of money available for the repair of listed church buildings.
Relations with the Anglican Church in North America
A Private Member’s Motion from Mrs. Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) asks the Synod to express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America (which includes churches which have separated from The Episcopal Church in the United States, and the Anglican Church of Canada).
Other Private Members Motions and Diocesan Synod Motions
There will be a debate on a Private Members’ Motion from Mr. Tom Benyon (Oxford) which expresses concern about the potentially desensitising and damaging effects on children and young people of computer games containing violent and sexual content; and seeks changes to the classification system for video games and a review of the regulatory system for advertising video games.
There are two other Diocesan Synod Motions. One from Chelmsford asks Synod to request dioceses, deaneries and parishes to adopt some symbol of the Church’s confidence in the Bible for the nation, bearing in mind that 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version of the Bible. The other is from Coventry diocese, which asks for the case for legislation conferring incorporated status on deanery synods to be considered.
The Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate has reluctantly concluded that it still has too much to undertake in order to conclude its work in time for the February Synod. The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd. Nigel McCulloch, as Chair of the Steering Committee, will make a statement.
Synod will be addressed by the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference (the Reverend David Gamble, and Dr. Richard Vautrey) as an expression of the Covenant relationship between the Church of England and the Methodist Church. There will be an opportunity for questions and contributions from the floor.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will give a Presidential Address. There will also be a presentation on the role of armed forces chaplains in the current military operations overseas.
There is also one item of liturgical business: the Revision Stage of the Additional Weekday Lectionary; and some business relating to Synod’s Standing Orders, and the forthcoming Synod elections.
Parishioners can keep in touch with the General Synod while it meets. Background papers and other information will be posted on the Church of England website ahead of the General Synod sessions. A live feed will be available courtesy of Premier Radio (accessible from front page of www.cofe.anglican.org), and audio files of debates, along with updates on the days’ proceedings will be posted during the sessions.