The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London on 23 and 24 November 2010. The following press release was issued a short time ago.
See our item below for links to online Synod papers.
Synod to debate the Big Society and the Anglican Communion Covenant
1 November 2010
Her Majesty The Queen will inaugurate the Ninth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 23 November. The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will preside and Dame Mary Tanner (a President of the World Council of Churches) will preach.
This Synod will reflect some significant changes amongst its membership: 35% of the elected members of the General Synod are starting their first ever five-year term; the proportion of elected clergy who are female has increased from 21% to 28%; and women now make up 46% of the elected laity membership (up from 40%).
The November group of sessions will continue with regular business for the afternoon of Tuesday, 22 November, until late afternoon on Wednesday, 23 November. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Other key features are indicated below.
Newly elected and continuing Synod members will also be attending an induction seminar in Church House on the Monday.
The Big Society
The Big Society is a major theme of the new Government and is of considerable relevance to the role of religious bodies, including the Church of England. In June, the Bishop of Leicester sponsored a debate in the House of Lords on the concept of the Big Society. The Mission and Public Affairs Division has been in discussion with Government ministers to consider ways the Church might work in partnership with the Government to promote greater social cohesion.
The debate in Synod should enable the Church to understand the issues concerned more deeply and prepare dioceses and parishes to feel better equipped to respond at local level.
Anglican Communion Covenant
The idea of an Anglican Communion Covenant was first proposed in the Windsor report of 2004, following developments in relation to same-sex partnerships in North America. It was envisaged that the Anglican Covenant would “make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection” which govern the relationships between the Churches of the Anglican Communion. A text of the Covenant was sent last December to all the Churches of the Anglican Communion for their approval.
The House of Bishops agreed in May to commend the Covenant to the Synod for adoption; and the Synod is now being asked to approve the draft Act of Synod which will be required to express the Church of England’s agreement. At the November group of sessions, Synod will be asked to formally consider the Covenant, before it is referred to dioceses, and (if any of them so request) to the Convocations of Canterbury and York and the House of Laity. Subject to these procedures, the draft Act of Synod would return to the Synod in due course for Final Approval, possibly in 2012.
Other Legislative Business
The Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure will be introduced at the November Synod to give effect to the resolution passed by the Synod in July, calling for the introduction of legislation to enable a diocesan bishop to give directions allowing those who have a ‘qualifying connection’ with a particular parish to marry in any church within the benefice of which that parish forms a part.
Two other pieces of legislation come to the Synod for approval as the remaining steps in the process of preparing for the introduction of ‘Common Tenure’ early in 2011. These comprise some amending Regulations and an amending Order.
The Clergy Discipline Commission will be bringing to the Synod an amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure of 2003, including amendments on which the Commission conducted a consultation in 2008.
Anyone 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. Audio files of debates along with updates on the day’s proceedings will be posted during the sessions, which will also be live streamed by Premier Radio.