The final agenda and the papers for next month’s two day inaugural meeting of the tenth General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.
HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
30 October 2015
HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
Synod to debate Migrant Crisis and Church Buildings report and review progress of the Reform and Renewal programme
Her Majesty the Queen will inaugurate the tenth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 24th November.
The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preside and Fr Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap (Preacher to the Papal Household) will preach.
The Agenda for the short meeting of the Synod, which will follow the inauguration, is published today along with the papers.
The Synod has 468 voting members of whom 59 (including the 42 diocesan bishops) are ex officio and 409 have been elected this autumn (9 suffragan bishops, 200 clergy, 200 laity). The House of Bishops has 53 members, the House of Clergy 202 and the House of Laity 213.
53% of the 409 elected members were not members of the last Synod when it was dissolved in July (up from the 2010 figure of 45%). In total 46% of the membership of this Synod is new. The percentage of women on General Synod has increased from 28% in 2005 to 32% in 2010 and 37% in 2015.
The male/female balance has changed from 69/31 in 2005 to 63/37 in 2010 to 58/42 now. For the first time there are slightly more elected women than men in the House of Laity — 50.5% to 49.5% (in 2005 40% of elected laity were women and in 2010 46%). In the House of Clergy, the number of women elected has increased to 32% (from 22% in 2005 and 29% in 2010). Three of the 53 members of the House of Bishops are women: the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, the Rt Revd Libby Lane and the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek.
The average age of the 378 lay and clergy members elected by the dioceses is slightly lower than in 2010, 51 as against 52 among the clergy and 56 as against 58 among the laity. The youngest member of the Synod is Rhian Ainscough, newly elected from the Leicester diocese, who is 19. The longest serving member is David Ashton from Leeds diocese, who has served continuously since 1972.
Tuesday 24 November
Following the service in Westminster Abbey the Queen will address the Synod in Church House. Synod business begins on the Tuesday afternoon. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury. After further formal business, there will be a presentation from the leaders of the Archbishops’ Reform and Renewal Programme.
The presentation will cover the work-streams on Resourcing the Future, Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Simplification of church legislation and a newly-launched work stream on Lay leadership. Synod members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the work stream leaders. There will also be the usual Synod question time.
Wednesday 25 November
On the morning of 25 November, there will be a short presentation from the Archbishop of York on the effects of global warming which he viewed on his recent visit to the South Pacific. Following that the Synod will debate a motion moved by the bishop of Durham on the Migrant Crisis. The wording of the Motion and the accompanying background paper will be published nearer to the debate given the rapidly-evolving context. However, it is likely to focus on the responses of the church in parishes and dioceses and to call on the Synod to continue working closely with the government and local authorities to maximise support for those most in need.
After some legislative business, there will be a presentation of the results of recent research on the “Public Perceptions of Jesus”, which was commissioned by the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and HOPE (an ecumenical organisation that brings churches together in mission). The report is an important resource for evidence-based mission.
On Wednesday afternoon the Synod will debate a motion, moved by the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, welcoming the recently published report of the Church Buildings Review, commending it to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and paving the way for the necessary legislative process, once the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners have taken decisions following the current consultation period. The report was produced as one of the elements of the Reform and Renewal programme.
The Synod will conclude with a farewell from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Secretary General, Mr William Fittall who will be retiring at the end of November after 13 years in post. Mr Fittall will also give a farewell address to the Synod.
Immediately after the end of the Synod the House of Laity will hold a hustings meeting for the election of a new Chair and Vice Chair. The results of those elections and of the elections for the Prolocutors (Chairs of clergy) for the Canterbury and York Provinces will be known just before Christmas.
 This includes a small number of members who were not in the last Synod but have served previously.