Monday, 19 January 2009

General Synod - February 2009

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from 9 to 13 February 2009. The following press release was issued a short time ago.

NEWS from the Church of England

PR06.09

19/1/09

General Synod: February 2009

Key debates on the international financial crisis, women bishops, the Anglican Covenant, human trafficking, asylum, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations and inter faith relations

Major debates concerning the Church’s ministry and relations with other Churches, the financial crisis and the Church’s engagement with wider society will be on the agenda at the General Synod when it meets at Church House, Westminster from Monday to Friday, 9-13 February. The Synod will be debating a considerable amount of legislative business, including the first consideration stage of the draft women bishops legislation.

The International Financial Crisis
The Synod agenda provides opportunities for members to reflect on the international financial crisis and the recession. On the Tuesday afternoon, Andreas Whittam Smith (First Church Estates Commissioner) will facilitate presentations from and engage in dialogue with Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach and the Rt Revd Peter Selby. This will be an opportunity for the Synod to hear about and discuss with the two speakers the reasons for the crisis and its wider implications.

Brian Griffiths has been Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International since 1991 and a member of the Board since 2007. He was from 1984 to 1990 Head of Mrs Thatcher’s Policy Unit at No 10 Downing Street. He is the author of a number of books and. since 1997, has been Chairman of the Lambeth Fund. Peter Selby was, until 2007, Bishop of Worcester and a member of the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee. He has been a member of the Doctrine Commission and has written on the subject of faith and economics.

On the Thursday afternoon there will be a debate, introduced by the Archbishop of York, examining the challenges and opportunities for the Church’s mission and ministry in communities that the international financial crisis and recession presents.

Women Bishops
Last July, the Synod agreed that draft legislation be prepared, including special arrangements for those who would not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops (or priests) in a statutory national code of practice. The Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group (chaired by the Bishop of Manchester) has completed its work on this basis and the Synod will be giving First Consideration to the draft legislation required to admit women to the episcopate.

It will not be possible to move amendments to the draft legislation at this Group of Sessions; the issue before the Synod will be whether to agree that the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon be referred for consideration by a Revision Committee. (See PR103/08 at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/news/pr10308.html.)

Anglican Covenant
The Churches of the Anglican Communion were asked in March 2008 if they were able, in principle, to commit to the Covenant process and to say if there were any elements which in their view would need extensive change in order to make viable the process of adoption by their Synods. The General Synod will consider a take note motion, moved by the Bishop of Rochester on behalf of the House of Bishops, on a report from the House, to which is attached a draft Church of England response to these questions. The draft response welcomes the direction of travel of the Covenant while flagging up a number of points which still require attention.

Anglican-Roman Catholic Relations
The Synod will be addressed on its first day by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster. His address, together with an introduction by the Archbishop of Canterbury, will provide an opportunity for the Synod to reflect on relations between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. This will lead to a debate, requested by the Synod, on the report by the Second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission on Church as Communion.

Inter Faith Relations
The Synod will consider a Private Member’s Motion from Mr Paul Eddy, which asks the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith society and to offer examples of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.

The Synod will also be considering the inter faith and engagement programme which it launched in July 2005 when it also set up a task group, chaired by the Bishop of Bradford. This second debate provides the Synod with an opportunity to take note of what has been achieved so far and the work that is proposed for the next phase of the Presence and Engagement programme

The Church in Public Life
There are three Diocesan Synod Motions particularly concerned with the Church’s engagement in wider society. The first, from Chester, is wide ranging in its concern about the role of the Church in civic society and asks the divisions of the Archbishops’ Council to report to the Synod on their work to foster a clearer understanding of the Christian faith among the institutions and organizations of society, and to reinforce the claims of the Church to take its place in public life.

The second motion, which has been passed in identical terms by the Newcastle and Winchester Diocesan Synods, urges the Church of England to deplore the continuing evil of human trafficking, to support the work of those who seek to end human trafficking and to rescue those trapped in it, and also to support the implementation of the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking, particularly in relation to the 2012 Olympics. The debate will be preceded by a presentation which will include an invited speaker from the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre.

The motion from the Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Synod asks the Synod to call on the Government to ensure that the treatment of asylum seekers is just and compassionate. In particular, it calls for the conferring of a right to work on all asylum seekers, and the declaration of an amnesty for legacy cases that predate the Government’s New Asylum Model. It also asks the Government to find a practical and humane remedy to the situation of refused asylum seekers who are unable to return to their country of origin because of personal safety, health or family reasons.

A Private Member’s Motion from Ms Vasantha Gnanadoss asks the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a policy for the Church of England under which clergy, ordinands and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to speak on behalf of the Church should not be a member of an organization whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the duty to promote race equality.

Property Issues for the Church
Three motions explore different aspects of the Church’s property and resources.

The Private Member’s Motion from Mr Martin Dales expresses concern about the effect on many parish churches of the sudden and very large rises in water charges for churches in some areas. It asks the Government to remind OFWAT of its obligations to ensure that the water companies adhere to the guidance given in 2000 by the Secretary of State for the Environment not to treat all non-household customers (including places of worship) as if they were businesses.

The Worcester Diocesan Synod Motion calls on the Archbishops’ Council to conduct an urgent review of the Endowments and Glebe Measure and other church legislation, with a view to enabling diocesan bodies and PCCs, in disposing of land, to give weight to environmental as well as financial considerations, particularly in relation to cutting carbon emissions.

A motion passed in the same terms by both the Leicester and Peterborough Diocesan Synods asks the Archbishops’ Council to review and make recommendations for the future sustainability of the Church of England retreat houses, and encourages church bodies to make full use of these resources.

Other Business
The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address, which will include a reflection on the recent Lambeth Conference.

A report from the Standing Orders Committee proposes some adjustments to the Synod’s procedures. There will also be a presentation on some proposed changes to the constitution of bodies answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council.

Communicating Synod
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 (www.cofe.anglican.org) ahead of the General Synod sessions. Audio files of debates, along with updates on the days’ proceedings will be posted during the sessions.

ends

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 19 January 2009 at 11:40am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

"the gospel of salvation through Christ alone"

...which ain't in the Gospel.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 19 January 2009 at 7:42pm GMT

"...which ain't in the Gospel."

Well, since you insist on proof texts:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 19 January 2009 at 11:07pm GMT

"Key debates on the international financial crisis, women bishops, the Anglican Covenant, human trafficking, asylum, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations and inter faith relations"

Nothing too controversial, then?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 January 2009 at 11:42pm GMT

"the gospel of salvation through Christ alone"

...which ain't in the Gospel.

- And no wonder the conservatives are right 50% of the time about how bad things have become among their opposite numbers. The other 50%? I have no idea.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 10:38am GMT

If we are going to trade texts, then in verse 12 there is doing greater works than these because Jesus is going to the Father. In other words, it's the Father (principally) and Jesus is subordinate, as often found in John, even if each is in the other.

But then the Father is a concept developed in John, and unsurprising that it is understood in a wrapped up relationship; you can't get to nirvana except by Buddha, Dharma, Sangha; you can't understand moksha except by the Atman and Brahman.

Though Buddha, Dharma, Sangha includes the tradition of others developing in their own religion in depth, so says the Dalai Lama, and Hinduism absorbs many paths. But still they are their systems of comprehension.

In any case the evangelical quoters of texts do not know and cannot determine how others know Christ, or verse 24: Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

But what do these concepts written by the author of John mean anyway?

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 11:50am GMT

""I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6"

BillyD, I once heard Don Harvey preach a sermon, and surely no-one doubts HIS "orthodoxy" :-j, in which he stated that it is his belief that, while redemption is from Christ, that doesn't mean non-Christians cannot attain redemption, merely that it is Christ Who opens the door for all of us. So, the redeeming work of the Incarnation simply IS, as to who receives it, that is up to God. It's the difference between opening the door and standing in front of the door administering a litmus test of worthiness to all who try to enter. While there are those who would interpret this verse, and it is only one verse after all, to mean Jesus is the doorkeeper, only letting the appropriately faithful through, is it necessarily a valid interpretation? I certainly don't think it's necessary for a statement of the uniqueness of Christ. I'm with Bp. Tutu, what kind of Heaven is it that doesn't include Ghandi? Of course, there are others who would say this attitude is condescending to non-Christians. You can't win.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 1:49pm GMT

“Well, since you insist on proof texts:"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 -- Billy D

"But what do these concepts written by the author of John mean anyway?” --Pluralist

Pluralist, as usual, is right on target. When we say that Jesus is the only Son of God,we mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God. And the nature of God revealed in Jesus is that God is love.

Therefore, Love is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Love.

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 2:30pm GMT

"... while redemption is from Christ, that doesn't mean non-Christians cannot attain redemption, merely that it is Christ Who opens the door for all of us."

Absolutely. This is also how I read CS Lewis' take on the subject.

Posted by: BillyD on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 9:17pm GMT

Under Anglican Covenant can someone translate "take note motion, moved by the Bishop of Rochester on behalf of the House of Bishops, on a report from the House, to which is attached a draft Church of England response to these questions" for this American? What is a take note motion, and is it (and more especially the draft CoE response) posted anywhere?

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 2:54am GMT

"...which ain't in the Gospel."

Well, since you insist on proof texts:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Sorry Billy D and Ren Aguila... but your addition of "alone" is a typical i n t e r p r e t a t i o n.

It's NOT in the text, it's apparently not intended.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 6:14am GMT

Ren A. (and Billy D),

It seem to me that it's Ford who said it best so far. What you are trying to claim, is that no one comes to God but through the Holy Spirit; the Congregation - incidentally, your congregation....

NO one, historically that I am aware of, has dared claim that.

;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 6:24am GMT

"Ren A. (and Billy D),

It seem to me that it's Ford who said it best so far. What you are trying to claim, is that no one comes to God but through the Holy Spirit; the Congregation - incidentally, your congregation...."

Then you need to work on that reading comprehension of yours, Goran, because I have said no such thing.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 12:44pm GMT

John B Chilton asked about take note motions. The wording of these is always "That the Synod do take note of this Report". [Which report is made clear by the heading above the motion in the printed agenda and the official record of business done.] Such a motion cannot be amended. The Synod's standing orders state that "If the motion is carried, it shall not be deemed to commit the Synod to the acceptance of any matter contained in the report."

The purpose of a take note motion is to allow a general debate on the contents of a report, and to separate this from any decisions on what action, if any, to take. If any action is required on the recommendations of a report then appropriate motions (which can be amended) are moved, debated and voted on afterwards.

The papers for next month's synod are not yet online, but I understand that they will be in a few day's time. When they are available I will publish links to them on this site.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 3:01pm GMT

Neither have I, Goran.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 3:18pm GMT

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6"

No, Billy D and Ren A?

Your interpretation of John 14:6 isn’t mixing the 3rd person of the Trinity with the 2nd (and the 1st)?

What is it then?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 7:43pm GMT

Goran, go back and read my reply to Ford time-stamped "20 January 2009 at 9:17pm". You are barking up the wrong tree.

Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 22 January 2009 at 12:29am GMT

Some here are going to hate this but I really like Borg's take on "I am the way, the truth and the life."

Here's a small clip.
http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2000/08/Jesus-The-Way-The-Truth-The-Life.aspx

The first key to reading this text again is setting it in John's historical context. According to most scholars, the gospel was written late in the first century, in a setting of intense conflict between Christian Jews and non-Christian Jews. The setting is reflected especially in the ninth chapter of John, which refers to people being "put out of the synagogue" as the consequence of following Jesus.

In that world, to be "put out" from the synagogue was far more serious than being expelled from a Christian congregation or denomination is in our world. To be expelled from the synagogue meant no longer to be considered a Jew (or at least not an acceptable Jew). In a traditional society where most people lived their entire lives in the same village or town, it was a powerful social sanction. Those expelled faced social ostracism. Among other things, it disrupted relationships within families and with neighbors, and made marriage to "proper" Jews difficult or impossible.

Followers of Jesus were not threatened with such expulsion during his lifetime. At the earliest, it happened a decade or two after the destruction of the Temple in the year 70. Thus, John 9 not only suggests an approximate date for the gospel, but also points to the historical situation facing John and his community. They were experiencing painful social ostracism by non-Christian Jews. As a result, some of John's community may have been tempted to return to their community of origin.

This is the setting for the words, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John was not thinking of all the religions of the world, but of the synagogue across the street. In effect he was saying, "Stay within the community of Jesus--don't go back to the way you left behind."

I've never understood how anyone can think a book is more important than people. Seems to me to be the opposite of Jesus' message.

As far as a relationship with Rome, who cares? I don't want to be told what to think. Roman Catholics are indoctrinated. It's pray, pay and obey. Don't ask any questions and certainly don't use your mind. (I worked in RC parishes for years and learned a lot).

Posted by: BobinSWPA on Thursday, 22 January 2009 at 12:50am GMT
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