Wednesday, 9 February 2011

General Synod business committee

Yesterday the General Synod failed to approve the proposed appointment of the Bishop of Dover as the Chair of the Business Committee.

Justin Brett has written about this development at On votes, rules and resistance.

…The Business Committee of General Synod is the body that decides Synod’s agenda. It is mostly (I think) either directly or indirectly elected by Synod itself. The rules that govern it state that its Chair must be one of the six people elected from General Synod to the Archbishops’ Council. One of these people is nominated by Archbishops’ Council in consultation with the Appointments Committee, and the name sent to Synod for approval.

As things have fallen out this time round, the person in question is the Bishop of Dover. Needless to say, this has caused some muttering among those for whom a purple shirt often serves dual purpose as a red rag…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 February 2011 at 10:22am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Justin Brett obviously has his keen eye on the ball on this one. Thsat the agenda of General Synod should be decided on by a 'Business Committee' sounds fine - as long as the membership of that committe is not stacked, by whomever might want to take advantage of their position within the Church.

The C.of E. should have learned the lesson from the occasion when the ABPs tried to railroad G.S. into giving 'special provision' for F.I.F. members to avoid the ministry of their local female bishop - should that become an option in the futire.

Advocacy is very different from blatant 'rigging' of votes. G.S. has now proved this as a fact.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 10 February 2011 at 11:55pm GMT

' ... tried to railroad G. S. into giving special provision...'

Actually, Fr Ron, this is rather precisely a poor example as, on the occasion you cite, the archbishops' advocacy did convince a simple majority of Synod members. Anticipating defeat, the minority used a perfectly legitimate and often deployed procedural device - a call for a vote by houses - to prevent the will of the majority becoming the will of Synod. That it was entirely within the rules doesn't take away from the fact that it owed more to 'rigging' than to advocacy. And I think one lesson learned was that what was always assumed to be an thumping numerical majority for the ordination of women to the episcopate was not as unconditional or straightforward as either proponents or opponents had believed. That fact has inevitably, I suspect, shaped the way in which the issue will next be considered by Synod.

It also underlined that Synod is not always a battleground between factions intent on using failed party political models of organisation but can sometimes be a forum where ideas are properly tested and considered by individuals who make up their own minds.

It may be one of the few places left in public life where a properly considered and framed suggestion has a good chance of being enacted on the basis of its merits rather than on the allegiances and influence of the group or individual suggesting it.

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Friday, 11 February 2011 at 9:54pm GMT
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