Saturday, 8 July 2017

General Synod - Saturday's business

Updated Sunday morning and afternoon

order paper for the morning session
order paper for the afternoon session

The morning started with a presentation by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the proposals for the pastoral advisory group on human sexuality and the development of the teaching document (GS Misc 1158). It was followed by a question and answer session.

Synod then debated Presence and Engagement: Report from the Archbishops’ Council’s Mission and Public Affairs Council (GS 2063). The motion, after amendment, read:

That this Synod, recognising the Church’s continued presence and engagement in parishes, chaplaincies and new missional communities in multi-religious contexts:
(a) commend the national Presence and Engagement (P&E) programme and offer prayerful support for its work over the next five years, requesting that the fruit of this be made available to the whole Church through the P&E Centres and that the programme report back to Synod at the end of this period;
(b) recognise the cultivation of relationships with other faith communities as a vital component of the Church’s mission in today’s society, and encourage dioceses to incorporate this into their mission plans; and
(c) re-affirm the Synod report “Sharing the Gospel of Salvation” (GS Misc 956) and call on the P&E Task Group to continue supporting parishes in bearing faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ with sensitivity and confidence among people of other faiths;
(d) noting the importance of relationships between churches and people of other faiths in maintaining community peace and solidarity in many P&E parishes, encourage churches and Christian people throughout the nation to reach out to neighbours and colleagues of other faiths to offer solidarity and friendship in times of tension, condemning the attempts of extremists to divide us, and challenging all hatred.

The debate was adjourned at 11.00 am as timed legislative business was reached.

The legislative business was the final approval of three measures. They were so uncontroversial that nobody voted against any of them.

There was then a brief presentation on the workshops on forms of national support for local churches to be held in the afternoon.

Synod then returned to the Presence and Engagement debate, when, after a few more speeches, the motion above was carried.

After lunch and the workshops, Synod debated National Support for Local Churches: Report from the Archbishops’ Council (GS 2069) and passed this motion:

That this Synod:
(a) welcome the range of evangelism and growth resources provided by the national church in support of local churches;
(b) note the progress made to support Life Events ministry since it was commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council in 2012;
(c) agree to encourage dioceses and parishes to engage with these areas of work through prayer and practical action; and
(d) call on the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops to report back to the Synod on a regular basis on the progress of these areas of support.

Conversion Therapy

Details of the original motion and the amendments are below the fold. The motion as finally put to Synod was:

12 (as amended) That this Synod:
(a) endorse the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK of November 2015, signed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists and others, that the practice of gay conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence; and
(b) call upon the Church to be sensitive to, and to listen to, contemporary expressions of gender identity; and
(c) call on the government to ban the practice of Conversion Therapy.

The motion was carried on a vote by houses.

bishops: 36 for, 1 against, 0 recorded abstentions
clergy: 135 for, 25 against, 13 recorded abstentions
laity: 127 for, 48 against, 13 recorded abstentions

Official press release: General Synod backs ban on conversion therapy

Press reports etc

Church Times During Pride in London, Synod in York calls for ban on conversion therapy

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England bishops ‘delaying same-sex equality’ move
Church of England demands ban on conversion therapy

Callum May BBC News Church of England: Plea for ‘urgency’ on new sexuality policy

Aine Fox and David Wilcock Independent Church of England bishops back motion calling for a ban on ‘unethical’ gay conversion therapy

Stephen Lynas continues his reports from Synod: bathwellschap Stop! In the name of love

Conversion Therapy

Jayne Ozanne moved her private member’s motion:

12 That this Synod:
(a) endorse the statement of 16 January 2017 signed by The UK Council for Psychotherapy, The Royal College of General Practitioners and others that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world,
is unethical, harmful and not supported by evidence; and
(b) call upon the Archbishops’ Council to become a co- signatory to the statement on behalf of the Church of England.

The Revd Dr Sean Doherty (London) moved as an amendment:

55 Leave out everything after “That this Synod:” and insert ̶
“(a) note the statement of 16 January 2017 signed by The UK Council for Psychotherapy, The Royal College of General Practitioners and others concerning the practice of conversion therapy;
(b) affirm that all sexuality is equally affected by the Fall and that therefore Christian therapies and pastoral practices which assume otherwise are not warranted;
(c) affirm that pastoral care, prayer ministry and professional counselling are legitimate means of supporting individuals who choose them freely, provided that they respect the proper dignity of human beings and do not involve coercion or manipulation or make unwarranted promises about the removal of unwanted feelings; and
(d) ask the House of Bishops to draw up guidelines for work in this area to discourage inappropriate pastoral practices, and to encourage good ones.”

The amendment was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

Bishops: 10 for, 26 against, 2 recorded abstentions
Clergy: 64 for, 110 against, 2 recorded abstentions
Laity: 88 for, 97 against, 6 recorded abstentions

Dr Jamie Harrison (Durham) moved as an amendment:

56 Leave out everything after “That this Synod:” and insert ̶
“(a) endorse the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK of November 2015, signed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists and others, that the practice of gay conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence; and
(b) call upon the Church to be sensitive to, and to listen to, contemporary expressions of gender identity.”

Ms Christina Baron (Bath and Wells) moved as an amendment to Dr Harrison’s amendment (item 56):

57 At the end, insert ̶
“(-) call on the Archbishop’s Council to become a co- signatory, on behalf of the Church of England, to the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding, subject to the agreement of the current co-signatories.”

This was voted on by houses where it was defeated, as it failed to be passed by the House of Bishops, who were tied.

bishops: 16 for, 16 against, 5 recorded abstentions
clergy: for 117, clergy 46, 12 recorded abstentions
laity: for 108, against 73, recorded abstentions 11

The Revd Andrew Dotchin (St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) moved as an amendment:

58 At the end, insert ̶
“(-) call on the government to ban the practice of Conversion Therapy.”

This was carried after a vote by houses;

bishops: 28 for, 2 against, 5 recorded abstentions
clergy: 121 for, 34 against, 16 recorded abstentions
laity: 120 for, 52 against, 18 recorded abstentions

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 9:48am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Five more years!! After a lifetime in the Church of England, almost all of my adult life ordained and in parish ministry I reach the sad conclusion that the game is up.

Synod lumbers towards insignificance over issue after issue. Why can't our bishops and archbishops see that we don't have another five years? Perhaps we never did. Perhaps only when Lambeth palace is sold as luxury apartments and the ABofC is living is a bijou bungalow near Margate will they get it.

Institutionally we have treated women badly, people of same sex orientation badly, ethnic minorities badly, working class people badly, victims of abuse badly....

Are we any longer for for purpose? Is it already too late?
We need, to borrow a slogan 'Action This Day''

Posted by: another Fr. David on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 11:37am BST

Blessings on Bishop Alan Wilson, the only Bishop with the guts to stand up to the two Archbishops who wish to make our beloved church of no meaning or bearing for the christian members of our congregation.
Like Fr David my whole ministry has been riddled with the church discussing sex. Whilst many of us have just got on with proclaiming the gospel of God's love for all.
Personally this meant being a hospital chaplain at a London teaching hospital at the start of the Aids pandemic, no place to hide, when caring for real people; not ideas or theories.
Please Bishops join Bishop Alan, and not allow the Archbishops to kick us into the deep moras of the long grass.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 4:03pm BST

Re the Guardian article on C of E Bishops delaying the same sex equality business.

[Archbishop Welby] "...said he hoped a document would be available for discussion at synod in early 2020 'though on a process this complicated we cannot be pinned down relating to time ' ”.

How interesting, hoping to keep the lid on until the eve of or perhaps even after Lambeth 2020? Nothing like engaging in transparent avoidance behavior.

Can someone get us more mitres in here please, and bigger mitres, much bigger, much taller.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 4:57pm BST

Professor Hill: "I am very concerned that there's a lot of long grass growing in the programme that is being put before us."

Julian: "There is no magic wand to provide a solution."

No magic wand... but Scotland found a solution that allowed people their own consciences on the matter.

What's missing is not a 'magic wand'. It's the will to actually let people follow their consciences.

In short, the perpetuation of top-down domination.

In arguing for more time to explore "the depth and range of the questions that need to be addressed" Julian is implying we somehow haven't already done this work ten times over.

We've had over 30 years of "discussions", we've had the listening process, we've had the debates, we've gone over and over the theology. People simply disagree - they hold divergent points of view and exercise differing consciences with integrity and faith.

You cannot square this circle.

You can really only do what the Scots did: agree to disagree, and hand over control from the leaders to local churches, and let people follow their consciences, and seek love and grace towards each other, wishing each other well, instead of the impossible 'magic wand' of uniformity imposed.

We do not need to wait five years or fifty years for that. We don't need a magic wand. We just need love and the exercise of grace... and the will of the bishops to relinquish control, and accept that diversity exists right at the heart of the Church of England.

Stop the prevarication, which simply extends top down domination of conscience, and follow the example of the Scots.

It's not magic at all.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 5:31pm BST

This delay is designed to get the CofE past the next Lambeth Conference.

Once again the bishops are allowing Communion politics to interfere with their pastoral duties at home.

If this delay is the price of England leading the Anglican Communion, then surely the price is too high?

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 7:06pm BST

Now that we see the conversion-therapy results, several reactions:

1. It took a private member's motion to get Synod to do something that only one bishop opposed?

2. Well done, Jayne Ozanne. This is what leadership from below looks like.

3. This is a synodical muscle that, exercised once, can be exercised again. What is the next topic?

4. How long can the House of Bishops veto what the other houses want, without damaging the Church's public reputation and political interests?

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 8:24pm BST

Interesting that 97% of bishops voted for the conversion therapy motion but only 68% of laity.

Posted by: Bernard Silverman on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 9:05pm BST

This was a hugely important debate. I assume +Blackburn voted against. Completely brilliant performance by Jayne Ozanne who was harangued and hassled by all comers, including Core Issues Trust. The importance of the debate may take a while to sink in, but important it was. As to what is the next issue, the 'long grass' observation is the correct one. The Teaching (and perhaps Learning) Document is clearly a holding operation. There is not much new to say about this. The bishops (with a few honourable exceptions, including +Liverpool) are paranoid about a change to the church's doctrine. The SEC precedent may prove to be irresistable for adoption by other provinces.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 11:18pm BST

The Press Release quotes Ms Ozanne saying "the debate is actually quite simple : do we trust our medical health professionals to know what they are talking about?" Does anyone think the answer to that rhetorical question is that it depends on whether their opinion has been "endorsed" by the General Synod?

Next the Bishop of Liverpool is quoted as saying that "as the world listens to us the world needs to hear us say that LGBTI+ orientation is not a crime." Yet orientation was never a crime, and even practice was decriminalised 50 years ago. The phrase "as the world listens to us" is comically, or tragically, but endearingly, whimsical.

Wednesday's Orange Day parades across the Liverpool diocese will doubtless draw their usual enthusiastic crowds, but they will be dwarfed by the city's Gay Pride at the end of the month. The world is listening elsewhere. Those who do listen to Synod do so, like the Pharisees, mainly in the hope of catching them out.

The call for a government ban on Conversion Therapy leaves so much unclear. Should it apply to England or the whole UK? Could English LGBTI+ persons travel to Ireland for CT? Would they be banned from going abroad unless they could prove they were not seeking CT? What punishment should there be? Would praying with someone in a Pentecostal Church, or mosque, lead to burning at the stake? What else should be banned - trips to Lourdes, the Tridentine mass, abortion, contraception, circumcision, chocolate, Common Worship? Should it be illegal to seek to influence a person by means of unverifiable threats or promises pertaining to an afterlife? Calling on the government to ban things is a very slippery slope. Or rather it would be, if anyone was listening.

Posted by: T Pott on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 2:42pm BST

Those who think the bishops learn from Scotland, remember they like to see large attendance numbers

Posted by: S Cooper on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 10:26pm BST

"There is no magic wand to provide a solution."

Really. So much for a rousing quidditch match at Lambeth 2020.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 11:16pm BST

So instead of the 'Teaching Document' we are to have another three years of discussions, and even that might not be long enough! Welby seems to think he is the head of some sort of ecclesiastical Circumlocution Office.

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Monday, 10 July 2017 at 8:56am BST

With Rod Gillis I'm amused by the Archbishop's revealing rhetoric.

No magic wand for a solution--but the Archbishops have just waved a magic wand to create three years of further delay.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 10 July 2017 at 5:31pm BST
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