Sunday, 9 July 2017

General Synod - Sunday's business

Because the Church of England website has been totally rebuilt since this post was written, many of the links here no longer work. Please refer to a new post dated Saturday 27 January 2018.

Updated Monday morning

order paper for the day

Welcoming Transgender People

The Revd Christopher Newlands (Blackburn) moved on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

13 That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

Dr Nick Land (York) moved as an amendment:

59 Leave out everything after “That this Synod:” and insert ̶
“(a) recognise the dignity of all people as made in the image of God and so affirm our commitment to welcome unconditionally in all our churches people who experience (or who have experienced) gender dysphoria;
(b) acknowledge different understandings around gender dysphoria and the field of gender identity more widely;
(c) consider that the preparation of liturgies to mark gender transition raises substantial theological and pastoral issues that the Church of England has not yet considered; and
(d) ask the House of Bishops to consider the theological, pastoral and other issues that gender transition raises for the Church and to report back to General Synod by the end of this quinquennium.”

The amendment was defeated in all three houses of Synod.

bishops: 11 for, 19 against, 2 recorded abstentions
clergy: 64 for, 103 against, 4 recorded abstentions
laity: 75 for, 108 against, 3 recorded abstentions

The Blackburn motion (as originally worded) was passed following a vote by houses.

bishops: 30 for, 2 against, 2 recorded abstentions
clergy: 127 for, 28 against, 16 recorded abstentions
laity: 127 for, 48 against, 8 recorded abstentions

Official press release: Welcoming Transgender People

Other business

The motion

That this Synod:
(a) welcome and support the proposal to establish a Covenant for Clergy Wellbeing as laid out in GS 2072; and
(b) invite the Appointments Committee to appoint a Clergy Wellbeing Working Group to bring proposals for such a Covenant back to this Synod by July 2019.

was passed on a show of hands.

The Revd Tiffer Robinson moved his private member’s motion:

16 That this Synod:
(a) call upon the Secretary of State to include provision in the Schools Admission Code requiring admission authorities to allocate places to children of clergy and other workers who are required to live in tied accommodation, and are moving into the authority’s area, in advance of the family arriving in the area; and
(b) call on all admissions authorities to accept letters of appointment as proof of residence ahead of the children of clergy and other workers who are required to live in tied accommodation moving to the area.

It was passed on a show of hands.

press reports

Hattie Williams, Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Church Times Synod’s ‘welcoming’ transgender motion asks Bishops to consider liturgy

Madeleine Davies, Hattie Williams, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Causes of clergy stress aired in the General Synod

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Transgender worshippers could get church services to celebrate their new identity after synod vote
‘Poisonous’ expectations of congregations are damaging priests’ mental health

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican church set to offer special services for transgender people
Being parish priest was my most stressful job, says Justin Welby

BBC News Church of England votes to explore transgender services

Stephen Lynas continues his reports from Synod: bathwellschap R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 2:42pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

I have to say that I am joyful and delighted that Synod has initiated this move towards affirmation services to mark trans people's gender transition.

I am also fairly surprised: I expected more people to vote against. As the defeated amendment flagged up, there are indeed issues to be confronted - notably, as I mentioned in an earlier thread, the issues of large numbers of young school-aged people starting to identify as trans, potentially against the wishes of their church-going parents, some just 'exploring' their gender and some reverting to their ascribed gender again later.

And the heart-rending issue of how to pastorally handle a situation where a church-going couple attend the same church, and one of them transitions, which can be devastating for the other partner, humiliating them socially (at least in their own experience and perception) and subverting their own identity and sexuality - finding themselves in a gay or lesbian marriage when they are healthily heterosexual.

In such circumstances, because gender transition has communal and social dimensions, and is not all about me, me, me, there are indeed things to be worked out.

However, the great thing is that today Synod has mandated and initiated that process: and considering the terrible isolation and social marginalisation - not to mention abuse on the street - that many trans people suffer... the affirmation by a church community of *who* this person is... is something very powerful.

So I am very pleased with the progress so far. Being realistic, I do expect a kick-back from conservative Christians further down the path. But the level of support from the Bishops is very encouraging. It also raises significant questions about marriage, if the Church affirms transition: because on transitioning, a recognised church marriage becomes two-women or two-men.

There is a broader point to be tackled - only *some* trans people proceed to gender surgery. Others reject the gender binary. Others are gender fluid. But today the Church's Synod has hugely affirmed trans people.

It reminds me of the Imam of East London mosque, when I asked to join the women's group there. He considered that there was no sin in being transgender (the Shia Ayatollah Khomeini also agreed on that point). It was who I was. So I was welcomed and spent many months learning with the sisters.

Maybe the Church of England is catching up with Islam on this matter.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 5:04pm BST

"It was passed on a show of hinds."

O deer.

typo fixed ED.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 9:11pm BST

Almost identical votes in favour as the conversion therapy motion. Presumably there's very close correspondence. The non supporters in clergy, and, more importantly, in laity, will no doubt be disgruntled, not least because they got virtually no episcopal agreement.

Posted by: Bernard on Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 10:53pm BST

Almost identical votes in favour as the conversion therapy motion. Presumably there's very close correspondence. The non supporters in clergy, and, more importantly, in laity, will no doubt be disgruntled, not least because they got virtually no episcopal agreement.

Posted by: Bernard on Monday, 10 July 2017 at 10:13am BST

The church's official position (such as it was: mostly decisions by individual bishops) has been pro-trans since the '90s, but with much variance on the ground, it's heartening to see it receive official endorsement. Long overdue.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 at 3:24pm BST
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