Friday, 10 November 2017

Lay member resigns from General Synod

Updated again Wednesday 15 Nov

A lay member of the General Synod, from Chichester diocese, has announced her resignation from the synod.

The full text of her letter of resignation is below the fold. There is also a press release:

Press release: Mrs Lorna Ashworth, an evangelical member of General Synod and a member of the Archbishops’ Council, resigned yesterday, saying that she was “no longer willing to sit around the table, pretending that we, as a governing body of the Church of England, are having legitimate conversations about mission.”

As she said in July, in what will now be her final speech at General Synod,
“as a corporate body we have become unable to articulate the saving message of Jesus Christ which fully encompasses the reality of sin, repentance and forgiveness – without this message we do not teach a true gospel and people do not get saved.”

In her resignation letter she blamed, “an ongoing and rapid erosion of faithfulness” and “an agenda of revisionism which “is masked in the language of so-called ‘good disagreement,’” for her decision. She is not alone in her concerns, and she said that many were calling on the bishops of the Church of England to offer clear and courageous biblical leadership.

Lorna Ashworth has been a member of General Synod for 12 years and was elected by the Synod as a lay representative on the Archbishops Council [1] two years ago.

Mrs Ashworth’s speech at General Synod in July can be read here (page9)

[1] The Archbishops’ Council provides within the Church of England a focus for leadership and executive responsibility and a forum for strategic thinking and planning. Within an overall vision for the Church set by the House of Bishops, the Council proposes an ordering of priorities in consultation with the House of Bishops and the General Synod and takes an overview of the Church’s financial needs and resources.

There is a statement in response from the Archbishop of York:

Resignation of Lorna Ashworth

10 November 2017

In response to the announcement that Lorna Ashworth is to step down from the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said:

“I was very glad when Lorna was elected to serve again on the Archbishops’ Council.
“Her prayerfulness, magnanimity, and her grasp of all matters in hand has been a great asset to us all, and I am sad that she has decided to resign.
“Those who elected her were of the view that she had much to give to the working of the Council, especially in the area of Renewal and Reform.
“However, I do not share her doubts that the Church of England will be part of God’s renewal of the Christian faith in this nation.
“I am convinced that the Church of England remains faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and will move forward rooted in the Christian faith as we have received it.
“I share Lorna’s passion to make disciples in all nations and her conviction that God will continue to build his Church in this nation.
“I certainly will miss her in our partnership in the Gospel.”

The archbishops of Canterbury and York are joint presidents of the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod.

There is also a response from The Rt Revd Rod Thomas, the Bishop of Maidstone, who said:

“I am very sorry that Lorna is resigning.
“She is a good friend and has been a brave, lively and winsome voice in the General Synod and Archbishop’s Council, as she has urged us all to remain faithful to the Word of God.
“She goes because she does not want to be drawn into compromise with those who seek to revise the plain teaching of Scripture.
“I pay tribute to her sincerity and courage.
“The doctrine of the Church of England – and its liturgy – are based squarely on the authority of the Bible and I support every effort to sustain, promote and defend this.
“For me, that means continuing to minister within the Church of England, defending its historic commitment to Scripture.”

Updates
There is now also a lengthy response from Bishop Andy Lines of GAFCON UK.

The Bishop of Chichester has issued this statement:

“Lorna has been a courageous and committed member of the Archbishops’ Council and the Church of England will be the poorer for her departure from that body.

“In the company of voices that makes for an authentic expression of the Church, it is vital that we continue to hold to a conviction of the love of God revealed in the experience of repentance, forgiveness and change that leads to a better and a happier life. That is the pattern of our enrichment as individual Christians and as the Church. It is also the way in which society is called to recognise and change its institutional failings.

“Lorna’s testimony is a timely reminder of the Church’s call to be, within the society of our own time, conformed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and his kingdom.”

+Martin Cicestr:

Full text of Lorna Ashworth’s resignation letter.

For the past 12 years, I have had the privilege of being elected to serve on the General Synod of the Church of England. This role offered further opportunities to serve on other bodies, most recently the Archbishops’ Council and the Business Committee.
During this time I have observed within Synod, an ongoing and rapid erosion of faithfulness “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3). Instead, an agenda of revisionism is masked in the language of so-called ‘good disagreement.’ In fact, ‘good disagreement’ and ‘unity’ have trumped the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.

In my last speech given at the General Synod in York, July 2017, I expressed this frustration by saying that,
‘as a corporate body we have become unable to articulate the saving message of Jesus Christ which fully encompasses the reality of sin, repentance and forgiveness – without this message we do not teach a true gospel and people do not get saved.’

I have been humbled to serve alongside men and women, lay and ordained who long to see the mission of the church remain true to it’s calling: to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This means following the unadulterated teaching of Christ even when it contradicts the spirit of the age.

It is these people who have recognised that the gospel of Christ Jesus is a matter of eternal life or death – it matters what we believe, what we say, and how we live. This message is very good news.

In light of this revisionist agenda and the heretical teaching that comes with it, I am no longer willing to sit around the table, pretending that we, as a governing body of the Church of England, are having legitimate conversations about mission. I refuse to be mistaken as one participating in the fanciful notion of ‘good disagreement.’ As such, I am standing down from the Archbishops’ Council with immediate effect and all subsequent bodies, including the General Synod.

There are many like myself, who long for clear and courageous biblical leadership from the bishops of the Church of England and we will pray to this end. Some will choose to remain as part of the Synod and they have my full support, but others will not. Whatever is decided, be rest assured that God will not be without witness in this nation and He will build His church – the question is will that include the Church of England?

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Friday, 27 October 2017

General Synod by-election - Universities and TEIs

There is to be an election to fill two casual vacancies in the Universities and Theological Education Institutions Electoral Area of the Church of England General Synod. Full details are in this paper.

Most importantly a new register of those entitled to vote and stand for election in the constituency is being compiled. Those who were on the 2015 register will not have their names carried forward and if still eligible they will have to apply now for inclusion on the new register.

Time is short as applications to join the register must be received at Church House Westminster no later than Wednesday 8 November 2017. There is an application form here.

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Voting in the July General Synod

The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth has written to explain his vote last July,when he was the only member of the House of Bishops to vote against the PMM on Conversion Therapy, as finally amended. His letter is available here.

This has reminded me that there was a detailed analysis of the voting in July produced by Andrew Goddard which I should have linked to here much earlier. See Synods, Sexuality and Symbolic and Seismic Shifts.

There is also a more detailed paper, with far more information, Understanding Synod’s July 2017 Sexuality Debates and Votes.

This sheds some light on the concerns leading to the CEEC steering committee letter to which I did link earlier, over here.

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Thursday, 27 July 2017

CNC elections

Updated Friday

The counts for the elections of the central members of the Crown Nominations Commission took place today. Those elected were:

House of Laity

Mr Anthony Archer (St Albans)
Ms Christina Baron (Bath and Wells)
Ms Jane Patterson (Sheffield)

House of Clergy

The Revd John Dunnett (Chelmsford)
The Very Revd David Ison (Deans)
The Revd Canon Dr Judith Maltby (Universities & TEIs)

These elected members of the CNC will serve from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022.

The next appointment to be considered by the CNC is the Bishop of London, with meetings on 27 Sept, 7 Nov and 28/29 Nov 2017.

These results have so far only publicly appeared on social media, but I am confident that they are correct. I have seen a copy of the result sheet for the House of Laity election. The official results, with links to the results sheets, should appear here in due course.

Update

The result sheets for these elections have now been posted here; they confirm the names of those elected as listed above.

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Electronic Voting Results

The detailed voting lists for the electronic votes at this month’s General Synod are now available here. They include these:

Item 12 — Conversion Therapy
Item 55 — Amendment to Item 12 (Doherty Amendment)
Item 56 — Amendment to Item 12 (Harrison Amendment)
Item 57 — Amendment to Item 56 (Baron Amendment)
Item 58 — Amendment to Item 12 (Dotchin Amendment)

Item 13 — Welcoming Transgender People
Item 59 — Amendment to Item 13 (Land Amendment)

The texts of all the above items are included in the voting lists. They are also in my summaries of Saturday’s and Sunday’s business.
Conversion Therapy [scroll down]
Welcoming Transgender People

Also available is Business Done for the July 2017 group of sessions.

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Monday, 10 July 2017

General Synod - Monday's business

Updated Tuesday morning and afternoon

order paper for the day

Cost of Applying for Citizenship

The final day’s business started with a debate on this diocesan synod motion from Birmingham.

That this Synod:
(a) request the Archbishops’ Council’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to investigate the issues around the cost of applying for citizenship and to make recommendations to HM Government;
(b) encourage the Lords Spiritual actively to seek opportunities to address the level of citizenship fees in debate;
(c) urge parishes to raise the issue with their MP; and
(d) encourage parishes to continue to support those known to them who are struggling with the cost of citizenship fees without incurring debt and to signpost responsible lenders or local credit unions for advice.

The motion was carried by 310 votes to nil, with no recorded abstentions.

Official press release: Synod debates cost of applying for citizenship

Final approval of Amending Canon No 36
(Of the vesture of ordained and authorized ministers during the time of divine service)

This amending canon basically permits clergy to dispense with traditional vestments. It was given final approval. For this a two-thirds majority in each house was required.

bishops: 18 for, 3 against, 0 recorded abstentions
clergy: 104 for, 5 against, 4 recorded abstentions
laity: 116 for, 8 against, 7 recorded abstentions

The canon now requires the royal assent before it can come into effect.

Draft Amending Canon No 37
(Of the burial of the dead)

This amending canon allows clergy to use the standard funeral service for those who have taken their own life. It was given final approval. For this a two-thirds majority in each house was required.

bishops: 21 for, 0 against; 0 recorded abstentions
clergy: 125 for, 0 against, 1 recorded abstentions
laity: 132 for, 1 againts, 0 recorded abstentions

The canon now requires the royal assent before it can come into effect.

In the afternoon there was a presentation on the annual report of the Archbishops’ Council (GS 2058). This was followed by the Council’s budget and proposals for apportionment for 2018 (GS 2076), which were approved.

And finally Synod said farewell to the Bishop of Bristol and the Bishop at Lambeth, who are both retiring later in the year.

Press reports etc

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams Church Times Synod voices dismay at high cost of citizenship

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Clergy to ditch their robes in further sign of dress-down Britain

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Clergy can dress down after church votes to let them ditch vestments

Stephen Lynas files his last report from Synod: bathwellschap Good times, better times
This ends with an overview of the whole four days.

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

General Synod - Sunday's business

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

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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

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Friday, 7 July 2017

General Synod - Friday's business

Updated Saturday morning

Order paper 1 - details of the day’s agenda

The main business of the day was a debate on After the General Election, a still small voice of calm.

The Archbishop of York moved this motion:

That this Synod, mindful that the recent General Election has left many questions unanswered about the shape and priorities of our government at a critical time in the nation’s history:
(a) give thanks, nonetheless, for the increased turnout and call upon all parties to build on this by addressing the causes of voter apathy and non-participation;
(b) pray for all those elected to Parliament that they will prioritise the common good of all people in everything they do, especially in negotiations between parties to secure support for a legislative programme;
(c) pray for courage, for our political leaders as they face the constraints and opportunities of uncertainty and weakness, and for the people of the nation as they too face unprecedented questions about the future;
(d) call upon Christians everywhere to maintain pressure on politicians of all parties to put the cohesion of the nation and its communities at the heart of their programmes;
(e) commend the continuing work of the churches serving the poor and vulnerable, at home and worldwide, as an example of the priorities which we hope to see in the programmes of government; and
(f) commit the Church of England to maintaining strong and generous international relations, through our dioceses, the Anglican Communion and ecumenical links, as relationships within the United Kingdom, across Europe and worldwide face new tensions and challenges.

Text of the Archbishop’s speech proposing the motion

Six amendments to the motion were proposed, all of which were comprehensively defeated. But they took up a lot of time, which would have been better devoted to the main motion.

At the end of the debate the substantive motion was overwhelmingly carried.

Official press release on the debate: Synod calls for values-based politics based on the common good

Church Times report by Madeleine Davies, Hattie Williams and Gavin Drake: We don’t ‘own’ our money, says Dr Sentamu

Stephen Lynas is a Synod member who offers his own view of the day’s business: bathwellschap There’s something in the air

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General Synod opens today

The July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England opens this afternoon in York.

Pre-Synod news and comment

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod to debate state of the nation [includes preview of whole agenda]

Hattie Williams Church Times Synod members threaten to walk out if Scottish pro-gay marriage bishop present at York meeting

Pat Ashworth Church Times Presence & Engagement report highlights challenges faced in multi-religious areas

Harry Farley Christian Today Questions of sexuality and abuse to dominate Church of England synod
Conservative Anglicans threaten synod boycott in outrage at pro-gay Scottish bishop’s attendance

Jeremy Fletcher On Synod and the Kingdom

Synod papers etc

online papers

timetable

live video stream [when in session]

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

General Synod - Questions

The Questions (and Answers) to be taken at General Synod on Friday afternoon are now available for download here.

Only supplementary questions (if any) and their answers are taken on the floor of Synod; the original questions and answers are not read out. Even so it is unlikely that all 85 questions will be reached in the one hour allocated. They will be taken in the order listed. Since the 28 questions to the House of Bishops (mainly on sexuality and safeguarding) are first they are sure to be reached.

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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Next Steps on Human Sexuality - 2

See previous article for the context. Please make comments about the Pastoral Advisory Group over there.

This article is focused on the specific proposals for the Episcopal Teaching Document Group contained in GS Misc 1158.

The material falls into two parts: there are five paragraphs which outline general principles, and then there are four and a half pages of detailed terms of reference etc.

The former paragraphs are copied in full below the fold.

The latter material starts on page 5 of GS Misc 1158. It’s worth noting that as yet none of the nominations of people to participate as members of thematic groups are shown, and also the full set of nominations for the Coordinating Group is not yet published.

From GS Misc 1158

4. The second action to which we committed ourselves was to produce a new episcopal teaching document on human sexuality. We know that, however vital our pastoral practice, part of the reason these subjects remain so problematic within the church of Christ concerns deep disagreements regarding the understanding of scripture, Christian doctrine, Christian ethics, and the nature of the church, including the particular character of the Church of England. At the same time, we are a church that rejoices to unite in worship and witness, and in doing so holds together a remarkable range of perspectives and approaches. We know that this both reflects and expresses deep agreement on scripture, doctrine, ethics and the nature of the church – without denying the seriousness of our controversies and conflicts. We also know that all parts of the Church of England can learn so much from listening to one another, to the communities and the society that we are called to serve, and to the findings of those who are committed to rigorous academic standards of research in their various fields. None of us holds the whole picture, and all of us can grow in understanding.

5. Hence this second commitment, which will involve bringing together many minds, many voices, many areas of expertise and many different skills, to produce an episcopal teaching document on human sexuality. We promised, back in February, that this process would reflect a “radical new Christian Inclusion, … founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it.” This is a formidable undertaking. It will be costly, not only financially and in terms of people’s time, but in terms of the process of exploring together on matters that touch the very nature of our being. But nothing less will address the matter with the seriousness, the depth of wisdom and the diversity of possible approaches that should characterise authentic Christian exploration of the mystery of our humanity, of which our sexuality is an integral dimension.

6. We do not expect the teaching document, or the process of writing it, to achieve reconciliation of all views across the Church of England. Such reconciliation, were it to happen, would be the work of the Holy Spirit, not of human hands or brains. But we need our internal debates to be grounded in the best available scholarship, across many disciplines and to draw in the perspectives of people in all their difference. And we need the whole process to happen prayerfully, and with the supportive prayers of our fellow Christians across the world. If the teaching document can express clearly the ground on which we are agreed – and be very clear about where we disagree, and why – it will have done its work well.

7. Below, we share with Synod the progress we have made to date in assembling the resources and people to deliver the teaching document. There is some way to go before the thematic working groups will have been brought together. Synod will understand that achieving balanced group membership is a complex process and that it would be fruitless to report on part-completed processes. When the membership of the groups is known, we will share that information – although it is also important to note that all the groups are charged with consulting beyond their own membership.

8. Synod members will not need reminding that both these areas for action were put forward in GS 2055. What has changed? The difference is that, in the light of the debate in February, we have become clearer about the scale and seriousness of the task and the need to define our terms with greater rigour – not least in pursuing the goal of radical Christian inclusion as we described it in our letter of 16th February. We, and the whole House of Bishops, mindful of the voices heard in Synod and across the church beyond it, are wholly committed to making the process outlined below work well. It is not a panacea. It is not guaranteed to deliver any specific outcome or to please anyone let alone everyone. But it is, we believe, the only way for us, as part of Christ’s church, to explore the mind of Christ together, knowing that, despite our disagreements, we are charged to preach Christ – crucified, risen, ascended and glorified – to all the people of the world.

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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Next Steps on Human Sexuality - 1

On Saturday morning at York, the General Synod will have a “Presentation from the House of Bishops on the Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group on Human Sexuality and the development of the Teaching Document.”

Note that this is not a debate, but a Presentation followed by a Question and Answer session. The relevant background document is GS Misc 1158 Next Steps on Human Sexuality. One hour has been allocated for this item.

The Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group (note the title change from Pastoral Oversight group) are quite brief, and are copied in full below the fold. About this aspect, para 3 of GS Misc 1158 says:

..in our letter of 16th February we committed ourselves, and the whole House of Bishops, to two actions. The first of these was the creation of a group, chaired by the Bishop of Newcastle, to advise dioceses on pastoral issues concerning human sexuality so that we can make explicit our commitment to show the love of Christ to all people, regardless of sexual or gender identity. Good progress has been made in establishing the new Pastoral Advisory Group, as reported below, which is now embarking on its work.

All the rest of the document is concerned with the development of the Teaching Document, and that will be covered here in a separate article, to follow shortly. This will enable discussion in the Comments below to focus specifically on the Pastoral Advisory group proposal.

Pastoral Advisory Group

1. As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.

Archbishops’ letter, February 16th 2017

Aim
2. Supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions, i.e. engagement, inclusion, and pastoral care, with regard to the current pastoral approach of the Church to human sexuality, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on same-sex couples.

Responsibilities
3. Reviewing, and as needed revising, advice provided by the House of Bishops on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples in Church of England congregations, such ministry being understood to include prayer offered by clergy and licensed lay minsters.

4. Offering advice when requested to bishops regarding specific cases they are dealing with in the areas of both pastoral care and discipline involving clergy in same-sex relationships, and clergy responding to lay people in same-sex relationships, to assist the sharing of knowledge and an appropriate level of national consistency in approach.

5. Supporting the Church of England’s communication of its approach to this area in the media and in other public fora.

6. Exploring together, and hearing from others, what radical Christian Inclusion, ‘founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it.’ [From the Archbishops’ Letter, 16th February 2017] means in the life and mission of the Church: sharing and disseminating examples of good practice in terms of pastoral care of and engagement with those who identify as LGBTI.

Key tasks
7. To bring draft advice on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples in Church of England congregations for initial consideration by the House of Bishops, having reflected on how pastoral practices might develop within current teaching.

8. To review the advice provided in due course in the light of the emerging teaching document.

Way of working
9. Requests from other bishops for advice on named cases with regard to area of responsibility (2) above will need to be dealt with as reserved business by the bishops within the group. The bishops will however report to other group members that such reserved business has been discussed and will review with them any general issues arising from the review of particular cases.

Time scale
10.The advice on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples will need to be undertaken in careful liaison with work on the teaching document (as set out below). It is therefore difficult to give a precise timescale for the groups work.

11.Members will be appointed initially to serve on the group until the end of 2019.

Membership

Chair: The Bishop of Newcastle, The Rt Revd Christine Hardman

Other Episcopal Members: The Bishop of Willesden, The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent
The Bishop of Grantham, The Rt Revd Dr Nicholas Chamberlain
The Bishop of Exeter, The Rt Revd Robert Atwell
The Bishop of Repton, The Rt Revd Jan McFarlane

Members: The Revd Sam Allberry
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Ven Cherry Vann
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett

Staff support: The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown
The Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen
The Legal Office.

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General Synod: motions on Sexuality and Gender

Updated again 1 July

There are two motions due to come before General Synod in York next month. One is a Diocesan motion from Blackburn, Welcoming Transgender People, to be debated on Sunday afternoon, the other is a Private Member’s Motion from Jayne Ozanne, on Conversion Therapy, to be debated on Saturday afternoon.

The Blackburn diocesan motion reads:

That this Synod, recognizing 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.

The background paper from the diocese is GS 2071A Welcoming Transgender People. This provides a comprehensive briefing, including a helpful glossary of terms, and a detailed explanation of the circumstances which prompted the motion being brought forward.

There is also a background note from the Secretary General, GS 2071B, which includes a discussion of some theological considerations, and reviews the existing liturgical provisions which might be relevant.

OneBodyOneFaith has published an article by Christina Beardsley Welcoming and affirming transgender people: reflections and resources for the Blackburn Motion,which comments on some of the opposition to this motion, and links to a number of resources that reflect modern scientific thinking on this topic.

The Private Member’s Motion reads:

Jayne Ozanne (Oxford) to move that this Synod:

(a) endorse the statement (see below) 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 statement referred to reads:

January 16th 2017 Statement
We the undersigned UK organisations wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world. It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.

Conversion Therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
The British Psychoanalytic Council
The British Psychological Society
The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists
GLADD – The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists
The National Counselling Society
National Health Service Scotland
Pink Therapy
The Royal College of General Practitioners
The Scottish Government
Stonewall
The UK Council for Psychotherapy

The background paper by Jayne Ozanne is GS 2070A Conversion Therapy. This explains how the 2017 statement came into being, describes the position of the UK Government, and lists the comments of various medical professional bodies on conversion therapy.

There is also a background note from the Secretary General GS 2070B which goes into more detail and notes some differences between the 2017 statement and earlier ones.

And OneBodyOneFaith has reproduced another article by Jayne Ozanne A Call to Condemn Conversion Therapy.

Updates

The Church Times has this: Ozanne motion seeks to label as ‘unethical’ therapy to change sexual orientation.

This paper by Jayne Ozanne is also published: Spiritual abuse – the next great scandal for the Church.

There is also another paper, written by Professors Michael King and Robert Song: Conversion Therapy - Science Briefing. Copy available here.

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Friday, 23 June 2017

After the General Election: a still small voice of calm

The second circulation of General Synod papers was issued this morning; see here for details. There is an accompanying press release (copied below) which concentrates on an addition to the agenda made by the archbishops. The text of the additional motion is copied below the fold.

After the General Election: a still small voice of calm
23 June 2017

The Church of England is providing a “still small voice of calm” at a time when the people of Britain face “unprecedented questions about the future”, according to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The recent General Election has left many questions unanswered about at a “critical time in the nation’s history”, they say.

Christians should therefore pray for political leaders to have courage but also give thanks for signs of political apathy receding, they say.

The call comes in the text of the motion to be debated at the Church’s General Synod, which meets in York next month.

The archbishops have used their legal powers to change the published schedule to include an urgent debate on the state of the nation.

Entitled “After the General Election: a still small voice of calm” it will take place on the opening afternoon of Synod, Friday July 7.

Details of the motion were published as a second circulation of papers was issued ahead of the summer session of Synod at the University of York between July 7 and July 10.

The documents also include a paper setting out the process for compiling a major new teaching document on human sexuality and the work of a new Pastoral Advisory Group to advise dioceses on pastoral provision for same-sex couples.

It follows a vote in February in which Synod opted not to ‘take note’ of the House of Bishops’ report on sexuality.

The paper, also issued by the two archbishops, reiterates a pledge to base the new teaching document on a “radical Christian inclusion” to be “founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it”.

The papers also include information on National Support for Local Churches and background information for a motion tabled by Jayne Ozanne, of the Diocese of Oxford, calling for Synod to condemn the practice of Conversion Therapy, among other subjects.

Notes to editors

The title of the motion is a reference to the story in 1 Kings 19 in which God spoke to the prophet Elijah not through a hurricane, earthquake or fire but through a “still small voice”.

Text of additional motion, to be moved by the Archbishop of York, on Friday 7 July.

AFTER THE GENERAL ELECTION, A STILL SMALL VOICE OF CALM

That this Synod, mindful that the recent General Election has left many questions unanswered about the shape and priorities of our government at a critical time in the nation’s history:
(a) give thanks, nonetheless, for the increased turnout and call upon all parties to build on this by addressing the causes of voter apathy and non-participation;
(b) pray for all those elected to Parliament that they will prioritise the common good of all people in everything they do, especially in negotiations between parties to secure support for a legislative programme;
(c) call upon Christians everywhere to maintain pressure on politicians of all parties to put the cohesion of the nation and its communities at the heart of their programmes;
(d) pray for courage, for our political leaders as they face the constraints and opportunities of uncertainty and weakness, and for the people of the nation as they too face unprecedented questions about the future;
(e) commend the continuing work of the churches serving the poor and vulnerable, at home and worldwide, as an example of the priorities which we hope to see in the programmes of government; and
(f) commit the Church of England to maintaining strong and generous international relations, through our dioceses, the Anglican Communion and ecumenical links, as relationships within the United Kingdom, across Europe and worldwide face new tensions and challenges.

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Friday, 16 June 2017

General Synod papers published

The Church of England has issued the press release below about papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod.

See my previous article for my list of papers.

General Synod papers published
16 June 2017

Papers circulated to members of the Church of England’s General Synod ahead of its July sessions in York have been published online.

They detail discussions planned on subjects ranging from the Church’s work in areas where many people follow other faiths to concerns over the cost of applying for British citizenship and the possibility of services to help transgender Christians mark their transition.

Synod is due to meet at the University of York from Friday July 7 to Monday July 10.

Papers are being published in two batches. The first circulation of papers is available here.

A second circulation of papers will be published on Friday, June 23. There will also be a pre-Synod briefing at Church House Westminster next Friday.

One briefing paper in the first circulation sets out how an existing Church of England service for reaffirming baptismal vows may form the liturgical basis for services which help transgender Christians mark their gender transition publicly.

The liturgy for Affirmation of Baptismal Faith, contained in the Common Worship service book, may be used with people who have already been baptised but who wish to “reaffirm their identity in Christ” after a significant personal transition, including gender, according to the paper.

It rules out the possibility of so-called “re-baptism” services, because Church of England teaching makes clear that baptism can only be received once.

However it makes clear that there is “no legal or doctrinal difficulty” with transgender people reaffirming their baptism vows with a new name.

The briefing was issued in response to a motion being brought to Synod by the Diocese of Blackburn, calling for nationally commended liturgical materials to mark a person’s gender transition.

The papers also include details of a motion raising concerns about the cost of applying for British citizenship and its impact on those on low incomes.

There is also a report on the Church of England’s Presence and Engagement programme, which supports parishes fulfilling the Church of England’s commitment to being a Christian presence in every community, even in areas where many people follow other faiths.

The timetable for General Synod is available here.

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July General Synod - online papers

Updated 17 June, 23 June, 5 July

All the papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online.

The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 23 June and I will add links when these become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

Papers in numerical order with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration
Synod meets from Friday 7 to Monday 10 July 2017.

The Archbishops have made a change to agenda for Friday to add a debate on After the General Election, a still small voice of calm. Details are in Notice Paper 4.

GS 2027B – Draft Legislative Reform Measure [Saturday]
GS 2027Z/2030Z/2032Z – Report by the Steering Committee [Saturday]

GS 2029B – Draft Amending Canon No.36 for final approval [Friday]
GS 2029BB – Draft Amending Canon No.37 for final Approval [Monday]
GS 2029C – Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 2029CC – Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 2029Z – Report by the Steering Committee [Saturday]

GS 2030B – Draft Statute Law (repeals) Measure [Saturday]
[see also GS 2027Z/2030Z/2032Z above]

GS 2032B – Draft Pension (Pre-consolidation) Measure [Saturday]
[see also GS 2027Z/2030Z/2032Z above]

GS 2058 – Annual Report of the Archbishops’ Council [Monday]

GS 2059 – Agenda

GS 2060 – Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 2061 – Appointment to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 2062 – Annual Report of the Audit Committee [deemed business - Friday]

GS 2063 – Presence and Engagement [Saturday]

GS 2064 – Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure [deemed business - Saturday]
GS 2064x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2065 – Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order 2017 [Saturday]
GS 2065x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2066 – Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2017 [Saturday]
GS 2067 – Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2017 [Saturday]
GS 2066/2067x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2068 – 52nd Report of the Standing Orders Committee [deemed business - Saturday]

GS 2069 – National Support for Local Churches: Report from the Archbishops’ Council [Saturday]

GS 2070A - Conversion Therapy, A note from Ms Jayne Ozanne [Saturday]
GS 2070B - Conversion Therapy, A note from The Secretary General [Saturday]

GS 2071A – Welcoming Transgender People, A note from The Revd Chris Newlands [Sunday]
GS 2071B – Welcoming Transgender People, A note from The Secretary General [Sunday]

GS 2072 – Clergy Wellbeing [Sunday]
[See also GS Misc 1163 below]

GS 2073A – Schools Admissions Code, A note from The Revd Tiffer Robinson [Sunday]
GS 2073B – Schools Admissions Code, A note from The Secretary General [Sunday]

GS 2074A – Cost of applying for Citizenship, A note from Mr Ben Franks [Monday]
GS 2074B – Cost of applying for Citizenship, A note from The Secretary General [Monday]

GS 2075 – The work of the General Elections Review Group [Monday]
[See also GS Misc 1164 below]

GS 2076 – The Archbishops’ Council’s Budget [Monday]

GS 2077A - Food Wastage, A note from The Revd Andrew Dotchin
GS 2077B - Food Wastage, A note from The Secretary General [contingency business]

Other Papers

Questions Notice Paper [Friday]

Church Commissioners Annual Report 2016 [Friday]

GS Misc 1158 – Proposals for the pastoral advisory group on human sexuality and the development of the teaching document [Saturday]

GS Misc 1159 – Interim Report on the Review of the Crown Nominations Commission [Sunday]

GS Misc 1160 – Instructions on Electronic Voting

GS Misc 1161 – Report of the Meissen Commission

GS Misc 1162 – Code of Conduct

GS Misc 1163 – Clergy Wellbeing, A note from The Secretary General [Sunday]

GS Misc 1164 - Presentation by the Elections Review Group [Monday]

GS Misc 1165 - Clergy Discipline Commission

GS Misc 1166 - Signature of PMMs

GS Misc 1167 - Members of Councils, Boards and Committees

GS Misc 1168 - Summary of Decisions from the House of Bishops

GS Misc 1169 - Update on the Archbishops’ Council Activities

GS Misc 1170 - Resourcing Ministerial Education

House of Laity

HLA1 – House of Laity Agenda [Saturday evening]

HLA2 – House of Laity Agenda (if an Article 7 reference is required)

House of Clergy

Convocation of Canterbury Agenda (if an Article 7 reference is required)

Convocation of York Agenda (if an Article 7 reference is required)

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Thursday, 25 May 2017

General Synod timetable - July 2017

Updated 2 July to incorporate revised tiemtable

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in York from Friday July 7 until Monday July 11. The outline timetable is available here, and is copied below. The full agenda will be published with the first release of papers on Friday June 16.

revised timetable

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2017
Timetable

Friday 7 July
2.30 pm - 7.00 pm
2.30 pm Opening worship
Introduction and welcomes
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests
3.15 pm Report by the Business Committee
3.45 pm Debate on a motion from the Archbishops “After the General Election, a still small voice of calm”
4.45 pm Legislative Business Amending Canon No. 36 – Final Drafting
5.05 pm Approval of appointment to the Archbishops’ Council
5.25 pm Church Commissioners Annual Report - Presentation under Standing Order 107 followed by Q&A
*6.00 pm Questions
7.00 pm Close of business
Worship

Saturday 8 July
7.30 am Holy Communion in the Berrick Saul Theatre
8.15 am House of Bishops meeting to approve the final form of Amending Canons Nos. 36 and 37

9.00 am - 12.30 pm
9.00 am Morning worship
9.15 am Presentation from the House of Bishops on the Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group on Human Sexuality and the development of the Teaching Document - Presentation under S.O. 107 followed by Q&A
10.15 am Report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on the Presence and Engagement Interfaith programme
*11.00 Legislative Business Legislative Reform Measure - Final Drafting / Final Approval
11.45 Legislative Business Statute Law (Repeals) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
12.00 Legislative Business Pensions (Pre-consolidation) Measure – Final Drafting / Final Approval
*12.10 Introductory Session: National Support for Local Churches - Presentation under Standing Order 107

12.30 pm - 2.30 pm
Lunch

Synod members meet in groups from 2.30 pm – 4.00 pm
2.30 pm Workshops on Forms of National Support for Local Churches

4.30 pm - 7.00 pm
4.30 pm Report from the Archbishops’ Council on National Support for Local Churches
5.45 pm Private Member’s Motion - Conversion Therapy
7.00 pm Close of business
Worship

8.30 pm Meeting of the House of Laity

Sunday 9 July

10.00 am Holy Communion in York Minster

2.30 pm – 7.00 pm
2.30 pm Diocesan Synod Motion - Welcoming Transgender People
3.45 pm Interim Report on the Review of the Crown Nominations Commission - Presentation under S.O. 107 followed by Q&A
4.30 pm Report from the House of Clergy on a Covenant for Clergy Wellbeing
5.45 pm
EITHER
Meetings of the House of Laity and Convocations from 5.45-7.00 pm [including evening worship]
OR
Private Member’s Motion - Schools Admissions Code
7.00 pm Close of business
Worship

Monday 10 July
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
9.00 am Morning worship
9.15 am Diocesan Synod Motion - Cost of Applying for Citizenship
10.30 am Report from the Elections Review Group
10.50 am Presentation from the Elections Review Group Presentation under S.O. 107 followed by Q&A
11.50 pm Legislative Business (ctd …) Amending Canon No. 36 – Final Approval

12.30 pm – 2.30 pm
Lunch

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm
2.30 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2016 - Presentation under S.O. 106 followed by Q&A
3.00 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Budget for 2018
4.00 pm Amending Canon No. 37 - Final Approval
*4.30 pm Farewells
*5.00 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business
Private Members’ Motion: Schools Admission Code
Diocesan Synod Motion: Food wastage

Deemed Items
The Archbishops’ Council Audit Committee Annual Report
Report from the Standing Orders Committee on the amendments to the Standing Orders required in connection with the Legislative Reform Measure and other matters
Miscellaneous Provisions Measure
Payments to the CCT Order
Fees Orders

* not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk

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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Voting on House of Bishops' report

The detailed voting lists for the electronic votes at last week’s meeting of the General Synod have been released. The list for the take note motion on the House of Bishops’ report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations is here.

Readers may be particularly interested in the voting in the House of Bishops which I have shown in the table below.

The bishops voted 43 in favour and one against with no recorded abstentions. The Bishop of Coventry (the only vote against) has said that he pressed the wrong button on his voting machine and intended to vote in favour. The Bishop of Southwark has said that he intended to record an abstention but failed to do so.

There are 53 places in the House of Bishops (42 diocesan bishops, the Bishop of Dover, the Bishop to the Forces and nine elected suffragan bishops). Two diocesan sees were vacant on the day of the vote. So, in addition to Southwark, six bishops were absent from the vote. If any readers know for certain the reason for any of the absences, please let us know via the comments.

Electronic voting results for Item 14
Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 2055):
‘That the Synod do take note of this report.’

Voting in the House of Bishops
 seenamevote
1 Canterbury Justin Welby for
2 York John Sentamu for
3 London Richard Chartres absent
4 Durham Paul Butler for
5 Winchester Tim Dakin for
6 Bath & Wells Peter Hancock for
7 Birmingham David Urquhart absent
8 Blackburn Julian Henderson for
9 Bristol Michael Hill absent
10 Carlisle James Newcome for
11 Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell for
12 Chester Peter Forster for
13 Chichester Martin Warner for
14 Coventry Christopher Cocksworth against - by mistake
15 Derby Alastair Redfern for
16 Ely Stephen Conway for
17 Gibraltar in Europe Robert Innes for
18 Exeter Robert Atwell for
19 Gloucester Rachel Treweek for
20 Guildford Andrew Watson absent
21 Hereford Richard Frith for
22 Leeds Nicholas Baines for
23 Leicester Martyn Snow for
24 Lichfield Michael Ipgrave for
25 Lincoln Christopher Lowson for
26 Liverpool Paul Bayes for
27 Manchester David Walker for
28 Newcastle Christine Hardman for
29 Norwich Graham James for
30 Oxford Steven Croft for
31 Peterborough Donald Allister for
32 Portsmouth Christopher Foster for
33 Rochester James Langstaff absent
34 St Albans Alan Smith for
35 St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Martin Seeley for
36 Salisbury Nicholas Holtam for
37 Sheffield vacant see vacant
38 Sodor & Man vacant see vacant
39 Southwark Christopher Chessun absent - but intended to abstain
40 Southwell & Nottingham Paul Williams for
41 Truro Timothy Thornton for
42 Worcester John Inge for
43 Dover Trevor Willmott for
44 Forces Nigel Stock for
45 Fulham Jonathan Baker for
46 Willesden Peter Broadbent for
47 Southampton Jonathan Frost for
48 Ludlow Alistair Magowan for
49 Lynn Jonathan Meyrick for
50 Warrington Richard Blackburn absent
51 Huddersfield Jonathan Gibbs for
52 Stockport Elizabeth Lane for
53 Beverley Glyn Webster for
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Friday, 17 February 2017

Archbishops' letter - responses and press reports

OneBodyOneFaith Archbishops’ bold proposal for radical inclusion

OneBodyOneFaith welcomes the Church of England Archbishops’ bold proposal for a new and inclusive process following defeat of GS2055

In response to the joint letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York released today, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of OneBodyOneFaith said, “The joint letter from both Archbishops to Church of England synod members is a bold and welcome response to address the disjunction between the House of Bishops and Houses of Clergy and Laity in their understanding of and response to human sexuality. We applaud the tone set by Archbishop Justin as he seeks ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’ and his affirmation that, ‘no person is a problem or an issue [because] people are made in the image of God.’ In this we find echoed our own vision, longing for Christ’s body to be one, finding unity in a diversity which includes all whom Christ has called, that they might participate in God’s mission, leading to transformation for our world.”

“For Bishops to consult with local synod representatives in how to establish a way forward on human sexuality that is ‘about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity’ will indeed be a significant change. We note with satisfaction the intention that the Pastoral Oversight group and the group that work on the large scale teaching document that will provide for ‘good, healthy flourishing relationships’ reflecting a ‘21st Century understanding of being human and being sexual’ will be ‘fully inclusive’. We take ‘fully inclusive’ in this context to mean that in both groups will be represented those who would affirm OneBodyOneFaith’s statement of conviction:

‘that human sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity in all their richness are gifts of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.’

And that:

‘it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex, but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship; We believe that expressing our gender and sexuality with integrity is important as a way to grow in love and discipleship.’

”The Archbishops have set an ambitious task for members of the Church of England; they are right to recognise its urgency. A process involving lay, presbyteral and episcopal members of synod will be far more representative. OneBodyOneFaith reminds the Archbishops that the homophobia long present in the Church of England has skewed its population and that this needs to be taken into account in Diocesan consultations, in the development of pastoral practices, and in formulating the wide ranging and inclusive new teaching document on human sexuality.

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of OneBodyOneFaith explained, “Care needs to be taken that a process which focusses on synod members will represent and reflect the interests of the whole of the Church of England and is mindful of the needs of the nation. To that end, this process needs to involve Anglicans who are not part of synod. The process needs to allow each participant to speak without fear for their own safety or fear of recrimination. OneBodyOneFaith stands ready to resource the Church of England as it embarks on this process of embodying more deeply the radical and transforming love shown by God in Christ which is for all.”

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England bishops seek to repair divisions over same-sex relationships

Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York calls for ‘radical’ steps by Church

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

General Synod - day 4 - Thursday 16 February

updated Friday

order paper for the day

Official press release: Culture change for seven days a week faith welcomed by General Synod

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February Group of Sessions 2017: Thursday

The text of Gavin Oldham’s motion is not included in the summary; as amended and passed by Synod it was:

That this Synod, considering the ratio of time and money spent in administration to that spent in mission to be too high throughout the Church of England, and noting the very effective facilities provided for parish statistics collection and clergy payroll:
(a) confirm that the principle of subsidiarity should not be applied to purely administrative functions; and
(b) request the Archbishops’ Council to develop its current work with dioceses to identify opportunities for nationally provided administrative services which would both release a larger proportion of resources for local growth and mission initiatives and generate economies for the whole Church.

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Synod Turns to Mission

Anglican Communion News Service No easy solution to same-sex marriage issue, secretary general tells C of E Synod

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Archbishops write to General Synod members

Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York following General Synod
16 February 2017

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to members of the General Synod setting out the next steps following the vote on General Synod not to take note of the paper on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations.

The letter can be found here.

The full text can be read below:

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Following the vote in General Synod not to take note of the paper on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations (GS 2055) we are writing to set out the way forward in the next few months.

First, we want to be clear about some underlying principles. In these discussions no person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people called to redeemed humanity in Christ.

How we deal with the real and profound disagreement - put so passionately and so clearly by many at the debate - is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.

To deal with that disagreement and to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We need to work together - not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone - to move forward with confidence.

The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.

Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.

We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward.

As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.

Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.

We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm.

In the meantime, we commend to your prayers our common concern for every member of this church, of all views, and most especially our concern for the mission of God to which we are called by the Father, for which we are made ready by the Son, and in which we are equipped by the Holy Spirit.

+ Justin Cantuar:        +Sentamu Eboracensis

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Responses to yesterday's vote

Updated Friday

Press reports are listed here.

Inclusive Church

Take Note Debate Voted Down

Inclusive Church in partnership with the General Synod Human Sexuality Group shares this press release in response to the General Synod vote in February 2017.

“We are pleased and relieved that General Synod have heard our concerns, and voted NOT to Take Note. This means that we can now look at new ways of working together to produce a fresh approach to how we embrace and celebrate the lives and loves of LGBTI people. We hope that the Church of England will now be more honest about the diversity of views that are sincerely held on this issue, so that we can look at how we might best present an inclusive vision of the Body of Christ to the nation.

We are particularly grateful that both the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Reflections Group (the Rt Revd Graham James and the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent) have acknowledged and apologised for the pain that this report had caused so many of us.”

Jayne Ozanne and Giles Goddard, Chair of Human Sexuality Group

Alan Wilson Back to the Holy Drawing Board, with some relief

For a body as conventionally set up as the Church of England General Synod, all its structures loaded to express deference, yesterday’s result was something of a shock to the system.

Many episcopal colleagues could feel disappointed that the clergy did not buy a report that had already been announced to the rest of the Communion from the top as Church policy, before it had even been to synod.

This kind of bloody nose may stir memories of the Anglican Covenant project — another disastrous and ecclesiologically inept attempt to make doctrine through lawyers that backfired.

But every failure brings opportunity…

We now have a chance to following up the Shared Conversations, which were generally good and constructive, properly…

OneBodyOneFaith

Today’s events in the Church of England are unprecedented, with the refusal of the General Synod to take note of the Report of the House of Bishops’ reflection group, GS2055. Both the defeat of the motion by the House of Clergy and the rebellion against it in the House of Laity send an unequivocal message to the house of Bishops that their approach to human sexuality is lamentably out of step with membership of the Church of England and with the nation…

Modern Church responds to Synod vote on sexuality and marriage

Modern Church welcomes the result of the vote in General Synod this week not to ‘take note’ of the House of Bishops report on Marriage and Same Sex Partnerships after the Shared Conversations.

By rejecting the motion to take note of this report, the General Synod has sent the Bishops back to the drawing board.

Most telling among the many reflections leading up to and during this landmark debate were these:

  • the House of Bishops was attempting to manage the situation rather than leading.
  • the ‘roadmap’ their report offered was not a route toward ‘good disagreement’ for those putting the case for inclusion.
  • the bishops had not adequaltey heard the lived experience of LGBT+ people in the church, their families, friends and supporters, and had not catered for their aspirations for equality.
  • the report did not take account of different theological and biblical perspectives.

We are but a few years on from the defeat of the Anglican Covenant by the English Dioceses and the General Synod. This second major defeat can mean only one thing - it is time for the House of Bishops to bring forward legislation which will enable all LGBT+ Christians, whether single, in a civil partnership or married, to be treated with equality in the life of the church.

What might this look like?

Modern Church also welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement calling for:

a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church… founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology… based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and… a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We look forward to continuing to work to support the excellent and active work of LGBTI Mission, Inclusive Church and One Body One Faith, as they work with the whole church and with the Bishops to discern the way ahead.

Listening to the Synod debate, some of the parameters of a new settlement seem to be clear:

  • An authorised liturgy for the blessing of same sex relationships (civil partnerships and civil marriages).
  • The end of intrusive questioning for those in or aspiring to ministry who are in a civil partnership or are married to someone of the same gender.
  • A ‘mixed economy’ whereby no minister is expected or compelled to act beyond the limits of their own or their congregation’s conscience.

Anything short of this will not do. The road may be yet long but the destination is now in sight and it is time for the Bishops to offer a map to get us there.

Ian Paul Psephizo On Synod, sexuality, and not ‘Taking note’

Gafcon UK GAFCON UK responds to the Synod vote, and offers a new vision for faithful Anglicanism

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following today’s General Synod

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following today’s General Synod

Wednesday 15th February 2017

Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby following the General Synod’s vote “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships.

“No person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people.

How we deal with the real and profound disagreement - put so passionately and so clearly by many at the Church of England’s General Synod debate on marriage and same-sex relationships today - is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.

To deal with that disagreement, to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We need to work together - not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone - to move forward with confidence.

The vote today is not the end of the story, nor was it intended to be. As bishops we will think again and go on thinking, and we will seek to do better. We could hardly fail to do so in the light of what was said this afternoon.

The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.”

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Debate on the Bishops' report - take note motion defeated

Updated Thursday
Scroll down for press reports.

This afternoon General Synod debated Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 2055).

The motion “That the Synod do take note of this report” was defeated.

Voting was by houses, and the motion was lost in the House of Clergy.

 for  against  abstentions
bishops  4310
clergy931002
laity106834

Official press release following the vote:

Result of the vote on the House of Bishops’ Report
15 February 2017

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops following a debate on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships.

A take note debate is a neutral motion which allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in a report without committing the Synod to the formal acceptance of any matter.

The vote required simple majorities in each of the three Synodical Houses. A total of 242 people voted in favour of the report 184 against and 6 abstentions - with a majority of Synod members voting to “take note” of the report. However the report failed to obtain a simple majority in the House of Clergy.

The House of Bishops voted 43 in favour and 1 against.

The House of Clergy voted 93 in favour and 100 against with 2 abstentions.

The House of Laity voted 106 in favour and 83 against with 4 abstentions.

With the take note motion now rejected, the Bishops of the Church of England will reflect on the views expressed at the General Synod. The diversity of opinion and strong views expressed, will need to be taken account by the Bishops in their consideration of the discussion going forward.

Responding to the vote, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich said:

“I can guarantee that the House of Bishops will consider carefully and prayerfully all the contributions made in the debate today.

“When reports come to the General Synod they often come at the end of a process and contain recommendations. This wasn’t that sort of report. The Bishops came to this debate committed to listen. Our report did not bring proposals, it brought a framework and a request for Synod to tell us what they thought. We have listened to those who have spoken, and those others who have made contributions to us directly. Our ongoing discussions will be informed by what members of Synod and the wider church have said as a result of this report.”

Introducing the debate on behalf of the House of Bishops, the Bishop of Norwich said that the report did not make formal proposals but was rather suggesting frameworks where areas needed attention: “The point of a take note debate is that it enables other voices to be heard, including those who believe the framework for further consideration is mistaken or wrongly constructed and needs modification. It is not a vote for approval but an invitation to comment and engage, and the House is listening.”

Setting out the difficulties facing both the House of Bishops and the wider Church in considering the report the Bishop of Norwich said: “There is no simple and easy answer to this issue beyond committing ourselves to engagement with each other when the views on what we should do are profoundly contested.”

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt. Revd. Pete Broadbent said:

“As I said at the launch of the Report such a debate is on a neutral motion. It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report. The Synod has declined to take note and so the report in its present form cannot come back to Synod for discussion, though we will still have to find a way forward for the wider discussion.

“We will find this debate a continuing source of disagreement because we haven’t coalesced around an end point. When we legislated for women to be bishops, even those opposed came to the view that the Church of England had to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of God according to our canons and formularies. In this debate, we haven’t even begun to find a place where we can coalesce. The Bishops’ Report acknowledges a place of starting. More conversation is needed. We don’t yet know the next stage - nor yet when and whether we can bring any further report to Synod.”

Voting and The House of Bishops Report by a Church of England spokesperson

Press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod rebuff for Bishops’ report on sexuality

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Anglicans come a step closer to gay marriages in church after vote rejects controversial report
[originally headlined “Church of England votes to reject controversial gay marriage report which said union should be between a man and a woman”]
Church of England gay marriage vote thrown into chaos after members ‘get confused and press wrong button’
[This article has been rewritten; the original was published under the headline “Church of England votes for gay marriage after bishop presses wrong button”.]

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England in turmoil as synod rejects report on same sex relationships
Bishop apologises for accidentally pressing wrong button in vote

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church No Winners

Anglican Communion News Service Church of England’s report on marriage and sexuality suffers setback at Synod

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod rejects bishops’ sexuality report

BBC News Church of England votes against gay marriage report
Church of England’s rejection of gay marriage report welcomed

Harry Farley Christian Today Church Of England’s Clergy Issue Shock Rebuke To Bishops’ Conservative View On Sexuality

ITV News Church of England votes against same-sex marriage report

Steve Doughty Mail Online Church of England one step closer to gay marriages in church: Vote against bishops’ report that supported ban is hailed as a victory by liberal clergy

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Alternative case studies

As an alternative to the official studies being looked at by Synod members this afternoon OneBodyOneFaith offer their own case studies, this time involving bishops.

1. Chris is a bishop in a mainly rural Northern diocese. He realised he was gay in his teens, when others were becoming keen on girls and he wasn’t. He never said anything to anybody, and has never had more than close friendships with those men whom he has taken a fancy to. It seems to him that it would be impossible for him to come out now, after so many years, for two main reasons: although he has never lied about his sexuality (in fact he has never said anything at all to colleagues or in job interviews), he feels his reputation as an honest and caring bishop, in a part of the country where straight-talking people seem to him likely to become more wary if they knew he was gay, would be felled at a stroke if he spoke up now. And he is the only child of his elderly and frail mother, whom he believes would be utterly shattered by such a revelation.

Chris supported the House of Bishops Report because he believes strongly in the collective responsibility of the bishops, and, to be completely honest, because ‘no change’ means that he does not have to make any decision about whether to come out at this point.

2. Daniel is a young, single bishop. He thinks he may be bisexual, as he has found himself in close relationships with women and men, though he has only had sex with one woman: he thought he might marry her but it didn’t work out. He has great sympathy with those campaigning for LGBTI inclusion, but dare not come out for fear that his colleagues will think less of him - especially his Archbishop, who does not know anything of his past relationships. He is troubled that the Report makes no mention at all of BTI people - but did not raise this in the brief discussion that was allowed.

Daniel supported the House of Bishops Report as a way of bolstering his own membership of the College of Bishops, which he hopes will enhance his credibility in future discussions. He feels uncomfortable that he is not ready to be the one to speak up against what he considers a weak and rather cowardly report, focusing on the difficulties for the bishops themselves.

3. Jerome is an evangelical bishop. His roots were in the conservative wing, but since his daughter-in-law’s brother came out as gay he has been less convinced that their approach is the right one in the sight of God. He can now see that scripture can be interpreted in more than one way, but still cannot work out how to get ‘past’ the prohibitions in Leviticus and Romans. He carries a great deal of weight in evangelical circles, and is keenly aware of the consequences if he were to declare a change of mind. Others would feel betrayed by him, and he would damage some people’s faith in Christ: a risk he is not prepared to take.

Jerome supported the House of Bishops Report because, although flawed, it represents the best way forward for evangelicals at the moment, and he sincerely hopes it will not distract from the wider mission of the church.

4. Dawn, with her female episcopal colleagues, is new to the College of Bishops. She is still learning the ropes of how things work - or don’t - in practice, and is puzzled and frustrated by how little time there is for real discussion and listening. She is married to a man, and has always seen marriage as a gift from God to be treasured. She would love to whole-heartedly support extending that to couples of the same sex, but is not convinced of the scriptural support for that and therefore could not commend it to the people she serves in her diocese. A large part of her hopes that in time she will be so convinced. She is also very conscious of the tension between feeling a responsibility, as a woman, to support other oppressed groups, and needing to ‘join in’ with the current culture in order to be taken seriously.

Dawn was not happy with the Report but supported it as the best compromise that could be rushed through.

5. Findlay (married, 3 teenage children) is aware of a number of gay and lesbian clergy in his diocese, some of whom are in partnerships, and he does his best to support them discretely. He is deeply troubled by the seeming inability of the House of Bishops as a body to act graciously and purposefully towards such people in such relationships. His diocese is perceived as more ‘liberal’ than some, but he has received considerable correspondence urging him to hold the line on marriage ‘as God has defined it’. Some of the letters have been fierce, unpleasant and have threatened his soul with damnation, but he knows that each writer is trying to be faithful and so tries to hold them in his prayers as compassionately as he can. But he wonders what to do with his considerable anger. He is also concerned not to impose his suggestions for progress towards full inclusion of LGBTI people as a white, straight man.

Findlay supported the Report with a heavy heart and after speaking up against its paucity and flawed logic - how can the mean-spirited tone of such a report invite and expect a change of tone across the church?

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The Bishops’ Report and Scripture: A Missed Opportunity

We are pleased to publish this article from The Revd Dr Jennifer Strawbridge.

The Bishops’ Report and Scripture: A Missed Opportunity
Jennifer Strawbridge (Associate Professor of New Testament Studies & Caird Fellow in Theology, University of Oxford)

Proof-texting of Scripture is all too common in discussions of human sexuality, but its theological worth is rather limited. The more so, when it is done incorrectly. This is not what the recent publication by the House of Bishops – Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations – has done. In fact, this document makes explicit reference to Scripture only 5 times across its 19 pages of text. However, one of the Pauline passages used to introduce this report is based on an unfortunate misunderstanding of the Apostle. While this misunderstanding does not ultimately affect the content of the report, it does cast a shadow over what follows and represents a missed opportunity for how Scripture can be engaged in such conversations.

The first paragraph of the report states, “As St Paul writes, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…’ (Galatians 2.19ff). For St Paul that meant setting aside even the wonderful privilege of Jewish identity and giving priority to the cross and resurrection of Christ. It is in this light that the Church of England has to consider the difficulties over human sexuality that have been a source of tension and division for many years.”

What this introduction misunderstands and misses is twofold. Firstly, in both his letters and in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is a Jew and identifies clearly as a Jew in the present tense. To state that Paul is “setting aside” his “Jewish identity” misunderstands Paul. Second, such misunderstanding in the very first paragraph means the report misses the nuance of Paul’s writings and the reality that he too is grappling with “tension and division” both within his communities and in terms of his own identity. To recognise such a nuance would make clear that questions of identity are not as simple as this report’s introduction suggests and that identity with Christ is not as simple as “setting aside” one’s identity at birth (which itself is a loaded and potentially harmful assumption in a report on sexuality and identity).

In Philippians 3.4-6, therefore, Paul writes that in terms of confidence “in the flesh”, he has more for he is: “a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews.” Even if these “gains” are now regarded by Paul “as loss because of Christ” (Phil 3.7) and as “rubbish” (3.8), Paul’s Jewish identity is not solely in his past. This is made clearer in Romans 11.1 where Paul states in his defence of God’s promises that “I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul’s testimony before the tribunal in Acts 21 is even more direct, demonstrating unambiguously what the Evangelist thinks of Paul’s identity. Paul begins his defence with the words, “I am a Jew” and then repeats this same claim “in the Hebrew language” in Acts 22 (“I am a Jew”) after which he immediately recounts in the past tense that he previously “persecuted this Way”. Moreover, returning to his letters, Paul counters Corinthian boasting with his own in 2 Corinthians 11.22: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? … I am a better one.”

And here we encounter first-hand the tension in Paul’s identity. Paul is still a Hebrew, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, in other words, he is a Jew. But he is also a minister of Christ; he is also one who suffers for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s identity is inextricably wrapped up in both.

Furthermore, such tensions can be perceived not only in Paul’s own identity, but also in how he understands the spread of his gospel. Paul over and over again, as “apostle to the Gentiles”, gives priority to the Jews even though he is clear many of them do not recognise Christ as Messiah. In Romans 1.16, he observes that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” And in Romans 2.9-10, Paul writes that God’s judgement and God’s glory fall on “the Jew first and also the Greek” for “God shows no partiality.” In fact, “both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin” (Rom 3.9), “for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to those who call on him” (Rom 10.12). This, of course, doesn’t mean that nothing happened to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 26) or when Christ is revealed to him (1 Cor 15.8; Gal 1.15-17). Neither does it mean that Paul’s language about Jew and Gentile leads to a vision of humanity as “one overcooked stew where all the ingredients taste the same” as Beverly Gaventa clarifies. For “Paul recognizes distinct histories of Jews and Gentiles” (Gaventa 2014, 103). But noting only the division in Paul’s life, as the start of the Bishops’ Report does, is a problem and misses the nuance and the gift of Paul’s wrestling with identity. Paul clearly remains a Jew. Paul clearly identifies himself as Jewish. But Paul has also reconceived who the people of God are after his encounter with the risen Lord. And this is the dimension of Paul’s identity struggles which might be fruitfully engaged by the Bishops’ Report.

Paul’s own words preclude the simple statement that he has set aside his Jewish identity for Christ. Rather, we must see that Paul is trying very hard (and we must acknowledge that he is not always consistent across his letters) to hold together his Jewish identity with the reality that he has, indeed, “been crucified with Christ” and Christ now lives in and defines his life. This tension leads to questions that dominate the Pauline writings: how then do Jew and Gentile relate? What happens to the Law? Does this mean God has broken God’s promises with Israel? And most importantly for this Report: How does Paul hold together the tension that one dies “to the law through the body of Christ” (Rom 7.4) while at the same time claiming in almost the same breath that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good” (Rom 7.12)? How can Paul identify himself both by Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom 6.5; Phil 3.10-11) and as a Hebrew, Israelite, and Jew?

This grappling with understanding of law and of identity that we find clearly in Paul’s letters is evident throughout the Bishops’ Report, phrased explicitly in the stated framework: “Interpreting the existing law and guidance to permit maximum freedom within it, without changes to the law, or the doctrine of the Church” (§1.22). However, by beginning with a misunderstanding of Paul and his identity, this report misses a great opportunity to draw on Paul’s own struggles in a document that is clearly trying to balance both the obvious and the not-so-evident struggles within our Church. Instead, this report has given us a new scriptural text to add to the ever-growing list of those proof-texted, intentionally or not, for the purposes of debate concerning human sexuality. More significantly, the Bishops’ Report divides doctrine from pastoral practice and misses both the chance to wrestle with the “tension and division” inherent in Paul’s mission and the opportunity to ground a statement on human sexuality in theology and more than that, in the depths of holy Scripture.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

General Synod - day 3 - Wednesday 15 February

Updated during the day and on Thursday

See here for the debate on the Bishops’ report.

Late on Tuesday, Synod agreed to changes to Wednesday’s agenda to allow more time for the debate on the Bishops’ report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships. This will now start at 4.45 pm (instead of 5.30 pm) with the same finishing time of 7.00 pm.

Order paper for the morning session
Order paper for the afternoon session

OneBodyOneFaith have published the case studies to be used in the private group work that Synod members are invited to attend: Church of England Synod - GS2055 case studies.

Before lunch the Bishops of Norwich and Willesden gave presentations in anticipation of the afternoon’s business. The full text of the presentations are available:
The Bishop of Norwich
The Bishop of Willesden

Official press releases
New See to support multi-cultural communities in Leicestershire
General Synod calls on Government to lower maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals
Presentations from the Bishop of Norwich and the Bishop of Willesden

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February Group of Sessions 2017: Wednesday

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Synod Attracts Protests

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New publications in anticipation of tomorrow's debate on the bishops' report

There are two new publications in anticipation of tomorrow’s debate on the Bishops’ report on sexuality.

1. This Open Letter from Open Evangelicals to the Evangelical Group on General Synod has been published today.

On February 2nd 2017 five “open evangelical” members of EGGS (the Evangelical Group on General Synod) wrote to the whole EGGS membership, urging them to reflect and repent on three core issues relating to the “sexuality debate”.

They also asked three key questions which they felt the evangelical community needed to respond to.

Other evangelicals on Synod had also wished to sign the letter, but were unable to as they had not felt able to become members of EGGS due to its hard line on certain issues. It was therefore released for open signature by all evangelicals following the meeting.

The three questions are:

  • What is God’s “Good News” for LGBT people?
  • How do we respond to the mounting scientific evidence that sexuality is neither chosen nor changeable, and that gender is non-binary?
  • How do we deal with the reality of an increasing number of LGBT married couples with children who wish to worship in our churches?

2. OneBodyOneFaith (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement) have published A time to build in which they seek

  • For an explicit acceptance of the integrity of theological diversity over matters of sexuality – that it is possible to be Biblically faithful and hold different positions – and the creation of systems to assure that this is honoured. The establishment of a Sexuality and Relationships Working Group which will be responsible for ‘holding’ the theological diversity of the Church of England. Pilling has already described the different positions –the reference group needs to be tasked with exploring how they live with each other, and how the church develops theologically, and how pastoral oversight is given in the context of the range of views present in the Church of England.
  • In addition to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group there needs to be a significant level of LGBTI+ representation on each of its boards, councils and divisions for which the Archbishops’ council has oversight – the representatives should be chosen by members of all houses of Synod, not by the Archbishops’ Council or bishops alone
  • For the Church of England to appoint a National Lead for LGBTI+ matters based at Church House – LGBTI+ themselves, who works to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group and liaises with boards, councils, divisions and dioceses, holds to the need for the kind of change that we propose, but also understands and accepts the need to support all sides
  • For the publication and recommendation of an official liturgy for the blessing of same-sex couples after a Civil Partnership or Civil Marriage - this does not need to be complicated. The Service of Prayer and Thanksgiving after a civil marriage could be adjusted very simply
  • To effect paragraph 13 (a) of Annex 1: Sexuality Issues: what is and is not possible under the relevant legal positions, so that being married to a person of the same sex is not of itself a breach of Canon C26.2
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General Synod - day 2 - Tuesday 14 February

Updated during the day and on Wednesday

Order paper for the day

The following private member’s motion, proposed by Stephen Trott, was defeated.

That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1977, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.

Voting was by houses, and the motion was lost in all three.

 for  against  abstentions
bishops  10160
clergy74870
laity79817

Official press release on this debate: General Synod votes to retain marriage banns

Most of the day was devoted to legislation.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Tuesday

Archbishop of York General Synod Farewell to Sir Andreas Whittam Smith

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church No Ban on Banns
A Sleepy Session

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘We must discriminate’: pre-wedding passport checks cause stress, say clergy

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Church keeps medieval marriage banns to attract young worshippers

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

General Synod - day 1 - Monday 13 February

Updated during the day and on Tuesday

The General Synod of the Church of England is meeting in London from Monday 13 to Thursday 16 February. Links to the agenda and papers are here and here.

Order paper for Monday’s business

The final item of business on Monday is Questions. The questions and answers have been published in advance here and Synod will move directly to supplementary questions and answers when it gets to this item of business, which will be at about 5.30 pm.

Harriet Sherwood of The Guardian has been looking at the answer to question 36: C of E warns of ‘corrupting pressures of politics’ in response to Trump fears.

Olivia Rudgard of The Telegraph looks ahead to an item scheduled for Tuesday: Church of England ministers could work beyond the age of 70 to ease recruitment crisis.

Monday’s session starts at 3.00 pm from when there will be a live video stream of the proceedings.

Business included:

Synod agreed to include a Saturday in future dates (from 2018) for its February meetings in London. This will not result in longer meetings, but they will start later in the week.

This motion, marking the 500the anniversary of The Reformation, was passed:

That this Synod, in the context of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the European Reformation and the Church of England’s understanding of the doctrine of justification as expressed in our historic formularies:
(a) give thanks to God for the rich spiritual blessings that the Reformation brought to the Church of England;
(b) welcome signs of convergence between the churches on the doctrine of salvation, noting Resolution 16.17 of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016 regarding the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and its relation to the Helsinski Report and ARCIC II’s Salvation and the Church; and
(c) commend initiatives in this anniversary year to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation between churches, for the sake of our deeper renewal in the grace of God and our ability to share the gospel of salvation with all the world.

[Press release: General Synod hails reconciliation as Christians mark 500th anniversary of the Reformation]

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this presidential address.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Monday

Audio of all the sessions

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury suggests Brexit ‘in fascist tradition’

Harry Farley Christian Today Trump, Brexit And Fascism Leave UK ‘Savagely Divided’ - Archbishop Of Canterbury

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Rumbling and Remembering

Patrick Foster The Telegraph Donald Trump is part of a ‘fascist tradition of politics’, says Archbishop

Tom Embury-Dennis Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby links Donald Trump and Brexit to fascism

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Retired bishops voice concern over same sex relationships report

This is the text of the letter that has been published tonight. There is an accompanying press release which is copied below the fold.

OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
February 11th 2017

Dear Fellow Bishop
The Bishops’ Report to Synod on Sexuality

Most retired bishops would be prepared to admit that participation in the synodical processes of the church are not what they most miss about their role as diocesan or suffragan bishops. They also feel some reticence about entering into the current debates occupying their successors on the basis of information that is partial and becomes more and more dated with the passing of the years. There is a dilemma, though: you don’t work for years as a bishop and then easily and suddenly lose the bond you feel for the bishops, your successors and former colleagues. Nor do you lose your concern that the church of which you continue to be a bishop should be faithful in its commendation of the Gospel to the society at large.

So when a report emerges that is the subject of major controversy within the church and society some retired bishops will wish to do what the signatories of this letter are seeking to do, namely to reflect from their particular perspective on what our successors are seeking to say and do about an issue that has been a longstanding source of concern and contention.

Your statement is the product of enormous time and effort, our memories of such situation suggesting perhaps too much time and too much effort. The ‘too much’ comes from the enormous sense of responsibility your document shows to manage a conflict that you and we know causes huge amounts of grief and argument. The result, dare we say, is that whereas it used to be said that bishops often sounded as though they spoke with a pipe in their mouths, now that pipes are rare they sound more as though they see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading – the conflicts that are bound to occur. And we remember how exhausting that is, and how it seems to blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions, which might divide them but also invigorate the conversation.

You write after the Shared Conversations. We well remember having had lots of those, even if they did not have capital letters. But their integrity rested on the assurance that in reporting them the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’. Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes. Going down the road of seeking a change in the law or doctrinal formulation would indeed not have been realistic – but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.

The result of that focus on the issue of a change in the law is that your call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction. Indeed, from the perhaps luxurious perspective of retirement the tone and culture of your document are incredibly familiar – we’ve been there and talked in that tone of voice, and it prevents calls for a change of culture, of course offered in complete sincerity by you, from ringing true.

We’ll avoid making too many detailed points just now; but hard as you have tried you have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly. In para 8 you draw a contrast between ‘the many who [hold] a conservative view of scripture [for whom] the underlying issue at stake is faithfulness to God’s word’ and others for whom ‘the imperative to read scripture differently stems from a parallel conviction’. If the second group are to recognise their voice in theological conversations their ‘parallel conviction’ needs to be expressed and not just alluded to.

May we end by assuring you that we continue to sympathise with the challenging nature of the task you have in this and other matters. You will receive much negative comment about your report, and we hope that these brief remarks may illuminate the reason for that: it is not that the Shared Conversations were thought to herald changes of law or doctrine; rather there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.

Yours sincerely in Christ

The Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson, formerly Bishop of Thetford
The Rt Revd Michael Doe, formerly Bishop of Swindon
The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Ellis, formerly Bishop of Grantham
The Rt Revd David Gillett, formerly Bishop of Bolton
The Rt Revd John Gladwin, formerly Bishop of Guildford and of Chelmsford
The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green, formerly Bishop of Bradwell
The Rt Revd the Lord Harries of Pentregarth DD, formerly Bishop of Oxford
The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme
The Rt Revd Dr Stephen Platten, formerly Bishop of Wakefield
The Rt Revd John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford
The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester
The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, formerly Bishop of Leicester
The Rt Revd Roy Williamson, formerly Bishop of Bradford and of Southwark
The Rt Revd Martin Wharton CBE, formerly Bishop of Newcastle

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RETIRED BISHOPS VOICE CONCERN OVER SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS REPORT

Fourteen retired bishops have taken the unprecedented step of intervening in the Church of England’s controversial debate over Same Sex Marriage, warning that the bishops appear to be “managing rather than enabling and leading” the debate.
The group, led by the former Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Peter Selby, has broken with convention to write an open letter to all bishops in the Church of England criticising their recent report on Same Sex Marriage ahead of a debate in General Synod on Wednesday 15th February.

Whilst as retired bishops they “feel some reticence” about entering into the debate, they explain they have done so because of their concern that a report that does not allow the authentic voice of LGBT people to be heard or the real theological argument to be advanced will not enable the church to engage credibly with wider society.

They suggest that the report has taken the shape it has because bishops today have a tendency to “see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading” the debate. They admit this task can be “exhausting” and can “blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions”.

Reflecting on the Shared Conversations, they believe that the report would only have integrity if it honoured “the assurance that the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’”. On the contrary, they assert that “our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice.”

The authors are concerned that their colleagues decided to focus too much on why it was not possible to change church law regarding same sex marriage, so much so that “that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes.” As such, they believe that the bishops’ “call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction.”

The most stinging criticism is left till last, where the authors believe that the bishops “have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly.” Quoting from the report which briefly recognises that there are those who hold a different interpretation of scripture to the traditional interpretation, they argue that “this “parallel conviction” …needs to be expressed and not just alluded to”, a view shared by many other vocal critics of the report.

The letter ends by acknowledging that “there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.”
ENDS

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Friday, 10 February 2017

Protests planned at synod over marriage and sexuality report

Today’s Church Times carries a lot of relevant material.

News report: Madeleine Davies Critics of Bishops’ sex report plan a Synod protest vote

THE House of Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships (News, 3 February) is a “morally reprehensible document that needs to be rejected by the Synod”, the Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury, Canon Simon Butler, said on Wednesday.

Describing it as a “betrayal of trust” that left “weapons on the table”, he expected a “very close vote” after the take-note debate scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening.

“If it is defeated, that is a clear signal to the House of Bishops that Synod is unwilling to progress in the direction they are taking,” he said. “If it is a narrow vote, the Bishops would be very unwise to continue down this course, because the whole of the Church’s wider agenda will be subsumed into a conflict that will last for the next period of the life of the Church. That would be a disaster.”

The Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York, the Ven. Cherry Vann, said on Wednesday that she was “very aware of deep unhappiness about this report from across a wide spectrum of the Church”. Conversations with clergy and laity in the diocese of Manchester, and emails from people beyond, indicated a “strong call” for the Synod not to take note…

There are two comment articles. I strongly recommend that you read each of these all the way through, to get their full import.

Andrew Davison Everything hinges on three words

…What I have said so far draws on what the report says about the Bishops’ meetings, where the line in the sand concerned the law and doctrine of marriage. Skip forward in the report, and this principle morphs to “proposing no change to . . . law . . . or doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships” (§26). That shift is important because, in the next paragraph, this phrase limits what is up for consideration, not least by theologians.

…until it is clear what the Bishops take as immovable, we cannot go forward. Is it marriage, as laid out in Canon B.30, or the entire jumble of central-office convictions about anything to do with sexuality? The report suggests the former. The emphasis on marriage as the red line emerges from the account of the Bishops’ group; it is reiterated in relation to liturgical practice (§39); it is what they want to uphold ecumenically (§60); and it is also where the report ends, with an annex devoted entirely to questions of marriage…

Malcolm Brown The pain lies in facing hard truths

…But, however much the Bishops bear the brickbats with resignation, much comment on their recent Synod paper (GS 2055) underestimates the extent to which the Bishops and, indeed, the Church of England are bound by law in ways that severely limit their scope for manoeuvre.

Start with the law on marriage. The annex to the Bishops’ paper is not mere detail. It sets out the legal framework that would govern any attempt to change things as they are.

For there to be any move to same-sex marriage, canon law would have to change. That law cannot be changed without substantial majorities in each of the Houses of Synod. The Bishops have been accused of lacking pastoral concern (and worse), but how pastoral would it be to initiate a long process with all the continued pain it would cause with no serious likelihood (in the present state of the Church) of success?

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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Setting God's People Free

Updated Tuesday evening

Setting God’s People Free (GS 2056) is a report from the Archbishops’ Council to be debated at General Synod on the morning of Thursday 16 February. There is a brief summary on the Renewal & Reform pages of the Church of England website. The report aims to generate more active engagement by lay churchpeople.

There was a press release when the report was published, which we reported here.

To this can now be added these press reports

Hattie Williams Church Times New report calls for shift in attitude towards laity
Harry Farley Christian Today Clergy V Laity ‘Power Struggle’ Is Blocking Church Growth, Synod Told

and these comments/reviews

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church Setting God’s people free to do what they are told (follow the link at the end for the full report)
David Keen Opinionated Vicar ‘Setting God’s People Free’ - ministry on the other 6 days of the week, and who does it
Will Briggs Journeyman Review: Setting God’s People Free – A Report from the Archbishops’ Council.

Updates

Two from the CofE’s Renewal and Reform Facebook page

Andrew Nunn Why we should value the true treasures of the Church
Paul Cartwright ‘I Come to do Your will’
[The Andrew Nunn piece was included in our most recent Opinion roundup]

and an audio recording of an interview with Canon Mark Russell (who will be proposing the motion at Synod on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council): Why change is needed for Church growth

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 at 11:47am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Letter writing campaign against GS 2055

This letter has been sent to all LGCM, Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church supporters:

Like very many people, we were shocked and dismayed at the report published last week by a working party of the House of Bishops of the Church of England. You can read the report here. Despite a wish to create “maximal freedom” for LGBTI+ people, and a desire to have a “change of tone” in the way we are spoken about and to, there was essentially a recommendation of no change at all in the official position of the Church of England.

For too many of our members, who had taken part in all good faith in the Shared Conversations, this was a very significant betrayal of trust. LGCM is also concerned that the established church, in which the country as a whole has a stake, is proposing to retain unchanged a theology and pastoral practice and discipline that is significantly out of kilter with the nation’s understanding of equality and justice in matters of sexuality and gender. This is an issue which affects all those of us who believe our sexuality to be a gift from God. The Church of England seeks to engage with all the communities of England, and yet it does so in a way which diminishes the gospel message that God’s love is for everyone, without exception. We are all alike impeded in our mission of conveying the message that God’s love is for everyone, regardless of who they are, or who they love.

The Report is coming to General Synod on 15th February. There is to be a debate, at the end of which the Synod will be asked to “take note” of the Report. We are asking all members of General Synod not to take note. In other words, to vote against the motion.

LGCM is clear about its convictions and its purpose. The Statement of Conviction says:
It is the conviction of the members of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement that human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is their conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.
We are looking for the bishops of the Church of England to start to move in the direction of our convictions, and to acknowledge those as a permissible and honourable position to hold if you are an Anglican.

We ask ALL OUR MEMBERS AND ALL CHANGING ATTITUDE SUPPORTERS TO WRITE A PERSONAL LETTER TO GENERAL SYNOD REPRESENTATIVES to arrive before 13th February. It does not matter if you are not personally a member of the Church of England – as it is the Established Church you have an interest in their attitudes and policies and every right to express your view to its governing body. Share with them the memorandum attached [below the fold], and your hope that they will vote against taking note of it. Explain to them which parish or church you belong to and any office or role you play in that church (if you do). Tell them why this matters to you and ask them to vote against taking note. A personal letter will make much more impact than a brief email or text. Please also COPY YOUR LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE IN WHICH YOU LIVE. Pick up your pens and play your part in this vital campaign. Addresses of all Synod Members are here. If you would like to write but need help in identifying who are the right people to write to please contact us at hello@lgcm.org.uk and we will direct you to the correct people. We are looking for a substantial vote against this dangerous and inadequate report.

THANK YOU!
Tracey Byrne, CEO, LGCM
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board, LGCM

MEMO: TO ALL MEMBERS OF GENERAL SYNOD
DATE: 31 January 2017

LGCM recommends that in the debate on 15 February at General Synod, members should refuse to take note of ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: A Report from the House of Bishops’, and further, should not take part in group work designed to gain approval of the document

  • The Lesbian and Gay Movement’s statement of conviction affirms that, “human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.” It follows that it is our “conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex, but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.”
  • LGCM identifies with the published priorities of the LGBTI Mission as providing the basis of a safer, more just and equitable church in which all can flourish
  • We are not demanding that everyone sees things from our perspective, but that there should now be decisive moves towards a ‘mixed economy’ in the established Church of England in which we all have an interest
  • The very least we were looking for from the Bishop’s report to General Synod was action to assure the safety and well-being of LGBTI+ people both within the Church of England and beyond it. Medical research shows that LGBTI+ people carry a higher burden of mental health problems corresponding with social isolation and stigma; these are heightened in a community that pathologises LGBTI+ identities
  • The Report was a betrayal of the trust vested in the House of Bishops during the Shared Conversations process, and opens the way to a single, very conservative interpretation of these matters being introduced
  • In the absence of any action being recommended by the bishops to move to greater inclusion of LGBTI+ people in the life of the Church of England through liturgical, theological or doctrinal change, we have no confidence that the change of ‘tone’ and desire for ‘maximal freedom’ will be seen
  • The report itself has been a retrograde first step in that direction, with the vice chair of reflection group, Bishop Pete Broadbent, acknowledging that ‘it is a pretty conservative document’ to his clergy
  • Our understanding is that the majority of members of synod were looking to the College and House of Bishops, when they took the initiative to respond to the Shared Conversations process, to lay a path for a process of change, perhaps setting a programme of activity to realise some of the priorities articulated by the LGBTI Mission
  • We have no confidence that their stated intention to revise the Church of England’s document ‘Issues in human sexuality’ or the pastoral advice that clergy have for their engagement with LGBTI+ persons will lead to development in the safety provided for LGBTI+ people within the church, let alone lead to progress in affirmative pastoral support
  • We believe that progress to these can only be made when the Church of England formally recognises and affirms the theological diversity that is already present within its members
  • Our analysis is that contribution of the Bishops’ reflection group has not led to a report that reflects the mind or expectations of the Church of England’s synod, that at least minimal change take place; to this end, we ask members of synod to refuse to take note of the Report, indicating their dissatisfaction with its recommendations
  • Further, we understand that Synod members are to be asked to take part in group conversations before the debate to prepare the ground for an acceptance of what the bishops are proposing. LGBT synod members and their supporters have already participated in the Shared Conversations process at last summer’s Synod sessions, and for many also at a regional level. They have made themselves vulnerable for questionable outcome. To ask them to submit to any kind of further examination of the issues is both pointless and insulting and we urge all Synod members to refuse to take part in such group work
  • We ask members of synod use the ‘take note’ debate to ask the bishops to respond to the priorities of the LGBTI Mission.
  • In particular, we ask for a guarantee that acceptance and approval of theological diversity amongst members of the Church of England in these matters will be formally recognised
  • To enable this small move forwards we ask, not for further reports, but that the House of Bishops devise a commended liturgy which recognises and affirms LGBT partnerships as a blessing and gift of God

Tracey Byrne, CEO, LGCM
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board, LGCM
31 January 2017

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Friday, 27 January 2017

Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations - A Report from the House of Bishops

The House of Bishops has released Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations (GS 2055). It was the main item at this morning’s pre-General Synod press conference and there is this press release, copied below.

[There is a very brief mention of other topics to be discussed at General Synod in the press release. I have updated my list of online papers to include the remaining papers, published today.]

General Synod Press Conference
27 January 2017

The Church of England’s law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for gay and lesbian people without changing the Church’s doctrine of marriage itself, bishops are recommending.

A report from the House of Bishops to be discussed by the Church’s General Synod next month upholds the teaching, recognised by canon law, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

But it also concludes that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples - which allows clergy to provide informal prayers for those marrying or forming a civil partnership - is not clear enough and should be revisited.

It also calls for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbian and gay people and those attracted to people of the same sex throughout the Church of England.

The paper recommends that bishops prepare a substantial new teaching document on marriage and relationships to replace or expand upon documents drawn up in the 1990s.

And it calls for new guidance to be prepared about the kind of questions put to candidates for ordination - irrespective of their sexual orientation - about their lifestyle.

It also speaks of the need for the Church to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirm the need to stand against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.

The report from the House of Bishops attempts to sum up the Church’s position after a two-year process of shared conversations on the subject of human sexuality, involving clergy and laity.

It acknowledges that it represents the consensus of opinion among the bishops rather than a unanimous view and sets out a process rather than attempting a final resolution.

The General Synod will discuss the paper in a “Take Note” debate on the afternoon of Wednesday February 15.

Members will have an opportunity to consider it in small groups immediately before the debate.

In a foreword to the document, the bishops explain: “We recognise our deficiencies and offer this paper with humility.

“We know that this report may prove challenging or difficult reading.

“We are confident, however, that the commitment that has been shown to listening to one another, not least through the Shared Conversations, in dioceses and in the General Synod, will have helped prepare us all as members of Synod to address together the challenges we face as a part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

“We would ask for it to be read as a whole.”

Presenting the paper at a press conference this morning the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James said:

“This isn’t the end of a process but we are somewhere in the middle of it.

“We are sharing where we have reached in order to be as transparent as possible, and open to other voices.

“We hope that the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some.

“This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same sex relationships within the Church, and within the House of Bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture.”

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, said: “The report will be the subject of a ‘take note’ debate. Such a debate is a neutral motion.

“It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report, but a vote in favour of the motion does not commit the Synod to the acceptance of any matter in the report.

“The House of Bishops will listen carefully to the debate, and to any subsequent matters raised by members in correspondence, to inform their further work.”

The report is contained among papers circulated to members of the Church of England’s General Synod which meets in Westminster next month.

Other newly released papers include background papers ahead of debates on the reading of banns of marriage and fixed odds betting terminals.

Papers sent out in an earlier circulation last week included further updates on the process of simplification of Church regulations as well as material on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a background document on clergy risk assessment regulations which will be debated on Thursday February 16.

The General Synod will meet at the Assembly Hall, Church House, 27 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London from 3pm on Monday February 13 to 5.15pm on Thursday 16 February.

Notes to editors:

The full agenda and papers can be found here:

The comments from the Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Willesden are below.

A Statement from the Bishop of Norwich:

When reports to the General Synod are launched at a press briefing they are often published at the end of a process and contain recommendations. This report on marriage and same sex relationships from the House of Bishops isn’t that sort of report. It describes where the bishops have reached in their reflections. It goes on to provide a framework identifying areas where we believe present advice, policies or practice need further consideration, and invites members of General Synod and the wider Church, to contribute. So this isn’t the end of a process but we are somewhere in the middle of it. We are sharing where we have reached in order to be as transparent as possible, and open to other voices.

We hope that the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some. This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same sex relationships within the Church, and within the House of Bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture. The House is agreed, however, that our present teaching documents do not address some elements of the contemporary situation regarding marriage and relationships in our culture. I refer to the current teaching document on marriage, issued by the House of Bishops in 1999, and an earlier document on same sex relationships, Issues in Human Sexuality. Neither discusses nor even anticipates same sex marriage, a reminder of just how quickly things have changed. Issues, published in 1991, was written when Clause 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was in force. It prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools and prevented local councils from spending money on lesbian and gay projects including anything which suggested support of what it called “pretended family relationships”. The temper of the time in which Issues was written was a very different one from ours. The later teaching document from 1999 simply assumes marriage is the union of one man with one woman. Hence, the House of Bishops believes it needs to commission a new teaching document which articulates such an understanding of marriage within a theology of relationships for our changed times. This report isn’t that document but it indicates why it is needed.

The House of Bishops believes that the Church of England’s teaching on marriage, which it holds in common with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, and the majority of the churches of the Reformation, should continue to be expressed in the terms found in Canon B30, namely that “the Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is a union permanent and life-long, of one man with one woman…” But there is a great deal more than marriage alone to be considered in relation to same sex relationships. The report affirms the place of lesbian and gay people within the Church. Even in 1991 Issues in Human Sexuality said that those in same sex partnerships should be included within the life and fellowship of the Church. We reaffirm that gladly and decisively, recognising that for Christians our identity in Christ is primary, and of greater significance than gender, sexuality, age, nationality or any other characteristic. So no change in doctrine is proposed but it is often pastoral practice - how we treat people - which matters most. This means - as the report suggests - establishing across the Church of England a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people, for those who experience same sex attraction, and for their families, and continuing to work toward mutual love and understanding on these issues across the Church. And so we speak in the report about re-examining the existing framework of our pastoral practice to permit maximum freedom within it. We recognise two areas in particular where advice in relation to the pastoral care and support of lesbian and gay people needs fresh thought.

At present clergy are advised that they may offer “informal prayer” to those registering civil partnerships or entering same sex marriage. The parameters of such pastoral support are unclear. The House proposes that there should be more guidance for clergy about appropriate pastoral provision for same sex couples.

The House of Bishops also believes present arrangements for asking ordinands and clergy about their relationships and lifestyle are not working well. It’s felt that there’s too much concentration on whether ordinands or clergy are in sexually active same sex relationships rather than framing questions about sexual morality within a much wider examination of the way in which all ordinands and clergy order their lives. The Church of England has always been suspicious of intrusive interrogation of its members, preferring to trust clergy and lay people in their Christian discipleship. However, all clergy are asked at their ordination whether they will fashion their lives “after the way of Christ”. We believe we should revisit how this is explored beforehand so that the same questions are addressed to all.

At the General Synod next month I will give an address exploring why we believe some of our formulations on pastoral practice do not now seem adequate. The Bishop of Willesden, as Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Reflection Group, will introduce some case studies which members of Synod will examine in groups so that we consider the lived experience of people within our Church. Later there will be a take note debate on the report. We hope that in the groups and in the debate much will be offered to the House of Bishops for its further work in this area. I will now pass over to the Bishop of Willesden who will speak about the process in the House of Bishops over the past few months, and the Synodical process which lies before us.

A statement on process from the Bishop of Willesden:

This report evolved though discussion, study and reflection at meetings of both the House of Bishops (the Bishops who are members of General Synod) and the College of Bishops (all the currently serving Bishops of the Church of England). The Reflections Group took the raw material from those discussions to produce the document that is going to Synod. Some of the most useful and fruitful reflection came from our own group work as we discussed real life case studies, and, as the Bishop of Norwich has indicated, we shall be offering group work based on similar case studies to members of General Synod in February. We anticipate that the groups will enable further good listening and thoughtful reflection across the Synod between people of a diversity of viewpoints.

The report will then be the subject of a “take note” debate. Such a debate is a neutral motion. It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report, but a vote in favour of the motion does not commit the Synod to the acceptance of any matter in the report. The House of Bishops will listen carefully to the debate, and to any subsequent matters raised by members in correspondence, to inform their further work.

This may well include matters such as the teaching document and the guidance to clergy on pastoral provision.

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Friday, 20 January 2017

Publication of General Synod papers

In conjunction with today’s release of General Synod papers (see my article below) the Church of England has issued the press release below.

Publication of General Synod papers
20 January 2017

The Church of England needs to undergo a major “culture shift” to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives, a new report being presented to members of the General Synod argues.

The report, entitled “Setting God’s People Free”, calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere - from the factory or office, to the gym or shop - to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.

Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation, it insists. The paper is a key element of the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church.

The report is among papers being circulated to members of the Church of England’s General Synod which meets in Westminster next month. The first circulation of papers also includes further updates on the process of simplification of Church regulations. There is also material on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a background paper on clergy risk assessment regulations which will be debated on Thursday February 16.

The first circulation of papers is available here.

A second circulation of papers will be published on Friday, January 27.

The synod timetable is available here.

The General Synod will meet at the Assembly Hall, Church House, 27 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London from 3pm on Monday, February 13 to 5.15pm on Thursday, 16 February.

Further information:

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of Church Army and member of Archbishops’ Council explains why a culture change is needed in the Church.

Fr Paul Cartwright, Parish Priest, St Peter the Apostle and St John the Baptist, Barnsley and General Synod Member writes on how he encourages his congregation to live out their faith in the world.

Renewal and Reform is the Church of England’s initiative to promote growth in the church in every community in England. The paper, Setting God’s People Free (part of the Lay Leadership strand) and the Simplification of Church regulations are part of Renewal and Reform. More information is here.

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February General Synod - online papers

Updated 27 January, 12 February

All the papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online

The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 27 January and I will add links when these become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers from both circulations

Papers in numerical order with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration
Synod meets from Monday 13 to Thursday 16 February 2017.

GS 2014B - Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2014Z - Report by the Steering Committee

GS 2027A - Draft Legislative Reform Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2027Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2029A - Draft Amending Canon No. 36 [Tuesday]
GS 2029AA - Draft Amending Canon No. 37
GS 2029Y - Report of the Revision Committee

GS 2030 - Draft Statute Law (Repeals) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2030X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2031A - Draft Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2031Y - Report by the Steering Committee
[Consolidation, Destinations and Origins]

GS 2032A - Draft Pensions (Pre-consolidation) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2032Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2042 - Agenda

GS 2043 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 2044 - Anniversary of the Reformation [Monday]

GS 2045A & GS 2045B - Preliminaries to Marriage [Tuesday]

GS 2046 - Draft Church Representation, Ecumenical and Minister Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2046X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2047 - Draft Amending Canon No. 38 [Tuesday]
GS 2047X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2048 - The Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 [Tuesday]
GS 2048X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2049 - The Church of England Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2017 [Tuesday]
GS 2049X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2050 - The Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016 [[Tuesday]
GS 2050X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2051 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016 [deemed business - Tuesday]
GS 2051X - Explanatory memorandum

GS 2052 - Creation of Suffragan See for the Diocese of Leicester [Wednesday]

GS 2053 - Appointment to the Archbishops’ Council [Wednesday]

GS 2054A & GS 2054B - Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: Reduction of Maximum Stake [Wednesday]

GS 2055 - Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: A Report from the House of Bishops [Wednesday]

GS 2056 - Setting God’s People Free: Report from the Archbishops’ Council [Thursday]

GS 2057A & GS 2057B - Mission and Administration [contingency business]

Other papers

GS Misc 1148 - Central Stipends Authority Report
GS Misc 1149 - Diocese Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1150 - Update on Renewal and Reform
GS Misc 1151 - Ecumenical Relations Report 2016
GS Misc 1152 - Simplification of Ecumenical Regulations
GS Misc 1153 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1154 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1155 - Holding Office under Common Tenure
GS Misc 1156 - Statement on the Reformation Anniversary
GS Misc 1157 - Simplification - the story so far

Questions Notice Paper

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Monday, 19 December 2016

February General Synod - outline timetable

Update 15 January 2017 — A slightly revised timetable has been issued. The table below has been amended; changes are in red.

The outline timetable for the February General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. Further papers will be published on Friday 20 January 2017.

[The published timetable does not explain the asterisks against certain items, but these clearly indicate timed business, eg Questions on the Monday will start not later than 5.30 pm.]

GENERAL SYNOD FEBRUARY 2017 GROUP OF SESSIONS
Timetable

Monday 13 February
House of Clergy will meet from 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
  3.00 pm – 7.00 pm
3.00 pm Worship
3.15 pm Introductions and welcomes
3.25 pm Report by the Business Committee
3.50 pm Motion on General Synod February 2018 dates
4.00 pm Motion on General Synod dates 2019-2020
4.15 pm Debate on a Motion on the Anniversary of the Reformation
5.00 pm Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
*5.30 pm Questions
7.00 – 7.15 pm Evening worship
Tuesday 14 February
  9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion
10.30 am Farewell to the First Church Estates Commissioner and Response
10.55 am Private Members Motion on “Preliminaries to Marriage”
  Legislative Business
*12.00 pm Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting / Final Approval
12.35 pm Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure – Final Drafting / Final Approval
  2.30 pm – 7.00 pm
  Legislative Business (ctd…)
2.30 pm Legislative Reform Measure – Revision Stage
4.00 pm Statute Law (Repeals) Measure – Revision and Final Drafting / Final Approval
4.30 pm Pensions (Pre-consolidation) Measure – Revision and Final Drafting / Final Approval
4.55 pm Phase II Simplification Measure – First Consideration
5.55 pm Draft Amending Canon No.38 – First Consideration
6.25 pm Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Amendment Regulations 2017
7.00 – 7.15 pm Evening worship
Wednesday 15 February
  9.15 am – 12.30 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Motion from the Bishop of Leicester for a proposal for a Petition to Her Majesty in Council for the creation of a suffragan see for the Diocese of Leicester
10.00 am Appointment to the Archbishops’ Council
10.15 am Diocesan Synod Motion on “Fixed Odds Betting Terminals”
  (Legislative Business ctd…)
11.30 am The Church of England Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2017
*12.00 pm Introduction to the work of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality
  2.00 – 4.30 pm
2.00 – 4.30 pm Group work
  5.30 pm – 7.00 pm
5.30 pm Take Note Debate on a Report from the House of Bishops
7.00 – 7.15 pm Evening worship
Thursday 16 February
  9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Farewell to the Bishop of London
9.45 am Speech by The Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon – Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
10.15 am “Setting God’s People Free”: Debate on a Motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Legislative Business (ctd…)
12.15 pm The Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016
  2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

Legislative Business (ctd…)
2.30 pm Amending Canon No. 36 - Canons B 8 – Revision Stage
3.20 pm Amending Canon No. 37 – Canon B 38 – Revision Stage
*5.00 pm Prorogation

Deemed Business
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016

Contingency Business
Private Members’ Motion on “Mission and Administration”

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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Simplification – the story so far

The Simplification Task Group of the Church of England’s Renewal & Reform programme has issued this account of where they got to: Simplification – the story so far, Update from the Bishop of Willesden, Chair of the Simplification Task Group.

This paper, which has been approved by the Archbishops’ Council updates the Church with a summary of where we have got to on the Simplification Task Group work stream under the Renewal Reform initiative. It outlines the issues we have tackled, those areas we have declined to consider, the pieces of work that are outstanding, and the choices for a possible Phase 3. The purpose is to share what has happened as widely as possible, both because it is perfectly possible to miss changes in church legislation and therefore not be aware of the possibilities for doing things more simply, and because the Simplification Group wishes to give an account of its stewardship of the time and resources that it has consumed…

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Friday, 7 October 2016

Theological review of work of Crown Nominations Commission

Press release from the Church of England

Theological review of work of Crown Nominations Commission
07 October 2016

As General Synod were advised in July 2016, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have commissioned a theological review of the work of the Crown Nominations Commission.

The group will be chaired by Professor Oliver O’Donovan FBA and the other members are:

Professor Sarah Coakley - Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
Professor Tom Greggs - Marischal Professor of Divinity, University of Aberdeen
The Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon - Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
Professor Morwenna Ludlow - Professor of Christian History and Theology, University of Exeter
Father Thomas Seville CR - Faith and Order Commission
The Revd Dr Jennifer Strawbridge - Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Oxford
The Revd Canon Dr James Walters - Chaplain and Senior Lecturer, London School of Economics

The Commission has been very active over the last few years and as it is anticipated that there will be fewer vacant sees in the near future, it is timely to review the way in which it works. The focus of the group will be to explore and provide the theological framework for the Commission as it discharges its responsibilities and to make any recommendations on process in the light of this. The group will be inviting a number of people to meet with it as well as receiving written submissions. It is very conscious of its responsibility to ensure that the full richness and diversity of Church voices are represented and starts its work this week.

It is anticipated that the group will make a report to the Archbishops who have commissioned the work. They have committed to sharing it with General Synod in 2018.

More information about the Crown Nominations Commission

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process

Press release from the Church of England:

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016

Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.

Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.

In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness and grace.

That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.

Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

General Synod - Saturday's business

Updated Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England continued today.

The order paper for the morning and afternoon is here Order paper II. Not included is item 10 (Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders) that was not taken on Friday because of lack of time but for which time became available at the end of the afternoon.
Order paper for the evening session: Order Paper III

The morning, and part of the afternoon, was devoted to legislation.

One later item in the afternoon was about education, and was followed by this official press release: Bold vision for education launched at General Synod.

Official brief summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Saturday

Update

Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Green light for vicars in jeans as Synod decides clergy’s robes are surplice to requirements

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Handbags and gladrags.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England is bidding to open scores of free schools

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England plans to open 125 faith schools using Government’s free schools programme in next four years

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Friday, 8 July 2016

General Synod - Friday's business

Updated Saturday morning to add more press reports, and on Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England has opened.

There is a live video stream here.

The agenda and other papers are available here.

Order Paper I listing all the day’s business. Synod agreed to vary the order of business after item 6 to that on page 4.

Scroll down for press reports.

As announced last week, the Archbishops have added a motion on the EU Referendum, which will be debated this afternoon. The text of the motion is:

The Archbishop of Canterbury to move:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task.

One amendement to the motion was carried so that it became:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union:
a) welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task; and
b) commend the work already carried out by the Church in bringing communities together and recommend that as a minimum every bishop identify a champion in their diocese to assess what more the Church could do and to make recommendations for creating stronger and more constructive links between local communities as a basis for achieving this common task.

in which form it was clearly carried on a show of hands.

There’s an official press release: Synod approves motion to build a ‘generous and forward looking country’ in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, and texts of the speeches by the two archbishops: Canterbury and York.

Questions were taken after dinner. The booklet of questions and answers, issued in advance, is here. The Synod session only dealt with supplementary questions and answers.

Audio recordings of the day’s debates are made available here, and (the questions session) here.

There is a brief official summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Friday

Press reports

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams and Tim Wyatt Church Times Look forward with generosity, Synod urges a divided nation

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Christians urged to “build generous forward looking country”

Harry Farley Christian Today General Synod: Church of England opts to ‘recognise’ EU referendum result despite opposition

John Bingham The Telegraph
Church of England vicar says Brexit vote is not just a cry of ‘incoherent rage’

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘Lasses’ jobs’ replacing industry led to Brexit vote, says clergyman

Tom Richmond Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York calls upon post-Brexit Britain to evoke spirit of Nelson Mandela

Sunday update

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Time is tight.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

Updated

Comment and news looking ahead to this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Burden of Legislative Reform

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Burial of suicides, vesture

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Battle looms in Church of England over ‘blessings’ for gay marriage

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bans mankinis in the pulpit

Updates

Harry Farley Christian Today Shared Conversations: Can the Church of England prevent a split over gay marriage?

David Walker ViaMedia.News Bishop’s Packing Essentials for General Synod

Harry Farley Christian Today Apart from a big fight over homosexuality, what else is happening at General Synod?

Archbishop Cranmer Synod ‘No Confidence’ motion looms in secret trial of Bishop George Bell (RIP)

Stephen Lynas The weekend starts here

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Friday, 1 July 2016

Crown Nominations Commission - a Report for General Synod

The central members of the Crown Nominations Commission have prepared this report on their work: GS Misc 1147. Amongst the topics covered are

  • interviews, which the members find to be “essential to their work”,
  • legal issues, ie the CNC is bound by the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, and
  • training, which will now be extended from the central members to the diocesan representatives.

One thing that is not mentioned in the report is the use of substitutes when central members are unable to attend, and the effect this has on the work of the CNC. A question was asked about this in November 2014 (reproduced below the fold) and the answer revealed that substitutes are quite common. What it does not say is that several substitutes can be used for a particular vacancy. For instance it appears from Annex A to the question that at the CNC for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in 2014 there were substitutes for four of the six central members. It is also common for one of the archbishops to send a substitute, as did the Archbishop of York in this case.

Question at General Synod 17 November 2014

2. Mr Adrian Greenwood (Southwark) asked the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:
(a) What procedures are followed when one or more of the ‘central six’ members (elected by General Synod) of the CNC are not able to attend meetings concerning a particular vacancy;
(b) how are ‘substitutes’ identified and who chooses them;
(c) since the start of the current quinquennium, on how many occasions have individual members of the ‘central six’ not been able to be present and have therefore been replaced by a ‘substitute’; and
(d) are attendance records kept and can they be published?

The Archbishop of York replied: When one of the six central members cannot be present, Standing Order SO122 provides for the Chair of the House concerned to nominate a member of the same House as a deputy at the meetings of the Commission for the particular vacancy. I understand that they endeavour to replace the absent member on a ‘like for like’ basis as far as it is possible. Since November 2010 the Commission has considered 18 vacancies (including Southwell and Nottingham) of which nine have had substitutes for one or more central members. Records are kept for the membership of the Commission and I will arrange for these to be put up on the notice board. (See Annex A at the end of this document). It may be that you need to make reference to this document. We have been particularly busy at the moment. Again, we are really trying to work hard and get through because a lot of vacancies appear at one time and the timetable sometimes makes it very difficult for the central members to be there at all the Crown Nomination Commission meetings that the Standing Order allows for substitutes. But the list is going to be put on the notice board so that you can see who has actually been attending those meetings.

[Annex A can be found on pages 147-153 of this document.]

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

EU Referendum and General Synod

The Church of England issued this press release this afternoon.

Addition to General Synod agenda
30 June 2016

Following the result of the EU Referendum on 23 June, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have exercised their powers under the General Synod’s Standing Orders to make some time available at its brief Group of Sessions in July for a debate on a motion endorsing the Archbishops’ recent call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world.

The debate will take place on the afternoon of Friday 8 July.

The wording of the motion will be made available to Synod members early next week.

The current Synod programme for Friday afternoon can be seen here. The Archbishops’ statement, referred to in the press release, is here.

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Still more documents for the Shared Conversations

Two more documents need to be added to the list of items that relate to the Shared Conversations that have been mentioned here previously, see here and here.

First there is the St Michael’s House Protocols (not a new document).

Second, there is this new Frequently Asked Questions document. This is copied below the fold.

General Synod Shared Conversation – FAQs

1. What should I bring for the Shared Conversation at General Synod?

It is important that you bring with you the programme for the two days and your copy of the St Michael’s House Protocols. It would also be helpful to bring a Bible, a notebook and a pen.

2. Can I use social media during the Shared Conversation?

The St Michael’s House Protocols (which underpin the Shared Conversation) highlight the importance of creating a private space in which all feel welcome and respected and in which those taking part commit to becoming mutual and interdependent participants for the duration of the process. In order for this to be possible, it is essential that all participants are fully present – physically, mentally and emotionally – in the process. It is also important that only thosen who have committed to working within the guidelines of the St Michael’s House Protocols are part of the Shared Conversation while it is taking place. As such, the Shared Conversation will be private sessions of synod, with no fringe meetings, media presence or live streaming. For the same reason, participants are asked to refrain from using any form of social media throughout the two days and are requested not to communicate information about the Conversation by text, email or phone while the Conversation is going on. Participants are encouraged to take notes of anything you would like to remember from the Shared Conversation, but to do this in writing and not by taking photographs. You are also encouraged to share any learning that you have acquired from the process after it is over. Any reflections on the Shared Conversations after they have finished must, of course, adhere to the St Michael’s House Protocols. In
practical terms, this involves:

  • Speaking for yourself only and not for others
  • Ensuring that your descriptions honour the confidentiality of the conversation by avoiding any information which might disclose the
  • Not using any information about another participant to that person’s disadvantage
  • Not attributing words or actions to any individual

3. What should I wear for the Shared Conversations?

All participants are encouraged to wear casual, comfortable clothes. We have found in the Regional Shared Conversations that both clergy and lay participants found it helpful for clergy not to wear clerical dress, if possible.

4. Will I be in the same group for the whole process?

Yes, you will be with the same facilitator and the same group of around 20 participants for the duration of the Shared Conversation. Sometimes you will work in smaller sub-sets within that group.

5. Do I need to go to every session?

Yes. At the heart of the Shared Conversation is a commitment made by each participant to their fellow participants in the process. This implies a commitment to engage fully with all of the sessions. The Shared Conversation has been carefully designed from start to finish and its benefits, for both individuals and the whole of synod, will be greatly reduced if participants miss sessions.

6. Do we get some time off during the Shared Conversation?

The Shared Conversation is, by its very nature, an intense process, so time for rest and reflection is essential. Participants have free time after dinner on both evenings, as well as an extended lunch break of two hours on Monday. There will, of course, also be a tea and coffee break each morning and afternoon.

7. Will I have to talk about my sexuality?

Participants are encouraged to engage with the Shared Conversation as fully as possible but no one will be forced to disclose any personal information of any kind. If talking about human sexuality as part of your personal faith journey is important to you, please do so. But participants should not disclose anything which they feel unsafe to share.

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

More reading for the Shared Conversations

As if there wasn’t enough material already, there are two large official documents in addition to the two small ones linked in this article.

There is a Faith and Order Commission report GS Misc 1139 Communion and Disagreement.

And there is a supplementary document, linked from the Faith and Order Commission page, and now available over here.

The FAOC page says:

…FAOC’s report on Communion and Disagreement was published in June 2016 and circulated to members of General Synod as a GS Misc, to support the process of shared conversations in the Church of England and the discussion and discernment that continue beyond it. It was approved for publication and commended for study by the House of Bishops…

Members of the drafting group for Communion and Disagreement have also made available five supporting ‘dialogue’ papers. As the Chair of FAOC explains in his Preface to the papers, they are being made available ‘for those who might like to follow up particular aspects of it or find out more about some of the background and related issues. Unlike the report, however, the content of these supporting papers has not been approved by the Commission and does not come with its authority.’

So there you have it. GS Misc 1139 is 41 pages long. The supporting papers document is 80 pages.

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Agenda for July 2016 General Synod - press reports

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England split over gay marriage may be unavoidable, admits Welby’s chief of staff

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams Church Times Talk nicely or else, Synod members are counselled ahead of sex talks

[The Timetable for the Shared Conversations and the Grace and Dialogue Booklet are available online.]

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph The ‘sincere’ schism: Church of England’s etiquette guide for gay marriage rows

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Agenda for July 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

I have listed the online papers here.

Agenda published for the July 2016 General Synod York meeting
17 June 2016

The Agenda for the July meeting of the General Synod is published today. Members will gather in York on Friday 8 July until Saturday 9 July. A key focus during these two days will be how the Church’s vision for a growing, confident and hopeful church can be put into action through the Renewal and Reform Programme.

The Church’s governing body will discuss the vision and narrative for Renewal and Reform and key changes to legislation to make innovation and change easier for those engaged with church life at all levels. The Legislative Reform Measure will make it possible to amend or repeal some Church legislation by means of Orders approved by the Synod. Several other proposed pieces of new legislation will consolidate existing provisions into a more user-friendly form and repeal provisions which are obsolete. There will also be an opportunity for Synod to discuss a report from the Development and Appointments Group updating Synod on the progress of their work on the training and development of senior Church leaders.

The Synod will also discuss a report on “A Church of England Vision for Education” with reference to the establishment of a foundation for education and leadership. The Synod will also examine Annual Reports from both the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council.

Aside from legislation linked to Renewal and Reform, Synod will also consider legislation which gives effect to two private members’ motions which were previously passed by the Synod. The amending legislation relates to forms of vesture requirements for ministers and providing for those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the normal burial service.

Synod will also be addressed by Bishop Ralf Meister of the German Evangelical Church, who will look ahead to the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It will receive a report from the Archbishop of York on his 6 month pilgrimage.

The formal proceedings of the Synod will end on Saturday 9 July.

Following a service on 10 July at York Minster, members of the Synod will take part in Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality - following the regional sessions that concluded earlier this year - until Tuesday.

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July General Synod - online papers

Updated Friday 24 June to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation All papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 8-12 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all the papers from both circulations

GS 2014A - Draft Measure and Pastoral Amendment Measure [Saturday]
GS 2014Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2023 - Agenda

GS 2024 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 2025 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 2026 - Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: Report from the Development And Appointments Group of the House of Bishops [Friday]

GS 2027 - Draft Legislative Reform Measure [Saturday]
GS 2027x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2028 - Draft Inspection of Churches Measure [Saturday]
GS 2028x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2029 - Draft Amending Canon No.36 [Saturday]
GS 2029x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2030 - Draft Statute Law (Repeals) Measure [Saturday]
GS 2030x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2031 - Draft Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure [Saturday]
GS 2031x - Explanatory Memorandum plus Orgins & Destinations

GS 2032 - Draft Pensions Measure [Saturday]
GS 2032x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2033 - Clergy Discipline Rules 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2033x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2034 - Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc) Rules 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2034x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2035 - Amending Code of Practice under Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 [Saturday]
GS 2035x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2036 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2037 - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and others (Fees) Order 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2036-7x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2038 - A Vision for Renewal and Reform [Saturday]

GS 2039 - A Church of England Vision for Education: a Report from the Education Division [Saturday]

GS 2040 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2041 - Archbishops’ Council’s Budget [Saturday]

Church Commissioners’ Annual Report [Friday]

Other Papers

GS Misc 1138 - Giving for life Re-ignited

GS Misc 1139 - FAOC Report on Communion and Disagreement.
Further resources can be found by clicking here

GS Misc 1140 - Draft Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 - Code of Practice as amended

GS Misc 1141 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CDA Rules 2016

GS Misc 1142 - Audit Committee Annual Report

GS Misc 1143 - Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report

GS Misc 1144 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

GS Misc 1145 - Anglican-Methodist Joint Covenant Advocacy and Monitoring Group

GS Misc 1146 - Report of the Archbishops’ Council’s Activities

GS Misc 1147 - Crown Nominations Commission Report

Shared Conversations Material

Timetable - Sunday afternoon - Tuesday lunchtime

Grace and Dialogue Booklet

Frequently Asked Questions

St Michael’s House Protocols

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Friday, 27 May 2016

July General Synod - outline timetable

The outline timetable for the July General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 17 June 2016.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2016
Timetable
Friday 8 July
1 pm — 2 pm Meeting of the House of Laity
2.30 pm — 6.15 pm
2.30 pm Opening worship
Formal business
Presentation of the Pro-Prolocutors for the Convocation of Canterbury and the Deputy Prolocutors for the Convocation of York
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests
3.10 pm Presentation by the Archbishop of York on his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, including a short time of worship using the Pilgrimage Prayers
3.35 pm Presentation on the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, April 2016
3.50 pm Debate on the Report by the Business Committee
*4.30 pm Approval of appointments to the Archbishops’ Council
4.40 pm Take note debate on the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
5.30 pm Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: take note debate on a Report from the Development and Appointments Group of the House of Bishops
8.30 pm — 10.00 pm
8.30 pm Questions

Saturday 9 July
9.30 am — 1.00 pm
9.30 am Morning worship
Legislative Business
9.45 am Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure — Revision Stage
Legislative Reform Measure — First Consideration
Inspection of Churches Measure — First Consideration
Amending Canon No.36 — First Consideration
Statute Law (Repeals) Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Pensions Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules (deemed)
Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc) Rules (deemed)
Amending Code of Practice under the CDM (deemed)
Usual Fees Orders (deemed)

2.30 pm — 6.15 pm
Legislative Business (continued, if required)
4.30 pm Debate on a motion on a Vision and Narrative for Renewal and Reform
5.15 pm ‘A Church of England Vision for Education’ — take note debate on a report from the Education Division

8.30 pm — 10.00 pm
Financial Business
8.30 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2015
8.50 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Budget for 2017
*9.50 pm Prorogation

Sunday 10 July
10.00 am Holy Communion in York Minster

2.30 pm on Sunday 10 July — 1pm on Tuesday 12 July
Shared Conversations
(a separate timetable will be issued in the first circulation)

*not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk

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Thursday, 26 May 2016

House of Bishops meeting reports

The House of Bishops met at Bishopthorpe this week and issued this press release afterwards:

Church of England House of Bishops Meeting May 2016
25 May 2016

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met on 23-24 May 2016.

On its first day the Bishops received an update on the shared conversations process, received a report from the Faith and Order Commission and discussed the contribution and vision of the Church of England on Education. A substantial amount of time was spent on safeguarding including receiving the report of the Elliot Review from the Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally. A news release from Bishop Sarah can be found on the Diocese of Exeter website here: http://www.exeter.anglican.org/bishop-sarah-presents-safeguarding-review-recommendations-house-bishops/

In addition the House agreed to publish reports from the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) on safeguarding in addition to a report from FAOC on “Diversity, Difference and Serious Disagreement in the Life of the Church”.

On its second day the House received an oral report from the Archbishop of York on his recently completed pilgrimage and the lessons learned. The House also received an update from the Bishop of Chelmsford on the discussions on Intentional Discipleship at the 2016 Anglican Communion Consultative Council.

The House received and agreed to publish a discussion document on welfare reform from Revd Dr. Malcolm Brown and also discussed the work of the “Turning up the Volume” Group on senior appointments and minority ethnic clergy.

The House discussed and approved work on the Renewal and Reform programme and received an update on its work from the diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Liverpool, Mike Eastwood. The House also discussed legislative proposals relating to canon law to be brought to General Synod (Canon B8 & B38) as well as other reports to be brought before Synod.

The news release from Bishop Sarah Mullally is also copied below the fold.

BISHOP SARAH PRESENTS SAFEGUARDING REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS TO HOUSE OF BISHOPS

Posted: 25th May, 2016

The House of Bishops this week received and pledged support for the recommendations of the Elliott Review – an independent report into alleged sexual abuse committed by senior figures in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, who originally received the report at the request of the survivor, presented key points on the recommendations to the House of Bishops.

These include; improved training, particularly for senior staff, around receiving disclosures; working to ensure financial advice is never at the expense of a pastoral response; and a commitment to revise and strengthen safeguarding structures.

The independent Review, carried out by Ian Elliott, reported back in March. It had been commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team and Diocese of London to establish what lessons could be learnt from an examination of the case.

Speaking after the House of Bishops, Bishop Sarah said: “I am encouraged the House has given me the full support to lead on implementing the recommendations but equally I am aware that for survivors this will not seem like soon enough as they have struggled for years to have their voices heard. I am committed to ensuring that the learning points from the Review are rolled out across the Church of England as soon as possible. I would also like to repeat my apology to ‘Joe’ who suffered appalling abuse in this case.”

In December the Church of England had issued a statement about the review in response to a newspaper interview with the survivor, offering an unreserved apology and confirming that a settlement had been reached.

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Friday, 19 February 2016

Synod news and comments

David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon From the Gallery: General Synod reflections

Andrew Lightbown Reform, renewal, so many questions.
Church strategy and leadership; a critique

Philip Blackledge Well I declare. Why the Church of England Synod has got it badly wrong.

Lucy Gorman Feb 2016

Church Times reports
Gavin Drake Synod calls for benefit sanctions review
Tim Wyatt Bishop North castigates a ‘bias to the rich’
Tim Wyatt Synod votes to press on with Scottish talks, despite Episcopalian unease

Church Times leader Good news to the poor

Update

Stephen Lynas Some are dead, and some are living

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Questions on Anglican Covenant and relational consequences

During Questions on Monday evening, the following exchanges occurred.

The Revd Canon Andrew Godsall (Exeter) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q18 Could the House be invited to reflect on the recent Primates’ Meeting and, if so, what undertaking might be given for particular reflection on whether it was appropriate to adopt an approach involving ‘relational consequences’ in relation to a member province of the Anglican Communion in the light of the fact that a majority of the dioceses in the Church of England declined to approve the Anglican Communion Covenant?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A The House received a report on the Primates meeting along with members of the College when they met in January. The Primates addressed the impact on relationships within the Anglican Communion when any Province makes a unilateral change in doctrine. They have set out specific consequences in the functioning of the Communion and a task group will be appointed to carry forward the implications of their decision.

Supplementary Questions (transcribed from the audio recording)

Andrew Godsall:

Is there a difference between the specific consequences referred to in the answer and the relational consequences envisaged in section 4.2.7 of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant that the dioceses of the Church of England rejected. And if there is, what is it?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you, that’s a very interesting question. The Covenant was not considered at all during the Primates Meeting. I don’t… I think it may have been mentioned once in passing. And therefore the way in which the consequences were looked at was not related to the Covenant in any way at all. I think to the best of my knowledge no more than 16, it may have only been 11, provinces have actually signed up to the Covenant. Therefore the vast majority would not consider it relevant in considering this. So there was no link.

Dr Rachel Jepson:

Would the House of Bishops also then take the opportunity to discuss plans to impose similar relational consequences for those provinces that support the criminalisation of homosexuality and in so doing are in breach of the Lambeth resolution.

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you very much. I hope it’s clear that the House of Bishops was not involved in the Primates Meeting. It was the Primates Meeting, and the House of Bishops has not imposed any relational consequences in any way at all. As I hope I made clear earlier, such consequences are those at Communion level, and cannot bind any particular province. Having said that, I think the point you raise is a very, very important one. And if you look at the communiqué, which you will find on the primates meeting website, you will find that there is a very, very clear statement of the longstanding opposition of the Anglican Communion to the criminalisation of LGBTI people. And given that that is a very important part of the thinking of the Anglican Communion in this area, one could anticipate that the primates when they meet, were someone to be advocating such, would need to consider that. If they were to continue to advocate it since the primates meeting we just had. But I am one vote out of 38 and I couldn’t possibly predict or anticipate what the outcome would be. But thank you.

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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

General Synod - Wednesday's business

Preview

Ian Paul What is the future of ministerial training?
briefing paper by principals of the residential theological colleges

Wednesday’s business

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this homily at the Synod Eucharist: ‘Martyrdom is the ultimate witness to Christ’s truth’.

Order papers
morning
afternoon

Official summaries of the day’s business
General Synod February 2016 sessions: Wednesday AM
General Synod February 2016 sessions: Wednesday PM

Slides from the morning presentation on Renewal & Reform

CofE press release: Synod signals support for new ministry funding framework

Press reports

Antony Bushfield Premier Synod calls for “full independent review” of benefit sanctions

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church that does not side with the poor ‘cannot claim to follow Jesus’, synod told

John Bingham The Telegraph No growth for 30 years - Church of England predicts

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England expects attendance to fall for next 30 years

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church to launch social media ‘digital evangelism’ campaign to reach young people

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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

General Synod - Tuesday's business

Updated at intervals during the day and on Wednesday

Press preview

Alistair Munro The Scotsman Kirk Moderator to make history in England

Harry Farley Christian Today Scottish moderator to address Synod for first time in history

BBC News Kirk moderator to address CofE Synod

Antony Bushfield Premier Church of Scotland moderator to make history at General Synod

Tuesday’s business

Order paper 2

Speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury: Evangelism is ‘our duty, privilege and joy’, Archbishop tells Synod

Church of England press releases
General Synod votes to approve historic agreement with Church of Scotland
General Synod backs call to encourage blood and organ donation

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February 2016 sessions: Tuesday

Church of Scotland news

General Synod votes to approve historic agreement between Churches

Moderator’s Address to the General Synod of the Church of England

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church life is fading fast in poorer communities, synod warned

Harry Farley Christian Today Church guilty of ‘abandoning the poor’, Synod told

Antony Bushfield Premier Bishop slams Church for preferring the rich

Harry Farley Christian Today Columba Declaration passed in historic show of unity at Synod

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod passes historic Columba Declaration

Brian Donnelly Herald Scotland Moderator: Link between Kirk and Church of England embedded in DNA of both

Antony Bushfield Premier Synod rejects proposal to scrap extra charge for heating at funerals and weddings

Blog

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Fees and “extras” for Church weddings and funerals

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Monday, 15 February 2016

General Synod - Monday's business

Press preview

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Donating organs and blood is Christian duty, C of E synod to be told

Today’s business

Order paper 1

Questions paper

Live video stream

Full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address: Archbishop reflects on Primates’ meeting in Synod address

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February 16 sessions: Monday PM

Audio from all the sessions at General Synod February 2016

Press reports

Antony Bushfield Premier Synod’s sexuality conversations “going to be risky”

Harry Farley Christian Today Welby at Synod: Primates meeting was ‘spun more than Donald Trump’
African churches could face ‘consequences’ for supporting criminalisation of homosexuality

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Gay rights and same-sex marriage will dominate C of E summer synod

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Friday, 12 February 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

Updated Saturday to add the article by William Nye
Also updated Saturday to give a working link to Martyn Percy’s essay

The General Synod of the Church of England meets next week. Here are some recent relevant articles.

Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration

Modern Church has published this essay by Martyn Percy: On Not Rearranging the Deckchairs on the Titanic: A Commentary on Reform and Renewal in the Church of England. Kieran Bohan has written this preview: Reform and Renewal or unintentional vandalism? A health and safety warning for General Synod, and there is a link at the end to download the full essay.
Bishop Steven Croft responds: RME - Response to Principals’ Concerns.
Mike Eastwood, Liverpool Diocesan Secretary and Director of Renewal and Reform, Renewal and Reform – a view from Liverpool
William Nye Renewal and Reform – some thoughts from a new boy

Church Times RME plans may be disastrous, say colleges

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Vesture: the House of Bishops Consultation

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Monday, 1 February 2016

Archbishops' Council

Elections to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England have now been completed. Here is the full list of elected and appointed members.

Members of the Archbishops’ Council

Joint Presidents
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury
The Revd Canon Simon Butler

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York
The Venerable Cherry Vann

Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison

Vice-Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Elizabeth Paver

Elected by the House of Bishops
The Rt Revd Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield
The Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

Elected by the House of Clergy
The Revd Dr Ian Paul
The Revd Sarah Schofield

Elected by the House of Laity
Mrs Lorna Ashworth
Canon Mark Russell

Church Estates Commissioner
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner

Appointed by the Archbishops
Mr John Spence
Mrs Mary Chapman: former CEO, Chartered Institute of Management
Mr Philip Fletcher
The Revd Dr Rosalyn Murphy: Vicar, St Thomas’s, Blackpool
Mrs Rebecca Salter: Medical Researcher
Mr Matthew Frost, former CEO Tearfund

Detailed results of the elections can be downloaded from here.

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Friday, 29 January 2016

General Synod agenda - press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times Reform, sex talks, and Kirk on Synod’s agenda

John Bingham The Telegraph Dress-down Sundays: Church considers making clerical dress optional
[with reference to GS Misc 1133 - House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments]

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod to focus on need for evangelism
Anglican talks on sexuality sometimes “painful”

BBC News Churches of England and Scotland publish report on proposed pact

Update

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican clergy could drop traditional dress in favour of casual clothing

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The Columba Declaration and the Scottish Episcopal Church

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report today.

Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report
January 29, 2016

There was some publicity around Christmastime regarding the publication of the joint Columba Declaration by the Church of Scotland and Church of England. The provincial Faith and Order Board met recently and agreed that a short background note should be issued.

After the publication in 2010 of Our Fellowship in the Gospel by the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, a product of five year’s work, an invitation to join the Joint Study Group was issued to the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church was then involved in those new talks up until 2013. At that point, the other two churches expressed a desire to enter into a deeper ecumenical arrangement. The Faith and Order Board considered the matter carefully but did not believe it was appropriate to enter a tripartite “ecumenical” agreement where one of the parties was the Church of England because the Scottish Episcopal Church is already in full communion with the Church of England. The Board suggested instead that the three-way talks might continue, aimed not at forming an ecumenical agreement but rather at enriching common life and mission across the three churches. Therefore, it suggested alternative ways of proceeding on a tripartite basis.

However, the other two churches were keen to move towards some form of ecumenical agreement. It was at this point that the Scottish Episcopal Church ceased to be a full participant in the talks, albeit we were invited to appoint an observer, and duly did so. The then Convener of Inter-Church Relations Committee took on that role with his last involvement being at the final bilateral meeting in late 2014 where a draft of the report was under discussion.

A joint statement by the Church of Scotland and Church of England setting out the Columba Declaration (which forms only the final part of the report) was unexpectedly issued just before Christmas 2015, in response to a press query, and we became aware of this on Christmas Eve. The final form of the full report, however, was embargoed until the 29th January 2016.

Since the issue of that statement, we have been in direct contact with both the Church of Scotland and Church of England and have obtained a copy of the final report Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission. We have been able to ask a number of initial questions which have been helpfully answered jointly by the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

In the report it is stated that a response from the Scottish Episcopal Church would be welcomed. The Faith and Order Board at its meeting on 21st January agreed to remit the Scottish Episcopal Church’s detailed examination of the report to the Inter-Church Relations Committee and to ask that Committee to formulate a response for consideration by the Faith and Order Board in September 2016 (which will be the first meeting of the Board after this year’s Church of England Synod and the Church of Scotland General Assembly). This will include consideration of the concerns which the publication of the Columba Declaration, without the benefit of the full report, had prompted before Christmas. The Board believes that publication of Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission now provides an opportunity to build on the warm relations which the Scottish Episcopal Church already enjoys with the Church of Scotland and very much looks forward to continuing discussions. The Board similarly looks forward to strengthening our relationship and mutual regard with the Church of England.

The report of the Church of Scotland and Church of England Joint Study Group can be read here.

A press release issued today by the Church of Scotland can be read here.

Our earlier coverage of the Columba Declaration is here, here and here.

The Church of England released the Report on the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016) today; the Columba Declaration comprises Chapter IV of the report.

The report will be debated at the Church of England’s General Synod on Tuesday 16 February; here is the relevant section of the agenda.

REPORT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND–CHURCH OF SCOTLAND JOINT STUDY GROUP (GS 2016)

10 Presentation under SO 107 by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Revd Dr Angus Morrison.

The Bishop of Chester (Co-Chair of the Joint Study Group) to move:

11 ‘That this Synod,
(a) welcome the report of the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (annexed to GS 2016) as a significant development in the relationship between the two churches;
(b) approve the Columba Declaration, consisting of mutual Acknowledgements and Commitments, as set out in paragraph 38 of the report; and
(c) request the Council for Christian Unity to oversee the implementation of the Commitments contained in the Columba Declaration and set up the Contact Group proposed by it.’

The Report of the Synod’s Business Committee provides this comment.

Presentation from the Moderator of the Church of Scotland followed by a Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

24. The Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group was set up following the Synod debate on a previous report, Our Fellowship in the Gospel (GS 1792), in July 2010. The document it has produced has four parts, the first setting out important background, the second agreement in faith between the two churches, the third areas where they can grow in partnership for mission and the fourth the ‘Columba Declaration’ of shared Acknowledgements and Commitments. The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, will give a presentation outlining the significance of the proposed agreement between the churches before the Bishop of Chester, as Co-Chair of the Joint Study Group, introduces the debate.

The Church of Scotland has also issued a press release today: Landmark report on historic Ecumenical partnership plans published.

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Agenda for February 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

The remainder of the papers have also been published online, and I have updated my list here.

Agenda for February 2016 General Synod
29 January 2016

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.30 pm on Monday 15 February until 5.00 pm on Wednesday 17 February. This will be the first full-length meeting of the newly-elected General Synod since its inauguration in November 2015.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here. The majority of the papers have been released today. A major theme of this group of sessions will be taking forward the next stages of the Archbishops’ Renewal and Reform initiative. On Wednesday 17 February the various Task Group leads will be giving an overview to Synod on their plans for the coming year. Specific items related to Renewal and Reform feature on the February agenda.

One key aspect of Renewal and Reform is the introduction of legislative changes to make it easier for parishes and dioceses to organise themselves to facilitate mission and growth. This is known as the Simplification work stream. On Monday 15 February legislation will come before Synod to simplify the Church’s rulebook to reduce regulatory burdens in the form of the Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure (GS2014). On Tuesday 16 February, Synod will be asked to endorse plans to introduce an ‘Enabling Measure’ to make it easier to update Church legislation in the future as required on an on-going basis (GS 2018).

On Wednesday 17 February there will be a debate on a motion on the Resourcing Ministerial Education work stream, another element of Renewal and reform. The motion and the accompanying paper sets out plans for new funding arrangements to boost the number of candidates for ministry and a strategy for the continuing enhancement of their quality and deployability (GS 2020). Immediately after this item, there will be a Take Note debate on a report from the Task Group on Resourcing the Future which sets out plans to reorganise the way that the Church distributes money centrally to focus it on driving growth and helping mission in the poorest communities (GS 2021). Linked to these initiatives, there will be a report from the Evangelism Task Group with examples of best practice with regards to Church growth and evangelism (GS 2015).

On Monday 15 February the Archbishop of Canterbury will be giving a Presidential Address which will include a Statement on the outcome of the recent Primates meeting in Canterbury. There will also be an update by the Archbishop’s Director for Reconciliation on the progress in the dioceses of the Shared Conversations on Spirituality, Scripture and Mission. Synod members will have an opportunity to ask questions on the presentation.

On Tuesday 16 February, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will give a presentation on the Report of the Church of England - Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016). This will be followed by a debate on the Report introduced by the Bishop of Chester.

Synod will be debating three Diocesan Synod Motions, two of which are closely related. The first two DSMs from Worcester Diocesan Synod relate to Parochial fees and related costs for weddings and funerals (GS 2017A and 2017B). This will be taken together on Tuesday 16 February. On Wednesday 17 February there will be a Diocesan Synod Motion arising from Leeds Diocesan Synod on the ‘Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants’ (GS 2019A and GS2019B). A further Diocesan Synod Motion from Leeds Diocesan Synod on ‘Blood and Organ Donation’ (GS 2022A and GS2022B) is listed as contingency business.

ENDS

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

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Friday, 22 January 2016

February General Synod - online papers

The second circulation papers have now been added below.

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 15-17 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

More papers are scheduled for release on 29 January. There appear to be rather more of these than usual. I have included below all those mentioned in the agenda, and I will add links to them in due course.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 1953D - Amending Canon No.34 [Monday]

GS 2011 - Agenda

GS 2012 - Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission [Monday]

GS 2013 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 2014 - Draft Mission and Pastoral (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 2014x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2015 - Report from the Evangelism Task Group [Tuesday]

GS 2016 - Report of the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group [Tuesday]

GS 2017A and graph and GS 2017B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees [Tuesday]

GS 2018 - Proposed Enabling Measure [Tuesday]

GS 2019A and GS 2019B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants [Wednesday]

GS 2020 - Renewal and Reform: Resourcing Ministerial Education [Wednesday]

GS 2021 - Renewal and Reform: Resourcing the Future [Wednesday]

GS 2022A and GS 2022B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ [contingency business]

Notice papers

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2
Notice Paper 3

Other papers

GS Misc 1129 - Instructions regarding counted votes conducted by electronic means
GS Misc 1130 - The Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2015
GS Misc 1131 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1132 - Report on the Churches Together in England 2015 Forum
GS Misc 1133 - House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments
GS Misc 1134 - Update on Archbishop’s Council activities
GS Misc 1135 - Council for Christian Unity Annual Report
GS Misc 1136 - Central Stipends Authority Annual Report
Group work membership
Group work questions [Tuesday morning]

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Thursday, 7 January 2016

General Synod elections - chairs of house and others

Members of the new General Synod of the Church of England have been electing chairs of houses and members of various committees. There is a list of the results so far here, including these.

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury
The Revd Canon Simon Butler (Southwark)

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York
The Ven Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale (Manchester)

Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison (Durham)

Vice-Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield)

There are more results to come.

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Friday, 18 December 2015

February 2016 General Synod - outline timetable

The outline timetable for the February General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 22 January 2016.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2016 GROUP OF SESSIONS

Timetable

Monday 15 February

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Opening Worship
Presentation of officers (Prolocutors of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity)

Report by the Business Committee

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No 34
Mission and Pastoral etc (Amendment) Measure – First Consideration

Initial presentation on the Shared Conversations followed by Q&A

*5.45 pm Questions

7.00 pm Evening worship

Tuesday 16 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Worship in small groups followed by Group Work on Evangelism

11.30 am Presentation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chair of the Evangelism Task Group, followed by a ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Evangelism Task Group

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Presentation from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees

*5.30 pm Motion on the proposed Enabling Measure

7.00 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 17 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion

10.45 am Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants

Update on Renewal and Reform – (Presentation by Task Group Leads followed by Q&A)

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

2.30 pm Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing Ministerial Education: debate on a motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing the Future: ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Archbishops’ Council

5.00 pm Farewells

*5.15 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ Donation

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Friday, 4 December 2015

Post General Synod round-up

The official record of Business Done
Electronic Voting Results for the motion on the migrant crisis

There are a number of videos of Synod business here.

The December issue of InReview includes reports from Synod.

Election addresses for the Election of Chair, Vice-Chair and Two Members of the Archbishops’ Council by the House of Laity
[Read the Covering Document to see who is standing for what.]

press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times UK is castigated for weak response to Syrian migration
The Garstang Courier Vicar made chaplain of church’s highest governing body

some blogs

Stephen Lynas
Her Majesty’s a very nice girl
Negotiations and love songs

Anderson Jeremiah
How the Church of England is trying to make itself relevant again
The Church of England’s vote to effectively back military action is a shocking mistake

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Synod election turnout

Updated on Friday to add questions 36 and 37 and their answer below the fold

In the Questions session at this week’s General Synod the Secretary General was asked about turnout in the recent elections to Synod. In reply he gave these figures, together with those from 2010 for comparison.

percentages 2015   2010  
Canterbury        
Average overall 51.88   51.32  
Average clergy 56.86   55.91  
Average laity 46.91   46.74  
Highest turnout clergy 67.96 (Birmingham) 75.00 (Ely)
Lowest turnout clergy 45.60 (Hereford) 43.20 (Bristol)
Highest turnout laity 72.10 (Guildford) 64.13 (Chelmsford)
Lowest turnout laity 29.82 (Hereford) 37.83 (Lincoln)
York        
Average overall 48.18   50.35  
Average clergy 52.49   57.23  
Average laity 43.87   43.48  
Highest turnout clergy 69.00 (Sodor & Man) 73.90 (Sodor & Man)
Lowest turnout clergy 39.86 (Liverpool) 46.50 (Liverpool)
Highest turnout laity 56.96 (Chester) 54.70 (Sodor & Man)
Lowest turnout laity 34.74 (Liverpool) 36.30 (Liverpool)

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the Business Committee:

Q36 Despite the fact that electors had nearly three weeks to return their voting papers in the recent General Synod election, the turnout in most dioceses was depressingly low—under 50% for the House of Laity election in 22 of the 33 dioceses that have posted the figures on their websites, and under 40% in four dioceses (Manchester 35.39%, Oxford 38.28%, Peterborough 30.79% and Salisbury 35.44%). Will the Chair of the Business Committee confirm that the Elections Review Group will look into the reasons for the low turnout and also bring forward legislative proposals to make provision for online voting in 2020 as agreed by Synod at the November 2013 Group of Sessions?

Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the Business Committee:

Q37 Has the Business Committee considered bringing to the new Synod early in this quinquennium options as to how the electorate for the House of Laity might be formed for future elections, in time for any change which the Synod might consider appropriate to be implemented in time for the 2020 elections, and, if not, will it now do so?

The Revd Canon Sue Booys to reply as Chair of the Business Committee:

A With permission, I will take these questions together. All these issues are important potential areas for consideration by the Elections Review Group, a sub-committee of the Business Committee, which will be established early in this new Quinquennium. Synod members wishing to request further work on these and other matters should write to the Clerk to the Synod, requesting that they be tabled for consideration when the Elections Review Group is re-formed, which is likely to be early in 2016.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

General Synod - day 2 of 2

Updated Thursday morning

Business on Wednesday 25 November

Church of England press releases
Concern for the planet is not a Christian ‘add-on’, Archbishop of York tells Synod
General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees [See below the fold for the text of this press release]
Synod agrees to cut red tape to secure future for vulnerable churches

Official brief summaries of the day’s business
General Synod November 2015 - Wednesday AM
General Synod November 2015 - Wednesday PM

Archbishop of York’s Climate Change Presentation at Synod

Press reports
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Justin Welby says UK military action in Syria ‘almost inevitable’
Antony Bushfield Premier Synod votes to back “military force” to create safe route for refugees
Florence Taylor Christian Today Justin Welby endorses use of force in Syria
Independent Catholic News Coptic Bishop speaks on migration crisis during CofE Synod

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Churches launch call to prayer to reverse negative views of Jesus and Christianity

John Bingham The Telegraph Rural vicars ‘drowning’ amid battle to keep empty churches open

General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees
25 November 2015

The General Synod has given its overwhelming backing to work by parishes and dioceses to support the resettlement of vulnerable Syrian refugees, in a debate focusing on the humanitarian response to the migrant crisis.

Members of the General Synod approved a motion welcoming the scale of aid provided by the Government for those suffering as a result of the conflict in Syria but called for significantly more Syrian refugees to be allowed to resettle in this country than the Government’s target of 20,000 over five years.

The Synod urged parishes and dioceses to work in partnership with local authorities and other community organisations to provide practical help for the resettlement of vulnerable refugees and to pray for all those seeking both to address the causes as well as the symptoms of the crisis.

Synod members called upon the Government to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that vulnerability to religiously motivated persecution is taken into account when determining who is received into Britain.

The motion also called upon the Government to work with international partners in Europe and elsewhere to help establish safe and legal routes to places of safety, including this country, for refugees who are vulnerable and at severe risk.

Members of the General Synod further voted to call upon the Government to take a ‘fair and proportionate’ share of refugees now within the European Union, particularly those with family already legally resident in the UK.

Moving the motion, Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke of work already under way by Anglicans to help vulnerable refugees both in Britain and in Europe. He added that it was ‘hard to imagine’ a list of British values which did not include the word ‘hospitality’ - which stands ‘close to the heart of the Christian gospel’.

“Many in the churches believe that, if we put our backs into working with others to create the capacity, we can make 20,000 a number that can be comfortably exceeded,” he said.

“After all, it is not money that will do most to enable people driven from Syria to make new lives. It is practical care from a community, inviting them in, suggesting in many practical ways the possibility of hope and the promise of safety.”

To read Bishop Paul’s speech in full see here.

End

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

General Synod - day 1 of 2

Updated Wednesday morning and evening

The Tenth General Synod of the Church of England was inaugurated this morning (Tuesday) with a service in Westminster Abbey, after which Synod members moved to the Synod chamber in Church House for an address by The Queen.

Report by the Abbey: HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh attend Synod service
Text of the sermon at the Abbey by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household
Archbishop [of Canterbury] welcomes The Queen to General Synod
Text of The Queen’s speech at the Inauguration of the Tenth General Synod of the Church of England
Speech of Thanks to Her Majesty The Queen from the Archbishop of York

Reports on the morning’s activities
Gavin Drake for the Anglican Communion News Service: Queen Elizabeth speaks on Christian Unity and Primates Meeting
John Bingham The Telegraph Queen tells CoE to learn art of peacemaking amid splits over sexuality
BBC News Queen calls for unity at Church of England general synod
Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Our persecutors already see us as one’, Papal official tells Synod
Sean Smith The Tablet Church of England should be bridge between Catholics and Evangelicals, Pope’s preacher tells synod

Reports from the afternoon

Text of Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address
Official brief summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod November 2015 - Tuesday PM
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England could scrap reading of marriage banns
John Bingham The Telegraph Ditch the mitre? I’d look ‘underdressed’ in inner city, says bishop
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian How the mitres have fallen: bishops’ headwear is personal choice, says C of E

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Monday, 23 November 2015

pre-General Synod press reports and blogs

Updated Monday evening

The General Synod of the Church of England meets on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The papers are linked here and there is an outline of the agenda here.

The questions and answers have been published this morning.

Here are some recent online articles.

Bishop of Sheffield Reform and Renewal: the Noddy and Big Ears Guide

Harriet Sherwood The Observer Welby bids to defuse Church of England’s ‘demographic time bomb’

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service C of E proposes to repeal obsolete Medieval laws
This refers to this paper GS Misc 1128 - Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure. The consultation closes on 29 January 2016.

Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Wedding banns face axe after 800 years as senior clergy think practice of reading out names ahead of ceremony is ‘antiquated’.
BBC News Marriage banns ‘should be axed’ urges clergy member
Stephen Trott’s motion is contained in notice paper 4, and reads:

“That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1997, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.”

Update

Stephen Lynas We’ve only just begun…

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Is a public statement on human sexuality something for the CNC to consider?

Readers may recall that at General Synod in July, John Ward asked a Question of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as reported fully here. This in turn followed from a previous Question asked in February, also reported here. The incidents to which reference is made in the questions occurred in September/October 2014 and in October/November 2013.

The guidance document to which the question refers has now been published: ARCHBISHOPSGUIDELINES ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF “CHOOSING BISHOPS THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 (REVISED)” (GS Misc 1044).
This document is dated March 2015, and as explained in its first section, it was revised following the passage of the women bishops legislation in 2014. Presumably therefore there was an earlier version of this guidance issued in 2013, shortly after the issue of GS Misc 1044 itself.

That document dated June 2013 to which this refers is also available on the CofE website as a PDF, and here as a normal web page.

Pages 3 and 4 of this newly published guidance constitute a section entitled: The relevance of a candidate’s previous public statements on human sexuality.
This portion is copied in full below the fold, but you need to read the whole document to get the context. However, you will note that GS Misc 1044 itself contains no reference to this topic.

The relevance of a candidate’s previous public statements on human sexuality

14. The focus of the Legal Office note is the imposition of a requirement of one of the kinds described in paragraph 7. The imposition of such a requirement is a significant thing, its effect being completely to exclude from consideration those whose circumstances are inconsistent with the requirement. But, as noted above, if a requirement is not imposed the fact that a candidate falls into one or other of the two categories is to be ignored and may not be the subject of any further discussion or questioning.

15. It is possible that a further issue may arise in the course of the CNC’s deliberations which is distinct from the possible imposition of a requirement. That is whether, when considering whether the candidate can fulfil the fundamental calling of a bishop to be a ‘focus of unity’, the CNC can nonetheless lawfully take into account the content and manner of any public statements previously made by him or her about the Church’s traditional teaching on same-sex relations.

16. Taking a consideration of this kind into account is different from imposing a requirement. Rather, in terms of the Equality Act, it involves the application of a ‘criterion’, in the light of which (amongst other criteria) the decision on nomination would be made.

17. A discussion of this kind would not have involved indirect discrimination under the Equality Act, had the Act applied, even if in practice such a discussion might put a homosexual candidate at a disadvantage when compared with heterosexual candidates. The concept of ‘indirect discrimination’ under the Act does not extend to a situation in which a criterion is applied as a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim; and a criterion designed to assess how well a candidate would, if nominated, be able to fulfil a fundamental aspect of a bishop’s role would have passed that test.

18. It would accordingly be open to the CNC, in principle, to have a discussion of this kind, in an appropriate case. Were it to do so, then the criterion would need to be weighed alongside others. So it would be for each individual member of the CNC to decide how much weight to attach to it.

19. However, it would be essential that any discussion of this issue was confined to weighing the implications of the candidate’s previous public statements for his or her ability to act as a focus of unity, rather than taking account of the implications of his or her sexuality or status as a civil partner. The latter would involve taking account of irrelevant, and unlawful, considerations, since those matters have either to be addressed through the imposition of a requirement or left out of account altogether.

20. In addition, the mere fact that a candidate had publicly questioned the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality, or indeed that of the Anglican Communion as articulated in Lambeth 1:10, would not be sufficient to raise any issue from this point of view: that is something that clergy are free to do. An issue could only arise as a result of the way in which that disagreement had been expressed.

21. Particular care would be needed in handling any considerations relating to the Anglican Communion. An adverse reaction in the Anglican Communion to the candidate’s appointment on account of his or her previous public statements could in principle be a relevant consideration in so far as it touched on the candidate’s ability to be a focus of unity in the Church of England– e.g. because it could fuel controversy within the Church of England of such a kind as to make it more difficult for the candidate to act as an effective focus of unity.

22. However, in practice considerable care needs to be taken in evaluating considerations relating to the Anglican Communion, where concerns about the candidate’s appointment may well be based at least as much on his or her sexuality or civil partner status as on the nature of his or her previous public statements.

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Friday, 30 October 2015

November General Synod - online papers

Updated 10 November to include second circulation papers (GS 2009 and GS Misc 1128)

Papers in the first circulation both circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 24-25 November are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 2005 - Agenda

GS 2006 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 2007 - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 [Wednesday]
GS 2007x - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2008 - Report of the Church Buildings Review Group [Wednesday]

GS 2009 - The Migrant Crisis [Wednesday]
The motion to be debated on this subject is contained in notice paper 4.

GS 2010 - Standing Orders (October 2015)

GS Misc 1123 - Constitutions of the Committees of the Archbishops’ Council

GS Misc 1124 - A programme for the renewal and reform of the Church of England [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1125 - A New Enabling Measure

GS Misc 1126 - Public Peceptiions of Jesus [Wednesday]
Annex: Talking Jesus Booklet

GS Misc 1127 - Released for Mission

GS Misc 1128 - Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure

Members’ Resources

Although intended for Synod members, some of these Members’ Resources may be of wider interest - in particular the Guide to the General Synod and the Synod Survival Guide.

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General Synod agenda published

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.

Synod membership

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.

Ends

[1] This includes a small number of members who were not in the last Synod but have served previously.

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Friday, 16 October 2015

General Synod election results update

Update - northern deans now listed

My list of those elected to the 2015-2020 General Synod is now almost complete. The only gaps are the two Northern Deans and the lay member from the Deanery of Jersey. The clergy member from the Channel Islands will be Tim Barker, the Dean designate of Guernsey. But I understand that he will not be able to take up his place until he is commissioned on 28 November, which is after the inaugural group of sessions.

There are two vacancies from the Religious Communities because not enough people were nominated to fill all four places. By-elections will be held in due course.

My thanks go to all those who responded to my appeal to send me results.

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Saturday, 10 October 2015

General Synod election results

The votes in the elections to the Church of England General Synod will be counted during this coming week. I will publish the names of the successful candidates here: General Synod List of members.

Please help me do this by sending election results to gs2015@peterowen.org.uk. I will only publish the names of successful candidates, so I do not need the details of the count (although you are welcome to send these to me as well).

New this time is the requirement for dioceses to post the full return of the result and the result sheet (with voting figures) on the diocesan website. They must remain there until the end of the first group of sessions of the new Synod, ie 4.30 pm on 25 November 2015. Results for other constituencies must be similarly posted on the Church of England website. However there does not appear to be any particular date by which these results must be posted. But when they do appear I will add links to this page: Synod election 2015.

There are official lists of successful candidates here.

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Friday, 25 September 2015

November General Synod - timetable

The timetable for the November meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available for download, and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD NOVEMBER 2015 TIMETABLE

Monday 23 November
Induction of new and returning members

Tuesday 24 November
am Inauguration of the Synod

2.45 pm – 7.15 pm

2.45 pm Prayers, welcomes
Presidential Address: Archbishop of Canterbury
Business Committee Report
Introduction to Synod Worship by the Chaplain to the General Synod
Reform and Renewal Presentation followed by a Question and Answer session

*5.40 pm Questions

Wednesday 25 November

9.30 am – 1pm

9.30 am Morning Worship
Loyal Address
Presentation by the Archbishop of York on Global Warming
Debate on a motion moved by a member of the House of Bishops on the Migrant Crisis

Legislative Business
*11.30 am Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order

Presentation from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on research on “Public Perceptions of Jesus”

2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

2.30 pm Debate on a Report from Church Buildings Review Group

*4.00 pm Farewell

4.30 pm Prorogation

4.45 pm (or 15 minutes after the prorogation if business is completed earlier):
Meeting of the House of Laity

*=not later than

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

General Synod - diocesan candidates

Updated Friday

All the lists of candidates for General Synod for the diocesan constituencies, and their election addresses, are now available. There are links to all of them on my website.

Ian Paul has taken a look at the gender balance (or lack of it) of the candidates: Synod, representation and gender.

Update

Tim Wyatt and Hattie Williams have also been looking at this for Church Times: Male candidates outnumber female in Synod elections.

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Monday, 14 September 2015

General Synod elections 2015 - candidates' election addresses

The nomination period for this year’s elections to General Synod has closed. Dioceses are now required to post candidates’ election addresses on their websites before sending out voting papers. Some of these have already appeared, and the remainder should be available by the end of the week. I am compiling a list of links to all the addresses, which you can find here. I will update this during the coming week. So far as I am aware there is no similar requirement for the special constituencies.

I am also compiling a list of the members of the new synod here. Apart from ex officio members a few people have already been elected unopposed.

Additions and corrections to either list can be emailed to me here.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

General Synod elections 2015

The 2010-2015 General Synod was dissolved on Monday 13 July 2015 immediately after it finished its July group of sessions in York. The election of a new Synod will take place over the summer and early autumn.

There is official information on the elections on this webpage including these papers.

Election Rules of the Three Houses
Guidance for Dioceses

The second of these includes this draft timetable for the diocesan elections.

1 Notification to electors of the election timetable to be followed in the diocese and issue of nomination papers - Not later than Tuesday 21st July

2 Notification of the validity of any nomination - As soon as any nomination is received

3 Closing date for nominations - Friday 4th September

4 Issue of voting papers - Friday 18th September

5 Closing date for return of voting papers - Friday 9th October

6 Day of the count - Monday 12th, Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th, or Thursday 15th October.

7 Names and addresses of those elected and result sheet to be sent to the diocesan bishop, the Clerk to the Synod, every candidate and to the Election Scrutineer. - Not later than the fourth working day after the date of the declaration of the result.

However dioceses have some discretion, so candidates and electors should check carefully what the dates are in their own diocese, particularly the closing dates for nominations and the return of voting papers.

The numbers of clergy (“proctors”) and laity to be elected by each diocese are contained in appendices A and B of GS 1975.

Changes to the rules since 2010 mean that dioceses must now publish all election addresses on the diocesan website before issuing the voting papers. After the election the the full return of the result and the result sheet (with voting figures) must also be posted on the website until the end of the first group of sessions of the new General Synod (ie 25 November 2015).

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Question on CNC and human sexuality

Three questions were asked about the workings of the Crown Nominations Commission, two of which were answered by the Archbishop of York. The Archbishop of Canterbury answered only this one (copied from the booklet):

Mr John Ward (London) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:

Q44. In the light of the answer the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to question 15 at the February group of sessions, and in particular his statement that when candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues, including (by implication) human sexuality, is among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment, can it be confirmed whether any guidance to that effect has been provided to the CNC and, if it has, will that guidance be published?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:

A The current version of the guidance material provided to CNC members is something which accurately reflects what I said to the Synod in February. Like previous versions of the guidance it has been shared with the Crown Nominations Commission and Bishops who are making appointments to suffragan sees. I shall want to consult the House of Bishops on whether it should be made more widely available.

Two supplementary questions were put, and the following has been transcribed from the audio recording.

Mr John Ward:

I think what the chairman is saying is, that simply saying that the church’s teaching on human sexuality is wrong, is enough to prevent you from being appointed as a bishop. Given this is rather shocking doctrinal discrimination, and given that bishops who won’t ordain women cannot always be a focus for unity for everyone, but are very properly given a special place in the church, will you give a special place in the church for a bishop who thinks that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is double speak?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I don’t accept your presupposition.

Mrs April Alexander:

If the effective requirement to be heterosexual is not in the person spec., what is the mechanism by which it can fairly emerge later in the process?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I’m sorry, could you… I don’t understand the question.
[Question repeated with addition of three words “for the post” after “spec.”]
Yes Mrs Alexander, I heard the words, I don’t understand the question.

The following day, during another debate, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this (also transcribed from the audio recording, and not fully included in the version of his intervention published on his website):

…Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night, which I handled badly, for which I apologise to the questioners and also to the synod, that we are committed to nurturing the vocation across the whole of God’s people, regardless of sexuality, and regardless of lay or ordained…

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The CofE and safeguarding

As I reported here and here, General Synod’s business over the weekend included several items regarding safeguarding.

In Safeguarding, the C of E and deposition from orders Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK summarises the contents of the new legislative package, and looks at what deposition (“defrocking”) actually means.

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Restoration of deposition?

This question on the possible restoration of the canonical penalty of deposition from Holy Orders was asked at General Synod on Friday evening.

The Revd Neil Patterson (Hereford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q74. Following the concerns expressed by MACSAS and others about clergy convicted of serious offences continuing to maintain their clerical style and dress, will the House of Bishops consider bringing forward proposals to restore the canonical penalty of deposition from Holy Orders, in order that the Church may more clearly repudiate from its ministry those who have seriously betrayed the trust placed in them?

The Bishop of Durham to reply on behalf of the Chair:

A There are two issues here. Firstly, with regard to the wearing of clerical dress- including clerical collars- taking power to prevent prohibited clergy from wearing clerical dress would be problematic, not least since it would be unenforceable in practice. With regard to exercising ministry, prohibition for life already exists as the most severe penalty under the Clergy Discipline Measure and may be invoked in the case of serious safeguarding offences. When the draft Clergy Discipline Measure was being considered in 2000 the Synod decided not to include deposition in the range of penalties available under the Measure.

I intend to invite the House of Bishops to reconsider whether that decision was wise but amending the CDM to allow deposition would require a Measure, so change would take some considerable time.

The question was not reached in the available time, so no supplementary questions were possible, although as with all questions now the answer was published in advance.

Press reports include:

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Church of England brings back powers to defrock vicars guilty of sex abuse and other crimes
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could return to defrocking rogue priests after child abuse scandals

The first report appears to confuse “The House of Bishops will be asked to think about doing it” with “It will be done”.

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General Synod - Monday's business - climate change

Order paper 5 lists the day’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon

Sound recordings
morning
afternoon

In the morning Synod debated climate change and passed this motion:

That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 ̊C, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:

(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;

(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options

(c) encourage the redirection of resources into other lower carbon energy options;

(d) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;

(e) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-servicetraining to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and

(f) encourage parishes and dioceses to draw attention to the initiative supported by members of the Faith and Climate network encouraging Christians to pray and fast for climate justice on the first day of each month.

The Bishop of Salisbury opened the debate with this speech.
The Archbishop of Canterbury made this contribution to the debate.
Bishop of Sheffield’s speech
There is also this official press release: Urgent action needed on climate change urges Synod.

In the afternoon, Synod debated climate change and investment policy and passed this motion:

That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:

(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);

(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;

(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change;

(d) urge the NIBs to encourage the work of those energy companies committed to carbon pricing and investing in research into cleaner fuels, natural gas and carbon capture and storage;

(e) urge the NIBs proactively to seek and scale up investment in renewable energy and other low carbon energy sectors and to track low carbon indices;

(f) request the EIAG and the NIBs to publish their ‘engagement framework’ by June 2016; and

(g) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.

The Bishop of Manchester opened the debate with this speech.
There is also this official press release: General Synod welcomes climate change policy.

Press reports and comments

Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod urges investors to act on climate change

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Going green is holy, say Church of England bishops: General Synod calls for vicars to have training in ‘eco-theology’

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England governing body approves divestment policy

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Carbon capture, fracking and fasting

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

General Synod - Sunday's business

On Sunday morning Synod members joined the regular congregation for the Eucharist in York Minster. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon.

Order paper 4 lists Sunday’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business

sound recordings
afternoon
Bishop of Chelmsford - CMEAC presentation
evening

Press release on the presentation by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns: Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society [copied below the fold]
I too am CofE - video included in the presentation

Press preview

John Bingham The Telegraph Nine-year-olds allowed to administer Holy Communion under Church shake-up
[As well as looking forward to the final approval debate on Sunday, this article also looks back to the preliminary debate held on Friday.]

Press report

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England failing to promote minority ethnic clergy, says bishop

Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society
12 July 2015

More needs to be done to promote the full inclusion and representation of minority ethnic Anglicans at every level of the Church of England, including the most senior clergy appointments, the General Synod heard today.

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford,introducing a presentation to Synod by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) said it was “critically important” that the leadership of the Church of England at every level reflects the reality of a multi-cultural society.

“Quite simply, the leadership and ministry of the Church of England no longer looks like or adequately reflects the diversity and creativity of the communities it serves. This should be a huge concern and directly affects our credibility as a national Church and our mission,” he said.

“Until we look like the community we serve, not only are we denying ourselves of talent and insight, we are making the work of evangelism and service so much harder. That is why this work of inclusion and representation is unfinished business.”

His remarks were made after Synod members watched a video, part of a follow-up to the 2011 report Unfinished Business on inclusion and representation of minority ethnic Anglicans in the Church of England.

Those featuring in the film include Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Revd Jason Roach, and Sheila Root and Shay Prince, who are both lay members of the Church of England.

Bishop Stephen was joined by Dr Elizabeth Henry, CMEAC national adviser, the Archdeacon of Reigate, Danny Kajumba, Fr Paul Cartwright and Canon Linda Ali in a panel question-and-answer session following the presentation.

The discussion at General Synod followed the publication today of Everyone Counts, a congregational survey carried out in a sample of parishes as part of a long-term commitment to monitoring diversity within the Church.

Watch the video

Background paper by Dr Henry

Link to Everyone Counts 2014 Diversity audit key findings

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

General Synod - Saturday's business

Order Paper 2 contains the business for Saturday morning and afternoon.

Official press release on the safeguarding business: Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation - copied below the fold

Official summaries of the day’s business:
morning
afternoon and evening

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the debate on senior church leadership: Archbishop speaks at Synod on senior church leadership

Sound recordings
morning
farewell to Michael Perham
afternoon
evening

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Sex abuse priests could return to church without checks, warns Archbishop of York

Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation
11 July 2015

The General Synod today gave final approval to a package of proposals intended to take further the process of making the Church a safer place for children and vulnerable adults - both by making the disciplinary processes under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 more effective where safeguarding issues arise and by strengthening the Church’s wider legal framework in relation to safeguarding in various ways. The legislation was originally introduced in February 2014 following a consultation launched at Synod in July 2013.

Speaking in the debate, Bishop Paul Butler, lead bishop on safeguarding, said:
“We all want every single one of our churches and institutions to be safer places and communities for all people; notably for children and adults at times of risk and harm, whether that be long or short term.” He added that along with facing up to the consequences of the past “our emphasis has to be on prevention” stressing that, along with the new legislation, high quality training, safe recruiting and effective quality assurance needed to be implemented at every level of church life. The Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and draft Amending Canon No. 34 (links below) contains a range of elements including:

Adding to the bishop’s existing powers to suspend a priest or deacon, extending to circumstances where the local authority or police provide information which leads the bishop to be satisfied that they present a significant risk of harm. With similar powers for an archbishop to suspend a bishop in such circumstances. (As with all existing provisions this includes a right of appeal to President of Tribunals where suspension occurs).

  • Provision for the disqualification from office as a churchwarden or member of a parochial church council (‘PCC’) anyone whose name appears on a statutory barred list (under the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act).
  • Provision for the bishop to suspend a churchwarden or PCC member on safeguarding grounds in circumstances similar to suspending clergy (with a similar right of appeal).
  • For the first time a statutory obligation on office holders in the Church to have regard to safeguarding advice issued by the House of Bishops (it has previously been expected of clergy but it is now formalised into a statutory provision).
  • Removal of current one year limitation period that applies generally to complaints of clergy misconduct: in relation to complaints of clergy sexual misconduct towards children and vulnerable adults there will be no time limit.
  • Canonical duty on diocesan bishop to have a Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (‘DSA’) to carry out certain functions. Dioceses have in fact had DSAs for a number of years but this formalizes the requirement to ensure proper provision is in place.
  • A new power given to archbishops and bishops to direct bishops and clergy to undergo a risk assessment (with it the right to request that the President of Tribunals reviews the direction). Subject to this review, it would be misconduct to refuse to undergo the assessment.
  • Similar powers for the bishop in relation to readers and layworkers.

The aim is to secure Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent by the end of the year.

Notes

The Bishop of Durham’s speech on Final approval for the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure is available here.

and the Bishop of Durham’s speech on the Final approval for the Draft amending Canon No. 34 is available here.

The Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure

Draft amending Canon No. 34

The latest practice guidance, approved by the House of Bishops, May 2015

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Friday, 10 July 2015

General Synod - Friday's business

Order Paper 1 contains the day’s business.

Synod papers can be downloaded from here.

There is a live video stream here (when Synod is in session).

The Most Revd Dr Antje Jackelén (the Archbishop of Uppsala) (Church of Sweden) gave this address to Synod: Tal till Engelska kyrkans kyrkomöte i York 10 juli 2015 (på engelska)

Official summary of the day’s business General Synod: Friday PM

Sound recordings
item 2 [Archbishop of Uppsala’s address]
item 3 [Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address]
items 4-6 [remainder of afternoon session]
questions

Press report

John Bingham The Telegraph Church’s £360,000 budget for retreats to talk about sex

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General Synod Questions and Answers

The booklet containing the Questions and Answers to be dealt with in this evening’s session is now available on line.

You will need this file open if you are listening to the proceedings as the answers, never mind the questions, will not be read out loud.

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

General Synod to discuss Senior Leadership in the Church

There is a Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Canon Simon Killwick which will be debated on Saturday afternoon. The motion is:

‘That this Synod do take note of the report of the Faith and Order Commission Senior Leadership: a resource for reflection.’

Two synod papers are available:

Fr. Killwick’s paper contains a very useful summary of the FAOC report as well as a history of the debate which caused it to be commissioned, and he also reports that:

…when it appeared, the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops decided that it should not be presented to Synod, according [to] the Bishop of Coventry (it was thrown ‘somewhere away beyond the boundary’). I am grateful to all those who signed my Private Member’s Motion, meaning that it has not taken too long [to] find this ‘rather interesting cricket ball’ again…

There are also several Questions which will be asked and answered on Friday on topics relating to the Senior Leadership activities emanating from the Green report, and we will publish this information as soon as it has been placed on the official CofE website (synod members all have electronic copies already).

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope

I wrote here about the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change, and the Pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now written an analysis of the approaches to climate change taken by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church: Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope.

General Synod will be holding two debates on some of these issues on the last day of next month’s group of sessions (Monday 13 July). The two motions are copied below the fold. The day will start with private group work on the environment. These are the papers issued to members:

Group Work Bible Study Material on Environment
GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [item 25]
GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [item 26]
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
[These last diocesan synod motions are not being debated, but the papers are provided as background information.]

COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE: THE PARIS SUMMIT AND THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH (GS 2003)
The Bishop of Salisbury (Chair of the Environment Working Group) to move:
25 ‘That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 20C [sic - should be 2°C], as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:
(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;
(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options;
(c) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;
(d) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-service training to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and
(e) encourage parishes and dioceses to encourage prayer and fasting for climate justice on the first day of each month.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND INVESTMENT POLICY (GS 2004)
The Bishop of Manchester to move:
26 ‘That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:
(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);
(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;
(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change; and
(d) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.’

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Friday, 19 June 2015

July General Synod - online papers

Updated to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-13 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of second circulation papers
zip file of all papers
[Note: The zip files do not contain the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report and the Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report.]

GS 1928A and GS 1928C - Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England [Sunday]

GS 1952B - Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Saturday]
GS 1953B - Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Saturday]
GS 1952-3Z - Report by the Steering Committee [Saturday]
GS 1953C - Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1958B - Christian Initiation: Additional Text for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language [Sunday]
GS 1958X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964D - Amending Canon No.35 [Friday]

GS 1969A - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]

GS 1986A - The Church: Towards a Common Vision [Saturday]
[The Church: Towards a Common Vision is online here.]

GS 1987 - Agenda

GS 1988 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1989 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1990 - Appointment of the Secretary General [Friday]

GS 1991 - Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Friday]

GS 1992 - Administration of Holy Communion Regulations [Friday]
GS 1992X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1993 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1993X - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1994 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1994X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1995 - Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1995X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1996 - Draft Ecclesiastical Property Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1996X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1997 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1997X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1998 - Single Transferable Vote (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1998X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1999A and GS 1999B - Private Members’ Motion: Senior Leadership [Saturday]

GS 2000 - Consolidated Texts of the Standing Order [Friday]

GS 2001 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2002 - The Archbishops’ Council Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2016 [Monday]

GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [Monday]

GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [Monday]

Other papers

Church Commissioners Annual Report and Accounts 2014 [Saturday]

GS Misc 1104 - Liturgical Commission End of Quinquennium Report
GS Misc 1105 - Evangelism Task Group Update
GS Misc 1106 - Report of the Clergy Discipline Commission
GS Misc 1107 - EIAG Annual Report
GS Misc 1108 - CMEAC presention
GS Misc 1109 - National Society: Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships [item 24]
GS Misc 1110 - Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investing Bodies [item 6]
GS Misc 1111 - Summary of Decisions Done (2010 - 2015)
GS Misc 1112 - Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1115 - Update on Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1116 - Reform and Renewal update
GS Misc 1117 - Changing the Culture report from the BC
GS Misc 1118 - Joint Covenant and Monitoring Group
GS Misc 1119 - Membership of Boards, Councils and Committees
GS Misc 1120 - Summary of Decisions from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1121 - Appointment of the Synod Chaplain

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General Synod agenda published

Updated

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s four day meeting of the 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.

Agenda for July 2015 group of sessions of the General Synod
19 June 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five [sic] day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 10th July until 6.00 pm on Monday 13th July. This will be the final meeting of the current Synod before the elections for the new General Synod which will take place over the summer and early autumn.

The Agenda for the July meeting is published today. As this Synodical term draws to a close, there will be a substantial amount of legislative business which will need to be concluded before the current Synod is dissolved. There will be a series of items of Environmental Business focusing on the forthcoming Paris Summit and the investment policies of the Church Commissioners and other church investment bodies. There will also be a number of opportunities, both in formal business and fringe meetings for Synod members to engage further with the reform and renewal programme, which was debated at length during the Synod in July and is currently the subject of widespread consultation around the church.

On the afternoon of Friday 10 July, there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. There will also be a presentation followed by a Question and Answer session from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies.

On Saturday 11 July there will be a sequence of legislative business, including the Final Approval of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which will strengthen the Church’s legal framework in relation to safeguarding and make its disciplinary processes more effective where safeguarding issues arise. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

In addition to the items of legislative business already mentioned, the Synod will be considering new Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, an order giving PCCs greater freedom to dispose of property without the need for diocesan consent an amendment to the Clergy Terms of Service Regulations arising out of one of the recommendations of the Simplification Task Group, new regulations to allow the administration of Holy Communion by children.

On the Saturday afternoon, the Synod will be debating a Private Member’s Motion on Senior Leadership arising out of the recent Faith and Order Commission publication on this topic. The Synod will also be responding formally to a report by the World Council of Churches entitled The Church: Towards a Common Vision.

On Sunday 12 July the Synod will be debating the proposed Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language. There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield (now part of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) on the Nature and Structure of the Church of England. This will be followed by a presentation from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) on progress made over the last four years in encouraging MEA participation in the work and ministry of the Church.

The final day of Synod in this Synodical period will be devoted to two motions on environmental issues. The first looks ahead to the Paris Summit and the Church’s response to it. The second concerns the new investment policy unveiled by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Synod will conclude this current term with a service of Holy Communion. The new Synod will reconvene for its inaugural meeting after the elections on 24 November.

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

Update

Madeleine Davies of Church Times was at today’s press briefing: Environment is top of General Synod agenda in York.

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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

CofE Announces new Secretary General

The Archbishops’ Council has announced that William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England

CofE Announces new Secretary General
10 June 2015

The Archbishops’ Council are delighted to announce William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England. He will succeed William Fittall who is retiring at the end of November after thirteen years in this post.

William Nye was selected unanimously by a panel comprising both Archbishops, seven other members of the Council (including two officers of the General Synod) and the Chair of the Appointments Committee. The recommendation of the panel was unanimously endorsed by a meeting of the full Council in May 2015.

William Nye brings 25 years of experience from the Civil Service and Whitehall. His roles and departments have included National Security at the Cabinet Office, Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defence at HM Treasury and Arts at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

For the last four years he has worked as the Principal Private Secretary to Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall where he has led on matters of significant public sensitivity and organisational effectiveness.

Mr. Nye, 49, is a long serving and active member of the Church of England where he has served as a PCC member for nearly 20 years and a Churchwarden for around 10 years. He has also served as a Deanery Synod representative.

The selection process for the new Secretary General was both extensive and thorough. A wide selection of candidates from inside and outside the Church was sought and a field of around 30 candidates was attracted. The Council was supported in its search by a leading recruitment agency.

The Shortlist comprised 5 applicants drawn from public, private and third sectors. There were many strong applications, in the end the panel selected the candidate who was best able to fulfil the broad scope of the role and would be best able to serve in the priority areas.

In his interviews William Nye demonstrated great commitment to the vision of a Church which will support future generations. He brought great insight and demonstrated great sensitivity to the needs of the dioceses. He impressed the panel with his understanding of the challenges that the church faces and the depth of thinking as to how those challenges can be met and opportunities exploited. William pointed out that after 25 years of public service he wishes now to help the Church to thrive on behalf of the whole of our country.

William Nye is due to start work at Church House at the beginning of November in preparation for taking up his new responsibilities on 1 December. Under Standing Order 123 of the Synod’s Standing Orders, the person appointed by the Archbishops’ Council as its Secretary General is also, subject to the approval of the Synod, Secretary General of the Synod. In accordance with the Standing Order that approval will be deemed to be given unless, by midnight on Wednesday 24 June 40 or more members have given notice to the Clerk of the Synod in accordance with Standing Order 12 that they wish the appointment to be debated by the Synod.

William Nye - Biographical details

Mr Nye was born in 1966 and educated at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham. He has a BA in Economics from Cambridge University and an MA in Economics from Yale University, in the United States.

He joined the Civil Service after university, starting in the Treasury. His subsequent senior appointments include:

1998-2000: Head of Arts policy at the Department of Culture Media and Sport
2001-2002: Head of Defence, Diplomacy and Intelligence at the Treasury
2002-2005: Director of Performance and Finance at the Home Office
2005-2007: Director of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence at the Home Office
2007-2008: Director, Law, Security and International at the Home Office
2008-2011: Director in the National Security Secretariat at the Cabinet Office
2011-2015: Principal Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

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Friday, 22 May 2015

July 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable

The outline timetable for the July 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be available on Friday 19 June.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2015
Timetable

Friday 10 July

[1.15 pm – 2.30 pm Convocation meetings to discuss the Revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy]

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Opening worship
Formal business
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests by the Archbishop of Uppsala
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York

Business Committee Report

4.25 pm Approval of appointments

Amendments to the Standing Orders regarding General Synod Question time

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 35
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Preliminary consideration

Presentation followed by Q&A from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 11 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm

Legislative Business
Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and Amending Canon No. 34 – final Drafting/Final Approval
Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions (deemed)
Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Ecclesiastical Property (Exceptions from Requirement for Consent to dealings) Order
Ecclesiastical Judges etc (Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order (deemed)
STV (Amendment) Regulations

Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm

Farewell

Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership

Legislative Business
[Business not reached or completed in the morning]
[Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders if not reached in the morning]

Debate on a Motion on a Report by the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

8.30 pm – 9.45 pm
EITHER
Meetings of the Convocations for the purposes of the Article 7 reference relating to the Administration of Holy Communion Regulations and/or the Baptism Texts [if required]
OR
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Archbishops’ Council Annual Report

Sunday 12 July

2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
Liturgical Business
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – Final Approval

Legislative Business – Any remaining legislative business followed by:
Standing Orders: Adoption of Consolidated Text
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Final Approval (following Article 7 referral to HoB and the Convocations / House of Laity if required)

Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England: National Debate

Presentation on follow-up to GS 1844 – Unfinished Business by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)

Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Financial Business
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2016

Presentation on National Society Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships

Monday 13 July

9.30 am – 11.00 am
Worship (in small groups)

Group Work and Bible Study on the subject of the Environment

11.30 – 1.00 pm
Debate on a Motion on the Paris Summit from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

2.30 pm – 5.45 pm
Debate on a Motion on Climate Change and Investment Policy from the National Investing Bodies

Farewells

BREAK

4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

General Synod miscellaneous

The Report of Proceedings of the February 2015 meeting of General Synod is now available online. This comprises a verbatim transcript of the complete proceedings. It also includes the questions (and their answers) that were for written answer and those which were not reached in the time available.

General Synod will be dissolved after the July 2015 group of sessions, and elections for a new Synod held between mid-July and mid-October. The Church of England website has a series of pages about these elections.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

General Synod Electronic Voting Results - February 2015

The detailed results of the four electronic votes at last month’s meeting of General Synod are now available for download. The files include the text of the motion being voted on.

Tuesday 10 February

Item 504 - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure

At present a diocese must be named after the see city. This draft measure would have allowed a diocese to be named after a geographical area or the see city, and in the former case the diocesan bishop’s title could also be the area. This vote on clause 1 of the measure was in effect a vote on the whole measure, and a no vote was a vote against the measure.

Item 501 - Draft Amending Canon No. 35

Wednesday 11 February

Item 13 - Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-generational Equity

Thursday 12 February

Item 15 - Canon B 38

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Friday, 20 February 2015

General Synod reports

Nicholas Hills, the Administrative Secretary in the Central Secretariat at Church House Westminster, has sent a summary of last week’s General Synod business to diocesan secretaries and archdeacons. The Diocese of Liverpool has published a slightly abbreviated version on its website. The original letter is also available.

Although as usual the detailed reports in the Church Times are only available to subscribers, this article by Madeleine Davies is free to all: Not on the agenda for Synod, Green remains hot topic.

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A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing

General Synod members have been sent A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing, written by William Fittall, the Secretary General. The briefing outlines the programme, details what Synod decided last week, and looks ahead to what happens next.

The briefing does not appear to be available on the Church of England website, but David Thomson, the Bishop of Huntingdon, has published it on his website.

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Synod Question on Human sexuality and clergy preferment

Another question from General Synod on Tuesday with the question and answer from the booklet, and my transcription from the audio of the supplementary question and answer.

The Revd Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:
Q15 The House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage (15 February 2014) states:

“(25) The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.”

Given the high value the Church places on “theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity”, is the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission able to assure Synod that its policy and practice is, and will continue to be, that clergy who “fashion their lives consistently with [the Church’s] teaching” will not be barred from preferment on the grounds that they have argued for “a change in [the Church‟s] teaching on marriage and human sexuality”?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A Yes. When candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues is, however, among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment.

Supplementary question

Jo Spreadbury: I just wanted to clarify what current policy and practice is and what it might continue to be if I may, to ask, having directed the CNC not to vote for one of the candidates in the Exeter and the Edmundsbury appointment processes because of the effect on the Anglican Communion, will Your Grace continue to use what amounts to an unconstitutional veto in future appointments?

Archbishop of Canterbury: I really can’t comment on what goes on in CNCs. We are bound by a promise of confidentiality which is strictly held in most cases. It is also the case that the Crown Appointments Secretary and the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary keep a close eye on and follow up anything that looks like a breach of normal practice.

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Synod question on Task Groups and their membership

This is one of the questions answered at General Synod on Tuesday. As an experiment at this group of sessions the questions and original answers were printed in a booklet and not read out, and the person answering merely referred to the printed answer. Any supplementaries were then taken orally, and I have transcribed these from the audio.

Mrs Anne Martin (Guildford) to ask the Secretary General:
Q46 Could the Secretary General please supply General Synod members with a list of all the Task Groups in existence (including those presenting reports in this Synod, those not presenting reports and the Spending Plans Task Group), along with their current membership?

Mr William Fittall to reply
A The reports of five Task Groups have been circulated to the Synod in connection with the February Group of Sessions, namely, Resourcing the Future (GS 1978), Resourcing Ministerial Education (GS 1979), Simplification (GS 1980), Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders (attached to GS 1982) and Optimising the Role of the NCIs (GS Misc 1094). The membership of the groups is included in each report.

It is difficult to produce a comprehensive list of other task groups because there is no standard definition of the term and groups can be established to undertake focused work in a wide variety of circumstances by any number of national bodies. I have, however, placed on the notice board the membership of the Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism, the Task Group on responsible Savings and Credit, the Spending Plans Task Group, the Turning up the Volume Group, the Church Buildings Review Group, the Environment Working Group and the Deployment Task Group.

Supplementary questions

Anne Martin: Thank your for the reply and the action taken. Can I also ask, will the terms of reference for each task group be made available to General Synod members?

William Fittall: We can certainly seek to do so. I think that the point, just to draw out, is that even at national level the Church of England is quite a complex institution and some people may have a fantasy that there is a sort of central air traffic control that ensures that all these bodies are set up in an orderly fashion with terms of reference and a single process for appointing members. The reality is that a lot of commissions, councils, boards and so on do set up groups to undertake particular tasks. So I can certainly try and assemble those for you, but it doesn’t all sit neatly on a database.

Vasantha Gnanadoss: Given that black and asian people are very poorly represented in the membership of the task groups will you encourage the people responsible for making appointments to do better in future?

William Fittall: I think in an earlier question there was a reference to guidance that the Appointments Committee has produced on making appointments, and that does very much make the point that’s just been expressed in relation to diversity, and that guidance does apply to all appointments, not just those for which the Appointments Committee itself is responsible. So that is a long way of saying yes.

This last answer refers to an earlier question, which is given below the fold.

The Revd Canon Jane Charman (Salisbury) to ask the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:
Q25 Given that around 80% of the membership of the Task Groups is male, including all the Chairs:

  • Was the Appointments Committee consulted about their membership?
  • Were the usual good practice guidelines applied in making appointments to them?
  • can the Council explain why the process has resulted in such a poor gender balance?
  • What steps will the Council take to avoid such an outcome in the future?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A I agree that an 80/20 gender balance in most contexts isn’t good enough. In the case of the task groups it did not help that, despite progress in recent years, women remain under-represented not only among archdeacons, other senior clergy and of course bishops but also among others who have important contributions to make to exercises of this kind-such as diocesan chairs of finance and diocesan secretaries. The responsibility for these appointments rested with the Archbishops, not the Appointments Committee. So, it is for us to do better in future and for many others to help us by getting more women into the roles from which these sorts of groups tend to be drawn.

Supplementary questions

Jane Charman: For clarification the guidelines I am referring to are in GS Misc 963 and covered by Standing Order 116. Since they so helpfully pilot us through all those issues such as diversity, balance, and mix of skills and experience which so often catch the best of us unawares will the Archbishop now direct that in future they should always be used by everyone in making appointments to groups which serve the national church?

Archbishop of Canterbury: I think I will need to take advice on that question; I’m not even sure that I am allowed to direct such a thing and I would need to know that. I do feel looking at the mix on the task groups that I agree with the stress of the question and I apologise for the failure.

Anne Foreman: Since we are beginning to explore and experience new ways of being Synod could some creative thinking go into finding women of wisdom and experience within the church, but not necessarily in the particular roles that are mentioned in the answer? They do exist.

Archbishop of Canterbury: We don’t have to look far, I entirely agree with you and the answer is yes.

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

General Synod - Thursday sessions

Updated Sunday

order paper for the day

official summary of business
Thursday morning
Thursday afternoon

Speech on draft safeguarding legislation by Geoffrey Tattersall

Speech on the report on mission and growth in the rural church by the Bishop of Knaresborough

Press reports

BBC Funeral law change voted through by Church of England

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Suicides can receive Anglican funerals, says General Synod
No sin, no devil: Church of England debates its baptismal liturgy

update

audio of Thursday’s business

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

General Synod - Wednesday session

Updated Thursday

General Synod met privately in groups this morning.

The afternoon session was entirely devoted to a series of four debates on discipleship and issues arising from the Task Group reports; the official summary is here: General Synod Feb 15: Wednesday afternoon.

Update

order paper for Wednesday

audio of Wednesday’s business

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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

General Synod - Tuesday session

Updated Wednesday and Thursday

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod Feb 15: Tuesday afternoon

Today’s Questions and Answers (but not the supplementaries) are online.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Personal chauffeurs and episcopal mansions – life for Church of England’s good shepherds
Church of England: Rural churches could disappear within ten years

Press Association (in The Guardian) Church of England questioned over ‘lavish’ spending on bishops’ homes

General synod cartoon by Dave Walker

Update

Carey Lodge Christian Today Archbishop Justin Welby: Evangelism is vital to the Church

Jack Sommers Huffington Post Church Of England Warned It Could Disappear From Parts Of Britain Within A Decade

audio of Tuesday’s business

order paper for Tuesday

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Christians in Iraq

Church House press release

Archbishop Warda addresses Synod about the persecution of Christians in Iraq
10 February 2015

Christianity in Iraq is going through one of the worst and hardest stages of its long history, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil, Iraq, has told the General Synod.

In an address at Church House, Westminster, Archbishop Bashar Warda said Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee their villages during the past year are in “desperate” need of financial and material support.

The Archbishop’s speech is available here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address

Archbishop Justin Welby gave the presidential address to the General Synod this afternoon.

Read the full text of the address here.

In his presidential address to Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about evangelism and witness, one of the three priority areas of his ministry.

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Monday, 9 February 2015

Financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Bishop of Sheffield has issued this clarification of the financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education.

General Synod begins tomorrow and we are just a day or so away from the initial debate on Resourcing Ministerial Education.

My attention has been drawn to a couple of posts and circulars about RME which attempt to argue that the proposals, if agreed, signal “an end to residential training”.

This is very wide of the mark indeed. I look forward to answering the points raised fully in the Synod debate but it may help Synod members and others to have a few points of clarification in advance.

The RME Report is very clear that we are looking to see a very significant increase in the numbers of ordinands in training and that we see the importance of all current forms of training pathways (including residential training) as part of the mixed economy.

The Report is also very clear that this uplift in the numbers in training cannot be achieved without a significant increase in the total resource allocated (we have worked with a figure of a 50% increase in funding or £10 million per annum to correspond with the potential 50% increase in ordinands).

The overall background to the Report is therefore about growth and confidence in the sector not about erosion. Nor is the RME report about doing more with less resource but about increasing resource commensurate with the number of ordinands.

The anxiety which leads to some predicting (prematurely) the demise of residential training rests on some of the detailed proposals, particularly Proposals 6 and 7.

The Report signals clearly that all of these proposals will be subject to further detailed work and consultation with dioceses and TEI’s in the coming months. General Synod is not being asked to approve these proposals but to approve the general vision and direction of the Report.

Proposal 6 assigns a standard grant to each ordinand and proposes giving the diocese a larger role in decisions about training pathways. At present, the decision about pathways is entirely separate from the consequences in terms of costs. Under the RME proposals the diocese’s decision will be made within a framework in which Bishop’s Guidelines, the options available in training institutions and the candidate’s own vocation and preferences will all have a part. A diocese will be able to invest money not spent on one candidate’s training on another’s training and therefore able to fund candidates on both residential and non-residential pathways (as at present) providing we set the standard grant at the right level. Dioceses will have training budgets which have to be invested in the training of candidates – in others words there will be mitigating factors which will prevent this simply becoming a cost-cutting exercise.

Proposal 7 proposes discontinuing the pooling of maintenance grants for candidates families in training. Please note that we are not proposing discontinuing maintenance grants for families – simply the pooling of these costs (which currently amount to £5 million per annum or 25% of the total pooled IME budget of £20 million). This is a very large investment overall and again, one of the purposes of the proposal is to connect a decision about investment in a candidate’s support with the consequences of that decision. Dioceses will continue to have the discretion to invest the amount they currently invest in candidate support in the support of married students and their families. However dioceses may want to explore with students other means of support for candidates where this is a priority.

There is much still to be determined about how the funding will flow. This will be the subject of further consultation in the coming weeks.

However, we first need to establish through the Synod debates this week whether the General Synod will support the overall vision and acknowledge that additional funding will be needed to make it possible. Only when these prior questions have been answered will it be possible to explore in detail how the arrangements in Proposals 1-12 would work and the effect on institutions.

My own hope would be that as a result of the RME proposals we would see the number of ordinands rise overall and the number of candidates in residential training remain at at least its present level in terms of numbers. I therefore believe that residential training has a secure and long term future as a key part of the mixed economy of training the Church of England offers

+Steven Sheffield

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Senior Church Leadership: A resource for reflection

Church House press release

The Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission has published a contribution to reflection on leadership in the life of the church. Arising out of a request from the General Synod in 2009, it addresses three major questions:

  • Is it right to make ‘leadership’ a central idea in the life of the church?
  • If so, what are the underlying theological principles that inform the exercise of leadership within the church?
  • How can these principles best inform the exercise of senior leadership in the Church of England today?

Based on work undertaken by the Commission over a five-year period, the report complements the series of documents recently published to support the Archbishops’ programme for reform and renewal of the Church of England.

In his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can “inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them.”

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: “What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church’s understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ.”

The report is available at:
https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2145175/senior%20church
%20leadership%20faoc.pdf

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dioceses Commission

One of the papers sent to General Synod members last week was the Dioceses Commission Annual Report for 2014 (GS Misc 1095). It is for information only, so will not be debated next month.

Two sections of the report might be of particular interest to readers.

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

7. 2014 saw the historic creation of the new Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales). The appointed day for the dissolution of the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and the creation of the new diocese was Easter Day (20 April). The new diocese was formally inaugurated in a special service in York Minster on the Feast of Pentecost (8 June) at which Bishop Nick Baines’ Election as the Bishop of Leeds was confirmed. The Archbishop of York presided and preached and a special congratulatory message from Her Majesty the Queen was read out.

8. Most of the work of implementing the provisions of the Commission’s Reorganisation Scheme fell on those in the diocese, and the Commission wishes to pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. This work is, however, on-going and much inevitably remains to be done. The Commission itself had specific responsibilities concerning the designation of interim diocesan structures (such as the DBF of the new diocese) and determining compensation for some office holders who would lose their posts under the terms of the Scheme, and appointed sub-committees to handle these tasks.

9. The Commission was very conscious that its Scheme was the first of its kind and, with this in mind, it commissioned one of its number, Professor Hilary Russell, to conduct an evaluation of the process. She conducted about 50 interviews with a range of interested parties in the course of the summer and her Report was published in December – see here.

10. While it needed to be recognised that the Scheme itself was a considerable achievement - being at the maximal end of anything envisaged under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 – the Report made a number of key recommendations for the future, including the following:

  • The need for clearer articulation of the case for change; and better communication particularly to diocesan staff directly affected by the Scheme;
  • The appointment of an adequately resourced facilitator early in the process, supported by a programme management board with representation from the Archbishop’s office, the dioceses, Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council;
  • Better HR and pastoral support for individual post holders directly affected by the Scheme.

Professor Russell’s report is well worth reading in full. It should not be allowed to gather dust in Church House.

Provincial boundaries

22. The Dioceses Commission is responsible for keeping both the provincial and the diocesan structure of the Church of England under review. Following the inauguration of the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales this year, the imbalance of the Provinces is now even more apparent with 12 dioceses in the Province of York and 30 in the Province of Canterbury.

23. The Commission has been encouraged by both Archbishops to review the boundary between the two provinces so as to create a more balanced archiepiscopal workload. The Commission intends to canvas the views of the House of Bishops at a future meeting.

Gavin Drake has these comments and suggestions on where the boundaries should be: Church of England considers moving the north-south divide.

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Monday, 19 January 2015

General Synod Questions - new arrangements

Questions at General Synod are generally allocated about an hour and a half at the end of the first day’s business. Questions must be submitted in advance, and on arrival at Synod members are given a booklet of all the questions. Each questioner also receives the answer to his/her question. Most questions are for oral answer. In the chamber these questions are not read out, but the person answering reads a pre-prepared answer, and members then have the opportunity to ask one or two supplementaries. As a general rule there is not enough time to answer all the questions.

A few copies of all the prepared answers are available to members after the questions session, and they are all published in due course in the official report of proceedings.

For next month’s meeting, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format, described in this extract from their report (GS 1974).

Questions

21. Based on feedback received from members, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format for Questions at this Group of Sessions. During the trial period Synod members will receive copies of all the answers to questions, in a booklet which will be emailed to them two working days prior to the start of the group of sessions. Paper copies of the booklet will be available at the Information Desk for collection on arrival by those Synod members who do not have access to email.

22. The oral delivery of pre-prepared official answers will be dispensed with. Instead of this, the person answering the question will begin simply by referring to the written answer published in the booklet. The intention is to focus the main business of Questions on the asking and answering of supplementary questions. Priority will be given to the original questioner in the usual way. It is hoped that this new format will allow greater spontaneity and enable Questions to flow more smoothly.

23. The Business Committee would welcome feedback on the trial format for Questions so that they can consider whether to continue with it in the future and promote Standing Order changes to facilitate it. All comments should be sent to the Chair, via the Clerk whose address is available at the end of this Report.

In general only two supplementaries per question are allowed. Since the usual amount of time has been allowed for questions next month it is likely that this new procedure will allow more questions to be dealt with during the question session. Perhaps for some questions the chair will feel able to use his/her discretion and allow more supplementaries.

A list of who may be asked questions is below the fold.

Questions may be asked of:
(i) the Chairman of each of the three Houses of the Synod;
(ii) the Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council;
(iii) the Secretary General;
(iv) the Clerk to the Synod;
(v) the Chairman of any body answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council as determined in accordance with the provisions of SO 119(a);
(vi) subject to (viii) below, the Chairman of any Church of England body on which the Synod is represented;
(vii) in matters concerning the Church Commissioners, one of the three Church Estates Commissioners;
(viii) in matters concerning the Royal School of Church Music, the representative of the Synod on its Governing Council;
(ix) the Chairman of any Commission of the Synod established under SO 121.

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Some more comment on the Green report

The “Green report” was reissued at the end of last week as an attachment to GS 1982 which is a covering note by the Bishop of Ely. See Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders.

Senior Ordained Leadership - a new approach to development of those with
potential for posts with wider responsibility and to the leadership development of
bishops and deans

INTRODUCTION

1. The report “Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for
Bishops and Deans” was commissioned by the Archbishops in January 2014. Though
theologically rooted, it was presented, as requested, as a business case to the Spending Plans Task Group who agreed to commit funding for the project through to the end of 2016. This decision was reported to the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners in September 2014. The proposals were also discussed with the College of Bishops, the Deans Conference and a meeting of Directors of Ministry in autumn 2014. For ease of reference it is set out at attachment 1.

2. This paper is prepared to support the presentation at General Synod on the 10th February 2015 and the subsequent hearing the following day. The Development and Appointments Group (a sub-committee of the House of Bishops) wishes to take the opportunity the Synod discussions will give to i) set the proposals in their wider context ii) connect the theological underpinning of this work with the organisational language of the proposals iii) create space to explore the various issues and concerns that have arisen and iv) provide an update on the detailed design…

The remainder of GS 1982 is well worth a read.

Other articles that appeared before this:

Janet Henderson Leadership Means Partnership

It’s been an interesting time to reflect on leadership. While I’m currently in the middle of an MA in Hospice Leadership, the Church of England has produced The Green Report (nothing to do with ecology!) about senior leadership in the church. Given the coherence and creativity of approach toward leadership training I experience among my hospice peers why, I ask myself, has the Green Report met with such an outcry and so much criticism?

Andrew Lightbown What is leadership? A short post Green reflection.

David Keen Green Shoots? Archbishops introduce CofE nose to the smell of coffee

Usefulinparts 13 key points from the @c_of_e ‘s Green Report (with page no. refs) on #Talent Management -

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Friday, 16 January 2015

General Synod agenda - press reports

Following today’s publication of the agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod these articles have appeared.

John Bingham The Telegraph Vicars face end to job ‘for life’ culture as Church of England fights extinction

Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod to tackle raft of reports in small groups

Church Times Group wants to cut C of E’s red legislative tape

Paul Handley Church Times Don’t forget history when you fund the future, Commissioners warn
Plans unveiled day after day for C of E’s new reformation

Gavin Drake Church Times Church of England proposes halving of Synod days
[This refers to GS Misc 1094 Optimising the Roles of the NCIs which was issued to Synod members today and states “It requires no decisions by Synod at this stage but is being circulated for information.”]

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Radical shake up of CofE urged to stop ‘terrifying’ decline

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General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.

General Synod Group of Sessions February 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet at Church House, Westminster, SW1 from 1pm on Tuesday 10 February 2015 until 5 pm on Thursday 12 February 2015.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The main focus of the Synod’s work will be engagement with the wide-ranging programme of reform and renewal of the Church emerging from the various Task Group Reports and the materials on Discipleship. These discussions will take up most of Wednesday 11 February and will involve group work and meetings in larger groups as well as plenary sessions on a series of motions relating to the Tak Groups.

Tuesday 10th February will feature an address by Archbishop Bashar M Warda, CSSR, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil (Eastern rite Catholic) in northern Iraq (Kurdistan). Archbishop Warda will speak further on the issues raised at the panel debate in November on violence against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address later that afternoon. This will be followed by a Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives to the House of Bishops, including the Rt Revd Libby Lane, the new Suffragan Bishop of Stockport.

The Synod’s engagement with the programme for Reform and Renewal and the Task Group reports will begin on the afternoon of Tuesday 10th February with a presentation by the Chairs of the Task Groups on the reports that will be discussed on Wednesday.

On the morning of Wednesday 11 February, Synod members will start with worship in small groups before moving into group work on the Discipleship report to prepare for the discussion of the Task Group reports. Later the same morning, Synod members will move into larger groups which will be meeting in parallel to discuss the programme emerging from the Task Groups. These will take the form of four ‘ACT’ groups (Accountability, Consultation and Transparency) which will cover Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Resourcing the Future and Inter-Generational Equity and Simplification.

The Synod will move to a sequence of debates on the Discipleship paper and each of the Task Group reports on the afternoon of Wednesday 11 February. The sequence will begin with a debate on a motion on Discipleship moved by the Bishop of Sheffield. The Synod will then move into a debate on a motion on ‘Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education’ introduced by Canon John Spence. The Bishop of Willesden will introduce a debate on the proposals in the Simplification Group’s report. Finally, the First Church Estates commissioner will introduce a motion on Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity. This will conclude the sequence of debates on the Task Groups.

The final day of Synod, Thursday 12 February, will return to more usual business. In the morning there will be a debate on the Revision Stage of the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure. Synod will also be debating a Private Members’ Motion from the Revd Dr Michael Parsons on Canon B38 which calls for the introduction of legislation to amend the Canon to allow those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. Synod will be debating the Revision Committee stage of the draft Alternative Baptism Texts which are being introduced by the Liturgical Commission as an optional alternative to current baptism services in use in the Church at present.

Finally, Synod will be debating a report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on the subject of ‘Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices’.

There are two items of contingency business at this Group of Sessions. The first is a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield on ‘The Nature and Structure of the Church of England – National Debate’. The second item is a debate on a report fro the World Council of Churches entitled ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’. This will be introduced by the Chair of the Council of Christian Unity.

Synod will conclude at 5pm on Thursday 12th February.

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February General Synod - online papers

Updated 23 January to add second circulation papers

Papers in the first and second circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-12 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available. [now done]

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 1902D - Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]

GS 1928A & GS 1928C - Nature and Structure of the Church of England [contingency business]

GS 1935A - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1952A - Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Thursday]
GS 1953A - Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Thursday]
GS 1952-3Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1958A - Alternative Baptism Texts [Thursday]
GS 1958Y - Report of the Revision Committee

GS 1964B - Draft Amending Canon No.35 [Tuesday]
GS 1964C - Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence

GS 1972A & GS 1972B - Private Members’ Motions on Canon B 38 [Thursday]

GS 1973 - Agenda

GS 1974 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1975 - General Synod Elections 2015: seat allocations [Tuesday]

GS 1976 - A programme for reform and renewal. A note from the Archbishops [Tuesday]

GS 1977 - Discipleship [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1978 - Resourcing the Future Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1979 - Resourcing Ministerial Education Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1980 - Simplification Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1981 - Church Commissioners’ and Inter-Generational Equity [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1982 - Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders [Tuesday]

GS 1983 - Petition to change the names of the Suffragan Sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract [Thursday]

GS 1984 - 50th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Thursday]

GS 1985 - Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices: report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council [Thursday]

GS 1986 - The Church: Towards a Common Vision: Report from the World Council of Churches [contingency business]

Other papers

Prayer card

GS Misc 1092 - Released for Mission: Growing the Rural Church
GS Misc 1093 - Update on Electronic Voting
GS Misc 1094 - Optimising the role of the NCIs
GS Misc 1095 - Dioceses Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1096 - Clergy Stipend Report
GS Misc 1097 - Archbishop’s Council - Review of Consitutions
GS Misc 1098 - The Church of England’s National Work on Education
GS Misc 1099 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council Activities
GS Misc 1100 - Report on Immersion Experience in India [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1101 - The Church of England’s National Ecumenical Relations
GS Misc 1102 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

Notice Paper 1 [contains proposed amendments to standing orders]

Group work - Developing Discipleship

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Church of England Task Groups: pre-pre-Synod papers

Updated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

The Church of England Press Office today announced a series of papers, to be published each day this week, about the various Task Group reports. The first starts:

The first batch of papers for the February 2015 meeting of the General Synod will be available to download from the Church of England website on Friday 16th January.

Due to the range and volume of material being issued in relation to the various Task Group reports there will be a daily release of key documents this week ahead of the general distribution of papers.

The first paper below is from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York giving an overview of the programme for reform and renewal represented by the work of the task groups and the materials on Discipleship.

This first paper is “In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal.

Paper 2 (Tuesday) is Developing Discipleship.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 3 (Wednesday) is Report of the Simplification Task Group.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Willesden.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 4 (Thursday) is Resourcing Ministerial Education in the Church of England.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 5 (Friday) is Resourcing the Future of the Church of England
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with John Spence.

Paper 6 (Friday) is Church Commissioners and the work of the Task Groups.
There is a blog and a video interview with Andreas Whittam Smith.

There is an online forum to discuss the above two papers.

I will add later papers to this page as they are published. All papers have now been published.
In addition I will publish my usual list of synod papers when they are published on Friday.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England cannot carry on as it is unless decline ‘urgently’ reversed – Welby and Sentamu
Madeleine Davies Church Times Archbishops unveil ‘urgent’ reform programme for CofE

Gavin Drake Church Times Discipleship is important part of C of E reform programme

Church Times Task group aims to slim down church legislation

Gavin Drake Church Times_ Report proposes big drive to attract new priests

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

February 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable

The outline timetable for the February 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2015 GROUP OF SESSIONS
Timetable

Tuesday 10 February

1.00 pm – 7.15 pm

1.00 pm Worship
Formal Business
Short address by Ecumenical Guest
Report by the Business Committee

Report by the Business Committee on the Allocation of Seats in the 2015 General Elections

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives of House of Bishops

Legislative Business

  • Enactment of Amending Canon No 32 (relating to GS elections)
  • Amending Canon No 35 – Final Approval
  • Naming of Dioceses Measure – Revision Stage

4.15 pm Questions

5.40 pm Presentation on the Task Groups and Discipleship Report

7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 11 February

(9.15 am – 11.15 am Worship followed by Group Work on Discipleship)
(11.20 am – 1.00 pm Discussion in Four Larger Groups on Task Groups)

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Discipleship:
Debate on a Motion from the Ministry Council

Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education
Debate on a Motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Simplification
Debate on a Motion

Debate on Inter-generational Equity
Debate on a Motion from the Church Commissioners

7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship

Thursday 12 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall

10.30 Legislative Business

  • Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure/Amending Canon No 34 – Revision Stage
  • Petition to change the names of the suffragan sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract (if a debate is required)

Standing Orders Debate

Private Member’s Motion - Canon B38

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

2.30 pm Liturgical Business
Alternative Baptism Texts – Revision Stage

Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices
Take Note Debate from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

4.45 p.m Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency Business

Diocesan Synod Motion - Nature And Structure Of The Church Of England: National Debate

Debate on a motion on a Report from the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Questions about leaks from the Crown Nominations Commission

The following questions were put to the Archbishop of Canterbury during Questions at General Synod on Monday evening by Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans).

Has the Commission considered why one name consistently appears in the media as having been under consideration by it and whether, when such reports appear, the Commission might in the interests of fairness release the names of all those who were in fact on the shortlist for the appointment concerned?

The Archbishop, speaking as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission, replied:

Those who take part in Crown Nominations Commissions or who are involved in the process for selecting suffragan bishops are bound by requirements of confidentiality, something that we repeat at each CNC at the beginning of the process. There are strong arguments both for transparency and for confidentiality. It is a question which is discussed from time to time, and the Archbishop of York and I keep it under review, as he has already said.

It is, however, precisely because selection processes are meant to be confidential - in the interests of all concerned - that it is so damaging when reports appear in the press purporting to give inside information and naming an individual. The harm is done whether these are true, false or wholly speculative. It is unkind, hurtful and unjust to the person concerned and simply should not happen.

Supplementary question:

Given the damaging reports that you refer to, what steps will be taken to revise the CNC process, both to call to account members who breach the declaration of confidentiality they make, and to prevent undue influence in the process, even say by the Archbishop of Canterbury, even say in the interests of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop replied:

We will continue to keep the way that we operate under close review, and to ensure that it is carried out in line with the Equality Act, wherever that applies.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 November 2014 at 1:05pm GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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What Tim Allen said about discrimination in CNC appointments

During the debate on the Business Committee report, Mr Tim Allen (St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) made a speech in which, while requesting further action from the archbishops in relation to the selection of women for episcopal appointments, he mentioned specifically:

…their formidable powers of process control, leadership, and forceful persuasion to ensure (I am putting it very politely) that the CNC moves boldly with all speed and determination to the appointment of as many as possible of the best of the Church of England’s excellent senior women as diocesan bishops, preferably with seats in the House of Lords…

He later continued:

…And there is a closely related matter, on which I hope Archbishop Justin will also respond. For it is not only women who were excluded in a discriminatory and prejudiced way from the House of Bishops. So too were, and still are, those gay men who do not hide their sexuality in the closet. Those who are honest and frank enough to live openly in a civil partnership while behaving in the chaste way required by church law are it seems, from all the evidence de facto excluded from the House of Bishops, even when they are eminently qualified to be a bishop.

To make bishops of women required today’s change in the law of the church. But it is not law, it is simply prejudice which keeps out of the House of Bishops these men who are gay, chaste and honest. Such prejudice and discrimination is wrong, even when it is dressed up as a necessary tribute to certain homophobic elements of the Anglican Communion. Such prejudice and discrimination will increasingly be seen to be wrong by much of the nation which the Church of England seeks to serve, especially the younger people, who have shown for example by their sympathy for Alan Turing the gay wartime codebreaker [to] utterly reject the persecution of homosexual people.

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Women bishops legislation: Isle of Man & Channel Islands

Updated on Sunday to add the two supplementary questions

The Questions on Monday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:

The Revd Rosalind Rutherford (Winchester) asked the Secretary General:
Q What steps need to be taken to ensure that all the components of the legislative package for Women in the Episcopate will apply fully in the Isle of Man and in all the Channel Islands; and can you confirm that these steps have been taken so that the legislation can come into force on the same day as that on which it is expected to come into force in England (17th Nov 2014)?

Mr William Fittall replied:
A The legislation that has come into force today in England cannot come into force in the Crown Dependencies until the usual processes involving the civil authorities of those distinct jurisdictions have been completed. In the case of the Isle of Man a draft Measure has been prepared, for consideration by the diocesan synod at the earliest possible opportunity on 13 January, and will then need to be submitted to Tynwald. In the case of the Channel Islands a scheme needs to be drawn up in consultation with the deanery synods of the Islands, communicated to the States General for comment, approved by the General Synod and then confirmed by Order in Council. I understand that process is about to begin but it is a little too soon to predict the timescale.

Update

Rosalind Rutherford asked a supplementary question:
Q I think many members will think it’s regrettable it’s not possible to give a specific date for the Channel Islands, but could you assure Synod that active and practical encouragement will be given to those responsible for the process to ensure that it will take significantly less time than the extra six years it took the 1992 Measure to be applied in the Islands.

Mr Fittall replied:
A Well we have just broken the land speed record in getting the legislation through the Ecclesiastical Committee in about eight days and through the two Houses of Parliament very speedily after the recess. In relation to the civil authorities in the Channel Islands it would be very good if we could similarly create a new record, but I am afraid I cannot guarantee because that is not ultimately in my hands or indeed in the hands of the General Synod.

The Bishop of Dover asked:
Q Would the Secretary General find it helpful to know that letters have gone to the deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey to actually start the process already?

Mr Fittall replied:
A That is very encouraging.

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Bishops - the morning after

More news and comment on yesterday’s final decision to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England

Giles Fraser The Guardian Hallelujah, the long wait for female bishops is over at last

Telegraph leader Women bishops: a new chapter for the Church of England

Caroline Wyatt BBC Female bishops: Anglicans preparing for first appointment

There was other business at General Synod yesterday:

Official Summary of Monday’s business: General Synod: Monday PM

Press release: Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy

Audio part 1
Audio part 2

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Monday, 17 November 2014

More on the Women Bishops legislation

Early press reports:

Tim Wyatt Church Times From today, women can be bishops in the Church of England

Caroline Wyatt BBC Church of England formally approves plans for women bishops

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England clears way for female bishops

John Bingham and agency The Telegraph Church of England approves historic change in law to allow women bishops

Kashmira Gander The Independent Church of England shatters ‘stained-glass ceiling’ by allowing female bishops

Carey Lodge Christian Today Final approval given to women bishops at General Synod

… and from the Archbishop of Canterbury Women bishops: Archbishop hails “new way of being the church”

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Archbishop Justin's presidential address to the General Synod

Updated Tuesday

From the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.

Archbishop Justin’s presidential address to the General Synod
Monday 17th November 2014

In his presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.

Read the full text of the address below:

During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward…

The full text is here.

Update

Madeleine Davies reports on the address for the Church Times Anglican Communion ‘flourishing’, and attached to Canterbury, Welby reports

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Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod

York signs

The Archbishop of York signs the Instrument of Enanactment.

Press release from Church House

Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod
17 November 2014

The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England.

The formal enactment of the legislation - Amending Canon 33 - followed the vote on final approval by the Synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in Parliament and received Royal Assent.

The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, on the first day of the Synod’s meeting in London.

With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to Synod the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole Synod.

Following the vote Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said:

“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”

Notes:

The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here

The following dioceses are currently vacant and are waiting to appoint a diocesan bishop:

Southwell & Nottingham
Gloucester
Oxford
Newcastle
The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich were the last diocese to select a Bishop under the former rules.

The following suffragan (assistant) bishop posts are currently Vacant and are awaiting appointment:

Dunwich
Hertford
Hull
Plymouth
Stockport
Any of the above vacant posts may now be filled by a male or female priest.

After the vote the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that the CNC for Southwell & Nottingham (which has had its first, but not second meeting) had been allowed to consider women.

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Amending Canon No 33

synod.jpg

The General Synod of the Church of England has today, by clear show of hands, passed a motion enacting Amending Canon No 33. The effect of the amendment is to enact that:

A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of Bishop.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Seal of the Confessional

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK wrote this last month: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Today he published this update: Seal of confessional: its future in the CofE. Together these clearly describe the current position.

Do read both articles, but I draw attention to part of what the Archbishop of York said in his statement on the Waddington Enquiry:

… one of those who reported abuse to the Inquiry has since asked me specifically to raise the question of The Confessional. His view is that disclosures made in the context of a formal Confession which give rise to safeguarding concerns should not enjoy absolute confidentiality.

I have every sympathy with this view, and therefore welcome the fact that the Archbishops’ Council has decided to commission theological and legal work with a view to exploring whether the current position in relation to admissions of abuse in the context of a formal Confession should be changed. That work and any recommendations arising from it will need to be discussed with the House of Bishops before any proposals for change are brought before the General Synod.

This matter will undoubtedly be raised during a take-note debate on draft revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (GS 1970) at General Synod next month. There is an accompanying paper specifically on the ministry of absolution (GS Misc 1085) which confirms the Archbishop’s statement that the Archbishops’ Council is to commission a review of the seal of the confessional.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Online General Synod papers

The papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 17 and 18 November are now all online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

GS 1919B - Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 1919Z - Report of the Steering Committee

GS 1921B - Draft Ecclesiastical Property Measure [Monday]
GS 1921Z - Report of the Steering Committee

GS 1926D - Amending Canon No.33 [Monday]

GS 1935A - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure [Monday]
GS 1935Y - Report of the Revision Committee

GS 1964A - Draft Amending Canon No.35 [Monday]
[see notice paper 2]

GS 1965A and GS 1965B - Diocesan Synod Motion on spare room subsidy [Tuesday]

GS 1966 - Agenda

GS 1967 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1968 - Draft Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995 [Monday]
GS 1968x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1969 - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 1969x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1970 - Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (draft edition) [Monday]

GS 1971 - The Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Council for Christian Unity [Tuesday]

GS 1972A and GS 1972B - Private Member’s Motion on Canon B 38 [contingency business]

Other Papers

GS Misc 1085 - Guidelines for the professional conduct of the clergy (The Ministry of Absolution)

GS Misc 1086 - A background note on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria [Tuesday]

GS Misc 1088 - Representative of Pentecostal Churches of the General Synod

GS Misc 1089 - The Porvoo Declaration - New signatories

GS Misc 1090 - Women in the Episcopate - appointment of Independent Reviewer

GS Misc 1091 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council’s activities

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General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.

Final agenda for General Synod published
24 October 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a two day meeting from 13.45 on Monday 17 November until 17.00 on Tuesday 18 November.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. After the usual introductory material, including the debate on the report by the Business Committee the Synod will be invited to enact Amending Canon No. 33 to allow women to be bishops. This will be followed by a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Various items of legislative business will follow. Some of these will run into the following day, when a further slot for legislative business has been allocated at 12 noon. The Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure and the Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure will both return to the Synod for their Final Drafting and Final Approval Stages. . Amending Canon No. 35 (relating to Canon B 12) and the Naming of Dioceses Measure will both undergo their Revision Stages. A new draft Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis will be introduced for First Consideration. Finally, the Synod will be asked to approve a Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe’s Constitution.

Following the legislative business, there will be a Take Note debate on the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy. This is a draft document prepared by the Convocations of York and Canterbury which updates the existing Guidelines dating from 2003 to take account of new developments in secular and Church legislation and pastoral practice, as well as liturgical developments. Following comment by General Synod, the draft Guidelines will return to the Convocations for further consideration. After a short period of worship, the day will conclude with Synod Questions.

Tuesday 18th November will start with Holy Communion which will lead into a presentation by a panel of speakers moderated by the Bishop of Coventry on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria. The panel will include the Rt. Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, who is one of our regular Ecumenical representatives on Synod and who is in close touch with churches in Iraq and Syria, Dr.Fuad Nahdi Executive Director of the Radical Middle Way and Founding Editor of the pioneering Q-News and the Revd Dr Rachel Carnegie, the Co-Director of the Anglican Alliance. There will be opportunities for Synod members to pose questions to the panel.

Any remaining legislative business will be taken at 12 noon. After lunch on Tuesday 18th November there will be a presentation followed by a debate on the Anglican Methodist Covenant. The Synod will be invited to endorse the recommendations in the Final Report of the Joint Implementation Commission which calls for both churches to take forward further work on the possibility of reconciling their ministries with a view to interchangeability.

There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Bradford (now part of the Diocese of Leeds) regarding the Spare Room Subsidy. The motion reflects concern from the Diocese at the impact of the Spare Room Subsidy, also known as the “Bedroom Tax”.

Contingency business takes the form of a Private Member’s Motion by the Revd Canon Dr Michael Parsons (Gloucester) on Canon B38 (‘Of the burial of the dead’). The motion calls for the introduction of legislation so that the law would no longer make any distinction in the form of funeral service to be used when someone has taken their own life.

Notes:

Synod papers, including the full agenda, can be found here.

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

General Synod - projected timetable for November 2014

The projected timetable (see below) for the November 2014 Group of Sessions of General Synod has been published here. It is accompanied by this note:

The holding of the group of sessions remains contingent on the legislation to enable Women to become Bishops having completed all its remaining stages. It was found expedient by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament on 22 July and will debated in the House of Lords on 14 October. We await a date for the Commons debate. A further update will be published as soon as possible and in any event before the end of October.

Monday 17 November
1.45 pm – 7.15 pm

1.45 pm Worship
Formal business
Report by the Business Committee

Legislative Business:
Enactment of Amending Canon No 33 (relating to Women in the Episcopate)

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Legislative Business:
* Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis – First Consideration
* C of E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Amending Canon No 35 (relating to Canon B 12) – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Draft Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution
* C of E (Naming of Dioceses) Measure – Revision Stage

4.40 pm ‘Take Note’ debate on the Professional Guidelines for the Clergy

5.40 pm Worship

Questions

Tuesday 18 November
9.15 am – 1.00 pm

Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall

10.30 am Presentation followed by Debate on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria

12.15 pm Legislative Business (Continued from Monday 17 November)

2.15 pm – 5.00 pm

2.15 pm Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Joint Implementation Commission

Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion on the Spare Room Subsidy

4.40 pm Farewells

Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Priavte Member’s Motion on Canon B 38

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Women bishops measure - changes by the laity

The legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England failed at final approval in 2012 because it did not achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. A different measure was passed in 2014, primarily because of laity who voted against in 2012, but in favour in 2014.

I have published the detailed voting results on final approval of the 2012 measure here and of the 2014 measure here.

From these spreadsheets I have calculated that of the laity who voted against the 2012 measure:

45 voted against in 2014
20 voted in favour in 2014
4 abstained in 2014
2 were absent in 2014
3 were no longer members of Synod in 2014

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and in favour of the 2014 measure were:

Glynn Harrison (Bristol)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Keith Malcouronne (Guildford)
Adrian Vincent (Guildford)
Anne Bloor (Leicester)
Christopher Corbet (Lichfield)
Debra Walker (Liverpool)
Philip Rice (London)
John Barber (Manchester)
Peter Capon (Manchester)
Philip Giddings (Oxford)
John Beal (Ripon & Leeds/West Yorks & the Dales)
Thomas Sutcliffe (Southwark)
Mary Judkins (Wakefield/West Yorks & the Dales)
John Davies (Winchester)
Priscilla Hungerford (Winchester)
David Robilliard (Winchester)
Jennifer Barton (Worcester)
Martin Dales (York)

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and abstained in 2014 were:

Peter Collard (Derby)
Ann Turner (Europe)
Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
Victoria Russell (Oxford)

Nobody who voted for the 2012 measure voted against or abstained in 2014.

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Women Bishops - detailed voting results

The detailed results for the electronic votes at this months’ meeting of General Synod are now available.

The two relating to the ordination and consecration of women are:

Item 503 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Ordination and Consecration of Women) Measure
Item 504 - Draft Amending Canon No.33

These are pdf files arranged by house, by vote (for, against, abstain) and then by name. I have rearranged them by house and then by synod number, so that members from the same diocese are grouped together. I have also added the names of the absentees. These results are in this spreadsheet.

A very small number of lay and clergy members voted differently for the measure and the canon.

Clergy
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.

Laity
2 voted against the measure and for the canon.
3 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
1 voted for the measure but was absent for the vote on the canon.

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Women bishops - further reactions to Monday's vote

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops: I’m glad we waited until now, says Archbishop of York

The Telegraph editorial The Church of England has found unity on its own terms

The Telegraph letters Women bishops will meet opposition within the C of E laity

The Guardian letters Female bishops a birthday present for Emmeline Pankhurst

John Spence’s speech to Synod (on YouTube)

Transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech to Synod

GRAS (the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) have sent us a press release which is copied below the fold.

GRAS
Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod

PRESS RELEASE
Press briefing for immediate release 14th July 2014

20 years after General Synod legislated to enable women to be priests in the Church of England it has today voted by a clear majority a legislative package enabling women to be bishops. The intention is to complete the process in November. The 1993 legislation included an Act of Synod that many in the church criticised because it appeared to be rushed through to ameliorate those who were opposed to the ordination of women as priests, but who had not expected the legislation to be passed.

The Act made extra provision for those who opposed women’s ordination, and legislated for discrimination in the church. It enabled parishes to vote not to have a bishop who supported women priests, with the implication that a bishop’s hands would be tainted by ordaining a woman. It ensured that no role in the Church of England would be closed to those who opposed women’s ordination, even roles which involved working closely with, or being responsible for, significant numbers of women clergy.

Chair of GRAS - Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod - Ruth McCurry said “We are overjoyed that we have finally seen the last of this Act. But we haven’t seen the end of discrimination against women in the Church of England. There is lots of work still to be done before women and men can truly flourish alongside each other in the church.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:

GRAS - The Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod and the promotion of Women as Bishops - was founded with the primary objective of campaigning to eradicate the 1993 Act of Synod.

Under the new legislation some of the provisions contained in the defunct Act of Synod are reborn in the Bishops’ Declaration, which sets out much of the detail of how the new women bishops Measure will be put into practice. Although its legal status is different, this Declaration will still restrict how women - and those who support them - will be able to minister in the church.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

General Synod - Tuesday's business

General Synod completed its York meeting this morning.

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business

audio recording

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Women bishops - more reports and reactions to Monday's vote

Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Women bishops legislation wins Synod’s final approval

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops in months after Synod vote

Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: delaying this historic vote was a blessing in disguise

The Telegraph Celebration as Church of England General Synod approves women bishops

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today There will be women bishops… General Synod passes legislation

Ruth Gledhill The Guardian Joy and relief at display of unity for vote on ordination of female bishops

Claer Barrett and Mark Odell Financial Times Church of England synod votes for women bishops

Matthew Engel Financial Times Victory for women bishops but no triumphalism

Andrew Brown The Guardian Jubilation as Church of England’s synod votes to allow female bishops

Andreas Whittam Smith The Independent Women bishops: Church of England still divided but now prepared to trust each other

Stephen Castle The New York Times Church of England Votes to Allow Women as Bishops

Video: Archbishop Welby talks to BBC Newsnight about the vote to allow female bishops

Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK Good news at last, but the women bishops vote was ultimately never about women bishops

Fulcrum Statement on Synod Vote for Women Bishops

Colin Coward for Changing Attitude Women bishops – finally

WATCH issued a press release which is copied below the fold.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued this statement: Women Bishops - Church of England.

Women and the Church
PRESS RELEASE
14 July 2014

“there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)

Today we are overjoyed that the General Synod has finally passed the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. This marks a new beginning for the church that can now begin to be fully affirming of both the women and men in it.

Much of the tone and mood of the debate today was notably different to that of November 2012 and WATCH gives thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly, supported wholeheartedly and prayed deeply for this wonderful day. Thanks be to God!

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said
What a historic day. Relief and then joy and then excitement. Yes to women at last.

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Church of England to have women bishops

Press release from the Church of England

Church of England to have women bishops
14th July 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today given its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

The voting results were as follows:

House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152 No 45 Abstentions 5

This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.

The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.“

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, said:
“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.

To those who ask “what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be “get over it” but rather “we will not let go until you have blessed us.”

We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: “Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.”

The legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.

Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).

Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.

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General Synod - votes on women bishops

All portions of the legislative package to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England were approved by General Synod this afternoon.

1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B)

On the motion

That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 recorded abstentions
Laity 152 in favour, 45 against, 5 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B)

On the motion

That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

3) The motion

That the petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) be adopted

was carried on a show of hands.

4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A)

The motion

That the draft Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be approved

was carried on a show of hands.

5) The motion

That the Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be solemnly affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod

was carried on a show of hands

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General Synod - Monday's business

to be updated during the day

order paper for the morning
order paper for the afternoon and evening

official summary of the morning’s business
afternoon’s business
evening’s business

audio
morning
afternoon
evening

The day’s business started with a debate on the Armed Forces Covenant. The following motion was cared by 393 votes in favour to two against, with three recorded abstentions.

That this Synod, believing that the commitment of those that serve in the Armed Forces demands a reciprocal obligation from the Nation to ensure that they and their families are not disadvantaged:

(a) ask dioceses to reflection the Armed Forces Covenant and to consider signing Community Covenants, where not already signed, and Corporate Covenants setting out how they can both meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families located in their own diocesan area;

(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council to sign a Corporate Armed Forces Covenant setting out how it will provide pastoral and spiritual support for the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families; and

(c) ask the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod in the next Quinquennium on the implementation of the recommendations set out in The Church and the Armed Forces Covenant (GS 1960).

The debates on the legislation to allow women to be bishops started at 11.15 am. There is a package of four items, which are being separately debated.

1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B) – Draft Measure for Final Approval

2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B) – Draft Amending Canon for Final Approval

3) Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) – Draft Petition for Adoption

4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A) - Draft Act of Synod for Final Approval and Affirmation and Proclamation as an Act of Synod

The first two of these (the measure and the canon) require two-thirds majorities in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity) to receive final approval. Motions for the closure of these first two debates are not allowed, so they will continue for as long as there are members wanting to speak. However the chair of the debate (today it will be the Archbishop of York) may at his discretion reduce the speech limit, and chairs have been know to reduce it to almost nothing to encourage people to stop talking.

The other items require no special majority.

At the beginning of the first debate the Archbishop reminded members of this standing order.

17. Breach of Order
The Chairman shall call a member to order for failure to address the Chair, irrelevance, tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of arguments already well rehearsed by other members, unbecoming language, disregard of the authority of the Chairman, or any other breach of order, and may direct him to stop speaking.

Claire Phipps of The Guardian is reporting live on the debate: Church of England General Synod votes on female bishops.

The Synod adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 2.30 pm.

This business was concluded shortly before 5.00 pm with all items passed with the necessary majorities. Details of the votes here.

Synod was then adjourned until 5.15 pm.

The remainder of the day’s business is included in the official summaries above.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

General Synod - Sunday's business

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business
afternoon
evening

audio of
afternoon session
evening session

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General Synod - Sunday press

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops could be appointed by Christmas
Churches will use Magna Carta anniversary to ‘reassert Britain’s Christian heritage’

BBC Women bishops: Archbishop Welby ‘hopeful’ on vote

Press Association (in the Mail Online) Baptism Services May Omit ‘Devil’

Peter Stanford The Telegraph Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

General Synod - Saturday's business

to be updated during the day

Order papers
morning
afternoon and evening

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon
evening

Much of the morning’s business was taken up with the composition of and electorate for the universities constituency in General Synod. A proposal to abolish it was defeated in a vote by houses. The voting figures, which are not given in the summary, were

House of Bishops voted: 5 for, 17 against
House of Clergy voted: 53 for, 69 against
House of Laity voted: 67 for, 65 against
The numbers of abstentions were not stated.

A substantial change was made when Synod voted to extend the constituency to include theological education institutions as well as universities. Again there was a vote by houses.

House of Bishops voted: 12 for, 10 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy voted: 71 for, 64 against, 3 abstentions
House of Laity voted: 76 for, 61 against, 2 abstentions

The theological education institutes to be included are those “recognised by the House of Bishops as an institution for training candidates for ordination as ministers of the Church of England”.

These, and other non-contentious changes to the universities constituency, are subject to final approval, which is scheduled for debate on Tuesday.

Jim Wallis gave this presentation on The Uncommon Good in the afternoon, and this interview afterwards.

audio of
morning session
afternoon session - Jim Wallis speech
remainder of afternoon session
evening session

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Friday, 11 July 2014

General Synod - Friday's business

to be updated during the day

The first day’s business is listed in Order paper 1.

Despite some initial confusion during the debate on the report of the reference to the dioceses of the women bishops legislation, Sue Booys, the chair of the Business Committee, confirmed that two-thirds majorities in each house will be required for final approval of both the draft measure and the amending canon when they are debated on Monday.

It was also made clear that abstentions (whether recorded or not) do not count in the calculation of the size of any majority.

The final drafting of the draft measure and amending canon were agreed; the only drafting amendments were to some of the numbering in the canon.

The final versions of these, to be debated on Monday, are here: draft measure and draft amending canon.

Official summary of the day’s business:
Friday afternoon
Friday evening

Audio of day 1

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General Synod

Updated Friday afternoon, Saturday morning

The Church of England General Synod meets in York from this afternoon until Tuesday.

Some pre-synod press:

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod: women bishops campaigners praying for a breakthrough
The Church of England General Synod - a rough guide
Women bishops: what are the issues?

Press Association General Synod Vote on Women Bishops [on the Mail Online website]

Ruth Gledhill Chrisitian Today General Synod: Will women bishops happen this time?

Savi Hensman Ekklesia Church, worldly values, the ‘common good’ and war

You can follow the proceedings at this Live video stream.

The Agenda and papers are here.

Update

Church Times leader The vote on Monday

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England edges towards historic breakthrough on women bishops

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Women bishops - is there a plan C?

Andrew Brown reports in The Guardian: Church of England women bishops: archbishops will overrule synod.

The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church’s governing body, the General Synod.

The synod is poised to vote again on the vexed plan next week but senior sources have told the Guardian that should the move be blocked again, there are now options being considered to force the change on the church.

Options under consideration include an immediate dissolution of the synod so that fresh elections could produce a sufficient majority by November, or even a move by the bishops in the House of Lords to introduce the legislation without synodical approval…

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Women bishops vote is one week away

Updated

We previously reported on this topic on 20 June: Women in the Episcopate Legislation and Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon.

Last week the Church Times reported that Swing voters say they will now back women bishops.

THE pivotal votes of a small num­ber of members of the General Synod who helped to defeat the women-bishops Measure in Novem­ber 2012 have swung to the Yes camp.

The earlier Measure was lost by six votes in the House of Laity. Instrumental to the defeat were a handful of members who, despite being in favour of the consecration of women as bishops, voted against the Measure, prompted by a concern that it did not offer enough provision for those who were opposed on principle.

Five of these members told the Church Times this week that they now planned to vote in favour…

Update

Today, Forward in Faith has published this press release: The July 2014 Sessions of the General Synod

The Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, Canon Simon Killwick, has issued the following statement:

“Following the failure of the previous legislation in November 2012, the Catholic Group immediately called for round-table talks to agree on a new package which could be fast-tracked through the Synod. These talks have been amazingly fruitful in that they have generated a new package which provides a way forward for everyone in the Church of England and the package is being fast-tracked through the Synod with the added bonus in the creation of a much more positive atmosphere of trust, generosity and mutual respect. We look forward to this new atmosphere pervading the debates at the forthcoming Synod and beyond, so that we can all move forward as one.”

Please pray for the members of the General Synod, which meets in York from Friday 10 July to Tuesday 15 July:
www.praynovena.org.uk

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Saturday, 28 June 2014

The CofE, Ethical Investment - and Wonga

Yesterday’s second distribution of General Synod papers included the annual report of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group. Also published was this press release.

Ethical Investment Advisory Group - ethical investment restrictions tightened
27 June 2014

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has tightened its recommendations regarding investment restrictions. From this month none of the EIAG’s investment exclusions have a revenue threshold higher than 10%, a reduction on the previous 25% threshold.

The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.

In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.

The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the “Wonga controversy.” As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.

The annual review makes it clear that these new restrictions would not have prevented the exposure to Wonga which was in a pooled fund and which could not have been screened in the same way as direct holdings are.

Edward Mason, EIAG Secretary, said: “Exposure to restricted investments, like Wonga, can occur in pooled funds and the EIAG accepts this.” Commenting on the EIAG’s intention to propose a new pooled funds policy to the national investing bodies, he said: “The policy will specify controls on the use of pooled funds but will not bar their use.”

The EIAG will publish the new policy on pooled funds later once the investing bodies have agreed it. The annual review explains that pooled funds are often the only way to access certain asset classes and investment strategies - including venture capital which, along with increasing financial returns for investors, also serves society.

Writing in the report’s foreword, EIAG Chair James Featherby explains that the Commissioners’ indirect investment in Wonga highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio.

“In our view Christian ethical investment is, instead, about fulfilling responsibilities to beneficiaries and trying to make a positive difference in society. The Church’s national investing bodies seek to do the latter through engagement with companies, partnerships with other investors, and participation in public policy initiatives. In this way they aspire to be part of the Church’s witness to the world.”

Press reports include:

Ben Quinn The Guardian Wonga: Church of England advised by ethics review to keep its stake

Alex Blackburne Blue & Green Tomorrow Church of England reduces exposure to ‘sin stocks’ after ethical investment review

Christian Today Wonga controversy leads to changes in Church of England’s investment policies

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Friday, 27 June 2014

Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

The House of Bishops’ plans for Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission in the Church of England were issued today in a paper (GS Misc 1083) circulated to General Synod papers. I have made a webpage version available here.

These conversations are what the Pilling Report called “facilitated conversations”. They will start in the College of Bishops in September, then move to groups of dioceses and end with two days of conversations in General Synod in July 2016. The paper gives full details of who will be involved and how they will be supported.

The Church of England has issued this press release.

Next steps in shared conversation process published
27 June 2014

The Church of England has today published the next steps in its process for shared conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

A short paper from the Bishop of Sheffield outlines the next steps for the Church following the publication of the Pilling report in November 2013 which recommended that the church’s internal dialogue on human sexuality might be best addressed through a process of conversations across the Church.

The outlines of the process were approved by the House of Bishops at its meeting in May and are published today.

The document has been sent to members of the Church’s General Synod ahead of its meeting in York from 11 -15 July.

The document can be found online here.

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Friday, 20 June 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

The detailed agenda for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England was released today, along with this press release summarizing its contents.

Agenda for July 2014 General Synod
20 June 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 11th July until 1.00 pm on Tuesday 15 July.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The Agenda is constructed around a sequence of legislative business on Women in the Episcopate. This will begin on the afternoon of Friday 11 July with the Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference to the dioceses. This will be followed by the Final Drafting Stage for the Measure and Amending Canon. The House of Bishops will meet on the morning of Saturday 12 July for its consideration of the draft legislation under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. The Agenda allows alternative scenarios for the afternoon of Sunday 13 July to enable the Convocations and the House of Laity to debate the draft legislation if they claim a reference under Article 7. If these stages are completed, the Synod will take the Final Approval stage during the morning of Monday 14 July.

On the afternoon of Friday 11 July, the Synod will be debating the First Consideration of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which give effect to proposals in developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries and approved by the Synod in February. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

On the afternoon of Saturday 12 July, the General Synod will be addressed by the US writer and theologian the Revd Jim Wallis on the subject of ‘The (Un)Common Good’. Jim Wallis is the President and Founder of Sojourners magazine and the author ‘On God’s Side.’ This will be followed by group work by Synod members on the same theme, culminating in a debate later that afternoon on a motion from the Mission and Public Affairs Council.

On Sunday 13th July there will be a presentation by the President and CEO Designate of the newly-established Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. The aim of the CMCU is to provide a mutual ethical vehicle for tax efficient savings and affordable loans for clergy and staff of church charities. It is hoped that the establishment of the CMCU will help to support and strengthen the credit union movement and provide a viable, ethical alternative to mainstream banking for people irrespective of their financial status. Also on Sunday 13th July the Synod will be debating the draft new Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in accessible language which have been drawn up by the Liturgical Commission and which have been passed by the House of Bishops to the Synod for First Consideration.

On the morning of Monday 14 July there will be a presentation followed by a debate on a motion promoted by the Mission and Public Affairs Council on The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant. The motion invites many community bodies, including local authorities, churches and others to join the initiative which offers pastoral care for members of the Armed Forces Community. The opening presentation will be from the new Bishop to the Armed Forces, the Rt Reverend Nigel Stock.

There will be a debate on the commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on a motion moved on behalf of the Guildford Diocesan Synod. A motion on the Spare Room Subsidy from the Diocese of Bradford (now part of the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) is listed as contingency business. A Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Christopher Hobbs on Canon B 8 (vesture), postponed from the previous Group of Sessions is scheduled for the evening of Saturday 12th July.

This group of sessions has a substantial legislative programme in addition to the items already mentioned, including legislation on synodical elections, ecclesiastical property, the faculty jurisdiction and pensions.

The full agenda can be viewed here.

Synod papers can be found here

I have also these articles.

Online General Synod papers
Women in the Episcopate Legislation

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Women in the Episcopate Legislation

Updated Friday night A notice paper has been issued with an important correction to paragraph 21 below. Two-thirds majorities in all three houses are needed for the Amending Canon (and not simple majorities as originally stated). The original version of paragraph 21 is struck through below and followed by the corrected version.

The Women in the Episcopate Legislation will return to General Synod for final approval next month. This extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1949) explains the procedure.

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

16. The Women in the Episcopate legislative process will be taken in several tranches throughout the Group of Sessions. On Friday afternoon [11 July] there will be a ‘take note’ debate on the report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 reference to the dioceses.

17. If the Synod approves the ‘take note’ motion, then the Final Drafting Stage will be taken immediately afterwards on Friday afternoon on the basis of a report from the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee’s report, which identifies its proposed amendments, will be the subject of a ‘take note’ debate.

18. If the ‘take note’ motion on the Steering Committee’s report is carried at the Final Drafting Stage, then the draft Measure and Amending Canon will stand referred to the House of Bishops under Article 7 of the Synod’s constitution, together with the draft Act of Synod (which stood referred to the House following its Preliminary Consideration by the Synod in February). It is intended that the House should meet to deal with the reference at a special meeting on the morning of Saturday 12 July. If the House of Bishops approves the draft Measure and Amending Canon and draft Act of Synod, they can return to the Synod for Final Approval Stage.

19. Prior to the Final Approval stage, the Convocations and the House of Laity may claim a reference under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. Therefore the Business Committee has made provision on Sunday 13 July from 2.30 until 3.50 pm for the Convocations and the House of Laity debate the draft legislation if they have claimed a reference. Alternative Business is provided in the event that no Article 7 Reference is claimed.

20. In order to allow for these possible stages of the legislative process, the Business Committee has scheduled the Final Approval Stage for the morning of Monday 14 July. As this is Article 7 and Article 8 business, the Chair for the debate will be one of the Presidents. He is required to declare on behalf of the Presidents, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity that the requirements of Articles 7 and 8 of the Constitution have been complied with.

21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of the draft Measure. The Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod require no special majority but in practice the motions for their Final Approval would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.

21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.

22. If the Synod gives Final Approval for the draft Amending Canon, the Synod will also be asked to approve a petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence to promulge and execute the Amending Canon and formally affirm and proclaim the Act of Synod (though it will not come into force until, following the receipt of the Royal Assent and Licence, the Canon is promulged). Only a simple majority is required for its approval.

Canons can only be promulged at a meeting of General Synod. If the Measure receives final approval in July it has to go the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament and then to each of the two Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent. The Queen then has to give her Assent and Licence to the Amending Canon. Whether this can be completed before the next available date for a meeting of General Synod (17 November 2014) is a matter for Parliament and the Palace.

At the same meeting as Synod promulges the Amending Canon it will be asked to approve “Regulations prescribing a procedure for the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements for which the House of Bishops’ declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests makes provision.” At that point it will become possible for a woman to be consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England.

These are the relevant papers for July.

GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]

GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops

GENERAL SYNOD

JULY GROUP OF SESSIONS 2014

FIFTH NOTICE PAPER

CORRIGENDUM

ITEM 504
REPORT OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE (GS 1949)
(MOTION FOR THE FINAL APPROVAL OF AMENDING CANON NO. 33)

Paragraph 21 of this Report should read:

“Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.”

The requirement for a special majority in the case of Amending Canon No. 33 arises from the fact that section 11 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each House for the Final Approval of any Canon which repeals any provision of any Canon promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure: that provision will be engaged by Amending Canon No. 33 since paragraph 3 of the Canon will ‘revoke’ (ie repeal) Canon C 4B (which was promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure).

I apologise to members of the Synod that the text of the Business Committee’s Report was incorrect in this important respect.

WILLIAM FITTALL
Secretary General

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Online General Synod papers

Updated Friday 27 June The second set of synod papers was circulated today and I have added links below. A full set of papers can be downloaded as a zip file.

Most papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod were put online today. There is a list in agenda order here, and I have rearranged it into numerical order below with a note of the day(s) on which item is scheduled for debate. I will add links to further papers as they become available.

GS 1877D Amending Canon No 31 [Saturday]

GS 1902-5Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]
GS 1902A Draft Amending Canon 32 [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1902C Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1903A Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1904A Clergy Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1905A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) No 2 Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]

GS 1919A Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1919Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1921A Draft Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure
GS 1921Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]

GS 1936A Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendment) Measure for Revision and for Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval [Saturday]

GS 1940A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution No 1 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1940Y Report

GS 1944A and GS 1944B Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Saturday]
GS 1945A and GS 1945B Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta.
A translation of the Magna Carta is available by clicking here [Monday]

GS 1946 Declaration regarding the National Front [Saturday]
GS 1947 Declaration regarding the British National Party [Saturday]
GS 1946-7X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1948 Agenda
GS 1949 Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1950 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1951 Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference [Friday]

GS 1952 Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Friday]
GS 1953 Draft Amending Canon No 34 [Friday]
GS 1952-3X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1954 49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Saturday]

GS 1955 Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order [Saturday]
GS 1955X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1956 The Common Good [Saturday]

GS 1957 Archbishops’ Council Annual Report [Sunday]

GS 1958 Additional Texts for Holy Baptism [Sunday]

GS 1959 The Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015 [Sunday]

GS 1960 The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants [Monday]

GS 1961 Audit Committee’s Annual Report [Monday]

GS 1962 Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1962X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1963 Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1963X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964 Draft Amending Canon No 35
GS 1964X Explanatory Memorandum [Tuesday]
GS 1965A and GS 1965B Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy [contingency business]

In addition the following GS Misc papers have been issued.

GS Misc 1070 Ethical Investment Annual Review
GS Misc 1072 Appointment of Synod Senior Staff
GS Misc 1073 Charm Rental Scheme
GS Misc 1074 Members of Committees
GS Misc 1075 Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1078 Mutual Credit Union
GS Misc 1079 A note from the Archbishops
GS Misc 1081 Clergy Disicpline Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1082 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1083 Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

There are other papers listed below the fold.

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2 (re-issued)
Notice Paper 3
Notice Paper 4
Notice Paper 5

Prayer Card

Church Community Fund Annual Report

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church

Update Tuesday afternoon More press reports added

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy, as this press release explains.

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church
03 June 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy.

The formal declarations by the House of Bishops mean that a complaint of misconduct can be made under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against any cleric of the Church of England who is a member of, or promotes or expresses or solicits support for, the BNP or NF.

The declarations will be laid before the General Synod of the Church at its July meeting in York and will come into force at 5.30pm on 11 July 2014 unless 25 members of the General Synod give notice that they wish a declaration to be debated. If such notice is given, the expectation is that the declaration would be debated at the Synod’s July group of sessions in York, and it could not come into force unless approved by the Synod.

The declarations state that on May 19 2014 the House of Bishops resolved to declare that the constitution, polices, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front and the British National Party are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races.

Once a declaration comes into force support for the political party concerned by clergy of the Church of England would be unbecoming or inappropriate conduct. The declarations from the House of Bishops, which were made under section 8(4) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, implement in relation to the clergy of the Church of England, a policy of the General Synod agreed in February 2009 following a Private Member’s Motion from Vasantha Gnanadoss: “That this Synod, noting that in 2004 the Association of Chief Police Officers adopted a policy whereby “no member of the Police Service, whether police officer or police staff, may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality” and “this specifically includes the British National Party”, request the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy for the Church of England, to apply to clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to represent or speak on behalf of the Church.”

ENDS

Notes

  • An explanatory note explaining the background to the declarations (GS 1946-7X) can be found on the Church of England website, together with the declarations:
GS 1946 National Front declaration
GS 1947 British National Party declaration
  • The Church’s teaching in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races is set out in the 2010 House of Bishops’ theological statement Affirming our Common Humanity.
  • In making a declaration of incompatibility the House of Bishops took account of the constitutions of both parties and published statements on their behalf, including, for example, the BNP’s manifesto for the last General Election (“Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity”) which is published on the BNP website.

John Bingham reports for The Telegraph that Church of England bans clergy from ‘un-Christian’ BNP and National Front.

Matthew Taylor writes in The Guardian that Church of England bans clergy from joining BNP or National Front.

Pink News BNP furious after Church of England bans clergy from having party membership

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

Updated Monday 2 June The business on Saturday afternoon has been slightly amended, and a revised edition of the timetable issued.

The outline agenda for the July meeting of the Church of England General Synod is now available, and is copied below.

Friday 11 July

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Formal business
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
Not later than 4.15 pm
Approval of appointments
Legislative Business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation:
    * Report on Article 8 Reference to the Dioceses
    * Final Drafting Stage
    Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and associated Amending Canon – First Consideration

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 12 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee (deemed business)
Legislative Business
    Amending Canon No 31 – Enactment
    C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
    Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Revision Stage
    Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
    Adjourned debate on Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution – Final Approval
    Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order
    C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
    Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
    Cof E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Revision Stage

2.30 pm – 3.15 pm
The Church’s Response to Poverty: Presentation
‘The (Un)Common Good’: Presentation by the Revd Jim Wallis, Author of ‘On God’s Side’

(3.30 pm - 4.45 pm Group Work: The Common Good)

5.05 pm – 6.30 pm
The Common Good: Presentation and Debate

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Private Member’s Motion: Canon B 8

Sunday 13 July

EITHER
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are not required)
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

OR
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are required)
4.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Financial Business
    Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Monday 14 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants: Presentation and Debate
Not later than 11.15 am
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval (Ctd…)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
CHARM: Presentation
Audit Committee Annual Report

Tuesday 15 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Legislative Business
    Any remaining legislative business from Saturday followed by:
    Draft Amending Canon giving effect to the Southwell and Nottingham DSM on the administration of Holy Communion – First Consideration
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013 (if not taken on the Sunday due to the Article 7 reference)
Not later than 12.30 pm
Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy

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Friday, 23 May 2014

Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops

Now that the dioceses have finished on voting on the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops, the Church of England has issued this press release.

Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops
23 May 2014

The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday. In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.

The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.

Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’

For the motion to be carried the houses of clergy and laity had to each vote, by a simple majority, in favour.

The table attached records the votes in favour and against, and any recorded abstentions in each house. The draft legislation will now go before General Synod in July for a Final Approval vote.

The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation for Women in the Episcopate said:
“The dioceses have now expressed their view very clearly and the matter now comes back to General Synod in July. I pray that the Synod will continue to approach this decision in a prayerful and generous way as we move towards voting on the proposal that women may be bishops in the Church of England.”

The table of Diocesan Synod results can be found here.

*Due to logistical constraints the Diocese in Europe was unable to convene a meeting in the three month period allowed for this Article 8 reference.

The table linked above showed a few very small differences from mine. On the assumption that Church House have the correct figures, I have amended mine to match.

WATCH has issued this press release.

A clean sweep this time: 100% of Dioceses support Women Bishops legislation
Posted on May 23, 2014

Women and the Church (WATCH) is delighted and hugely encouraged by the overwhelming support given by 100% of diocesan synods for the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. Such a resounding endorsement, including from the dioceses of London and Chichester which voted against last time, gives us significant hope and encouragement for the final vote at General Synod in July.

Chair of WATCH, Hilary Cotton said, ‘This is really, really good news in the lead-up to the Final Approval vote. In most dioceses over 90% of votes were cast in favour: surely General Synod cannot turn their backs on this again?’

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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - final diocesan synod votes

The final three diocesan synod votes on the legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England took place this week: Chester and Rochester yesterday and Manchester tonight. All three voted in favour.

Apart from Europe, which was unable to arrange a synod meeting before the deadline of midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014, all the dioceses have voted in favour of the draft legislation, which will return to General Synod in July for the debate and vote on final approval.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

House of Bishops meeting

The House of Bishops met yesterday and today and has issued this summary of its proceedings.

House of Bishops Statement
20 May 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met at Bishopthorpe Palace in York on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May 2014.

In a wide ranging agenda the House discussed issues including: the progress of legislation on women in the episcopate, the meeting of the General Synod in July, additional liturgical materials for baptism, closer working with the Methodist church, shared conversations on enabling wider debate of the Pilling report and the place of Bishops in public debate.

On the progression of legislation enabling Women in the Episcopate, the House approved the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which sets out arrangements for those parishes who on theological grounds are unable to accept the ministry of women priests or bishops. The House also voted to amend their standing orders so to ensure the Declaration cannot be amended without the majority of two-thirds of each house of the General Synod. The House agreed guidance notes for Bishops and Parishes on the Declaration that will be issued prior to General Synod.

The House of Bishops supported exploring with political parties the possibility of amending existing arrangements for the selection of Lords Spiritual in order that the first women diocesan Bishops will be able to become members of the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords more quickly than would otherwise be the case under current arrangements.

In their consideration of the business to be discussed at the July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, the House noted proposals for a debate on safeguarding legislation being introduced in Synod on Friday afternoon. The House also noted the desire for a debate on the ‘Common Good’ and the Church of England’s contribution to developing, nurturing and participating in the flourishing of all the people of England.

The House of Bishops received a report from the Liturgical commission on the use of additional texts for use in services of Baptism following the piloting of new materials in parishes. The House heard that the feedback form the parishes to the use of the texts had been largely positive and welcoming. Following a debate and minor amendments to the text the House voted for the new texts to progress to being debated by General Synod.

The House discussed a draft report and note from the Council for Christian Unity on closer working with the Methodist Church and a report from the Joint Implementation Committee which is provisionally due to be presented for discussion by the Methodist conference and the General Synod. The House agreed that the paper should be debated at the next synod after July.

The House also discussed the next steps in the process for conversations around Human Sexuality. In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ - members of one church in both unity and diversity. The House agreed to a proposed process and timescale for the conversations with regional discussions taking place over the next two years. The House also authorised its Standing Committee to sign off the final arrangements and materials.

The House concluded its meeting with a discussion of the place of the Church of England and its Bishops in public debate. The House heard presentations which emphasised the need for the Church develop its confidence arising from its well-developed and sustained levels of service to communities across the country. The House also heard of the importance of sustaining the place of Bishops and faith based organisations in the public square at a time when confidence in the wider political process was being eroded and the place of faith based values was being challenged. The House heard how the work of Bishops and the wider church in its provision of foodbanks, partnerships with civic society, chairing economic and policy reviews, living wage and credit union work demonstrated the role of the Church of England at both a delivery and strategic level in areas of civic engagement, community cohesion and social justice.

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 5

Two more diocesan synods have voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation: Blackburn on Thursday and Southwell & Nottingham today. In each case the vote was in favour. 27 diocesan synods have now voted in favour and none against.

The next vote is in Worcester on 30 April.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 4

Five more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich, Portsmouth.

So far I have heard that four (Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln and Portsmouth) have voted in favour by large majorities (in Hereford’s case unanimously), making a total of 24 in favour and none against.

All five voted in favour, making a total of 25 in favour and none against.

So a majority of the 44 diocesan synods have now voted in favour, and the legislation will definitely return to General Synod for final approval in July.

The next votes are in Blackburn (3 April), Southwell & Nottingham (5 April) and Worcester (30 April).

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 3

Seven more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Bath & Wells, Birmingham, Bradford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Oxford and Peterborough.

We await the results from Bath & Wells, but the motion was approved by large majorities in the other dioceses.
We await precise voting figures from Lichfield, but t The motion was approved in all seven synods.

So far 20 dioceses have voted in favour and none against. At least 23 dioceses must vote in favour if the draft legislation is to return to General Synod in July.

The next diocesan synod votes will be on 29 March in Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich and Portsmouth. If approved by those synods it will have passed the threshold of more than half the dioceses, guaranteeing its return to the General Synod.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 2

Updated Saturday evening

Four more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Carlisle, Ely, St Albans, Winchester.

At the time of writing I have not seen the result from Carlisle, but the other three all voted in favour by substantial majorities.

All today’s results are now available; all four dioceses voted in favour by substantial majorities. So far 13 dioceses have voted in favour and none against. At least 23 dioceses must vote in favour if the draft legislation is to return to General Synod in July.

The next diocesan synod votes will be on 22 March in Bath & Wells, Birmingham, Bradford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Oxford and Peterborough.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here. I have added running totals of the voting figures to the bottom of this table.

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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes

As I reported here the current legislation on Women in the Episcopate was sent to dioceses promptly after last month’s meeting of General Synod. The first diocesan synod votes were held a week ago, and so far nine dioceses have voted; all were in favour of the legislation.

I have compiled a table of the voting figures here which I will update as further votes take place.

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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Women Bishops: electronic voting results

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available as pdf files. As all were votes of the whole synod they are arranged by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically by name.

For convenience I have put the results relevant to women bishops into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies.

There were two votes:

  • Item 515: That Clauses 1-6 stand part of the Canon
    Many Synod members would have viewed this as a vote on the principle of allowing women to be bishops.
    This was carried with 304 votes in favour and 33 against. 45 abstentions were recorded.
  • Item 10: a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii)
    This motion was to allow the reference to the dioceses to be completed in less time than usual so that final approval can be taken at the July 2014 Synod.
    This was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against. 9 abstentions were recorded.

From the voting lists I have counted the votes in each house.

item 515 ForAgainstAbstention
Bishops
32
0
2
Clergy
145
10
16
Laity
127
23
27

 

item 10 ForAgainstAbstention
Bishops
32
0
0
Clergy
175
8
2
Laity
151
31
7

At final approval a two-thirds majority will be required in each house for the Women in the Episcopate legislation to be carried.

Here is the full set of electronic voting results:

Tuesday 11 February

Item 515 - Draft Amending Canon No.33 (clauses 1-6)
Item 10 - Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iii)
Item 519B - The Church Representation Rules Amendment Resolution

Wednesday 12 February

Item 13 - Southwark Diocesan Synod Motion Environmental Issues
Item 27 - Girl Guides’ Promise

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Women bishops reference to dioceses

Update Wednesday afternoon The links are now all correct.

The papers sent to dioceses for the Article 8 reference regarding women bishops are now available online. This is copied below.

Women bishops reference to dioceses

The Article 8 process regarding women bishops is outlined and explained in a note from the Business Committee of the General Synod. Click here.

The Business Committee has also circulated four other documents: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 1932) which includes the texts of the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (in Annex A) and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations (in Annex B); a background note on the new package of proposals (A8(14)1); the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (A8(14)2); the draft Amending Canon No. 33 (A8(14)3); and an Explanatory Memorandum relating to the draft legislation (A8(14)4).

The General Synod voted on Tuesday 11 February to suspend Standing Order 90 until the end of the Group of Sessions to be held in November 2014. This enables a shortening of the deadline for Diocesan Synods to vote on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. Reporting forms, recording the votes of Diocesan Synods, should be returned to the Clerk to the Synod to arrive by midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014.

A background note produced by the Business Committee in 2010 on the history of the legislative proposals can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

A8(WE)BACKGROUND

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Friday, 14 February 2014

General Synod: Questions on Pilling Report

The Bishop of Sheffield replied to three questions taken together.

Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q12 With regard to the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of (i) a process for facilitated conversations on the subject of sexuality, involving profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture, and (ii) additional materials to support and enable them, will the Chair of the House of Bishops give assurances that the design will ensure that:
• the process will not be a “one way street” intended at the outset to lead to a change in the church‟s teaching or pastoral practice concerning sexuality or marriage;
• the primary purpose of the conversations will be to enable participants‟ views to be clearly articulated, heard and understood, rather than to change participants‟ views;
• the conversations will be professionally facilitated in a way which does not steer them to any particular conclusion;
• the conversations will not be premised on the proposition that scripture is not clear about these matters; and
• participants who believe that scripture clearly teaches that having sexual relationships, otherwise than within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman, is not consistent with Christian discipleship will be free fully to articulate and explain that view?

Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q13 Why, in light of the Statement on the Pilling Report by the College of Bishops (issued 27 January 2014) which emphasises upholding the Church of England‟s commitment to biblical orthodoxy on God‟s purpose for sexual expression (within marriage between one man and one woman), is a two-year process of facilitated conversation taking place, if such a process is not intended to change the orthodoxy?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q14 Given the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of a process for facilitated conversation on sexuality, can the Chair of the House of Bishops give an assurance that the process and additional materials will focus first on scripture and its perspicuity, so that experience and culture are responded to in the light of a clear understanding of Scripture?

The Bishop of Sheffield replied:

The Church Times’ headline - ‘Pilling report-Bishops accept recommendations’ - would have been less inaccurate if it had said ‘accept recommendation [singular] for facilitated conversations.’

There is no predetermined outcome to these conversations nor is there any intention on the part of bishops collectively to steer them to a particular conclusion. In our statement of 27 January the one aspiration we articulated was for ‘good disagreement that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ’.

The statement made clear that the Church of England’s ‘pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation’ and that ‘no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged’. It also stresses that our task, in taking counsel together, is ‘to read and reflect upon the Scriptures and to continue to discern together the mind of Christ.’

What is the point of all this reflection and conversation, some ask, if Scripture is clear and the truth unchanging and unchangeable? The answer is that the substantial shift in attitudes in society to same sex relationships inevitably raises significant questions for the Church of England. In every generation the Church is called to proclaim the faith afresh, not refashioning it but nevertheless wrestling with the interpretation and application of Scripture as the Spirit who inspired it continues to lead us into all truth.

Mr Scowen asked a supplementary question:
May I take it therefore that the answer to each of the five points of my question is Yes?

Answer: i think I would refer Mr Scowen to the answer I have already given, if I may. I think it is fair to say that there was some wrestling in the College of Bishops meeting about whether we should use the term ‘facilitated conversations” for the process which we had in mind, and which we agreed to take forward. Partly because it was pointed out within the conversation, that the only experience we have had corporately of facilitated conversation, is of a process which is designed to lead to a particular outcome, and set of conclusions. A counterargument was that the term is one used by the Pilling process and the Pilling report, it’s not… and we couldn’t easily think of a better substitute for it. But we did want to find a way to communicate clearly that no two sets of facilitated conversations are exactly the same, and that this set is not designed to reach a premeditated, already determined conclusion.

There was a further supplementary question (or was it two?) asked by Professor Richard Burridge about the involvement of Scripture scholars in the process.

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Church Commissioners Questions

Sir Tony Baldry answered Church Commissioners questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday). He prefaced his first answer with remarks on the progress made at General Synod towards allowing women to be consecrated as bishops.

Church Property (Community Use)

1. Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): What plans the commissioners have to make their buildings and other church property available for wider community use. [902578]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): With your permission, Mr Speaker, before I answer this first question, it may be convenient to the House if I make a short comment on the progress made by the General Synod this week on the Church of England being able to consecrate women as bishops. On Tuesday, the General Synod completed the revision process for a new draft measure to enable women to become bishops. The Synod also agreed to shorten the consultation period with the diocese to consider this new measure, so the measure is now likely to come for final approval at the July meeting of the General Synod. If the measure is approved then, I would hope that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be able to give it early consideration and that both Houses would then separately consider it so that, if it is approved, the Synod might then be able to promulge the canon in November. That would mean that it would be possible for the first woman to be nominated as a bishop in the Church of England this year.

Turning to my hon. Friend’s question, the Church of England has changed legislation to make it much easier for church buildings to be used for a wide range of community and cultural uses. The Church of England encourages all parish churches to be open where possible for as long as possible.

Laura Sandys: Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the congregation of volunteers at St Peter’s church in Broadstairs? He very kindly visited an award-winning tourism project called the St Peter’s village tour. Will he encourage other churches to use their facilities in order to open up to the community and develop tourism propositions?

Sir Tony Baldry: I much enjoyed my visit to my hon. Friend’s constituency. She is absolutely right. The church of St Peter’s in Broadstairs is an excellent example of a church that is a hub of the community, hosting local clubs and services to the elderly, as well as toddlers groups and young people’s clubs, and, as my hon. Friend says, organising popular tours of the village for visitors to Broadstairs. May I also draw the House’s attention to Holy Trinity Margate, which is another fantastic example of a church delivering almost 24/7 social action?

Flood Relief Fund

2. Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): If the Church Commissioners will consider creating a Church of England relief fund for flood victims to which the public could contribute.

Sir Tony Baldry: Last Friday the Bishop of Taunton wrote to all parishes in the Bath and Wells diocese, giving details of how parishioners could both provide and access much-needed financial and practical support. On the wider question of a relief fund for flood victims, I think my hon. Friend was present on Monday when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told me that a number of charities were offering help for flood victims and promised that the Government would do more to signpost those voluntary organisations to help people in distress.

Mr Speaker: I think we have time for the questions; it is hoped that we have time for the answers.

Miss McIntosh: When we had severe flooding in 2000, the then Archbishop of York, Lord Hope, created a Church of England relief fund, through which we were very humbled to receive not just national donations, but donations from Mozambique, which is a very poor country, but it wished to show solidarity. I hope my right hon. Friend will use his good offices to create such a fund through the Church of England, to which both national and international donors will be able to contribute, if they wish to do so.

Sir Tony Baldry: Every parish in flood-affected areas is, where possible and practical, giving help to those affected by the floods, including making churches available for people who have been evacuated, providing drop-in centres, visiting housebound people and delivering food parcels. On the question of an overall fund, there is a feeling that there are already a number of national funds available to help flood victims and that the Church setting up a further fund may confuse rather than help.

Credit Unions

3. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): What guidance the Church Commissioners are providing to church congregations on supporting local credit unions.

Sir Tony Baldry: Substantial material on the Church of England’s website is publicly and readily available to church congregations to download to assist them in supporting local credit unions. The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to all clergy to encourage them and their parish churches to support the new resources, working with their local credit union and continuing to assist those in need.

Andrew Selous: The Dunstable deanery wants to set up a credit union, and the Money Matters credit union—I save with it myself—is working with Leighton-Linslade town council to set up a credit union in Leighton Buzzard. Churches can help there too. Do the Church Commissioners agree that we need more saving as well as more affordable lending?

Sir Tony Baldry: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Ever since the Archbishop of Canterbury indicated that the Church hopes over time to help compete payday lenders out of business, there has been considerable interest from parish churches right across the country about helping to support credit unions in their local areas and dioceses.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Will the Second Church Estates Commissioner take on board the fact that although many of us support credit unions, if we are to move with the times it is crowdfunding and crowdsourcing that are appropriate to local communities and congregations? That is being pioneered in some areas, so will he consider it?

Sir Tony Baldry: As the last debate on this subject in the House demonstrated, there are a number of responsible ways to help people in difficulties to access credit, other than recourse to payday lenders.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): Not just church congregations but individual members can use credit unions. Now that the law has been changed, organisations can set up community accounts. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that churches ought to look at investing their own funds in credit unions?

Sir Tony Baldry: Yes. Indeed, many churches are already doing so. I can send the hon. Lady details of a number of diocesan-led initiatives that are doing exactly that.

Bishop of Bath and Wells: Residence

6. Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): What recent discussions the Church Commissioners have had on further consultation on the decision to relocate the residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): At the invitation of my hon. Friend, I visited Wells on 25 January to attend a public meeting and listen to the views of local people. I promised that I would report those views to the governors of the Church Commissioners, which I shall do at their next meeting later this month. She also presented a petition at General Synod earlier this week. A number of questions on this matter were also asked and answered at General Synod.

Tessa Munt: Bearing in mind that there is unity between churchgoers and those who are not churchgoers, I will quote from a letter that I received last night, which said of the Church of England:

“It is most depressing to see it damaged by its own corporate actions… There are times when I look into the internal workings of the Church of England and despair.”

People understand that the investment arm can make a return on the latest asset of the Church Commissioners, the Old Rectory at Croscombe, by renting it out on the ordinary market. However, may I make a plea for a graceful and sensitive response to the thousands who have registered their disagreement with allowing the new bishop to move in, and for there to be real consultation?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend has made her views on this matter very clear. I have promised that I will report those views to the governors of the Church Commissioners later this month. I am sure that they will reflect carefully on all the representations that have been made on this matter.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Lady has not merely asked a question, but offered the House a treatise. Some might even judge it to have constituted a sermon.

Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Visits

8. Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): What reports he has received on the recent visits to South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have both been overseas in the past month. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visit to South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were part of his programme of visits to all parts of the Anglican communion. He saw at first hand the devastating impact of conflict and the huge difficulties that are faced by the Church and the wider population in areas of conflict and instability, as well as the key role that is played by the Church and the urgent need for far-reaching efforts towards reconciliation.

Fiona Bruce: The persecution of Christians and those of other faiths is increasing in the regions that have been visited by both archbishops. What work is the Church of England doing with churches on the ground to promote peace and stability in those areas?

Sir Tony Baldry: It is difficult, in the time that is allowed, to encapsulate the seriousness of this issue. The churches are keen to help rebuild their countries by strengthening communities through reconciliation, healing and the overcoming of fear. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, reconciliation requires people to face reality and to tell the truth about the suffering that has been experienced and the harm that has been done. He said:

“When there is enough confidence to meet each other, then honest talking is possible.”

He also stressed the importance of caring for those who have suffered. In each of those war-torn and conflict-stricken countries, one hopes and intends that the Church will be present, helping to bring reconciliation.

Mr Speaker: I hope that we all feel uplifted by the voice of Sir Tony. I feel sure that we do.

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General Synod - Church Times reports

Today’s Church Times has these two reports.

Dioceses given three months to vote on women bishops

Oil-less future looms for Synod

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

General Synod: Pilling Report

The audio recording of the final session on Wednesday dealing with the Pilling report is now available here.

The official report of the session says:

HUMAN SEXUALITY: REPORT FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS’ WORKING GROUP (GS 1929) AND NEXT STEPS

Sir Joseph Pilling made a presentation to the Synod on the report from the House of Bishops’ Working Group (GS 1929).

The Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, then spoke to the Synod about the process on the basis of the report.

Synod then asked questions to the process, which were answered by Bishop Steven Croft and Sir Joseph Pilling.

Earlier, on Monday, a number of other Questions relating to the report were answered by Bishop Steven Croft.

Answers given will be transcribed from the Monday afternoon audio recording soon.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

General Synod - Wednesday - press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph
Welby tells Church refusing gay blessings will be viewed like racism
[The headline on this article was changed after publication to “Justin Welby says ‘Church viewed liked racists over homosexuality’”.]
Girl Guides offers concession to Christians in row over dropping God from pledge

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK The Church and the Environment

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England vows to fight ‘great demon’ of climate change

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Climate change is ‘great demon of our day’

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Church Society calls for 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops

Church Society issued a press release this afternoon. In it the director of Church Society calls for the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

News Release from Church Society
12 February 2014

Lee Gatiss looks to Archbishop for credible action after positive words

‘I welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s Presidential Address to General Synod this morning, particularly his important reminder to us all that ‘where God is involved, there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing.’ He is absolutely right that if the Church of England is to live out its commitment to see conservative evangelicals flourish ‘there is going to have to be a massive cultural change’ that some may find threatening. I deeply sympathise with him when he confesses that this may be a hard course to steer, but am heartened when he says ‘Yet I know it is right that we set such a course and hold to it through thick and thin.’

After this candid speech, we are looking to him, in a positive and hopeful way, to make the claim that he wants evangelicals like us to flourish in the Church truly credible. He could do that in two ways: first, by engaging conservatives in real dialogue, listening in detail to our concerns; and second, encouraging and ensuring the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

A commitment in this area would convince us, including many young evangelicals exploring vocations, of the sincerity of the House of Bishops’ claim that they wish to provide for our flourishing. It would be a welcome game-changer in creating trust from our constituency. In an episcopal system, to which we are happily committed, this would be a very persuasive sign that we have a future.’

Lee Gatiss
Director, Church Society.

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General Synod - Wednesday

Order paper for the day

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod - Wednesday AM

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Wednesday PM

Press release on the environmental issues debate: General Synod re-affirms the Church of England’s commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change

Press release on the girl guides promise debate: Synod approves motion to support girl guides promise action

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WATCH and Forward in Faith respond to yesterday's votes on women bishops

WATCH press release

Women and the Church (WATCH)

Press Release Tuesday 11 February 2014 2.00pm

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

WATCH is very pleased that the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England is now proceeding. We look forward to having the first woman bishop being nominated by the end of the year.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said, “There was a real sense of wanting to move forward today”.

Forward in Faith statement

The Act of Synod and the House of Bishops’ Declaration
Feb 12, 2014

As part of the package of proposals regarding the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 is to be replaced by a House of Bishops’ Declaration and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (to be established by Regulations made under a new Canon).

Yesterday the General Synod welcomed the draft Declaration and Regulations and included the text of the new Canon in the legislation that will now be referred to the diocesan synods for approval. It also voted in favour, at the preliminary stage, of the draft Act of Synod that will eventually rescind the existing Act of Synod. We note that this will only come into force when the new Canon is promulged, thus ensuring continuity.

We welcome the fact that the new House of Bishops’ Declaration refers to the Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough by name. It notes that they will remain in existence as one of the means by which episcopal ministry is provided to parishes that pass resolutions under the Declaration.

We welcome the following statement by the House of Bishops in paragraph 23 of its most recent report (GS 1932):

‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation.’

We welcome the fact that, once the new Declaration has been finalized, the House of Bishops will only be able to amend it if the amendment has been approved by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod. This gives us assurance as we approach the new era that the legislation will initiate.

The Act of Synod has served the Church of England well. We are confident that the Declaration will enable us to flourish within its life and structures for generations to come.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker
Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Lay Vice-Chairman

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Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation

Press release following this morning’s General Synod debate on Safeguarding

Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation
12 February 2014

Synod voted today that proposals for draft legislation to enable the Church of England to deal more effectively with safeguarding issues be brought forward.

General Synod last July voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements following on from the Chichester Commissaries’ interim and final reports.

The proposals take into account not just the recommendations of the Commissaries but also other submissions made in the course of the Archbishops’ Council’s consultation. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014.

The proposed draft legislation outlined in full detail here will:

Tighten up procedures around temporary permissions to officiate in a local parish

Prevent clergy robing during a service when prohibited or disbarred

Give bishops power, where appropriate, to direct clergy to undergo a risk assessment (this is currently voluntary)

Prevent anyone who is on a barred list from serving as a churchwarden or as a member of a PCC, district council or synod

Prevent anyone with certain convictions in relation to children from serving as a member of a PCC, district council or synod.

Give bishops the power to suspend people from these posts and bodies if arrested on suspicion of committing certain offences against children.

Introduce similar provision covering lay workers and Readers.

Remove the 12 month Clergy Discipline Measure limitation period for bringing a complaint about sexual misconduct committed against children or vulnerable adults.

Extend the bishop’s power of suspension.

Three additional suggestions for reform include:

(i) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ current safeguarding policies

(ii) The imposition of a duty on all diocesan bishops to appoint a diocesan safeguarding advisor

(iii) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to undergo safeguarding training when required to do so by the bishop.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, Joint Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee said: “This is just one step towards the Church making itself a safer place for all while acknowledging that effects of abuse on survivors can be lifelong. We are determined to improve our procedures and policies. We recognise that simply changing these does not transform our DNA but is an important start. We can never be complacent and we continue to urge any victims or those with information about church-related abuse to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.”

Notes

July 2013 Synod safeguarding debate

May 2013 Response to Final Report of Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation

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Archbishop's Presidential Address to the General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to General Synod this morning. The text is available here: Archbishop’s Presidential Address to the General Synod preceded by this remark “In his presidential address to Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the need for ‘massive cultural change’ within the Church of England so that people can flourish together despite deeply held differences on issues such as sexuality and women bishops”.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

General Synod: Questions about ACNA

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q. Has an assessment been made of any implications of the appointment of the Revd Tory Baucum as one of Canterbury Cathedral’s Six Preachers from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA (with which the Church of England is not currently in communion)?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A. Careful thought and assessment has certainly been given to the appointment of Dr Tory Baucum from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA and also the relationship with The Episcopal Church of course with which the Church of England is in communion, and for that matter with the relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada who feel implicated in this, and also by a number of other churches around the Communion, particularly in the group known as the Global South. An invitation to be a Six Preacher is a personal appointment of the Archbishop and has no implications in itself as to ecclesial relationships. However this particular appointment is of a person who has a distinguished ministry in reconciliation, which he exercises carefully in his context. There was consultation with a number of people and the appointment has been enthusiastically welcomed by the local bishop of The Episcopal Church, bishop, Shannon Johnston, the Bishop of Virginia.

Supplementary question from Canon Goddard:

… Could you just say what steps have been taken to ensure that this appointment is not taken to mean that clergy ordained in this country by overseas bishops, without the permission of the diocesan, are nevertheless recognised in the Church of England.

A. Thank you. I’m straying slightly onto thin ice here. It is true that permission would need to be given under the 1967 Measure, which is presumably what you are thinking about, in order for Tory to preach here. But it will not be breaking new ground, because Tory having been ordained in The Episcopal Church, the permission can be given under Section 1 of the Measure. That is, on the basis that he has been ordained by a bishop of a church in communion with the Church of England. It will not therefore be based upon the recognition and acceptance of the orders conferred by the ACNA.

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Women bishops - press reports

BBC Women bishops: Church backs plan to fast-track scheme

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops plan fast-tracked after warning change ‘urgently needed’

Madeleine Davies and Tim Wyatt Church Times Women-bishops package makes brisk progress

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Church of England paves way for first women bishops

Penny Marshall ITV News Church of England moves closer to a vote on women bishops - but it’s not over yet

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this helpful summary: Women in the episcopate – further progress.

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General Synod - Tuesday afternoon

Here is the official summary of this afternoon’s business: General Synod - Tuesday PM and the order paper.

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General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate

Updated Wednesday morning
The paragraph italicised (by me) below originally referred the voting figures to the wrong item. It has now been amended by Church House.

Press release from the Church of England following today’s debates.

General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate
11 February 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today voted to pave the way for the legislative process to enable Women to become Bishops to be completed this year.

In a series of interrelated legislative and procedural items the Synod held four debates dealing with differing aspects relating to women in the episcopate.

The first synod discussion related to the House of Bishops draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure regulations - GS 1932.

Both the proposed declaration and accompanying regulations were drawn up by the House of Bishops at the invitation of the last meeting of the Synod.

The debate was opened by the Rt. Revd. James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, Chair of the Steering Committee, who moved “That this Synod welcomes the draft House of Bishop’s Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedures Regulations as set out in GS 1932”
The motion was passed by the Synod.

The second debate dealt with the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure - GS 1925A - and Draft Amending Canon No.33 - GS 1926A. At its meeting in November the General Synod voted to dispense with a Revision Committee Stage for the new legislation so that the Synod could conduct the Revision Stage in Full Synod.

After debate the revision stage for both the measure and the canon were completed without any amendments being made.

The Synod then gave preliminary consideration to the draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 - GS 1934.

The measure was accepted by Synod; and the amending Canon no.33 was passed by Synod by 304 votes to 33 with 45 abstentions.

The final debate on women in the episcopate in this session took the form of a procedural motion suspending Standing Order 90(b) (iii) so that the reference of the draft Measure and draft Canon to the Dioceses under Article 8 of the Synod’s Constitution can be concluded within 3 months rather than the 6 months stipulated under the standing order.

After debate the motion, requiring a 75% majority of the whole Synod, was approved by 358 votes to 39 with 9 abstentions.

The legislation now goes to the dioceses for approval. Provided a majority approve it by the 22 May deadline the General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate in July, less than 20 months after the failure of the earlier legislation to secure the necessary two-thirds majorities in November 2012. If passed the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.

An audio interview with the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, about the latest approval of legislation towards seeing Women in the Episcopate is available here.

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General Synod - Women in the Episcopate debates

Today (Tuesday) General Synod is holding a series of debates on the legislation on Women in the Episcopate. This article will be updated as the debates proceed.

The order paper for all the debates is here and includes the text of all motions before Synod.

First debate

Synod debated and passed this motion:

That this Synod welcome the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations as set out in GS 1932

Second debate

This was the revision stage of the draft Measure (GS 1925A) and Canon (GS 1926A). The draft measure was considered clause by clause.

Clause 1 is the clause that allows women to be bishops. After a short debate Synod voted to include it in the measure.

The amendment to Clause 2 was withdrawn, and Synod voted to include the clause in the measure.

The insertion of the proposed new Clause 3 was defeated.

Synod then quickly proceeded to accept the remainder of the draft measure. this completed revision (without amendment) of the draft measure GS1925A.

Third debate

After a very short debate a division of the whole synod was called on the draft amending canon. There were 304 votes in favour of the canon, 33 against and 45 recorded abstentions.

Fourth debate

The final part of the package is the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This requires another Act of Synod. Synod voted in favour of this new Act (which will require final approval at a later Synod).

At this point Synod broke (a little early) for lunch.

The official summary of the morning’s business is here: General Synod - Tuesday AM.

Fifth debate

The draft measure must be referred to dioceses (and a majority of them must vote in favour) before the legislation can proceed to final approval. Synod’s standing orders require dioceses to be given a minimum of six months to respond. But Synod was asked after lunch to agree to a suspension of the relevant standing order so that dioceses could be required to respond in time for final approval to be taken in July 2014.

The suspension of the standing order was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against, with 9 recorded abstentions. Motions of this sort require a 75% majority, which was comfortably met.

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General Synod - Tuesday morning press reports

BBC Women bishops law: Church asked to back fast-track scheme

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England admits selling Wonga stake will take a ‘little while’.

Reshma Rumsey ITV News Church of England Synod to vote on women Bishops

BBC Hundreds sign petition against Bath and Wells bishop move

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Monday, 10 February 2014

General Synod - Monday

General Synod opened its February group of sessions at 2.00 pm today. This page will be updated with notes on the business transacted.

There is a live video stream here.

The last item of business today is Questions (and answers). The questions themselves have been published here.

There was an Ethical Investment Advisory Group presentation to Synod.

Synod debated gender-based violence and passed this motion.

That this Synod, believing that all people are made in the image of God and that all forms of violence based on gender represent an abuse and violation of that image:
(a) affirm work already undertaken in dioceses, deaneries, parishes and Church of England schools in raising awareness and caring for survivors of gender-based violence in all our diverse communities;
(b) support measures to bring perpetrators to account and provide support for changed lifestyles;
(c) encourage boys and men to stand against gender-based violence; and
(d) commend Anglican Consultative Council Resolution 15:7 on preventing and eliminating gender-based violence to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and urge them to seek practical approaches to its implementation.

A press release was promptly released after the debate: Synod approves motion to affirm work in combating Gender-based violence.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod - Monday PM.

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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Pre-Synod press roundup

Updated Monday morning

The General Synod meets in London for three days, starting tomorrow (Monday). Here are some online news and comment articles about items on the agenda.

Church Times
Paul Handley Poll: lack of trust in Synod
Angela Tilby The Synod must get real on gay sex
Gavin Drake Churches urged to tackle domestic violence

These three refer to a diocesan synod motion on environmental issues.
Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK The Church of England mustn’t waste this opportunity to address the ravages of climate change
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Fracking and the Church of England
Independent Catholic News A ‘Beyond-Lightbulbs-Moment: CoE Synod to debate environment

John Bingham The Telegraph Final hurdle for women bishops to overcome

Kate Cooper blogs on Girl Guides and Female Bishops – The Plot Thickens.

Stephen Lynas blogs QUESTION: “Why do we never get an answer?”

There are links to the papers for the women in the episcopate legislation here, and to the agenda and other papers here.

Update

Tina Rowe Western Daily Press Petition to save role of Wells’ Bishop’s Palace goes to General Synod

Alice Collins Christian Today Women bishops legislation dominates Church of England General Synod

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Friday, 17 January 2014

General Synod agenda - early press reports

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England could appoint first female bishop ‘by Christmas’

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could name first woman bishops ‘by Christmas’

Liz Dodd The Tablet Women bishops could be appointed by Christmas if Church of England Synod can clear final hurdles

Madeleine Davies Church Times Women bishops possible in 2014, says Fittall

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General Synod Agenda

The usual pre-Synod press release, summarising the agenda, was issued this morning.

Agenda for February 2014 Synod
17 January 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.00 pm on Monday 10th February until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12th February.

The agenda for the meeting is published today. The main item of business will be the Revision Stage for the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. In an unusual move, this will be taken on the floor of the Synod without there having been a prior Revision Committee. There will also be three other debates as part of the women bishops process: on the Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure agreed by the House of Bishops in December; to initiate the process to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod; and to suspend part of the Standing Orders in order to accelerate the process for referring the legislation to the dioceses. These debates will take up much of Tuesday 11th February.

There will also be debates on Gender-Based Violence, the Girl Guides’ Promise, the environment and fossil fuels and the use of vesture in Church services. The Group of Sessions will conclude with a presentation on the report from the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. A Diocesan Synod Motion from the Guildford Diocesan Synod on the Magna Carta is listed as Contingency Business.

On the Monday afternoon there will be a presentation on Ethical Investment by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The EIAG will give an overview of the Church of England’s approach to ethical investment, in particular the work it has done on reflecting the Church’s position on alcohol more faithfully and supporting purposeful investment in business. It will summarise the issues that the EIAG is currently working on, including the use of pooled funds in ethical investment and an ethical investment approach to climate change.

This will be followed by a further policy-focused debate, this time on Gender-Based Violence. The debate will be preceded by a short presentation by Mandy Marshall and Peter Grant who are co-directors of Restored Relationships, an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.

Each session will be followed by a Question and Answer session with Synod members. The debate on Gender-Based Violence will be followed by a brief period of worship.

The sequence of business of Tuesday 19th November in relation Women in the Episcopate will be as follows. First, the Synod will debate a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. Secondly, there will be the Revision Stage on the floor of the Synod of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. Thirdly, Synod will give initial consideration to a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Finally, there will be a motion to suspend part of Standing Order 90 to reduce the normal minimum length of time for an Article 8 Reference to the dioceses from six months to three months to allow a faster passage of the final stages of the Women in the Episcopate legislation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address on the morning of Wednesday 12th February.

This will be followed by a debate on a package of proposals for legislative change in relation to safeguarding and related disciplinary matters, which has been developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries. This includes making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on relevant persons to have regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014 but given the importance and range of the proposals this report gives Synod the opportunity to consider the package in February before the legislation is prepared.

Later that morning, there will be a debate on a motion from the Southwark Diocesan Synod on Environmental Issues. This will build further on the work being carried out by the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The Diocesan Synod Motion calls for the establishment of a General Synod Working Group on the Environment to look into this further.

Two Private Members’ Motions will be debated on Wednesday afternoon. The first, tabled by Mrs Alison Ruoff (London Diocese), references the recent changes to the Girl Guides’ Promise. The second, to be moved by the Reverend Christopher Hobbs, calls on the General Synod to amend Canon B 8 so that the wearing of the forms of vesture referred to in that Canon ‘becomes optional rather than mandatory’.

Finally, there will be a presentation from Sir Joseph Pilling on the recent Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Human Sexuality which was published on 28 November. There will be an opportunity for questions on the process and next steps on the Pilling Report.

Click here for General Synod February Agenda and Papers

My usual list of online papers is here (women in the episcopate) and here (other items).

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February General Synod - online papers

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from Monday 10 February to Wednesday 12 February, and papers are now available online. I have already listed those relevant to Women in the Episcopate in an earlier posting and here are the remainder.

GS 1930 - Agenda

GS 1931 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1933 - Gender-Based Violence: Report by the MPA Council [Monday]

GS 1935 - Draft Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1936 - Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendement) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1936x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1937 - Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1937x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1938 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1939 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1938-9x - Explanatory Memorandum [item 506]

GS 1940 - The Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1940x - Explanatory Memorandum [item 505]

GS 1941 - Safeguarding [Wednesday]

GS 1942A & GS 1942B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Environmental Issues [Wednesday]

GS 1943A & GS 1943B - Private Member’s Motion: Girl Guides’ Promise [Wednesday]

GS 1944A & GS 1944B - Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Wednesday]

GS 1945A & GS 1945B - Private Member’s Motion: Magna Carta cContingency business]

Other Papers issued to members

GS Misc 1065 - Church Stipends Report 2013

GS Misc 1067 - Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2013

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper

HB(13)M4 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions December 2013

A zip file containing all the papers is also available.

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February General Synod - women in the episcopate

General Synod will be debating the latest proposals on women in the episcopate on Tuesday 11 February. The relevant papers have been released today.

The actual items of business can be found in the Agenda (GS 1930). In addition there are these papers.

GS 1932 - Draft Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and Draft Reolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations
GS 1925A - Draft Bishops and priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926A - Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1934 - Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993
GS Misc 1064 - House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests - Guidance Notes for Bishops and Parishes
GS Misc 1068 - Note by the Legal Advisers on clause 2

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931) has the usual comments on individual items of business, and those for Women in the Episcopate are copied below the fold.

Extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931)

Tuesday 19 November

Legislation on Women in the Episcopate

25. The main business of Tuesday 19th November will relate to Women in the Episcopate.

26. There will be four separate items of business. First the Synod will consider a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. The Synod had a first opportunity to consider drafts in November as part of the Steering Committee’s report but the House of Bishops had not at that stage discussed them in detail. This is the Synod’s opportunity to debate what the House has now agreed.

27. Secondly, the draft measure and amending canon will be considered on the Revision Stage. Because there was no Revision Committee Stage the normal 40 member rule for the consideration of amendments will not apply.

28. Thirdly, the Synod will be invited to consider, under the preliminary motion procedure, a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Since rescinding the Act of Synod constitutes Article 7 business, it will need to be considered by the House of Bishops before it comes for final approval at a subsequent group of sessions. It will also be open to the Convocations and the House of Laity to claim references.

29. Fourthly there will be a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii) so that the Article 8 reference of the draft measure and amending canon can be concluded in May, with a view to completing the remaining stages of the legislation at the July group of sessions. To pass, the motion will require a 75% majority. If the motion is not carried, the Business Committee will be required by SO 90 to allow at least six months for the reference, which means that the earliest date for its completion will be September.

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Baptism Service

Updated Sunday afternoon and evening, Monday morning The update includes a link to the experimental texts.

The Mail on Sunday published this article by Jonathan Petre today: Welby casts out ‘sin’ from christenings: Centuries-old rite rewritten in ‘language of EastEnders’ for modern congregation. The online version is dated yesterday, but was updated early today.

The Mail on Sunday also carries this editorial: Embarrassed Church’s sin of omission.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Church of England removes devil from christening service.

The Guardian carries this story from the Press Association: Church of England accused of dumbing down baptism service.

The Church of England issued this statement last night.

Statement on proposal to Synod on baptism service wording
04 January 2014

A Church of England spokesman said:
“The report in the Mail on Sunday (Jan 5) is misleading in a number of respects. The story claims that “the baptism ceremony had not been altered for more than 400 years until it was changed in 1980”. This is the third revision in 30 years.

The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use since Easter 1998. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.” Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptsim service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.

The Liverpool motion was passed by General Synod and as a consequence the liturgical commission has brought forward some additional materials for discussion by the General Synod at a future date where they will be subject to final approval by the Synod.

At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of the April. The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod.”

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK comments: Sin + sound bites = Sales?

Update

Miranda Prynne in The Telegraph Church of England accused of ‘dumbing down’ christening service

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England’s new baptism service condemned by former bishop

A booklet containing the full experimental additional texts for use in Holy Baptism is available for download: Christian Initiation: Additional Texts in Accessible Language. The booklet also contains guidance on their use, and a comparison with the current Common Worhsip texts. Clergy of the Church of England are reminded that under the provisions of Canon B 5A (Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods) these experimental texts may only be used in parishes authorized for this purpose by the archbishops.
[h/t Jeremy Fletcher]

Pete Broadbent doesn’t like the proposals: The experimental baptism rite - baptism lite.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia asks Is baptism being watered down?

Emily Gosden writes in The Telegraph: Sin? People think it’s about sex and cream cakes, says Archdeacon in baptism service row.

Christina Odone comments in The Telegraph: Don’t ditch the devil, he’s done great service to Christianity.

The Church Times report of the 2011 General Synod debate is available: More ‘accessible’ baptism prayers on the cards.

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Monday, 16 December 2013

February 2014 General Synod

General Synod will meet in London from 10 to 12 February 2014. The outline agenda was issued today, and is copied below.

One item requires some explanation - the proposal to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iiii). This appears to be a misprint for 90(b)(iii), which is the standing order requiring dioceses to be given at least six months to respond to a reference of Article 8 business (such as the legislation on Women in the Episcopate). If Synod agrees to suspend this standing order the reference to dioceses can be completed before the July 2014 meeting of Synod, thereby allowing final approval of the legislation to be taken then.

The texts of the private member’s motions and the diocesan synod motions are online.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2014 GROUP OF SESSIONS

Timetable

Monday 10 February

2 pm – 7.00 pm

2.00 pm Worship
Introductions, welcomes, progress of legislation
Report by the Business Committee
Dates of groups of sessions in 2016-2018
Presentation by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group
Gender-Based Violence: Report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council

Not later than 5.30 pm Questions

Tuesday 11 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion
10.45 am Women in the Episcopate: Consideration of the House of Bishops Declaration and draft disputes resolution procedure regulations

Legislative Business
Women in the Episcopate: Revision Stage for the draft Measure and Amending Canon

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
2.30 pm Women in the Episcopate: Continuation of Revision Stage for the draft Measure and Amending Canon

Preliminary consideration of the draft Act of Synod rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod

Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iiii)

Legislative Business
Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure
Church of England (Pensions) Amendment Measure
Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order
Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution

7.00-7.15 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 12 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Motion on proposed new legislation on Safeguarding

11.00 am Legislative Business
(Any uncompleted business from Tuesday)

Not later than 11.45 am Southwark DSM: Environmental Issues

2.30 pm – 5.30 pm

2.30 pm PMM: Alison Ruoff: Girl Guides’ Promise
PMM: Revd Christopher Hobbs: Canon B 8

Not later than 4.15 pm Pilling Report: Presentation and Next Steps (including Q&A)

Farewells

5.30 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business
Guildford DSM on the Magna Carta

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 16 December 2013 at 10:35pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

House of Bishops agree next steps towards Women in the Episcopate

Today’s press release following this week’s meeting of the House of Bishops includes this paragraph.

As part of their discussion on Women in the Episcopate, the House heard from members of the steering committee on women bishops on suggestions for the next steps in the process. The House agreed the text of a draft declaration and regulations for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure for debate at General Synod in February 2014. The House also agreed to begin at the February Synod the process for rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod so that all the elements of the new package could be agreed by the synod in July 2014.

The full press release is copied below the fold.

Meeting of House of Bishops December 2013
10 December 2013

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for two days in York on December 9 and December 10. This meeting was the first at which 8 women regional representatives attended the meeting as participant observers with the same rights as Provincial Episcopal Visitors.

Over its meeting the House covered a wide range of business including discussion of women in the episcopate, the Pilling report, the approval of experimental liturgy for Baptism, changes to legislative approaches on Safeguarding and discussion of the Anglican-Methodist covenant.

As part of their discussion on Women in the Episcopate, the House heard from members of the steering committee on women bishops on suggestions for the next steps in the process. The House agreed the text of a draft declaration and regulations for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure for debate at General Synod in February 2014. The House also agreed to begin at the February Synod the process for rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod so that all the elements of the new package could be agreed by the synod in July 2014.

The House discussed and approved proposals for a new governance framework to enable the Church to develop a strategic vision for safeguarding. The House also approved proposed recommendations for legislative changes on safeguarding to be brought to General Synod.

Sir Joseph Pilling attended the House to introduce a discussion on ways to address the recently published report on Human Sexuality, a paper commissioned by the House of Bishops as a report to the House.

Following the mandate from the General Synod in 2011, the House also discussed and gave its support for the experimental use of new additional liturgy for the Baptism of infants and young children. The new texts will be made available for use in January 2014 until April 2014 and will be discussed again by the House during its meeting in May.

The House also received updates on a range of work being undertaken in areas of ministerial education, training and clergy discipline.

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Monday, 9 December 2013

Bishops Welcome Senior Women Clergy to their Meeting

The eight elected senior women clergy are attending their first meeting of the House of Bishops this week. The Church of England issued this press release to mark the occasion.

Bishops Welcome Participant Observers to First Meeting
09 December 2013

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today welcomed eight women as participant observers to its meetings. The welcome follows the election of the eight senior women clergy from regions across the country.

In February of this year the House decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The necessary change to the House’s Standing Orders was made in May.

Elections for the eight senior women clergy were held in autumn of this year and the following were elected:

  • East Midlands - Ven Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield
  • West Midlands - Revd Preb Dr Jane Tillier, Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral
  • East Anglia - Ven Annette Cooper, Archdeacon of Colchester
  • South and Central - Ven Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown
  • South East region - Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney
  • South West region - Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells
  • North East - Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
  • North West - The Rev Libby Lane, Dean of Women in Ministry, Chester Diocese

Having taken up their role on 1st December, the two day meeting of the House of Bishops in York on December 9-10 will be the first meeting at which the participant observers will attend.

Left to Right Back Row:
The Ven Rachel Treweek, The Ven Nicola Sullivan, The Ven Annette Cooper, The Ven Joanne Grenfell

Front row:
The Revd Libby Lane, The Revd Jane Tillier, The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, The Ven Christine Wilson

There is a larger version of the photograph here.

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Synod Voting on women bishops

The electronic voting results from last weeks meeting of General Synod are now available. They include the vote to proceed with the current proposals to allow women to be bishops (item 11) which was passed by 378 votes to 8 with 25 recorded abstentions.

I have further analysed the votes by house, and added those who were absent and the vacant places on Synod. For this purpose I have used the list of members that was given to members of the press last week.

  For Against Abstain Absent Vacant
Bishops 35 0 1 9 7
Clergy 177 2 5 15 3
Laity 166 6 19 16 5
totals 378 8 25 40 15

Within the category “Absent” it is impossible from the available data to distinguish those who were genuinely absent from Synod at the time of the vote from those who were present but failed to vote or record an abstention.

My raw data is available as a spreadsheet. For each house it lists all members (grouped by diocese etc) and shows how each one voted.

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Homophobic bullying in the Church of England

Questions about this were asked on Monday evening. This topic had also come up last July, and indeed the preceding November.

This time it went like this:

Question 57
Dr Rachel Jepson: Which resources does the Board of Education recommend to be used with both staff and students in all Church of England schools to address LGBT bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board does not generally recommend resources to schools except those produced by itself. In this case the Board is overseeing a project to produce materials for Church schools to help them to combat homophobic bullying within the framework of Christian values and belief. The project consultant is currently writing materials prior to their being piloted in schools over next term.

Dr Rachel Jepson: What is the timescale for the project to which you referred and who is the project consultant who is writing the materials and what is their relevant expertise, please?

Bishop of Oxford: We have gone to someone who has been deeply involved in producing material in a particular diocese, so we do know we’ve got someone of expertise there, she has that previous track record. Precisely what timescale is, and indeed the name of the person, has escaped me, but I’ll make sure that you know.

Mr Robin Hall: In his July presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury pledged to use - and I quote - the best advice we can find anywhere. As Stonewall is the leading charity committed to tackling homophobia, is the consultant working closely with Stonewall, to make the most of their experience and expertise?

Bishop of Oxford: Stonewall is indeed involved, as one of the consultants, and other organisations too, with a good track record in this field. We are committed to having the very best consultants and experience that we can get.

Question 58
Mr Robin Hall: Given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call in July for a “a commitment to stamp out” homophobic bullying in Church of England schools, what work has been undertaken to log or track the number of incidents of homophobic bullying in our schools?

Bishop of Oxford: There is no national collection of statistics regarding bullying in schools and the Board of Education doesn’t ha