Comments: July General Synod - online papers

Notable in GS 2064:

"The Church Commissioners may make grants out of their general fund to the Archbishops’ Council for the purposes of the Council’s functions."

This raises at least two questions.

What are the "Council's functions"?

And what is the "general fund" of the Church Commissioners? Is it the same as their "investment fund," which amounts to £7.9 billion?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 16 June 2017 at 8:13pm BST

To answer my own first question, here is the account that the Archbishops' Council gives for itself:

"Objects

"The objects of the Council under the National Institutions Measure 1998 are to 'co-ordinate, promote, aid and further the work and mission of the Church of England'. The Council seeks to do this by:

"giving a clear strategic sense of direction to the national work of the Church of England, within an overall vision set by the House of Bishops and informed by an understanding of the Church's opportunities, needs and resources;
"encouraging and resourcing the Church in parishes and dioceses;
"promoting close collaborative working between the Church's national bodies, including through the management of a number of common services (Communications, Human Resources, IT etc);
"supporting the Archbishops with their diverse ministries and responsibilities; and
"engaging confidently with Government and other bodies.

"Goals

"Contributing to the Common Good: promoting resourceful communities infused with the values of God's kingdom and, particularly at a time of economic hardship in society, enhancing the capacity and commitment of the Church to stand alongside people facing unemployment and financial insecurity.
"Going for Growth: seeking sustained spiritual and numerical growth in the Church of England.
"Reimagining Ministry: reshaping,'re-imagining' and re-energising ministry, both lay and ordained, in the Church of England so that it is equipped both to grow the Church in every community and contribute to the common good."

I thought that one of Synod's chief functions is to approve the Church of England's annual budget.

Will the language in the proposed measure cut General Synod out of any role in designating how the funds from the "general fund" of the Church Commissioners are to be spent?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 16 June 2017 at 8:18pm BST

Jeremy - There is no such thing as the Church of England's annual budget. What the General Synod approves is the budget of the Archbishops' Council (and it will be asked to do this on the Monday afternoon).

Synod has no direct control over the Church Commissioners. It does have indirect influence, eg via the Commissioners that are elected by Synod. It can also pass Measures (subject to parliamentary approval) to alter the Commissioners' functions as it did when it gave the Commissioners power to spend capital on clergy pensions.

I have added a link to the Commissioners' 2016 report which is on the Synod agenda on the Friday for a presentation and questions. I'll leave you to work out the differences between the various funds.

Posted by Peter Owen at Saturday, 17 June 2017 at 12:03pm BST

Peter, the Church of England itself says that Synod "approves the annual budget for the work of the Church at national level."

If that's the same thing as the Archbishops' Council's budget, then good.

I assume that these new grants would be part of that budget, so that Synod will have some say as to the use of a potentially large, and growing, stream of revenue.

Perhaps that question should be asked, if the answer is not already clear to those more knowledgeable than I about Synod.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 17 June 2017 at 2:04pm BST

Jeremy - yes that annual budget is the Archbishops' Council's budget.

The Church Commissioners currently have no power that would enable them to apply their funds towards furthering the mission and work of the Church of England generally. The proposed new power for the Commissioners to make grants to the Archbishops' Council will be considered as part of the debate on GS 2064.

The is a miscellaneous provisions measure, and as such its provisions are supposed to be non-controversial. But these new grants would not be new money and would have to be taken from somewhere else, most likely the grants to dioceses I suspect. Some Synod members might find this controversial.

Posted by Peter Owen at Saturday, 17 June 2017 at 10:52pm BST

I have read GS1158 very quickly. My first thought is that this is just the same old same old. The documents show no development, no committment to change, no empathy, no sensitivity. And as for the lists of the various participants, where are our voices? NO DISCUSSION ABOUT US WITHOUT US. This will not do, the bishops have learned nothing and the whole project is already dead in the water.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 23 June 2017 at 8:55pm BST
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