Thinking Anglicans

Review of Constitutions

Update Friday evening This cartoon by David Walker may assist those who are unfamiliar with the inner workings of Church House Westminster.

An interesting piece of business will start a process of consultation at General Synod on Tuesday of next week. This is a review of the constitutions of “bodies answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council”. These are

Board of Education
Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns
Council for Christian Unity
Finance Committee
Committee for Ministry of and among Deaf and Disabled People
Deployment, Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee
Ministry Council
Mission and Public Affairs Council

The proposals for consultation are in a paper (GS 1714 Review of Constitutions) available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page. In summary it is proposed to abolish the boards and replace them by a “lead person” and a “report and review” group elected by Synod and meeting once a year in July.

Glyn Paflin wrote about the proposals in the Church Times in a subscriber-only article last week. This is now generally available online: Newly ‘streamlined’ Council would shed old-style boards

The full procedure to be followed is described in the two paragraphs from the report of the business committee copied below the fold.

35. Under Standing Order 199, the constitution of bodies answerable to the Synod through
the Archbishops’ Council must be determined by the Council after consultation with the
General Synod, and at least once in every quinquennium the Council must review the
constitution of all these bodies and report to the Synod thereon. The Archbishops’
Council is now undertaking its quinquennial review, with a view to changes coming into
effect following the inauguration of the new Synod in November 2010.

36. The report of the review (GS 1714), which has been undertaken by a working
group appointed by the Council and chaired by Dr Christina Baxter, puts forward some
substantial proposals. The Council has agreed that these should form the basis for a
process of consultation, consisting of: a presentation to the February Synod (with an
opportunity for questions) and an opportunity for comments to be submitted by 30 April,
following which the group will conclude its work and submit its final recommendations
to the Archbishops’ Council. The Council will then report to the Synod and there will be
a Take Note debate in the July Synod, before the Council takes a final decision in the
autumn. Any consequential Standing Orders changes would come to the Synod for
approval in February 2010, so that new arrangements could come into operation at the
beginning of the next Synod, elected in autumn 2010.

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15 years ago

This seems to me to cut out accountability and also severely reduce the number of clergy and laity who can ‘govern’ or ‘direct’ these enterprises – Ministry Division has already cut out of its decision making all those who actually train ordinands!

15 years ago

As a member of one of these bodies, I can see that a smaller membership with a slightly tighter agenda would be good, but to cut them out altogether would mean that whole swathes of policy, developed by staff, would go unchecked. No single person can have the expertise needed to scrutinize all the work of these bodies – that is why the financial ones have been left as they are. I would have thought that education, faith and order and public affairs are just as important for a church.

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