The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in York from 10 to 13 July 2009. The following press release was issued a short time ago.
NEWS from the Church of England
For immediate use
July Synod Briefing – Debates on Church finance, legislation, governance, and the Church’s ministry in the community
The Agenda for the July Synod, meeting at York University from Friday 10 July to Monday 13 July, will be primarily concerned with financial issues, legislation and other governance issues. There will also be opportunity for discussion of The Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Inquiry, urban life and faith, and ministry with people with learning disabilities.
There will also be one item of liturgical business (the Additional Weekday Lectionary), an update by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Anglican Communion matters (following the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica), and consideration of the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners annual reports.
The credit crisis and the accompanying recession provide a new and challenging context and opportunity for a debate on Christian Stewardship. The debate is resourced by a report from the National Stewardship Committee and an accompanying parish guide, which the Synod is invited to commend to dioceses, deaneries and parishes for discussion and action. The Synod will have the opportunity to consider the current target of Church members giving 5% of their income to their local church.
The Synod will also receive a presentation from the Clergy Pensions Task Group on the main findings of the Group’s work and the options for the future of the Clergy Pensions Scheme. The Task Group’s report, which looks at the funding of the scheme and the impact of the current financial recession, will start a consultation process with bodies which sponsor the scheme, with a prospect of a Synod decision in February 2010 on the way forward.
The Archbishops’ Council established a review group under the chairmanship of Andrew Britton (Chair of Finance Committee) to undertake a strategic financial assessment of the Council’s spending priorities for the period 2010-2015. The report will be the subject of a take note debate in the Synod before the Council gives more detailed consideration to the outworking of the report’s conclusions, in the context of the 2011 and subsequent budget rounds. The Synod will also be asked to approve the Council’s budget for 2010.
The principal two items of legislative business are the revision stage for the draft Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure, which received first consideration at the February Synod, and approval of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations, which will set out the detailed terms of ‘Common Tenure’, following on from the Measure which will introduce new terms of service for the clergy having received the Royal Assent.
There will also be the final approval of two draft Measures, revised in February, which deal with issues relating to Crown appointments, a number of changes to the Rules of the Funded Pensions Scheme and the Past Service Scheme, and some detailed changes to the Church Representation Rules and the Clergy Representation Rules (which give effect to the recommendations of the Synod’s Elections Review Group).
Synod will give First Consideration to two draft measures which will consolidate various pieces of legislation on pastoral reorganisation and on the care of cathedrals.
The motion from the Bradford Diocesan Synod invites the General Synod to request the Archbishops’ Council to formulate proposals for reductions in the number of episcopal and senior clergy posts, taking into account the number of stipendiary clergy over the past 30 years, and to make recommendations to the Synod within three years. Amongst the resources for this debate is a paper from the Dioceses Commission, which sets out the work which it has been undertaking since its reconstitution last year.
Diocesan synod motions from London and Chelmsford express concerns about the pastoral implications of the Clergy Discipline Measure and ask for a review of the practical outworking of the Measure and the Code of Practice. The debate will take place on the London DSM. The Clergy Discipline Commission has itself undertaken a review of aspects of the Clergy Discipline Measure and the Code of Practice under it and this is one of the resources for the debate.
The Constitutions Review Group was set up by the Archbishops’ Council under the chairmanship of Dr Christina Baxter to conduct the quinquennial review of constitutions of bodies accountable to the Archbishops’ Council. The report of the review group was the subject of a presentation and questions at the February Synod. Since then there has been a consultation process. The Archbishops’ Council has considered the revised report of the review group and invites the Synod to endorse the Group’s recommendations, and to ask the Council and the Standing Orders Committee to take steps to implement them. Under these proposals, which aim to make present arrangements lighter and more flexible, the present Boards and Councils would be replaced from November 2010 by lead persons for each area of work, supported by small reference groups.
The Church’s ministry and the community
A Good Childhood was published just before the February Synod. It was a landmark report of the first major independent inquiry into childhood and was commissioned by The Children’s Society. The purpose of the Synod debate is to provide an opportunity for Synod members to respond to the findings of A Good Childhood, and to lay foundations for a debate in due course on the Board of Education’s children’s and youth strategies.
A presentation by Bishop Stephen Lowe will provide an opportunity for him to reflect on his three years’ work as Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, and there will be opportunity for Synod members to ask questions and offer brief reflections.
A report entitled Opening the Doors: Ministry with People with Learning Disabilities and People on the Autistic Spectrum has been produced by the Committee for Ministry of and among Deaf and Disabled People and the Mission and Public Affairs Division, and an accompanying DVD is also being circulated. The Synod is invited to commend the guidelines contained in Opening the Doors to dioceses and parishes.
There will also be a presentation and group work for Synod members on a report from the Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Advisory Group, on the report from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission on Life in Christ.
Anyone can keep in touch with the General Synod while it meets. Background papers and other information will be posted on the Church of England website ahead of the General Synod sessions. Audio files of debates along with updates on the days’ proceedings will be posted during the sessions, which will also be live streamed by Premier Radio.
To hear a new podcast with David Williams, Clerk to General Synod, click here.