Synod will be asked to agree the setting up of the new Faith and Order Commission, in succession to three bodies: the Doctrine Commission, the Faith and Order Advisory Group and the House of Bishops’ Theological Group. This represents a streamlining and concentration of the Church of England’s theological resources at national level.
Here are the web pages of the Faith and Order Advisory Group.
The paper explains the current situation and proposed changes this way:
1. This paper sets out a proposal that the current theological resources of the Church of England at the national level should be brought together to form a new Faith and Order Commission of the General Synod (‘the Commission’). As well as consolidating the present arrangements, the proposal offers scope for a more focused and streamlined handling of work in this area in the future.
2. The proposal has been prepared in discussion with the chairs of the Council for Christian Unity, the Faith and Order Advisory Group (‘FOAG’) and the House of Bishops’ Theological Group. The idea has also been considered by FOAG, the House of Bishops Theological Group, the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the House itself, and has been supported, with minor amendment, at each stage. The Archbishops’ Council has been kept informed and we endorse the proposal.
3. Theological resourcing for the Church of England at the national level is currently provided by the Doctrine Commission, the House of Bishops’ Theological Group, and FOAG.
4. The Doctrine Commission has provided extensive theological resources in the past, normally in the form of major set piece reports, published every five years or so, but has been in abeyance for several years.
5. The Theological Group advises the House of Bishops and its Standing Committee on theological issues that arise within the work of the House or the College, offering reflection on all theological aspects of the House’s agenda. This provision would continue under the new arrangements.
6. FOAG provides theological resources and reflection for the House or College of Bishops and the Council for Christian Unity and through them for the Synod. Over the years, FOAG has produced a number of reports and other documents which have been adopted by the House of Bishops and made available to the wider Church. FOAG’s main strength is in ecclesiology and ecumenical theology, though it currently also contains expertise in biblical studies, liturgy and ethics, and this sort of expertise will be needed in the new Commission. FOAG normally has several bishops among its membership. It scrutinises draft ecumenical agreements and other ecumenical and ecclesiological texts involving the Church of England. The members and the episcopal chair of FOAG are appointed by the Archbishops. It receives commissions of work from either the House of Bishops or the CCU.
7. The current proposal is for the establishment of the Commission, which will incorporate FOAG, the House of Bishops’ Theological Group and the Doctrine Commission. The Commission will therefore have a special relationship to the House of Bishops and to the Council for Christian Unity (as FOAG has now)