Thinking Anglicans

General Synod officers

Elections for officers of the Church of England General Synod have recently taken place and the following were elected.

House of Laity
Chair: Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford)
Vice-Chair: Mr Tim Hind (Bath & Wells)

House of Clergy
Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury: The Venerable Christine Hardman (Southwark)
Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York: The Revd Canon Glyn Webster (York)

The detailed voting figures have been issued to candidates and I have collated them into this web page.

The elections were carried out by STV (single transferable vote), with voters putting candidates in order of preference. When, as here, there is only place to be filled in an election, STV reduces to the successive elimination of the candidate with the fewest votes, and the re-allocation of those votes to the elector’s next preference, until one candidate has more than half the votes.

The turnout, particularly for the clergy elections, appears to be rather low. I don’t have definite figures for the number of eligible electors, but I don’t think the figures in the table below are significantly in error.

  votes cast electors percentage
turnout
Laity Chair 163 212 77
Laity Vice-Chair 162 212 76
Canterbury Prolocutor 90 142 63
York Prolocutor 32 60 53

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commentatorSimon SarmientoSimon ButlerLister TongePerry Butler Recent comment authors
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Simon Butler
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Simon Butler

These are important, and somewhat significant, election results. These four officers sit on key committees and Councils and have a considerable influence on decision-making, both publicly and privately. Giddings and Webster are back in again (Giddings as Chair rather than Vice Chair of the House of Laity) and Giddings especially is conservative theologically. But Hardman and Hind are more progressive in their thinking and they both replace more conservative predecessors. This means that the progressive voice is likely to be heard much more clearly in Synod’s foreground and background and that has to be more representative of the Church of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Simon Butler, for your summing up of the election of influential Officials on the C.of E. General Synod. It would appear that members of G.S. may be more ready to cope with the reality of modern thinking. At least, the House of Clergy may be led in a more balanced and inclusive way on issues of human sexuality and gender. Despite the promotion of Dr Giddings from Vice to substantive Chair-person in the House of Laity, one might hope that the rest of his committee members would be inclined to think differently from him about these important issues… Read more »

Lister Tonge
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Lister Tonge

But what on earth are we to make of the low ‘turnout’ of this new Synod? Aren’t these the people we elected to represent our various interests rather than to abstain from representing them?

Perhaps we shall soon have lists of who didn’t bother to vote.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

I have to agree with Lister. It is nothing short of scandalous coupled with the fact that the turn out for GS elections is also so poor. How can GS which, frankly, takes itself ever so seriously as the C of E’s governing body ever have real legitimacy for some of its decisions when we know it is not really representative and on the ground so few seem to care ( or know) much of what it gets up to. This is surely something that needs looking into… and perhaps this is why at the parish level we drift into… Read more »

Simon Butler
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Simon Butler

Two possible reasons for the low turnout among clergy:
1. It’s been very cold and lots of snow…people may not have had chance to get their voting papers back.
2. 33% of synod members are new and some will have not felt they know the candidates well enough to take a considered view.

Simon Sarmiento
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Simon B, are there separate postal arrangements for clergy and laity? 🙂

Lister Tonge
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Lister Tonge

Just to underline the point touched on by Perry Butler: the General Synod of the Church of England is a body which effectively creates laws in this country. It is incredible that its members can have so little regard for its functioning.

Further, would we tolerate such a low turn out in the nations other legislative bodies?

One thing is certain, our Synod members are aiding the cause of those who now recognize our ‘Established’ status as, at best, an anachronism and, at worst, an affront. The expense alone puts it far past being a joke.

Simon Butler
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Simon Butler

Simon S, yes. I only received voting papers for the elections I was entitled to vote in. There are separate voting papers for laity and clergy.
A further thought about turnout…the York Prolocutor was particularly low and Glyn Webster is a much-liked figure, despite his quiet opposition to the ordination of women as bishops…turnout could be low because people expected him to be returned and didn’t want to vote for him because of his views.

Simon Sarmiento
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Simon B, sorry, my feeble attempt at humour was a reference to the higher turnout among the laity who have experienced the same snowfall as the clergy… and whose papers were sent out on the same timescale.

commentator
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commentator

Seeing the election of Mr Giddings to such an influential post makes me wonder if the members of the Laity who voted for him have ever had the chance to read the sermons Mr Gidding preaches, especially those that disappeared from the website of his church during ‘the Reading fiasco’.
I doubt that many would think casting their vote for the author of such things was a wise and sane choice. – Sadly I cannot evidence my opinion as I do not possess the IT skills to recover these texts. Would that somebody could!