I have already linked to the outline agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod. If normal practice is followed the full agenda and papers will soon be available online, and I will publish links as soon as possible.
Meanwhile the following press release was been issued by the Church of England this morning.
17 January 2011
Secretary of State for International Development to address the Synod.
Key debates on national Church plans for the quinquennium, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations, clergy discipline, parochial fees, baptism services, and marriage after divorce and the ordained ministry.
The Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, will address the Synod on the scope for greater collaboration between Government and the Church on the Millennium Development Goal of partnerships for development. This will also link in with the Big Society debate at the November Synod.
The Synod has been addressed from time to time by Cabinet ministers, including the Rt. Hon Hilary Benn in 2004 and the Rt Hon Clare Short in 1998, on different aspects of international development.
The General Synod will meet at Church House from 3.00 pm on Monday 7 February until mid-afternoon Wednesday 9 February.
Plans for the quinquennium
Synod will debate a strategic report from the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops looking at the opportunities and challenges facing the Church of England over the next five years and how work done at national level can support dioceses and parishes in meeting them.
Anglican-Roman Catholic relations
The report from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC): Mary – Grace and Hope in Christ, published in 2005, is the last of the second series of ARCIC reports to come to the General Synod for debate (the decision to initiate a third series of ARCIC studies was announced last year).
The motion from the Council for Christian Unity welcomes the dialogue between the two churches; notes the strengths and weaknesses of the ARCIC report and the areas for further work identified in the briefing paper from the Faith and Order Advisory Group; and encourages study of the report.
The debate will be preceded by a presentation by the Bishop of Guildford, Rt Rev Christopher Hill, (Chair of the CCU) and Bishop George Stack, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
The focus of the legislative business at this Synod is clergy discipline. In July 2009, the Synod passed a motion on this subject from the London Diocesan Synod and, in the following year, the Clergy Discipline Commission assessed what changes might be needed to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in the light of experience over the last seven years. The Commission’s recommendations, which do not involve fundamental changes to the existing legislation, now come before the Synod by way of draft amending legislation for first consideration. The Clergy Discipline Commission is also bringing to the Synod some changes to the Code of Practice under the 2003 Measure.
One additional proposed change to the legislation results from a motion passed by the Synod in February 2009 and would allow disciplinary proceedings to be brought against clergy who support organisations which have aims that are inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on race equality.
Parochial Fees Policy
Last year, Synod gave final approval to new legislation (which is now completing its parliamentary stages). The legal framework for setting fees will in future be significantly different and before the Archbishops’ Council draws up the first Fees Order under the new legislation the Council has decided that the new Synod should have a general debate about principles and their practical outworking.
The motion from the Liverpool Diocesan Synod asks for additional texts to be prepared as alternatives for passages in the Common Worship Baptism Services, which would be expressed in more culturally appropriate and accessible language than is perceived to be the case with the present services.
Marriage after Divorce and the Ordained Ministry
This provides the opportunity for a take note debate on the House of Bishops’ statement on Marriage after Divorce and the Ordained Ministry which was issued in June. The statement clarified the position on a number of matters including the possible appointment of bishops who may have married again after divorce or have married someone who has been divorced.
There will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York; and a celebration of Holy Communion at which the Archbishop of Canterbury will preside and preach.
The Business Committee has also scheduled for debate the following motion from Mr John Ward that was not debated at the November Synod during the discussions on the Anglican Communion Covenant, for lack of time. The motion seeks to specify two-thirds majorities (rather than simple majorities) in the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity at the Final Approval Stage for the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Covenant was referred to dioceses in December and is expected to return to the General Synod in 2012.
There will be two presentations: on ethical investment policy, from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group; and on the Weddings Project.
The Synod will also be asked to approve the appointment of the new Chair of the Synod’s Business Committee (following the Synod elections), and the new Clerk to the Synod (upon the retirement in March of David Williams).