The Church of Ireland General Synod met from 9 to 11 May, but we failed to report anything about it at that time.
There were several reports of the synod in the Church Times issue dated 17 May, but these are only available to subscribers.
The Church of Ireland official site has news reports linked from here. There is a detailed report titled Resolution Establishing Select Committee On Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief Passed.
Archbishop Michael Jackson said that there had been developments in the debate on Human Sexuality in the year since Synod 2012. “I sense now in 2013 more of a mood of sober carefulness than I have sensed before in relation to this most private of subjects and most invasive of areas. I also sense a proper fearfulness of insult and diminishment of others whom we are only now beginning to understand. If the passage of time has taught us any of this, then it is indeed good that time passes. There is no attractiveness or advantage in ripping ourselves or indeed our polity apart by the abstracted certainties which, all too readily, make it impossible for us to see the face of Jesus Christ in our neighbour and, I would have to add, in our enemy. This cannot continue to be a game of: cat and cat,” he said.
He said that the bishops and the Standing Committee had worked on drawing together the names of people who represent a broad range of human sympathy, life experience and geographical belonging in the complex organism that is the Church of Ireland of today to form the Select Committee. He said it was important to ensure that all points of view were included on the committee and said there must be room for co–options at later stages.
The Belfast Telegraph reported this under the headline Church denies ‘stalling’ on same-sex relationships.
The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke has denied that the creation of a Select Committee to consider same-sex relationships and human sexuality is an attempt by the Church to “stall” on handling this contentious issue.
At a General Synod press conference in Armagh he told reporters: “The subject of same-sex relationships is desperately divisive but we are trying to approach it in a systematic way.
“The creation of a Select Committee is not an attempt to kick anything into the long grass. If we rush things, people will want to think of ‘winning or losing’ but that is not the way the spirit of God works.
“ This is a time for people to listen generously to one another. It is no a stalling process, and I would not want to a party to anything which is evolved in this way.”
The Archbishop, who holds a traditional view of marriage, also said: “I have to be prepared to listen intently to the views of others. I have to be ready to the possibility of my mind and spirit being changed, and others will have to do likewise.”
The Church of Ireland Gazette carries reports of the synod and editorial comment in its 17 May issue. It had also carried a letter before the meeting, in its 3 May issue, which can be read in full here (scroll down) and starts this way:
It is almost beyond belief that there is not a single member of the proposed Select Committee on Human Sexuality who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (Gazette report, last week).
While there is space for two co-options, that these must come from General Synod – which (as far as I am aware) has only one openly gay member – makes it entirely possible that the committee will remain ‘straights only’.
Can we envisage the Church of Ireland setting up a committee with an all-white membership to examine the experiences of the growing number of ethnic minority people in our parishes?
Or could we imagine the State establishing a commission on gender equality with an all-male membership?