Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – day 1 – Monday 13 February

Updated during the day and on Tuesday

The General Synod of the Church of England is meeting in London from Monday 13 to Thursday 16 February. Links to the agenda and papers are here and here.

Order paper for Monday’s business

The final item of business on Monday is Questions. The questions and answers have been published in advance here and Synod will move directly to supplementary questions and answers when it gets to this item of business, which will be at about 5.30 pm.

Harriet Sherwood of The Guardian has been looking at the answer to question 36: C of E warns of ‘corrupting pressures of politics’ in response to Trump fears.

Olivia Rudgard of The Telegraph looks ahead to an item scheduled for Tuesday: Church of England ministers could work beyond the age of 70 to ease recruitment crisis.

Monday’s session starts at 3.00 pm from when there will be a live video stream of the proceedings.

Business included:

Synod agreed to include a Saturday in future dates (from 2018) for its February meetings in London. This will not result in longer meetings, but they will start later in the week.

This motion, marking the 500the anniversary of The Reformation, was passed:

That this Synod, in the context of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the European Reformation and the Church of England’s understanding of the doctrine of justification as expressed in our historic formularies:
(a) give thanks to God for the rich spiritual blessings that the Reformation brought to the Church of England;
(b) welcome signs of convergence between the churches on the doctrine of salvation, noting Resolution 16.17 of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016 regarding the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and its relation to the Helsinski Report and ARCIC II’s Salvation and the Church; and
(c) commend initiatives in this anniversary year to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation between churches, for the sake of our deeper renewal in the grace of God and our ability to share the gospel of salvation with all the world.

[Press release: General Synod hails reconciliation as Christians mark 500th anniversary of the Reformation]

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this presidential address.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Monday

Audio of all the sessions

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury suggests Brexit ‘in fascist tradition’

Harry Farley Christian Today Trump, Brexit And Fascism Leave UK ‘Savagely Divided’ – Archbishop Of Canterbury

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Rumbling and Remembering

Patrick Foster The Telegraph Donald Trump is part of a ‘fascist tradition of politics’, says Archbishop

Tom Embury-Dennis Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby links Donald Trump and Brexit to fascism


  • Further to Anthony Archer’s question (Q9) concerning young people’s attitudes on the Church’s stance on sexuality, and the Bishop of Ely’s response that young people’s views should inform and shape the Church’s mission including education….

    On the subject of state-funded Church of England schools, will gay and lesbian sexuality be promoted as legitimate expressions of human sexuality in these schools? will faith schools assert that sex should only be for heterosexual partners? will teachers, as role models, be able to openly inform pupils they are in lesbian and gay relationships and marriages? and will LGBT support groups be allowed and encouraged in school? The answer to another question (Q24) covers these concerns, but leaves me unconvinced about provision and care, and the impact (that Anthony alludes to) on young people’s perception of the Church of England.

    If civil government is funding faith schools, should those schools promote and encourage the values (of equal marriage, LGBT rights and legitimacy) of civil society to young people? If LGBT orientation and identity are not positively promoted, does that not leave young people feeling unvalidated and in some senses stigmatised by the faith ethos that permeates their education?

    Should Parliament have a say in what faith schools should teach on sexuality (given a/state funding b/the vulnerability of LGBT young people if their identity gets vilified as sin)? If gay and lesbian sexuality are not positively promoted in schools, does that devalue and demoralise LGBT youth, and erase their sexuality as something to be suppressed or overcome? And does it play into the hands of homophobes and bullies, by confirming the lesbian and gay expression as somehow less open, less accepted, and ‘less right’?

  • Savi Hensman says:

    I was most surprised to read, on page 5 of the questions and answers, that the Shared Conversations showed little appetite for changing the church’s teaching on marriage (presumably even to the extent of acknowledging the validity of second marriages after divorce). Of course few people would have expected any immediate changes to canon law. But it was my impression, from what participants said, that many would have liked to see liturgical marking of marriages of same-sex couples and eventually church weddings. This would, I thimk, be the view of about half the people who identify as Church of England members who have an opinion on the matter. Perhaps those who took part could comment?

  • Leon Clarke says:

    Savi Hensman:

    I got the impression that the shared conversations were confidential and very different in nature to an opinion poll. The suggestion that they could have reliably shown the degree of appetite for changing anything seems absurd.

  • Anne Lee says:

    Live streaming currently not working, at least with Safari. Church House Westminster know this and have said there is a problem. Very sad.

  • Interesting supplementary question from Priscilla White, asking what work the Bishops are doing on BTQIA individuals and their sexualities.

    Reply from the Bishop of Norwich: the bishops haven’t got round to doing it yet and they don’t yet know how to approach it. Anyone with ideas should offer them.

    For a start, on the issue of trans people in and outside the Church, they may find it helpful to get in touch with Bernard and Terry Reed at GIRES, who have huge experience in helping organisations (such as the NMC) in exploring the specific needs and issues around trans people.

    It might also be of great assistance if they co-opted Christina Beardsley, and drew on the insights of Chris Dowd who has done valuable research on the subject of Christianity and trans experience.

    The assistance, insights, and advice of these four people would be a huge starting point for the bishops. I’m of course also happy to engage, but those four individuals would be go-to people in my opinion.

  • John Swanson says:

    Re attitude to LGBT issues in church schools: whilst all schools are different, I have just run a selection process for a new Head of the Voluntary Controlled school that I am chair of Governors of. I put in the draft recruitment pack “we are inclusive churches and no one should feel inhibited from applying because of the circumstances of their private life”. I was rather expecting to get slapped down, but the Director of Education (someone who presents as quite evangelical) in this Diocese (a Diocese with a Bishop whom I perceive as being somewhat in the Welby evangelical-managerial mould), made no comment and participated positively in our interviews. So credit there.

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