Updated Monday evening
Archbishops’ message: Don’t be unkind to the Church or each other
Church’s vision is for more front-line ministry, not less, Archbishop of York tells Synod members
Synod members hear significant changes planned for church safeguarding
This is the right moment to act, housing commissioners tell Synod
Press release from the Church of England
Report on housing crisis ‘challenge to the soul’ of the Church of England – Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of York General Synod Address on progress of Vision and Strategy – February 2021
Stephen Lynas bathwellschap I can’t see nobody…
There is a recording of the whole day’s session on YouTube here.13 Comments
Updated Saturday morning
The February 2021 General Synod Questions (and answers) have been published. These are written answers only as there will be no opportunity for supplementary questions at the informal meeting of Synod on Saturday.
The papers for the meeting are online here; they include these.
Stephen Lynas previews today’s meeting on his bathwellschap blog: We don’t talk any more.
You can watch General Synod live here.0 Comments
See previous report from 15 December.
CofE press release today:
The Archbishops’ Council has approved the next steps in independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team (NST), with the first phase to be implemented by the summer. The paper by Revd Dr Malcolm Brown on the proposed interim arrangements is to be presented to General Synod members on Saturday. The proposals for this new structure were presented to an informal meeting of the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council this week, with Council members then approving the paper. During the meeting members noted the importance of being able to review the structure after a set period and further detail needed on Phase 2 once the Board was in place. Dr Brown noted his thanks to MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) and members of the Survivors’ Reference Group who acted as consultants. Together, they formed a Focus Group and considered an early draft of the proposals and their report offered numerous comments and suggestions, with as many as possible incorporated into this paper.
The Archbishops’ Council originally voted on independent oversight in December.
The paper containing the proposals as issued to General Synod is a page longer than the version linked above.
Here is a link to the copy that includes the cover page (total page count 20).
As we published earlier the February meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod has been postponed to April, but there will be an informal meeting on Saturday 27 February. The timetable for this has been published today, and is copied below.
There will be no question time in February, but the Business Committee has agreed that members can submit questions for written answers only not later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16 February. Supplementary questions will not be taken at this informal meeting. The questions booklet will be circulated on Thursday 25 February.
INFORMAL MEETING OF SYNOD MEMBERS SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2021
10.30am Opening Worship
10.40am Introduction by the Chair of the Business Committee
10.50am Reflections from the Presidents
12.10pm Vision and Strategy
12.50pm Story of hope and salvation
1.00pm Voting Test
2.00pm Story of hope and salvation
2.10pm Safeguarding update, including screen break
3.15pm Story of hope and salvation
3.25pm Archbishops’ Commission on Housing
4.30pm Story of hope and salvation
5.00pm Close of meeting
The meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod planned for the end of February has been postponed, although there will be an informal online meeting on 27 February. Details are in today’s press release.
Synod to discuss challenges facing the Church and world amid coronavirus lockdown
General Synod is to hold a special online meeting next month examining challenges facing the Church and world in light of the coronavirus pandemic followed by a formal session in the spring, as a result of the current lockdown restrictions.
Members will discuss questions including the future shape of the Church in the wake of Covid-19, independent oversight of safeguarding and proposals by a Commission of the Church of England towards addressing the Housing Crisis at a meeting held entirely remotely on February 27.
Legislation and other business which can only be addressed in a formal session will be discussed slightly later – expected to be from April 23 to April 24. The two meetings will replace the planned group of sessions which would have taken place from February 26 to March 1.
The decision was taken by the officers of Synod – the Archbishops, Prolocutors of Canterbury and York of the House of Clergy, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity with the support of the Chair of the General Synod Business Committee.
It was taken in order to follow the Government’s call for people to stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Officers of General Synod agreed that Synod chairs and the staff needed to manage formal proceedings should not be required to travel or gather together at the moment.
The decision to hold an extra meeting means Synod will be able to discuss vital questions facing the church and society in February and still address legislative business in the spring, without having to delay discussions to the July group of sessions.
Synod will also have an opportunity to engage in detail with the recently published Living in Love and Faith resources on human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage later in the year.
The Revd Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor of Canterbury, said: “Clearly the Covid-19 situation needs to improve before we can ask staff and chairs of Synod to gather together or travel anywhere safely.
“What matters most is that we do the essential business we need to in the coming months and we all can hope that this will be much safer after Easter.”
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, said: “Deciding to change the focus of what we can achieve through a virtual Synod has not been easy.
“However, as a medical doctor, I am acutely aware of the need to keep us all safe, not least when I think about our excellent Synod staff and chairs.”
The Revd Canon Sue Booys, Chair of the General Synod Business Committee, said: “The February meeting will be focusing on looking ahead to the aftermath of the pandemic and how the Church can help our communities recover.
“I look forward to a formal session at the end of April when we can address some key remaining legislative business prior to July.”17 Comments
The Church of England General Synod next meets from Friday 26 February to Monday 1 March 2021. The draft timetable for the meeting was published today, and is copied below the fold.7 Comments
The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 on Monday until 1530 today. The papers are available here.
Order paper 4 – details of the morning’s business
Order paper 5 – details of the afternoon’s business
This was followed by final approval of a new Diocesan Boards of Education Mesure: Diocesan Boards of Education Measure approved by General Synod.
Reports from members and the press
Stephen Lynas Who’s sorry now?
Andrew Nunn ‘Wearing thin’2 Comments
House of Bishops – Monday 23rd November 2020 via Zoom
The House of Bishops met on the evening of Monday 23rd November, in the margins of Synod, and approved the Religious Communities Regulations 2020 as set out in (GS 2192) (“the Regulations”).
The Religious Communities Regulations set out the conditions a community must meet in order to be declared, under Canon DA 1, to be a religious community in the Church of England. These conditions include the requirement that all religious communities of the Church of England must comply with all House of Bishops Safeguarding policies and practice guidance.
This legislation follows on from a resolution at General Synod in February 2018. The resolution called on the Business Committee to provide a framework for religious life in the Church of England noting the historic importance of religious communities in the life of the faithful and celebrating the many new expressions of the religious life through Recognised and Acknowledged Communities.
Once approved by the House, the Regulations will be subject to approval by the General Synod.
The House then briefly received updates from the various works streams operating under the auspices of the Emerging Church Groups, with a forward look to the House of Bishops meeting in December, where they will be discussed in greater detail.0 Comments
Update – the voting figures below were corrected on Wednesday morning; there is an explanation in this order paper.
The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 today until 1530 on Wednesday. The papers are available here.
Order paper 1 – details of the afternoon’s business
The Archbishops gave a joint presentation to Synod, summarised in this press release: We must change to become a ‘simpler, humbler, bolder Church’ – Archbishops tell Synod. There are links to their full remarks here and here.
There was a debate on the response to the covid-19 pandemic (GS 2192) at the end of which this motion
That this Synod, recognising the profound challenge to life and wellbeing posed by the Covid-19 pandemic:
(a) call upon the whole church to hold in prayer all those ill, bereaved, unemployed or suffering mentally as a result of the virus, to pray for Her Majesty’s Government and all who hold responsibility for navigating the intractable dilemmas that Covid-19 poses;
(b) give thanks for the continuing selfless service of NHS and social care staff, scientists, and key workers in every sector, encouraging all to follow their example by affirming the common good over sectional interests;
(c) request the church’s representatives, in conversations with Her Majesty’s Government, to press the case for reducing social inequalities, especially the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME people, children living in poverty, disabled people, elderly people and those living with chronic health conditions, and to reflect concerns expressed by Synod in debate on this motion;
(d) express concern that the God given image, dignity and value of disabled and/or elderly people, including all those in residential care homes, are diminished when they are denied access to the same level of health care as the rest of the population;
(e) call on Her Majesty’s Government to preserve the United Kingdom’s foreign aid budget at 0.7% of GDP, sending a strong signal that the United Kingdom is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe;
(f) celebrate the role of churches in building mental and spiritual resilience to face the crisis and, affirming the role of worship and the sacraments as the source of Christian service and discipleship, call upon Her Majesty’s Government immediately to review the decision to curtail public worship during lockdown.
was passed by 349 votes to 5 with 9 recorded abstentions.
There was then the usual debate on the Report of the Business Committee (GS 2179). There was a counted vote on the motion to take note of this report with 179 votes in favour, 56 against and 24 recorded abstentions. The significant vote against might be explained by this speech from Jayne Ozanne.
The day’s business concluded with Questions.
Reports from members and the press
Stephen Lynas Can’t take my eyes off you
Andrew Nunn Crystal Maze
Church Times Synod highlights injustices in pandemic response4 Comments
The questions (and their answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod have been published.19 Comments
One of the papers, released ten days ago, for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod is GS 2184 Response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s Final Investigation Report into the Anglican Church. This has been followed up today by the following press release.
Update on Church’s response to IICSA report
Following the publication (Oct 6) of its overarching IICSA report, the Church’s national governing bodies have all endorsed a motion apologising to victims and survivors and committing to urgently implementing the six IICSA recommendations. There will be a particular focus on independent safeguarding and redress for survivors and victims
Project groups will be set up including for independence and redress work streams. The independence workstream is about scoping the best structure for independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in place of the Archbishops’ Council. The House of Bishops also agreed that an interim arrangement is put in place prior to the establishment of this new body.
A further project group will also be set up to implement Recommendation 1 which proposes that diocesan safeguarding officers (DSOs) employed locally would be professionally supervised and quality assured by the National Safeguarding Team.
The Archbishops’ Council committed to finding significant additional financial resource to support the interim support scheme for survivors, which was announced in September, while work begins on a full redress scheme. The NST is in the process of appointing a new staff member to lead on the redress work.
It was agreed that workstreams must be undertaken in consultation with victims, survivors and all relevant Church bodies
The National Safeguarding Steering Group will establish a coordinating subgroup to oversee the work on all six IICSA recommendations and ensure they are implemented swiftly with the particular focus on independence and redress for survivors and victims. The recommendations also focus on CDM reform, information sharing and external audit.
A full background paper on these proposed changes has been published for a presentation and debate at General Synod which meets online from November 23-25 (timetable) with a further detailed response to the recommendations then to be drawn up, published and sent to IICSA.4 Comments
The Church of England has issued its usual press release (copied below) in advance of this month’s meeting of its General Synod. Also released today are the papers for the Synod meeting; links to them are in my post below.
Church of England to detail Net-Zero bid at first online General Synod
The Church of England has clarified the scope and definition of net-zero following General Synod’s pledge to achieve net-zero by 2030.
Detail was shared with General Synod members today as papers were published for the forthcoming meeting of General Synod, the first full meeting of the Synod to be held remotely.
Today’s environmental publications follow a February 2020 motion setting the Church a target of cutting its carbon emissions year-on-year to reach Net Zero emissions by 2030.
Among other Agenda items, Synod will also debate the recent IICSA report endorsing a motion to urgently implement its recommendations, a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Archbishops’ Council budget and proposals for apportionment for 2021.
In legislative business, the Cathedrals Measure will receive its final drafting and approval and there will also be a number of items of Safeguarding legislation as the Church continues its work to strengthen its procedures in this area.
First official remote synod
In response to the challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, special changes to Synod rules were approved in October enabling a full meeting to take place online.
This will be the first such official meeting of the Synod to take place online, over three days between Monday 23rd and Wednesday 25th November.
Dioceses and cathedrals consult on net-zero
Despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 during the past nine months, the vast majority of dioceses and cathedrals have responded to a consultation to shape a definition and scoping of net-zero. This has been sent to General Synod members today for information ahead of its November meeting.
Of 35 dioceses and 23 cathedrals that replied, 81% of consultees agreed fully with the definition as now drafted (or with minor variations). Of those who did not fully agree, half still expressed a desire that it should go further.
Among the key details from the papers:
Revd Professor Martin Gainsborough, who moved the 2030 amendment, said that he was “hugely impressed” by the way in which the Environment Working Group has been working since the momentous vote in February.
“The definition of what is included for our net-zero carbon target seems the right one. It is also widely supported, as the consultation process relating to it shows,” he continued.
“It is now absolutely critical that the whole Church commits to this agenda. Of course, aspects of it will be challenging but I am convinced that if we work systematically and work together we can pull this off. What an achievement and what a legacy that would be.”
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop for environmental affairs, welcomed the publication of the Synod papers.
He said: “In the months since Synod set its 2030 target for net-zero, despite the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, parishes, dioceses and cathedrals have demonstrated their urgency by completing the energy footprint tool and participating in a consultation on the scope of net-zero.
“While reaching our target remains a huge challenge and will require prayer and concerted and sustained action, this work moves us closer to having a reliable baseline for our current carbon impacts and a roadmap to achieving net-zero.”
The Church has also rolled out the Energy Footprint Tool, and since April 2020 (following the 2030 target introduction in February) the tool has seen 4,500 churches formally submitting their data or nearly a third of parishes in England. A further 1,500 churches tried the tool but did not submit their data.
The Environmental Working Group will next report back to General Synod in 2022, at which time a detailed roadmap will be reviewed.
Work will continue at all levels in the meantime with a national programme of church energy audits, renewable electricity tariffs through parish buying, ARocha’s Eco Diocese programme, events for Climate Sunday and a series of net-zero carbon webinars which are free for parishes.
The Papers for this month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online.
Papers with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration are listed below the fold. Synod meets virtually from Monday 23 to Thursday 25 November. They can be downloaded as two zip files.
Synod members reading this might like to note that the deadline for the submission of questions is 12 noon on Wednesday 11 November 2020.0 Comments
This Measure was debated, and passed, by the Houses of Commons and Lords last month. It received Royal Assent today and came into force immediately. This month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod can now take place remotely.4 Comments
The timetable for November’s virtual meeting of the Church of England General Synod was published today, and is copied below.
GENERAL SYNOD: November 2020
Timetable for VIRTUAL Meeting
(subject to General Synod (Remote Meetings) (Temporary Standing Orders) Measure receiving Royal Assent)
Monday 23 November
1.00 pm – 7.00 pm
1.00 pm – 1.15 pm Opening worship Introduction and welcomes
1.15 pm – 2.00 pm Ratification of Standing Orders to enable virtual meetings
2.00 pm – 2.05 pm Enactment of Amending Canon No. 40
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 41
2.05 pm – 2.50 pm Business Committee Report
2.50 pm – 3.20 pm screen break
3.20 pm – 4.20 pm Presidential Address (both Archbishops, to include reference to LLF, and opportunity for questions)
4.20 pm – 5.05 pm break out rooms (To enable to Synod engage with points raised in Presidential Address)
5.05 pm – 5.30 pm screen break
*5.30 pm – 7.00 pm Question Time
7.00 pm Close of Business
7.15 pm – 8.15 pm House of Bishops Meeting
Tuesday 24 November
9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am – 9.30 am Opening worship
9.30 am – 11.30 am Vision and Strategy, to include the opportunity for 30 mins breakout room discussion
11.30 am – 11.50 am screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
*11.50 am – 1.00 pm Cathedrals Measure – Final Drafting and Final Approval
2.30 pm – 6.30 pm
2.30 pm – 4.30 pm Archbishops’ Council Budget 2021 and Apportionment
4.30 pm – 5.00 pm screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm First Consideration of Measure amending Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016
6.00 pm – 6.30 pm Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission
6.30 pm Close of Business
Wednesday 25 November
9.15 am – 2.00 pm
9.15 am – 9.30 am Opening worship
9.30 am – 11.30 am Safeguarding (presentation and debate)
11.30 am – 12.00 pm screen break
Legislative Business – Special Agenda I
12.00 pm – 1.00 pm Diocesan Boards of Education Measure – Final Drafting and Final Approval
1.00pm – 2.00 pm Regulations under section 2, Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 20 (national ministry register)
2.30 pm – 3.30 pm
2.30 pm – 3.30pm Deemed Business (if required)
*3.30 pm Prorogation
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2020,
Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2020,
Church Commissioners’ Funding Order for the Churches Conservation Trust 2021-24,
Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme (CEFPS) Rules Consolidation,
Terms of Service Amendment Regulations on Bereavement Leave,
Diocese of Manchester (Deanery Synods) Scheme 2020,
Regulations under Canon DA 1 (religious communities).
* not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk
Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Wednesday 11 November 2020
Updated Friday, Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday (1 October)
The meeting of General Synod took place today as planned and completed all stages of the General Synod (Remote Meetings) (Temporary Standing Orders) Measure. At the end of the meeting the Measure was given final approval, with 14 bishops, 42 clergy and 45 clergy voting in favour. There were no votes against and just two abstentions (both in the House of Laity). There is a press release here.
The meeting started with a joint presidential address by the two archbishops. There is an official press release summarising the address here, and the full text of the Archbishop of York’s contribution is here.
Andrew Nunn reports on the meeting: All done and dusted.
The Church Times has these two reports.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s contribution to the presidential address is now online.
Thursday 1 October Update3 Comments
The papers for tomorrow’s meeting of General Synod are here; they now include
which have been added since my previous post.
According to the order paper a presidential address has been added to the agenda.
The Church of England issued the following press release today.
Special session of General Synod to go ahead amid new Covid-19 measures
A special session of the Church of England General Synod, needed to pass urgent legislation enabling Synod to continue to operate amid the challenges of the pandemic, will go ahead in London on Thursday. (more…)0 Comments
All the papers for the meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod on 24 September are now available online.
Note from the Chair of the Business Committee, September 2020
Guide for Synod Members, September 2020
GS 2174 Agenda
GS 2176 General Synod (Remote Meetings) (Temporary Standing Orders)
GS 2176X Explanatory Note
GS Misc 1252 Note from Chief Legal Adviser
It should be noted that GS 2176 and GS 2176X and the timetable are revised versions of the papers originally published last month.12 Comments
The outline timetable for the meeting of General Synod on 24 September has been issued, and is copied below. Papers for the meeting are here. There may be a revised draft of the measure; if so it will be issued on or before 9 September.
Synod members have been told that “The meeting will start at 10.30am and we would ask those attending to be available until 7pm. It is expected that the business will finish before 7pm but we need members to be available so that we are quorate for the final vote. We appreciate that this may mean that some members will need to book overnight accommodation.”
GENERAL SYNOD: September 2020 Timetable
Thursday 24 September
10.30 am – 2.45 pm
10.30 am – 10.45 am Opening worship
10.45 am – 11.45 am Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure First Consideration
11.45 am – 12.00 pm Adjournment
12.00 pm – 1.45 pm Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure Revision in Full Synod
3.15 pm – 7.00 pm
3.15 pm – 4.30 pm Draft General Synod (Remote Meetings) Measure Final Drafting and Final Approval
*6.55 pm Prorogation
Please note that all timings are indicative. It was decided to offer a longer envelope than it is anticipated the business will take in order to enable maximum flexibility
Morning session expected to finish by 1.45pm.
Afternoon session expected to finish by 4.30pm
Deadline for receipt of amendments to the Measure: 5.30pm Friday 18 September 2020
We linked some weeks ago to an article at Surviving Church titled The Clergy Discipline Measure – RIP? but we have been remiss in not following up on this topic.
The Church Times had reported on 16 July: ‘Toxic’ CDM leaves clergy suicidal, research finds
THE Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) is part of a “toxic management culture” in the Church of England, and is so flawed that it needs complete replacement.
This conclusion, in a paper published on Thursday by Dr Sarah Horsman, Warden of Sheldon, an independent retreat centre and support hub for those in ministry, is based on the results of a survey of one third of the C of E clergy, carried out with the University of Aston…
That paper by Dr Horsman and others can be found here.
Dr Josephine Stein has now responded here.
The Clergy Discipline Measure was a disaster from the word go. Ten years ago, I wrote to the Chair of the Clergy Discipline Commission to explain why the CDM was not an appropriate instrument for dealing with clerical sexual abuse, and why a completely different approach was needed. My paper was circulated to the Commission and put on the agenda for their next meeting. But did they ‘listen’? It appears that they did not; the amended measure, the ‘Safeguarding and the Clergy Discipline Measure’, only exacerbated the problems.
Things may be different now. The devastating impacts of the CDM on clergy, two thirds of whom are innocent of any wrongdoing, have been exposed by the Sheldon Community’s research and Dr Sarah Horsman’s report. The findings make depressingly familiar reading for survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Survivors encounter similarly horrendous responses to disclosures and experience the same sorts of impacts on our mental and physical health, finances, careers and relationships as clergy subjected to CDMs. And it is for similar reasons: the Kafkaesque ‘toxic management culture’ that privileges arcane, inhumane processes (often themselves incompetently managed) over appropriate professional judgement, practical and pastoral support, and working towards healing and reconciliation.
Put simply, both the CDM and the Church’s responses to disclosures of ecclesiastical abuse are incompatible with Christian discipleship. Not only is the CDM time-consuming and expensive, the human cost can be hell on earth. The adversarial, legalistic approach causes structural damage to the relationships between bishops and clergy, between clergy, church-goers and congregations, and between the faithful and the Church itself. Some survivors and clergy lose their faith; some their very lives. The CDM is a disaster for the life of the Church.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
Do read the whole article.14 Comments