on Monday, 8 March 2021 at 3.26 pm by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of England, General Synod
Robert Hammond has been elected as chair of the General Synod Business Committee. The count was on Friday last week and the voting figures are available here.
It’s interesting to note (or, perhaps, not) that the percentage share of the total valid votes (357 votes) for each of the two candidates (Hammond 51.8%,Scowen 48.2%) almost exactly mirrors the percentages for ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ in the Brexit referendum in 2016. No doubt someone will provide a theological reflection on this information.
1) The voters may have split along Brexit lines. 2) Many binary votes in recent years are very close to 50:50. One suggestion is increasingly efficient campaigning, with each side aiming to do just enough to win, while avoiding doing anything more than that. 3) If we take as our null hypothesis that all the synod voters made their choice entirely at random, perhaps by tossing a coin, then the actual result (approx 0.7 sigma deviation from 50%) is very consistent with that. In fact there would be a roughly 50% chance of a greater gap between the candidates. We… Read more »
I was thinking of explaining for the benefit of non-CofE (or even non-Synod) people that the Business Committee sets the Synod agenda, but within various constraints. However, although one hopes that many voters carefully considered who would best lead that diplomatic procedural work, the significance of the vote is mainly that it was between a clear and outspoken conservative evangelical (Scowen) and a partnered gay liberal catholic (Hammond). Responding to David Lamming: inasmuch as this can be taken as yet another proxy for the sexuality debate in the Church of England, the parallel with Brexit is strong – there is… Read more »
I did not know of Mr Hammond’s domestic circumstances when I voted. With such fine margins, the probability of a few other ignoramuses probably invalidates any reading of the result as a proxy vote on irrelevant matters.
Given the collegiate character of the Business Committee,Clive Scowen will probably continue in his useful role of well informed contributor pointing out inconsistencies, unintended consequences and errors. Who would have filled his shoes if he had been required to be rather more constrained in an official role? I have to confess a certain fellow feeling in that regard.
Robert Hammond is the first member of the House of Laity of the General Synod to chair the Business Committee (previously Standing Committee). All previous holders of the office since 1970 have been Proctors, with the near exception of the moment in 2011 when the Archbishops’ Council (ABpC) attempted to nominate the Bishop of Dover to the post. In a badly misjudged move that would have compromised the independence of the role, the motion to confirm his appointment was not moved. It led to the role becoming an elected one, and not held by a full member of the ABpC,… Read more »
I think Hugh Craig was Chair of the Standing Committee Business Sub Committee – and he was lay. 1989-91.
Thanks. And thanks for your episcopal ministry et al. Yes, Hugh Craig. The exception that proves the rule. Wonderful servant. I remember him almost going to the stake on the clergy freehold! At the February 1990 Group of Sessions he said: ‘Planning an agenda for General Synod is rather like doing a jigsaw blindfold and with gloves on.’ He served for 45 years on the Church Assembly and General Synod 1970 – 1995. He was succeeded, I think, by the excellent priest from Hereford, whose name completely escapes me, and who was chair when I was first elected in November… Read more »
It was Canon Colin Craston (RIP). He was as I say excellent. He was not Hereford, but may have retired to there. His ministry was almost entirely in Manchester. He died in 2018, aged 95. Often used to write to the Church Times in retirement.