Thinking Anglicans

February General Synod postponed

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
20/01/2021

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.”

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Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago

‘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.”’ Local people are doing what they can, even now, to help neighbours and serve communities. Nevertheless, community leaders must await with bated breath the deliberations of GS for without them, clearly, there will be no recovery. Meanwhile for members of GS life is presumably on hold as they spend the days in prayer waiting for the sky pixie to tell them what to… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

As Sam Jones says in an earlier thread:
“The ship is sinking and all they are doing is setting up committees to discuss how to rearrange the deckchairs”

Patricia Harries
Patricia Harries
5 months ago

Democracy delayed is Democracy denied. If the USA can hold its Presidential election and enable tens of millions to vote, why are others unable to do the same. May 2020 elections in UK deferred to May 2021, and likely to be deferred further. Too bad for bishops to criticise others for lack of democracy while they continually defer hard decisions.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Patricia Harries
5 months ago

One of the “hard decisions” the Church of England hierarchy has deferred is the CDM issue relating to the character assassination of Martyn Percy Dean of Christ Church. While the Church [and significant others] might bury their heads in the sand like ecclesiastical ostriches, Private Eye refuses to do so.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Patricia Harries
5 months ago

Are the May 2020 elections you say are being postponed civil elections or elections related to the General Synod? The US presidential election timeline is fixed in the US Constitution and cannot be altered by presidential executive order or act of the US Congress. So, we Americans did hold our presidential and federal election on time — because we had no other choice. But as you say, we went ahead and did it, as we have done for 58 election cycles through civil war, economic disaster, epidemics, and war against foreign enemies. And despite a lot of people’s worst fears… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
5 months ago

I’m not sure why Patricia Harries raised the issue of deferred elections, as Wednesday’s statement is about postponing a formal group of sessions of General Synod from February to April, not postponing elections. There has been talk in the media of postponing civil elections, due to be held in the UK in May, to June or July, or possibly till October, but no decisions have been made about this as yet. Elections for a new General Synod were due to be held in September/October 2020, but have been postponed for a year, with the current ‘quinquennium’ extended by 12 months.… Read more »

Patricia Harries
Patricia Harries
Reply to  David Lamming
5 months ago

David Lamming – I was referring to all the elections which should have taken place in May 2020 eg London Mayor, deferred to May 2021 and probably beyond that. The USA managed to proceed with its elections last November but the UK government has neither the wit nor the will. If you lived in London and saw the Mayor getting yet another free pass and no opportunity to vote for an alternative, you may be less sanguine about having your right to vote removed. That was my point. President Trump flagged up the possibility of delaying the election. Imagine if… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Patricia Harries
4 months ago

Patricia —
My main point was that you had introduced a topic that had nothing to do with the statement to which you were adding your comment, which was about deferring a meeting of the Synod for understandable public health reasons. The separate topic of deferred elections having been raised, I then answered Peter Gross’s understandable query from ‘across the Pond’. However, it would help if, generally, those commenting on a thread on this blog did not go ‘off piste’.

Patricia Harries
Patricia Harries
Reply to  David Lamming
4 months ago

David Lamming – no problem. I’ll zip up and make no further comment on Thinking Anglicans. As another commenter mentioned, there is little enthusiasm for Synod elections so best of luck.

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
Reply to  David Lamming
5 months ago

Plus, to add to David’s comment, the 2021 Synod elections will be conducted online for the first time, so there’s no reason why elections need to be delayed.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  David Lamming
5 months ago

Thank you, David.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
5 months ago

I think these press releases help us understand why some groups within the C of E organise themselves locally and nationally and get on with mission and ministry without much, if any, reference to the central structures. And yet these groups regularly come in for criticism for ignoring the will of GS, and/or the House of Bishops.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

Postponement is not ideal but does seem to be sensible.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
5 months ago

Need to get on with electing the Eleventh General Synod 2021-2026, with the aim of achieving a properly representative Synod for the first time. The focus will be on candidate transparency. The electorate will want to know exactly who is standing, and for what. The forthcoming elections, after the dissolution of the Tenth General Synod in July, will be the most significant since 1990.

Last edited 5 months ago by Anthony Archer
Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

Anthony, While I applaud your sentiments, I would mention a few things. 1. It is still the same electorate and unless the deanery elections were revolutionary, it won’t have shifted too much. 2. “Truly representative” is in the eye of the beholder. By ” representative”, do we mean issue, churchmanship, theology, social outlook, “class”, gender, all of the above or something else? And of course, one person’s truly representative may well differ from someone else’s. 3. If the usual turn out is the case again ( and I have to be convinced that e-voting will make much of a difference… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

Surely to be properly representative, it needs the electorate to actually vote. I was amazed when I saw the %age of both clergy and laity who didnt.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Perry Butler
4 months ago

That would depend on whether the electorate was itself representative. Only a tiny minority of the laity have a vote. We only have to look at Scandinavia to see the difference a popularly elected Synod would have made, with their baptism rates vastly superior to ours. Surely this is no coincidence.

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