Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – 9 to 12 July 2021

This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.

The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting from today (9 July) to next Monday.

The timetable is here, the papers are here, and there is a live stream of the proceedings here from 1230 today (Friday).

Order papers

I – Friday
II – Saturday morning
III – Saturday afternoon
IV – Sunday
V – Monday morning
VI – Monday afternoon

Official press releases

A shortage of clergy would really limit us – we need more vocations, that’s my prayer’ – Archbishop of York’s address to Synod
National Investing Bodies report climate change progress to General Synod
Lord Boateng named as new Chair of Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission
Racial Justice Officers: Statement by Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop David Walker and Canon John Spence
Archbishop of York’s address to Synod on Vision and Strategy
Synod Officers condemn “disgraceful” racism following Euro 2020 final

Official record of business done

Business Done Friday 9 July
Business Done Saturday 10 July (AM)
Business Done Saturday 10 July (PM)
Business Done Sunday 11 July (PM)
Business Done Monday 12 July (AM)
Business Done Monday 12 July (PM)

Members’ blogs

Stephen Lynas
preview of the business: This could be the last time…
Friday’s business: I just stay home the whole day long, and think of you…
Saturday’s business: Money don’t get everything, it’s true
Sunday’s business: Oh, won’t you stay just a little bit longer?
Monday’s business: Still crazy after all these years

Andrew Nunn
Crumbs
Lumi
Time’s up!

Tim Hind reports for the Open Synod Group.

Other blogs

Helen King Handing on the baton?

Church Times

Sheffield trauma will not be revisited, Synod hears
Clarification: not 10,000 but 20,000; not a strategy but a vision
‘Shock’ on C of E taskforce at refusal of funding for diocesan racial-justice officers
Clergy are a limiting factor, says York … the lack of them
Church is entering a season of action on safeguarding, says Gibbs
Investors are doing their bit to fight climate change, says Minghella
‘Will we need a sick note?’ Synod struggles over voter-not-present proposals
Parliament to fix communion clause just in time for Synod elections
Synod hears about the pain of pastoral reorganisation
Parish clergy are at the heart of any new strategy, Archbishop of York insists
Church must address abuse of women priests on social media, says Bishop of London

Other press reports

The Guardian C of E rejects call to appoint racial justice officers in every diocese
Church of England accused of stifling debate on race and gender

Other things

Synod will be debating replacing the Clergy Discipline Measure on Sunday afternoon. The Sheldon Hub has published this: General Synod July 2021 – out of the frying pan into the fire?
[Users of the General Synod app should note that this debate and some other items have been omitted from the timetable.]

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Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
3 months ago

The fact that so many questions are asked without adequate answers being given, and no scrutiny by supplementary, ought to be a prompt to the Business Committee as to whether the balance of the Synod Agenda is right – the pressure on time will lead to an explosion if allowed to continue. For example, a plethora of well-supported PMMs early in the next Synod quinquennium would ask the question “whose Synod is this?”

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
3 months ago

Or, indeed, what is the point of Synod…? If the authorities are not meaningfully accountable, and if Synod cannot have any substantive say and veto power over the Church’s finances, like any proper legislature does, then it is a mere shadow of a parliament, which has about as much purpose as the Spanish cortes under Franco or the supreme soviet under the USSR. At any rate, it is an expensive talking shop for a Church which allegedly no longer has much money.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Even though I am currently a member of Synod, that is still to me a pertinent question. I know what the constitution of Synod says and I know what various people, including myself think, but I doubt any of it matches the reality of Synod. Perhaps the Church of England needs a good debate about governance, authority and decision making in general. If it is then decided we need an assembly then, why, what are its’ powers and how it fits with the notions of episcopacy, are good questions to ask.

Graeme Buttery

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I absolutely agree but there might be some point if there were much genuine debate. There are staged set piece ‘motherhood and apple pie’ items but anything contentious seems to be managed away. GS is really only an expensive audience for management presentations. I never served on GS but I once caused consternation by asking to speak against a motion at diocesan synod. To use Professor Percy’s analogy, synod often felt like attending a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, with the happy smiles of the faithful and no dissent.

Charles Read
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

That might be a description of diocesan synods, but at GS there is genuine debate and a fair amount of trying to hold people and committees accountable. That is not to say it is perfect – there is indeed a noticeable tendency to avoid scrutiny sometimes, for example.

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

When I was a vicar in Rotherham and at a meeting of deanery synod it was decided that the next deanery synod meeting would be on 2nd November. When I put my hand up the chair said ‘I think Fr Matthew won’t be here on that date cos he will be in church saying Mass and praying for the dead’ with a big smile on his face. Everyone present started laughing and found that very funny. I felt humiliated. The chair was right, on 2nd November I was in my church at the altar praying for the souls of those… Read more »

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Matthew Ineson
3 months ago

I think you made the right choice Fr Matthew, my last deanery synod was rarely quorate but that didn’t matter because nothing much happened anyway. The usual suspects from diocesan house claiming mileage and thinking what they would do with the flexitime they were earning as they delivered the same talk that was offered to every other deanery. I asked one about gun crime in our neighbouring deanery of Luton and he looked completely bewildered as I’d asked him to deviate from his prepared script.

Alison Townshend
Alison Townshend
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I agree.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Mark Bennet
3 months ago

Why does everything – a range of legitimate questions – have to be squeezed into a few days a year? I’ve proposed it before, but I’ll repeat: call for an open, publicly viewable General Synod Forum, to run all through the year. Any elected member should be able to raise questions (up to a maximum, to avoid domination by a small number of individuals). If certain questions pass a threshhold of ‘likes’ then bishops should be asked to commit to a responsiveness rule – the promise to respond within a certain amount of time – and these questions should be… Read more »

#churchtoo
#churchtoo
3 months ago

There is a lot of greenwashing going on here. ‘Influencing’ companies is an idea well past its sell by date. The action needed is complete divestment from all fossil fuel companies. When ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ was putting environmental suggestions on its footers last year such as ‘why not change to LED lightbulbs’ I wrote back to say I’ve done everything humanly possible as an individual, why not divest your £120 million plus from fossil fuel companies? I never got a reply. This issue is tied up closely with global justice, as the failure to act now on climate change is… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
3 months ago

Mark, Froghole, Graeme, Fr Dean … agree with you all. What IS General Synod for? I commend Sam Margrave for questioning the cost of Bishops. Cost of Synod? Cost-benefit? Questions- yes. Well 48 of over 120. 1 hour in 4 days.Responses yes; Answers- no. It seems to me it’s like PMQ’s in Parliament- bat away what’s seen as opposition, though with less obvious disdain. Noted the Bishop of London (despite a seat in Parliament) in replying to Jayne Ozanne was unaware of a parliamentary answer from Liz Truss the Minister for Woman and Equalities regarding ‘conversion therapy’. Seeing anal-ogies regarding… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  God 'elp us all
3 months ago

Looking at voting in General Synod- the ultimate test of its value?- as reported in the ‘official’ record of business, IIUC the ‘maximum’ recorded, and including abstentions (generally small) was 308, in regard of the ‘take note’ debate on CDM. Again IIUC, the membership of General Synod is around 500, so just 60% bothering or able; hardly a vote of confidence. On the matter of greatest ‘divergence’, with a difference between for and against of just three votes, an amended motion related to Vacancy in See Committees was carried by 128 votes to 125, with 26 abstentions, hardly a resounding… Read more »

Alison Townshend
Alison Townshend
Reply to  God 'elp us all
3 months ago

Talking shop with benefits.

Charles Read
Reply to  Alison Townshend
3 months ago

Yes, quite right. Abolish it and just let the bishops decide everything!

That is what you meant. isn’t it?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

Apologies for the impertinence, Dr Read, but it seems that the argument that is being made is that Synod will only ever have a genuine purpose if it can hold the bench to account, and if it has the ability to approve or veto a budget for the Church, like any normal legislature. At present, it is a virtual selectocracy, with scant authority relative to the bench and the Commissioners. It provides the facade of democracy without the substance, and therefore strikes me as being something of an expensive sham. If it had real power over the money and was… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Froghole
2 months ago

Some may recall this paper from just last year:
https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/GS%20Misc%201258%20List%20of%20Speakers%20Feb%20%26%20Sept.pdf
My ‘picture’ is of a paper prepared to show lack of ‘bias’ in the selection of a ‘favoured’ or vocal few; to me it shows how many ‘reps’ never spoke: Seven in ten members of Synod did not speak in any debates.
Surely a ‘measure’ (Geddit?) of the scale of cull warranted by an imminent ‘governance review’.My ‘starter-for-ten’: 26 bishops; 52 clergy; 78 lay; majorities in all three houses when called for. Discuss.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
3 months ago

So three white men: Archbishop Cottrell, Bishop Walker and Canon Spence decline the request for racial justice officers! What are we paying Luther Pendragon for?

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