Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – Day 3 – Wednesday

The morning’s business is in Order Paper Four.
The afternoon’s business is in Order Paper Five.

As usual, Stephen Lynas is providing his excellent summaries of each day’s business.

Stephen Parsons wrote this in advance of the first item of business on Safeguarding: Is Synod overseeing a revolution in the treatment of abuse survivors? We also covered this here.

At the end of the Safeguarding debate Synod passed the following motion by 361 votes to nil, with no recorded abstentions.

That this Synod
(a) endorse the Archbishops’ Council’s response, set out in GS 2158, to the five recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in its investigation report Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball (May 2019) at pages 206 to 207;
(b) welcome the statement in paragraph 4.1 of the response that the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) “remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions”;
(c) urge the NSSG to bring forward proposals to give effect to that commitment that follow a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors;
(d) request that the NSSG keep the Synod updated on the development and implementation of responses to recommendations relating to the Church of England that are made by the Inquiry, including by submitting a report for debate by the Synod not later than July 2021.

The paper (GS 2158) referred to in the motion is online here.

The rest of the morning session was devoted to a debate on the Climate Emergency and Carbon Reduction Target. The motion as originally proposed was amended, most significantly when “2045 at the latest” in paragraph (a) was replaced by “2030”. This amendment was quite narrowly carried by 144 votes to 129 with 10 recorded abstentions. At the end of the debate, the amended motion below was carried on a show of hands.

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;
(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs, education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals and the NCIs, to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;
(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every 3 years beginning in 2022 and;
(c) call on each Diocesan Synod and cathedral Chapter to address progress toward net zero emissions every 3 years.

The first item of business in the afternoon was a debate on so-called Paupers’ Funerals. The motion before Synod (after amendment) was

That this Synod noting:

(a) the substantial rise in the number of ‘pauper funerals’ in England and the pain and hurt arising from them; and
(b) the call of the Gospel to meet people as Jesus does, in their time of need, as well as the duty of Christians to the poor as set out in Proverbs 31.8-9 and Deuteronomy 15.7-8;

call upon the Archbishops’ Council to direct and resource the Life Events Advisory Group, in consultation with the Churches Funeral Group and the British Council of Funeral Services to:

i. undertake the formation of plans at national, diocesan and parish levels to utilise Church resources (whether in the form of finance, volunteers or buildings) to tackle the issues relating to and, where possible, end ‘pauper funerals’;
ii. work with other stakeholders to find ways, at an affordable price, to deliver a more compassionate send off for the departed and to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of those left behind; and
iii. report progress made with reference to the above by the end of 2021;

and further call on Her Majesty’s Government to develop with Council leaders, a national plan and basic standards for pauper funerals, which should include allowing a Christian funeral service to take place in Church or at a Crematorium; for family or others to attend; and the return of the departed (where permitted) to family members.

and this was carried by 273 votes to nil, with one recorded abstention.

Next was a debate on Children and Youth Ministry. The motion before Synod (after amendment) was

That this Synod, recognising the continuing decline in numbers of under 16’s engaging with Church:
(a) encourage dioceses to act urgently and consider practical ways they can support and resource those churches both with significant numbers of children and young people and with specific aspirations to increase their numbers of the same;
(b) encourage dioceses to make provision to support and resource those churches serving communities which currently have small numbers of children, teenagers and young people;
(c) request dioceses to share good models of practice through churches helping to resource others so that we have many more churches engaging with children and young people;
(d) request the NCI’s to commit funding for qualitative research on the data received to help understand best practice in a variety of contexts;
(e) encourage dioceses to explore new ways to grow new church communities with young people as a primary missional focus;
(f) request the Evangelism and Discipleship team to ensure this work is clearly joined up with Growing Faith; and
(g) request an update from the Evangelism and Discipleship team in two years with analysis of progress in these areas.

and this was carried on a show of hands.

Official press releases

Overwhelming support for Synod safeguarding motion – This includes links to some of the speeches in the debate.
General Synod sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target
General Synod calls on Government to act over ‘pauper’ funerals

Press reports

Church Times
C of E ‘to be carbon-neutral by 2030’, after Synod rips up original target
Synod accepts that ‘serious money’ must be found for abuse survivors

The Guardian
Church of England may have to pay out millions over child sexual abuse

The Telegraph
Church of England cuts target for carbon neutrality by 15 years, from 2045 to 2030

Christian Today
Archbishop of Canterbury reaffirms apology to victims of clergy abuse

Operation Noah welcomes Church of England decision to set 2030 net zero target


Andrew Nunn Reality
Stephen Lynas You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

[This page will be updated during the day.]

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Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 years ago

It’s ironic that in the Church’s official press release on the Safeguarding debate, only the speeches by bishops are available. I know more reports are to come, but if the Church really intends to put survivors at the centre, shouldn’t they have started with the speech by a survivor? Or at least featured it in the first tranche? They’ve got to rid themselves of the notion that bishops are inherently more worth listening to than other people.

4 years ago

“and the return of the departed (where permitted) to family members.”
Words fail me.

Reply to  Jeremy
4 years ago

Surely this only reflects the legal reality (from a secular perspective) that a court or other authority can make an order as to who has custody of any remains – and this may not be the family. Situations where I have known this exercised include where there is a family dispute over what should be done with the remains.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Jeremy
4 years ago

A synod member, Philip French, pointed out during the debate that these words needed amendment, but his words fell on stony ground.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
4 years ago

Malcolm: I think probably only because it was thought too late then to make an appropriate amendment. However, for those unfamiliar with the Synod’s standing orders (no names!), under SO 26(4) the chairman may permit (i) an amendment to be moved, even though due notice of it has not been given, and (ii) the moving of an amendment to an amendment. My feeling, also, was that Synod members wanted to get on debating the substance of the motion, rather than being bogged down with more amendments. I agree that the wording of Sam’s amendment to his own motion (which, to… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jeremy
4 years ago

I wonder whether anyone can explain “(where permitted)”, i.e., in what circumstances return to family members is not permitted, and not permitted by whom.

Charles Read
Reply to  Jeremy
4 years ago

This was commented on in the debate. It means of course the remains of the departed.

Reply to  Charles Read
4 years ago

Yes, I gathered that. It’s still worth a chuckle though. Lazarene.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Jeremy
4 years ago

In many cases the social services cannot locate any family members or anyone who wishes to be involved. They do not rush ahead with plans to get funerals done and cut out the family. In many cases a family have stepped away for reasons which are known to themselves and sometimes can afford to pay but choose not to. As the agencies register the person with the registrar the funeral legally falls to them. They must decide how remains are to be disposed of following a cremation. It is not a simple picture and the examples given do not reflect… Read more »

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