Thinking Anglicans

General Synod outline of business for February 2024

The outline of business for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod that we linked to last month has been amended. The order of business on Saturday morning has been changed, some “not later than” times have been added, an item of contingency business (DSM Southwell & Notts – Church Buildings) has been dropped, and the deadline for submission of questions has been extended to Tuesday 13 February 2024.

The revised version is here and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2024 OUTLINE OF BUSINESS

This is the current outline of business and subject to change.
The final details of the items will be available on the Agenda which will be circulated in February.

Friday 23 February
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Opening worship
Introductions
Presidential Address
Business Committee Report
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Vacancy in See Regulations Consolidation
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Vacancy in See Regulations Act of Synod
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Amending Canon No 43 – for enactment
Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Parochial Fees: London
*Not later than 5.30 pm
Questions

Saturday 24 February
9.00 am – 12.45 pm
Opening worship
Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Code of Conduct for PCCs: Chelmsford
Questions
*Not later than 11.15am
Safeguarding

2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Safeguarding
Land and Nature
Synod Code of Conduct
Special Agenda IV: Diocesan Synod Motions Future of work: Oxford

Sunday 25 February
2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Racial Justice
Special Agenda III – Private Members’ Motions Bullying by Lay Officers
Standing Orders Committee Report
Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households

Monday 26 February
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
Opening Worship
Church Commissioners’ Response to Links to Transatlantic Chattel Slavery
* Not later than 10.15 am
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Parochial Fees Order 2024 – for approval
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Chancel Repair (Church Commissioners’ Liability) Measure – first consideration Reappointment of two members of the Archbishops’ Council

2.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Living in Love and Faith
Estates Evangelism
Special Agenda III – Private Members’ Motions Clergy Pensions

Tuesday 27 February
9.00am – 12.30 pm
Opening Worship
Living in Love and Faith
* Not later than 11.30 am
Special Agenda I: Legislative Business Church Funds Measure

2.00pm – 4.30 pm
War in Ukraine and the Challenge to International Order
Special Agenda III – Private Members’ Motions Ordination after divorce
*Not later than 4.15pm
Farewells
*Not later than 4.30pm
Prorogation

Deemed business
Clergy Discipline Rules

Contingency Business
DSM Sheffield – Foodbanks and Inadequacies in Social Security
PMM Sam Wilson – LGBTQIA+ and Relationship Education

Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 13 February 2024

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David Hawkins
David Hawkins
1 month ago

“War in Ukraine and the Challenge to International Order”
A strange sort of church that thinks “International Order” is more important than the acute suffering of little children in Gaza.
Gaza doesn’t even reach it to the agenda.
I am disgusted but sadly not surprised.

Last edited 1 month ago by David Hawkins
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

Indeed: it’s presumably the wrong kind of [alleged] genocide… In view of this, if any bishop or other cleric has the gall and effrontery to refer to the spurious ‘rules based international order’ I will be strongly tempted to throw up. And what are they saying about the next piece of egregious and opportunistic war-mongering in the Red Sea by what is easily the most incompetent, malevolent and moronic foreign policy establishment in living memory? It’s truly pathetic, but then they have form. Absent Bell, there was scarcely a whisper about the saturation bombing of WW2. What did they do… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Please can you explain what you mean by “wrong kind of genocide”. Who are you suggesting is carrying out or attempting to carry out genocide.

Obviously Hamas is guilty of genocidial intent by its constitution and actions – it is not clear that is your meaning

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Per the claimants: https://www.icj-cij.org/sites/default/files/case-related/192/192-20231228-app-01-00-en.pdf, deploying numerous quotations from senior civil and military officials indicating mens rea. No definitive ruling is likely to be given for some time, but today’s interim judgment of the ICJ (an admittedly politicised court) apparently indicate that certain of the activities of the IDF in Gaza may fall within the ambit of the 1948 Convention (with two dissents): https://www.icj-cij.org/sites/default/files/case-related/192/192-20240126-pre-01-00-en.pdf, though – significantly – the ICJ has not ordered a ceasefire. The toll on 7 October has since become clearer, and stands at about 1,139: https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20231215-israel-social-security-data-reveals-true-picture-of-oct-7-deaths. A number of the allegations made with respect to 7 October… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

The Houthi are Shia in the north of Yemen. The recognised government is in the Sunni south. Not quite sure so many people are happy for the Houthi to fire missiles & drones at unarmed merchant ships, & think that the absence of any fatalities amongst those merchant seafarers so far is a matter of Houthi skill & planning, rather than sheer luck. My union is certainly very worried about welfare of these seafarers, and even without fatalities there will be a lot of PTSD.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Francis James
1 month ago

Well, the ‘recognised’ Hadi government of Yemen controls less than 20% of the population of the country, essentially only Aden and the thinly populated Hadhramaut. It purports to ‘govern’ Yemen from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. It has scant legitimacy and credibility. Saudi-Iranian relations have been restored, and are now quite cordial (thanks to China), as of March 2023: another ‘success’ of US diplomacy. This has left the Hadi government ‘twisting slowly in the wind’. I think that the UK can count itself very lucky that it has not yet been subjected to a complete embargo by OPEC, noting that… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Noted that you do not express even one word of concern for the welfare of the merchant seafarers who are going about their lawful business, most of whom are third world & thus non-unionised.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Francis James
1 month ago

Thank you for pulling me up on this, and I apologise for that. I note that the great majority of owners have decided to re-route away from the Red Sea, many of the smaller owners following the decisions to do so made by the larger ones last month. Of course, that still leaves a small portion who are willing to risk their ships and crews. When I worked in the shipping sector I was quickly struck by how opportunistic and disreputable certain owners can be, and also how callously indifferent some of them are to the welfare of their mariners,… Read more »

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

It’s this sort of foreign policy that makes me wonder what anyone gets out of establishment these days. Hard to be the conscience of the nation if your limited relevance depends on staying in line.

On the other hand, the Pope has been pretty damning of the situation in Gaza. Maybe the Holy Father will mention it to the good Archbishop, since he’s in Rome this week.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  FearandTremolo
1 month ago

Yes, the point I am making is that the Church of England can invariably be depended upon to fail to provide adequate, or any, moral leadership on just about every issue. The vast mass of the population have returned the compliment by ignoring its existence. I am perhaps being unfair by suggesting that the present foreign policy establishment is ‘the most incompetent, malevolent and moronic in living memory’: the foreign policy establishments of Clinton and Bush II were exceptionally poor, and those with longer memories will recall the numerous sanguinary blunders of the LBJ and Nixon administrations (I once encountered… Read more »

Jonathan Coulter
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

I am glad to see that there are some “thinking Anglicans” like yourself. You have an Archbishop who is far too close to the British Israel lobby, and is providing moral cover for British politicians as they provide “unequivocal support for Israel” as it commits mass murder. In November he claimed that there was “no equivalence between Hamas’s atrocities and Israel’s duty to defend itself”. He does not refer here to the context, i.e. over 75 years of Israeli oppression of Palestinians based on an extremist ideology that has since the beginning of the 20th century consistently supported ethnic cleansing.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Jonathan Coulter
1 month ago

Oh please: all these were defensive, even if you think they used a disproportionate amount of force to retaliate. Do tell us: what should Israel have done after over 1200 of its citizens, old peeps and babies were massacred? There is no equivalence between Israel’s ‘duty’ to defend itself and Hamas’ atrocities. And what is this ‘Brit Israel lobby’ you speak of? you sound like PressTv

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
1 month ago

Just to clarify whether Israeli violence in Gaza and the West Bank is “defensive” in response to the Hamas atrocity.

These are figures provided by the United Nations OCHA on Palestinian and Israeli deaths and serious injuries in Gaza and the West Bank BEFORE the Hamas actions of 7th October, i.e from 2008 until just before the recent conflict.

https://www.ochaopt.org/data/casualties

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Yes, Simon, Israel is now able to protect itself from the ca. 20.000 rockets that Hamas have aimed indiscriminately at their civilian population in the last 20 years.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Jonathan Coulter
1 month ago

Have you asked a single Arabic Christian what they think of Hamas and what life under their rule is like? How many of them are left? I’ll put you in touch if need be.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
1 month ago

Quite a pertinent question! What Anglicans in the Church of England who are tempted to take the Pro-Israel line, Israel right or wrong approach< is that a lot of Palestinian Christians are practising Anglicans in the Anglican Diocese in Jerusalem, headed by a Palestinian Anglican Archbishop In Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Nahoum, who is also in tandem with this Bishop President and Primate of the Province in Jerusalem and the Middle East and a Primate of the Anglican Communion. Does Justin Welby take seriously this Province as an Autonomous Anglican Province or simply treat it a satellite Province of the Church… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

“Anglicans in the Church of England who are tempted to take the Pro-Israel line, Israel right or wrong approach” What seems to be happening is a recrudescence within the UK of pre-war ‘Christian Zionism’. This may, to some extent, be a recent American import, based on a certain interpretation of Gen. 12:3, which has apparently gained a wide currency in the US: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/evangelicals-and-israel-9780195368024?cc=us&lang=en&amp;. Of course, the ’empathy’ which is manifested towards Israel is, to some extent, not reciprocated within parts of Israeli society: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/israel-palestinians-christians-attacks-holy-land-jewish-extremists-rcna80441. British Christian Zionism has a venerable history dating to the 17th century, but as you may… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thanks for the history masterclass.

I was aware of the “Christian Zionist” aspect to the British governments involvement in Israel’s history in previous centuries.

But what about now? Is Christian Zionism still a major, if under the radar, factor in government policy? Or what else could explain such slavish support to Netenyahu in a way which, as you point out, causes great damage to our interests elsewhere

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Many thanks. I don’t believe that Christian Zionism has any tangible impact on HMG, other than by dint of it having a considerable impact on domestic US politics. As the UK has weakened, both militarily and economically, its policy becomes ever more slavishly pro-American: https://www.politico.eu/article/stay-close-americans-boris-johnson-parting-shot/#:~:text=1%3A%20Stay%20close%20to%20the,freedom%2C%20for%20democracy%20everywhere.%E2%80%9D. Therefore, if the US adopts a policy of ‘Israel, right or wrong’, the UK will now do likewise. Why is this so? It is because the creation of eurocurrency (i.e., eurodollar and eurobond) markets from the mid-1950s gradually turned the UK into a branch office of Wall Street. Since US policy during the 1930s was… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thanks. I think I agree with your analysis over this and previous posts, but I have enjoyed your access to supporting evidence. I wonder if a residual guilt from 2000 years of Christian anti-semitism is one additional factor which complicates things. Your final analysis is depressing but true I fear. It’s a bit like playground politics. It can be reassuring to attach yourself to the biggest bully in the playground, and prove your loyalty by joining in his bullying games. But then the big bully looses his power and his ability to protect you. And you find it’s a bit… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thank you for this. To respond to one of your points, the last Bishop of Coventry certainly tried to raise awareness of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and encouraged us to pray for that situation. I have mentioned it from the pulpit, along with other situations of Christian suffering.
Bishop Christopher calls for prayer for the peace in Nagorno-Karabakh – Diocese of Coventry (anglican.org)

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 month ago

Many thanks for that. Bishops Baines and Chessun did so also. However, given the enormity of what happened, and happened quite quickly (it has now been a fait accompli for several months), the aggregate response of the Church was really pretty feeble. However, there are other precedents of feebleness. Having scoured the reportage from 1915, I can see no evidence that any bishop made any significant statement about the fate of the Armenians – that task falling largely to James Bryce (who had written a book about eastern Anatolia in 1877). There had been a special mission from Lambeth for… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Froghole, when I was writing my Dissertation for My BA Theology and Religious Studies Degree for the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, I did my Dissertation on Palestinian Liberation Theology, looking at the work of Canon Naim Ateek a Palestinian Anglican Priest, whom my late father prepared for Confirmation, when my father was Vicar of Nazareth, I had a whole Chapter given over to both Christian and Jewish Zionism, and it became clear to me in my studies the Heretical nature of Christian Zionism and its very serious political implications for the Holy Land and the whole Middle East Region.… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Thank you for this. It is an issue that many people in the church are either not aware of or are too embarrassed to talk about.

What scares me are not so much the Christian Zionists in the church, either RC or C of E, but the Christian Zionists working out their faith from within the Pentagon and the Capitol building.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Thank you both to you and Mr Dawson. There is a strong undercurrent of remorse for the Christian record of persecution which no doubt informs the recent development of Christian Zionism: we see this, for example, in the 2007 visit of some 200 US evangelicals to the Knesset, where Pitts Evans read a message of atonement. What is striking (to me) is the persistence of the idea of Christian Zionism, and how many people of distinction have been attracted to it: Francis Kett, Henry Finch, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Jonathan Edwards, Alexander Pope, Joseph Priestley, etc. It is in the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thank you. I think you are right that recent US experience in the Gulf over 30 to 40 years may have produced a certain mindset of unconditional support for Israel. But what I had in mind was a much more religious motivation, which you rightly call Millenarian; current US foreign policy being driven by Evangelical Christians seeking to hasten the Second Coming of Christ by supporting current Israeli military ventures. This paper was written twenty years ago, but little has changed. https://ciaotest.cc.columbia.edu/olj/ad/ad_v9_2/daw01.html The paper (written by a retired US diplomat ends: ” Even though their beliefs are certainly mistaken, Christian… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
1 month ago

Anything about redistributing the £2bn of investment gains (after allowing for inflation) made in the last 10 years from Church Commissioners to parishes? No? This is ok?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

The purpose of the 1995 and 1997 reforms was to obviate the Commissioners’ responsibilities for stipends and pensions in order to permit the Commissioners to recover their losses of the late 1980s. They had £2.6bn in 1998 and now have about £10.6bn. Prior to 1995 they bore the cost of c. 50% of the stipends bill, and prior to 1998, 100% of the pensions accruals. Since then they have had a regressive free ride upon the parish share system, doling out cash to favoured projects (for which expensive bids have to be made) in Lady Bountiful fashion. The transfer of… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

The Church Commissioners will be looked to as the lender of last resort, although currently the legal position for that is unclear. Their assets cover the pre-1998 clergy pension liabilities handsomely. And if bishops and their palace expenses can be moderated, more is available. But as CofE congregations continue to dwindle, the ability of parishes to fund the post-1998 liabilities is in question. Few parishes can sustain a further increase in pension contributions. The result will be a diminution of support for ministry initiatives (but please no more Wigans). It is not a pretty picture.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 month ago

Many thanks for this. Of course, at the outset of the pandemic the Commissioners lent about £70m to the DBFs in order to cover stipend and pension costs, the DBFs having fallen into distress as giving dried up following the fateful decision to platinum-plate government recommendations on church attendance: a decision which has arguably resulted in the rapid disappearance of about a third of attendees. The loan, of course, was at 2% when Bank rate was 0.1%. Apparently, the Commissioners ‘could do no other’. This form of ecclesiastical loan sharking was undertaken with no little chutzpah, not least because the… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Two observations. The Governance Review which is going through General Synod will shift responsibility for the allocation of the funds the Commissioners provide to the church. Also Ian Paul’s Private Members Motion on Clergy Pensions will inevitably also open up conversations about the Commissioners funds, Whether either of these things will make life better is yet to be seen. What the CofE has not been good at is focussing on the problems it is actually facing rather than the problems it would like to be facing. At some stage the reality check will come, and it may be the money… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 month ago

Many thanks for this (and also for your recent articles). The materials which I recalled reading in 2022 appeared to be devoted to the rearranging of certain central functions rather than the creation of a new financial settlement between the centre and the rest. I noted that certain administrative functions could be consolidated within the Commissioners, but the document which I have re-discovered was somewhat coy about what this might entail: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2022-06/gs-misc-1319-governance-review_0.pdf. The paper seems committed to dividing responsibility for the fund from responsibility for expenditure. That, to me, looks set to frustrate any improved accountability of the centre to… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
1 month ago

Instead of going to all the bother and expense of gathering people from around the country to spend four days in debate, wouldn’t it just be easier to just ask the Archbishop of Canterbury what his views are on all these matters and implement those? Because that’s what we’ll end up with at the end of the day, regardless of what Synod decides.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Fr Andrew
1 month ago

A German friend of mine told an interesting story. He lived in Communist East Germany which called itself democratic but wasn’t. But despite that whether you voted or not really mattered to the communist dictators and threatening not to vote was a very good way of ensuring that essential repairs were done to your flat. Yes Welby is a dictator but the compliance of the Synod in his dictatorship is important to his grip on power.

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