Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – preview and comment

General Synod meets tomorrow and the Church of England has put out this press release today: General Synod members to meet remotely.

A further paper has been added to the Church of England website.

GS Misc 1251 – Covid-19 General Synod Update

Two Synod members preview tomorrow’s meeting.

Stephen Lynas I’ve just seen a face
Andrew Nunn Zooming into Synod

Some bloggers have been looking at the questions and answers.

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church  General Synod and the Questions around Safeguarding
Richard Bastable All Things Lawful And Honest Archiepiscopal Contradictions II

My favourite is the breath of fresh air in the answer given by Rogers Govender, the Dean of Manchester, to question 121, which I have copied below the fold.

Mr Bradley Smith (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns:
Q121 In the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s claim in his video posted on 2nd June 2020 that ‘white supremacy’ is “endemic and longstanding” in this country, will the Council prepare a briefing for the House of Bishops on:

(a) the concept of “white supremacy”;

(b) the evidence in favour of the argument that British society manifests “endemic and longstanding … white supremacy”;

(c) in the light of its conclusions on (b), and of the potentially inflammatory nature of the term, whether the Church’s vocation not only to challenge racism wherever it occurs but also to promote racial harmony will be helped or hindered by making the charge that British society manifests “endemic and longstanding … white supremacy”?

The Dean of Manchester to reply as Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns:
A If the House of Bishops asks for such a briefing, we will certainly provide it.

But the answer is implicit in clause (c) of the question.

We cannot progress much further until white people start to understand the implications of being white, question attitudes they absorb as “normal”, and overturn lingering beliefs about racial hierarchies. The daily experiences of BAME people, who are labelled in many derogatory ways, reveal how they can be perceived as inferior to white people.

Racism is not a problem for BAME people to resolve so that white people’s ideas can remain comfortably untouched. Prayerful reflection on one’s own identity, and how one places oneself within a world view, is central to Christian discipleship.

If it takes a “potentially inflammatory” phrase to prompt change, maybe advancing God’s Kingdom on earth requires that. Promoting racial harmony means challenging any notion of racial superiority in Church and society.

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Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago

Re, Richard Bastable’s piece:   In France the government was held by the Council of State (the highest administrative court) to have acted illegally by imposing a ‘disproportionate’ ban on public worship. This amounted to an infringement of civil rights. The ban was rescinded immediately (18 May), and public worship recommenced on 20 May.   The High Court has lately held that the imposition of a ban by HMG on public worship may have been unlawful: see paras. 79-87 here https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DolanJudgment-FINAL-003-1.pdf.   Arguably, it might then follow that the archbishops and bishops acted unlawfully and/or ultra vires, thus depriving PCCs… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

Stephen Parsons on the Safeguarding Questions:   ““It has to be said these answers to these questions sound like extracts from a dry legal text-book…The style of all of these responses is such that I would be very surprised if any of these answers were actually put together by Bishop Jonathan himself. Every single one appears to have been composed by an anonymous lawyer and Bishop Jonathan is simply the spokesman who delivers these ‘official’ answers. The human being that spoke with such passion back in February has somehow disappeared. In his place is a legal functionary who is anonymous and speaks in… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
4 months ago

I very much enjoyed the ‘politicians in fancy dress comment’

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago

Subsidiarity should be the watchword for this Synod.   Neither GS Misc 1249: ‘Covid-19 response’, nor GS Misc 1250: ‘The emerging Church of England’ make any reference to parochial finances, now under severe strain. Instead the focus is all on dioceses. Parishes face a double whammy of reduced footfall and livestreamed services, both equally deleterious to PCC finances.   The parish quota should be abolished forthwith, episcopal posts halved and diocese administrative functions merged. The vast majority of churches could easily keep going were it not for the extortionate parish-share, and the expropriation of parsonages by dioceses. PCCs should consider… Read more »

Michael
Michael
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Andrew, your recommendations are so sound that I cannot see the hierarchy of the Church considering any of them. I have just been flipping through the Daily Telegraph. The front page and page ten is yet another shocking account of safeguarding lapses in the Church of England. Two bishops are singled out, St Albans and Willesden.

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Thank you, Michael.
 
Yes, I saw those reports too. In the olden days, adulterers were packed off peremptorily to quiet livings in remote dioceses, whereas wife-beaters were pensioned off swiftly and hushed up.

ACI
ACI
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

TEC is facing some similar issues. 110 Dioceses for a church of 1.3 million, maybe 650K ASA. I believe 45% of the dioceses have around 3-4K ASA (USA as you call it) and of those, many much smaller.There will need to be some merging, and some modest efforts are still rare. Clearly there is a Bishop bloat.
 
 

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

I agree that the current situation will be disastrous for many parishes, but I think your remedy is too simplistic. In my diocese, approaching 90% of the parish share contributions overall goes to paying clergy stipends, pensions and the cost of maintaining parsonages. Of those clergy, almost all are parish priests or curates. Certainly, without support from the diocese, many parishes would go under in a very short time.   I was appalled by the complacency of the financial report to this GS meeting, which seemed to be rejoicing that the value of their investments had largely recovered from the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon

“Certainly, without support from the diocese, many parishes would go under in a very short time.”   Many thanks, but is this statement the right way around? Is it not more the case that, without subventions from the parishes, the dioceses would go under in a very short time?   You are completely right in stating that the lions’ share of parochial expenditure is on stipends and pensions. I have probably bored and irritated many TA readers by noting: (i) that the parish share is overwhelmingly devoted to the funding of past and present stipendiary ministry; (ii) most stipendiaries are… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thank you, Froghole, for your detailed reply. Yes, you could look at it the other way around, but I was replying to Andrew’s post implying that most parishes would be fine if they didn’t have to pay their parish share, as if that all went on funding the diocesan staff and the bishops, whereas in fact most of it goes on funding their own parish clergy.   I think you and I are in general agreement that the Church of England is in near-terminal decline and the current crisis will not help a bit. But it has not (yet) had… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon

Many thanks for this! Of course, as you probably know very well, bishops and capitular clergy are a charge to the Commissioners, so I suppose that their costs weigh on the parish share only very obliquely, if at all.   Well, as to shortfalls in giving, I will be quite delighted to be proven wrong. My anxiety at the outset of this crisis was that: (i) a great many parishes (especially rural parishes) still receive much of their income on the plate, so no services = no income; and (ii) conversations with several clergy indicated a general collapse in income… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thank you, gentlemen, for your thoughtful insights.   I was glad when they said unto me that cathedrals and dioceses could take advantage of the Chancellor’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Commissioners’ largesse. Church House are at least supporting the top tier. But the burden of furloughing parish clergy has fallen almost entirely on the generosity of worshippers by their past donations to the collection plate. In contrast, taxpayers will have many years or decades to pay back the government’s debt accrued from subsidising workers, which can affordably be spread out with favourable rates of interest and economic growth.   Peace… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thank you again, Froghole. You are right in all that you say. Rich and ‘comfortable’ parishes will have been using their reserves to maintain their parish share giving. Whilst standing orders will hold up for a while, the elderly members of the congregations, who do not yet feel safe to return, will eventually put two and two together and decide to reduce or stop their contributions.   The CofE has been staring a demographic disaster in the face for many years, and the current crisis should force it to face reality and cut its cloth according to its means. If… Read more »

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