Thinking Anglicans

General Synod Questions

The Questions (and answers) for this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were issued today. They can be found online here: Questions Notice Paper February 2024.

Questions will be taken in two groups; on Friday from 5.30pm to 7.00pm, and for about an hour on Saturday morning. There are 225 questions.

Update

There is a correction to the answer to Question 62 in Notice Paper 7.

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God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
1 month ago

Thank you Peter for putting these up. Another 95 pages for General Synod members to read in less than two days before Friday. 225 questions and answers to read, mark, learn, inwardly digest and prepare supplementary questions. How many will be asked, and answered to the satisfaction of Synod in the restricted time available.
These pages on top of those papers issued earlier this month and the Jay Report and responses published yesterday!! So much disrespect shown to Synod members and their precious and seriously limited time to even read, let alone mark learn and inwardly digest the indigestible.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
1 month ago

Somebody could do a useful piece of research to ascertain how many question asked specifically and in good faith by Synod members are answered with honesty and probity.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

It’s quite clear that in 2.5h supplementary questions won’t be possible for many of these. That means that the order of questions matters: anything which supplementary questions aren’t wanted on could be sorted to the end. Hopefully that doesn’t happen but the fact that it is possible is a worry.

Generally you are right. Questions and answers are poor in many cases. It’s hard, though, to see what improvements are possible.

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
1 month ago

I looked for the promised questions about the appointment of Tom Woolford which various people said they were going to ask. Answers to questions 90 and 91 clarify that it was a formal process following usual HR protocols – the appointment wasn’t stitched up in a coffee shop by the bishop of Gibraltar over a couple of lattes. So just what were the ‘serious concerns relating to the … process’ which so exercised the bishop of Newcastle that she carried her bat out in the way that she did? I would really like to understand. Supplementary, anyone?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Jane Charman
1 month ago

The concern was that the appointed was biased towards a conservative appointment.

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

Sorry David, I’ve read this a couple of times and I’m not getting it. The appointed (Tom Woolford) was biased towards a conservative appointment? Appointment of whom?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Jane Charman
1 month ago

There is a widespread belief those appointing wanted a conservative.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Jane Charman
1 month ago

Jane I think the concern was that the appointed Theological Adviser was being specifically asked to work with the two newly appointed lead bishops, but said bishops were neither consulted about nor involved in the appointment. That seems to me like a very serious failure of process.

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

Andrew, that’s not a failure of process – or not of employment process. It sounds more like a breakdown in communications to me. I get that the LLF bishops were irked and I can understand why but that doesn’t excuse their behaviour. There are two themes playing out strongly in our common life at the moment that frequenters of TA often comment upon. One is that the Church treats its personnel badly, in ways that wouldn’t be tolerated in a secular context. The other is that bishops sometimes behave in ways that are high handed and unaccountable, intervening in process… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Jane Charman
1 month ago

Jane if it were a secular organisation the discrimination against people because of their sexuality would by no means be tolerated. So we aren’t quite living in the world you describe. I do find this a failure of process in this particular case. The background is that the LLF process has become an absolute joke and there are rumours of legal processes in the background and bullying behaviour by a particular constituency. To appoint someone from that constituency with no consultation with those who are leading the process is surely a failure. You could of course always e mail the… Read more »

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

Andrew, of course you’re right. In a secular organisation discrimination against people because of their sexuality would not be tolerated. In those aspects of the life of the CofE that are governed by employment law, such as the appointment we’re discussing, it isn’t tolerated either. The person appointed to this post has the full protection of employment law in a way that most of the rest of us don’t. As such he has a right to expect that those who have appointed him will stand by him and give him their unqualified support. +HA’s statement that the process was deficient… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Jane Charman
1 month ago

”The person appointed to this post has the full protection of employment law in a way that most of the rest of us don’t.” In which case he has no business discriminating against those who don’t have such protection? And perhaps that is why he tried to remove the blog post in which that discrimination was made so clear? You are quite right that no allegations should be left to flourish unchecked. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. But in the light of what we do actually know, I fully understand +HA finding the process thoroughly lacking *in the light of… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
1 month ago

Q226 What’s the point of General Synod? The Church Commissioners has made £2bn in investment gains, after inflation, in the last 10 years. Dioceses and parishes across the country are making severe cutbacks, which in turn feeds the death spiral of congregational decline. In this context, do the CC think that research on historic links to the slave trade and net zero are the only things worth spending extra money on? How bad does it have to get? Why does only 1 question (141) even touch on this?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Keen
1 month ago

Thank you for making these points. Of course, it was a biddable, gullible and tractable Synod which approved the Commissioners’ free ride on parishes in 1995 and 1997. What is worse, they did not impose any form of sunset provision on the free ride; instead, it was a highly regressive permanent settlement. It is a settlement which gets more burdensome year by year, in both relative and absolute terms as the Commissioners’ liability for pre-1998 accruals diminishes. However, all this should be no surprise: the pay, rations and pensions of the house of bishops are financed by the Commissioners (meaning… Read more »

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

The argument would be that centralised finances allow the successful (growing) parts of the church to thrive whilst allowing the demise of the unsuccessful (shrinking) parts.
 
The wisdom of the approach depends very much on your definition of success.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Perhaps, although that seems an argument which would have been familiar to Darwin, Spencer and Galton. I am not really sure that that is the point of a national church which claims to provide a Christian presence and pastoral provision in every community. Should we, by extension, deprive impoverished or failing areas of other public goods, such as schools or hospitals? Given the wealth distribution of the UK, that would leave the bulk of the country in straits. Moreover, if only the ‘growing’ churches were permitted to subsist (and the rest left to die), there would/will soon be very indeed… Read more »

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago
  • None of the growing denominations in the UK need any handouts.
  • Parishes could put an end to this centralisation immediately by halting or payments to their Diocese. These contributions are optional and are much larger than any glebe etc income might have been.
Church-growth
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Indeed, and thank you, but few of the growing denominations have the millstone of expensive listed buildings, nor a large cadre of stipendiaries and officials, nor any pretensions to national provision. Like it or not, these liabilities are endemic to the Church of England, although I am very much of the view that they could, and should, be alleviated (although this will require transfers of capital from the Commissioners). Parish share is notionally ‘optional’, but it is arguably optional in the way that deciding whether or not to pay someone wielding a bludgeon in the street is optional: a decision… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

If you think the 7th Day Adventists are christian, I am inclined to doubt your judgement regarding the Church.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

There is no definitive list of who is a Christian, and who isn’t, but many people seem to agree that Seventh day Adventists are Christians.

Geoff McL.
Geoff McL.
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Ellen White and her early adherents were not Trinitarian but I understand that the SDA church moved toward the doctrine in the years following her death. I suppose a comparison could be made with an example closer to home for Anglicans, that of the Philippine Independent Church. Grigorio Aglipay came to reject the Trinity in his lifetime, but the church later reversed course under the influence of the Episcopal Church.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  Oliver Miller
1 month ago

Are not parishes and denominations different things? Do the ‘growing’ denominations not support their weaker congregations?

I’m struggling to see any meaning in your first statement here, unless it’s another variant on the suspicious (to say the least) notion that financial health is in some way equivalent to spiritual health.

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