Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – Questions

The Questions paper for Saturday’s virtual meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod has been published today. This contains the 131 submitted questions and their answers. A total of two hours has been allocated on Saturday for supplementary questions and answers.

Other papers are here.

The meeting will be streamed online here.

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Kate
Kate
4 months ago

“While praying in a church building is very important for clergy (and others), it could not be considered an essential practice.” – Archbishop of Canterbury

Words fail me.

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
4 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Why do words fail ? I am not sure. Vast numbers of people of course cannot pray in a church building at the present time, and many people including those in nursing homes or in remote parts of the country can never pray in a church building, important as I believe a building is – according to a Homily, “the house of God” and the “temple of the Lord”. I am amazed how my creaky old C.of E. in Australia survives with a General Synod only every four years and a fairly small number of bishops and hardly a soul… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops: Q27   “The Church has embraced the concept of “unconscious bias”: will the Secretary General and the NSSP urgently review the composition of the Martyn Percy Core Group and confirm to General Synod members within a month, that having considered the importance of fair and proper process, they can assure us that that Core Group process was free from unconscious bias, and that the Core Group decisions were untainted by it?”   The Bishop of Huddersfield to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
4 months ago

Looking at all those questions about the political stance of bishops, don’t you just love the way middle class, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant capitalists rail against leaders of their Church who will not defend the indefensible or suggest that their attitudes might be open to challenge in the light of the Scripture, tradition and reason? If Dominic Cummings and his political project has such strong support among Synod members, is it any wonder that curates are being furloughed in more wealthy dioceses in the South?   Of course, if bishops were to regularly applaud the jailing of pregnant women for shop… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago

The archbishops’ letters of 24th and 27th March are now ancient history, having been superseded by further guidance issued on 30th June.  Bearing in mind that Synod questions needed to be submitted before the updated instructions were published, it’s perhaps understandable that no fewer than two dozen questions on ‘Covid-19 and the use of buildings’ were asked and answered.     But they are all by the bye. There was very little wiggle room within the government’s stringent ‘stay at home’ message. Although it may be reasonable to question why there seemed to be more scope for broadcasting acts of… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Many thanks for this. I suspect that the plethora of questions are to do with a blame game people wish to play, since there is a perception that the shut-down of the Church in March will have a hysteresis effect on the parishes (since you mention PCC finance). Note that the archbishop’s somewhat slippery replies kept referring to the ‘ukase’ issued by the bench in March as ‘advice’; some diocesans (Rochester, for example) were allegedly threatening clergy with CDMs if they did not follow that ‘advice’. So, if the bench was issuing ‘advice’, it was presumably not altogether unlike the… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Froghole: “Note that the archbishop’s somewhat slippery replies kept referring to the ‘ukase’ issued by the bench in March as ‘advice’; some diocesans (Rochester, for example) were allegedly threatening clergy with CDMs if they did not follow that ‘advice’. So, if the bench was issuing ‘advice’, it was presumably not altogether unlike the advice a mobster gives his victim in a protection racket”
 
Revd Graham Sawyer: “It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

This is most interesting, thank you.   As you suggest, the long-term viability of clerical superannuation following major restructuring in 1997/8 is wholly contingent on the long-term financial health of the parochial system, by transferring the burden of funding from the Commissioners to the dioceses. This was, in hindsight, a rather rash move. In more straightened times it has inadvertently created a kind of Ponzi scheme, given the deterioration in church attendance, and the increased value in the monetary contribution each individual worshipper is therefore assigned.   The turn of the Millennium was also about the time firms were generally… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Typo: *straitened* times, sorry.

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Andrew: Exactly so. Whilst the Commissioners made the CEFPS less generous in 2011, it is still an unusual scheme. The CofI has closed its DB scheme, for instance.   Why did Synod pass the Pensions Measure 1997? It was, I think, blow-back from the mistakes of the Lovelock era. Why did Douglas Lovelock and his assistants, Jim Shelley, Michael Hutchings and William Wells fail so badly? It was, ultimately, because Synod had made implausible promises to clergy in the 1970s which could not be funded other than by means of speculative ventures. The bench of the time have not received… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

It is indeed an incongruous and anomalous state of affairs, and your extensive background research helps to explain how this came to pass – most informative, thanks once again.   Interestingly, and with good timing on the eve of Synod, there’s an article in yesterday’s Church Times by the Revd Stephen Trott, a member of General Synod for the Diocese of Peterborough. He argues that ‘the C of E needs to be leaner and fitter’ and that ‘there is too much control from the centre, and power should be returned to parishes’. It’s worth a read. He touches on the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Andrew,   Many thanks! I read the Trott article (and have attended services at his two churches just north of Northampton). As he is on the Mission & Pastoral Commitee his views carry weight.   My overriding objective is that the parish system be maintained in something approaching its current form. However, in order to do so, increasingly attenuated resources need to be husbanded very carefully.   In view of this, my misgiving about Mr Trott’s recommendations is that by returning capital to PCCs the Church would lose economies of scale. At present, we have an unsatisfactory halfway house: operational… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Good morning.   I’m very interested to read about your proposals. I see that Revd Trott’s article has appeared on the Opinion thread where we may be directed for any further comments.   There are merits in both schemata, and a solution could be found in a hybrid of the two. Restore the status quo ante to reflect the Church’s local character, with clergy largely in secular employment in return for parsonages. Deploy the Commissioners, meanwhile, to ramp up critical functions where economies of scale are of paramount importance to the national Church. The assistance of the state may be… Read more »

Robin Ward
Robin Ward
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Were freeholder clergy allowed to alienate glebe by sale before the 1970s reforms? Oxbridge colleges couldn’t sell agricultural land without permission from the Min of Ag until relatively recently, and I would be interested to know if incumbents had more freedom.

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  Robin Ward

Hi Robin. I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to your question. Our learned amphibian, who regularly posts here, may be able to tell you.

Harriet Stone
Harriet Stone
4 months ago

Picking up Bill Broadhead’s comment, it was interesting that, as the Guardian reported the social media & political bias questions to Synod, the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, concluded his weekly piece on the Torah Parasha with the words “I believe that there are moral and political decisions and they are different. But there is a great danger that the two may drift apart. Politics then becomes amoral, and eventually corrupt. That is why the institution of prophecy was born. Prophets hold politicians accountable to morality… Politics must be as moral as possible if a nation is to flourish in… Read more »

Kate
Kate
4 months ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

The furlough scheme has delayed significant numbers of middle class Conservative voters finding themselves on Universal Credit, but probably not for much longer. It will be interesting to see whether in a year’s time as many Synod reps are critical of bishops’ supposed political leanings as they are now.

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

“Politics then become amoral, and eventually corrupt…Politics must be as moral as possible if a nation is to flourish in the long run.”   After writing his most famous aphorism in his celebrated letter of 5 April 1887 to Mandell Creighton, Lord Acton went on to make the following observations:   “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which… Read more »

ACI
ACI
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Froghole: is there a good book that, from the standpoint of GB, seeks to define and defend its position vis-a-vis the American colonies? Sorry if this is too off-topic but you are a fount of information.

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago
Reply to  ACI

Many thanks, ACI!   Not an easy question to answer, not least because it is easy to lose oneself in what is a variegated and labyrinthine (but also still an often controversial) literature. Much of the contemporaneous literature was in the form of pamphlets or sermons. Whitehall commissioned works in opposition to the colonies by writers of high standing: John Lind, Adam Ferguson, John Shebbeare, James Macpherson and, most famously, Samuel Johnson (‘The False Alarm’, The ‘Patriot’, ‘Falkland’s Islands’, ‘Taxation No Tyrrany’). Even John Wesley weighed in on behalf of the North ministry (North, incidentally, was no bumbler: he was… Read more »

ACI
ACI
4 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thank you very much. I was correct that you would provide strong leads.

Pilgrim
Pilgrim
4 months ago
Reply to  ACI

You might find this book interesting the FT recommended it highly https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1479806897?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title

ACI
ACI
4 months ago
Reply to  Pilgrim

Thank you very much.

Graham Caskie
Graham Caskie
4 months ago
Reply to  Harriet Stone

Long time lurker on here but as I am one of the questioners mentioned (and somewhat traduced!) I thought it best to respond myself.   What I would say is I am not defending anything that Dominic Cummings did with his family or indeed anything to do with his political objectives. If you really want to hear my views, I was on LBC speaking to Shelagh Fogarty on the day of the famous “Rose Garden Press Conference” and stated publicly if he lied or broke the rules then he should lose his job. No further discussion. We all have views… Read more »

Will Richards
Will Richards
4 months ago

The Bishop of St Eds and Ipswich (who is almost always on the side of the angels) sails very close to the winds of semantic circumlocution in one of his written answers.   Living in a city with three C of E TEIs, I can tell you that there is an emerging crisis brewing over the deployment of those due to be ordained deacon at Petertide (or, in some dioceses, Michaelmas) 2021. Dioceses are beginning to export at an increasing rate. Many do this in the normal run of things because they have too many ordinands in relation to curacy… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 months ago
Reply to  Will Richards

What’s a TEI?

David Lamming
David Lamming
4 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Theological Education Institution. Universities and TEIs are a special constituency in General Synod, with four representatives in the House of Clergy.

T Pott
T Pott
4 months ago

Mrs Mary Durlacher asks about what she refers to as the prohibition against individual cups for Holy Communion. The Bishop of London refers to a legal opinion from LACGS, chaired by Rupert Bursell, the gentleman who told the abuse enquiry only baptism and marriage were sacraments.   The fact is no canon law, no statute law, no rubric, no court judgement, no rule of any kind prohibits individual cups. There is a document on Holy Communion on the LACGS website. It is long and obtuse. It makes a series of points, none of them convincing but seems to think enough… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
4 months ago
Reply to  T Pott

I agree that only baptism and holy communion (not marriage) are sacraments of our Lord: see article 25 of the 39 Articles of Religion, to which all C of E ministers subscribe. As for whether there is any rule of law prohibiting individual cups at Holy Communion, I have tabled this supplementary question to be answered tomorrow by the Bishop of London: “If compliance with ecclesiastical law requires the use of a common cup, so that the use of individual cups is contrary to law, what is the legal basis for the use of several chalices at different communion ‘stations’… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
4 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Did she answer you please?

David Lamming
David Lamming
4 months ago
Reply to  T Pott

My supplementary question was ruled out of order as seeking an opinion on a question of law (somewhat ironic since the written answer to Mary Durlacher’s question quoted an opinion of the Legal Advisory Commission!)
 
The LAC opinion (that the use of individual cups is contrary to law) has been challenged, first by Bishop Colin Buchanan in an article in May 2010 in the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, “Individual Cups? Law, Ecclesiology and Eucharist” 12 Ecc LJ 219 and second, following Saturday’s ‘virtual’ General Synod meeting, by Andrew Goddard in an article published on Ian Paul’s Psephizo blog: https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/can-we-receive-both-bread-and-wine-during-the-pandemic/
 

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
4 months ago

One ‘elephant-in-the-room’ question which will not be asked at General Synod tomorrow:
 
Church Times – July 10 2020 
 
From Mr Andrew Graystone 
 
Sir, — Did nobody, at any point during the appointment process for the new Archbishop of York, think to ask him whether there were any past safeguarding failures (News, 3 July) that he ought to disclose? 
 
 

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
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