Thinking Anglicans

November General Synod – Agenda and Papers

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 November. The agenda (GS 2322) and papers were released today. The report of the Business Committee (GS 2323) includes a guide to the group of sessions.

The papers can be downloaded as two zipped files, and there are links to individual papers below the fold.

The main business of this group of sessions will Living in Love and Faith; the supporting paper is GS 2328 Living in Love and Faith: Setting out the progress made and work still to do. There will be an informal session on Monday afternoon, and then on Tuesday afternoon the Bishop of London will move:

‘That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides feel pain at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, and encourage the House to continue its work of implementation.’

Approximately nine hours have allocated to the debate, spread over Tuesday afternoon and most of Wednesday.

Papers for Monday

Papers for Tuesday

Papers for Wednesday

GS Misc papers

Contingency Business

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Susannah Clark
8 months ago

Peter has pointed out CEEC’s call for structured differentiation, to provide pastoral reassurance to those ordained ministers/priests and churches who in conscience oppose intimate gay sexuality and marriage. For speed of tracking down how this is covered in GS2328, the key section is Annex F (Pastoral Reassurance) Sections 34 to 36 on Pages 79 to 81. This does no more at this stage than consider possible options of ‘Formal Structured Pastoral Provision’. Ideas include division of provinces into areas (large diocese or cluster of smaller dioceses) and in each area one bishop to be publicly identified as ‘for’ the changes,… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Susannah Clark
8 months ago

Thank you. That’s very helpful.

Andrew Sawyer
Andrew Sawyer
Reply to  Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Many thanks for this illuminating comment, very helpful. Not a few people are waiting hopefully for some arrangement like this that will enable them to remain as Anglicans.

Susannah Clark
8 months ago

One other observation: at a time when trans people have been facing backlash from politicians and some feminists, I find it sad (as a participant in the LLF process and a very raw interview at Church House) that once again there is hardly a mention of trans people in this paper on LLF. Actually, LLF was not only about lesbian and gay people. I appreciate the huge workload involved in the sexual orientation aspect of LLF, but the much-needed work on trans people has been put on ice the past 2 years, with no reference to our very real needs.… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Thank you, Susannah for writing as you do. I rely very much on people like you and Colin Coward to help me try to understand what all this is about – much of the technical terminology is incomprehensible to someone who’s not involved with it on a professional basis (what does ‘cis’ mean, for example?) I don’t know any trans people well enough to talk to on any meaningful level about this kind of deeply personal issue, which makes it harder for me. Unless they were steam engineers, I wouldn’t expect them to understand what a hornblock or a throat… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  John Davies
7 months ago

Thank you John. I find your writing particularly honest in the way you accommodate uncertainties. Personally I think that’s a wise Christian pathway to walk, because so much about God is beyond us, and also, it may at times be a sad mistake to try to ‘box God up’ in our own (human and limited) definitions. Rather than literalising everything in tight dogma, perhaps we are meant to rely more on grace, on mercy, and on trust in God when we can’t make sense of everything. It was not for no reason that Jesus made the exercise of love the… Read more »

Peter
Peter
8 months ago

The destruction of trust in the House of Bishops (with the exception of the Dissenters) is completed by the Motion that is to be placed before Synod on 14th November 2023 – See GS2328 Annex 1 To assert that there is no departure from the doctrine of the Church of England arising from the PLF proposals is to enter a world in which language has ceased to function. George Orwell portrayed this place as one in which we will be told that “two plus two equals five” and we are compelled not just to accept it but to declare it… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
8 months ago

“To assert that there is no departure from the doctrine of the Church of England arising from the PLF proposals is to enter a world in which language has ceased to function.”

Is there, in your view, no distinction between a departure from doctrine and an alteration or new interpretation of doctrine?

In an analogical mode, did Einstein depart from Newton’s laws of physics…or did he present a new interpretation thereof?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
8 months ago

I don’t think that analogy will help you! Most physicists would say that Einstein’s theories and equations replace those of Newton. Einstein’s maths describes reality better than Newton’s does.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
8 months ago

But doesn’t the Newtonian still have value? Isn’t the scientific search on for a unifying “ theory of everything “ that reconciles the two approaches? I am primarily addressing the science here not LLF.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Martin Sewell
8 months ago

All the theories of physics are (in this imperfect world) human approximations to reality. Einstein’s theories of relativity are, by observation, better approximations to reality that Newton’s. In that sense they replace them. However, for ordinary everyday purposes, at velocities that are low compared to the speed of light, and gravitational fields that we encounter in everyday life, then Newton’s approximations are good enough. Einstein’s equations make a tiny, imperceptible, difference at the human scale.

Martyn Percy
Martyn Percy
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
7 months ago

The phrase “depart from doctrine” sounds awfully severe. But I worry this is scaremongering. So let us not allow the following facts to get overlooked: 1. The CofE has no doctrines of its own – and frequently says so. 2. The CofE never had a ‘doctrine’ of marriage. If it did, it would regard marriage as one of the seven sacraments adhered to by Roman Catholics. 3. Sacraments are doctrinal. In every case – the seven – what is conferred by grace cannot be withdrawn or undone. Baptism, Eucharist, holy orders, last rites, marriage, etc. They are indelible. 4. Anglicans… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Martyn Percy
7 months ago

The term “Doctrine” does not mean one thing.

The word orthodoxy could also have been used in the July Synod Motion that gives rise to the bishops’ tenderness of conscience on the matter. That word would have generated its own storm of indignation.

Your substantive point is clearly the assertion that marriage is a matter on which different conclusions are permissible.

Conservatives do not accept that assertion.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
8 months ago

The bishops have changed doctrine.

They can call it what they want – departure, alteration, new interpretation. They would at least be maintaining the integrity and purpose of language.

The determination to say that which is so obviously not true – and require us all to be complicit – is the fundamental deceit and exercise of coercion.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
8 months ago

To depart is to leave. If I depart my house, I have left it. OTOH, if I alter my house–add a room, repaint, put in new windows–have I left it? No. But in doing so, have I radically changed its form and purpose as a dwelling place? No.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
8 months ago

You are making your metaphor work too hard.

Bishops are meant to teach and guard the faith. Not change it. That is the end of the matter.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Sometimes guarding something requires making changes. To guard my house, I put in a fence, for instance. But guarding can also require making things more open, more accessible–a ramp so that heavy equipment can be moved in, for example.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
8 months ago

Since conservatives have DEFINED marriage as between one man and one woman, a relationship between two men, or two women, is, by definition, not a marriage and the doctrine relating to marriage doesn’t apply. It’s a new situation so there has been no change of doctrine. You see it differently.but ultimately why does it matter? Doctrine has evolved over the centuries. Even for marriage we have accommodated remarriage after divorce and that was definitely a change in the prevailing doctrine. The bottom line is that the Church of England has accepted that it has been treating gay and lesbian Christians… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
8 months ago

Your first point is pure sophistry. On your second point, The Church of England has never construed divorce as anything other than a failure. It is simply wrong to assert that The Church of England has changed its doctrine regarding marriage because it has made a set of pastoral concessions around divorce. On your third point, you conflate two distinct issues. People who experience same sex attraction have been let down by the Church of England which requires repentance and remorse. Public Rites in relation to same sex relationships are not in any sense an expression of repentance. They are… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

You are missing the points.

1. It’s an irrelevant argument at this point. It doesn’t matter whether doctrine has or hasn’t changed – which is anyway a matter of opinion, not fact, with both sides potentially arguable.

2. The Church has admitted it has treated LGBT people badly. That only means something if there is a change of behaviour and PLF is the least possible change of behaviour.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
7 months ago

You say “it does not matter whether doctrine has or has not changed”. I am afraid it does matter.

On your second point you conflate behaviour and doctrine. We all know that people should behave respectfully towards others in their personal conduct. When that has not and does not happen it is wrong and should be corrected.

That is an entirely different matter to the issue of changing the doctrine of the church.

Last edited 7 months ago by Peter
Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

“On your second point you conflate behaviour and doctrine. We all know that people should behave respectfully towards others in their personal conduct. When that has not and does not happen it is wrong and should be corrected.”

But when doctrine requires treating people disrespectfully, what then? If the LGBTQ community says they feel disrespected by the behavior required by current CoE doctrine–refusing them marriage, refusing them even a blessing–why do you not honor those feelings?

Jonny Elvin
Jonny Elvin
7 months ago

Where can I find the amendments? It’s so hard to follow a process online, where the wording being debated is not in front of you!

Jonny Elvin
Jonny Elvin
Reply to  Peter Owen
7 months ago

Thank you Peter.

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