Thinking Anglicans

November General Synod – electronic voting results

Updated 30 November New versions of all these files have been uploaded to the CofE website. All those there now are internally dated 29 November. I have updated the links below to point to these new files.

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available online and are linked below. The texts of items 7 and 500 can be found in the official record of Business Done.

Living in Love and Faith motion (as amended – text here)

Amendments to Living in Love and Faith motion (see Order Paper IV for the texts of the proposed amendments)

Motion to consider Abuse (Redress) Measure for revision in committee

Motion to amend standing orders (see Order Paper IV)

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Fr Dean
Fr Dean
3 months ago

Perplexing to see LGBTQ+ bishops and clergy voting against Item 7. It would be fascinating to know what their objections are.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Fr Dean
3 months ago

PS. Just spotted one of the ‘orthodox’ laity voting against who attends church most weeks with his live in lover. Jesus had very little to say about sex – an awful lot of his teaching was about hypocrisy though. Sad that there are so many LGBTQ + Christians living in denial and with internalised homophobia.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
3 months ago

There is nothing in these voting figures, either for the Bishop of Oxford’s amendment, or the main motion, to suggest that the standalone services will achieve a two-thirds vote in the Houses of Laity or Clergy in 2025. Then what, when that which was given is taken away again? Will the Bishops just let that happen with the uproar (and further delay) that would follow? Or do they cut a deal with CEEC, to allow gay affirmation to proceed in a structurally differentiated section of the Church? Or is there any other way (Episcopally or with Parliament)? Two years is… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Susannah Clark
T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

This particular form of blessing is for two years. If the experiment is not a success (so to speak) and does not attract two-thirds support, then the bishops can introduce another form of blessing for the next two years and so on.

What is experimental is the particular wording, not the principle itself.

I think this is right (i.e. accurate)?

Martin Carr
Martin Carr
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

In response to Susannah, would the trial period for PLF simply be extended indefinitely, until such future time as a two thirds majority exists? It will no doubt interest Synod too as to the number of PLF services being conducted, and what forms these take.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Martin Carr
3 months ago

This is what Canon B5A actually says:

B 5A Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods1. Where a form of service has been prepared with a view to its submission to the General Synod for approval by the Synod under Canon B 2 the archbishops after consultation with the House of Bishops of the General Synod may, prior to that submission, authorize such form of service for experimental use for a period specified by them on such terms and in such places or parishes as they may designate.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Martin Carr
3 months ago

Andrew Atherston asked the Bishop of London what would happen if a B2 vote failed to pass the standalone services with a two-thirds majority in 2025. She answered that they would not then take place. I agree that the bishops could try to extend the trial period, but I suspect in the face of a failure at B2, that probably wouldn’t happen. Some other way forward would be needed, or else the deadlock would just carry on, arguably for ever and ever. At some point a decisive decision needs to be taken about actual doctrinal change. We can’t have gay… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Martin Carr
3 months ago

And how would the appointment of an Archbishop of Canterbury from a more conservative province or country affect the prospects of trial period being extended, or same sex marriage being agreed? The next time the post becomes vacant other provinces will be represented on the appointments panel. Are the bishops simply kicking the can down the road until they see who the next Cantuar is?

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

The process for selecting the next ABC has been gerrymandered to give someone conservative in outlook. Quite how conservative remains to be seen but he (and I think it will be a man again) is unlikely to support further integration of same sex prayers or rites.

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Kate Keates
3 months ago

Strange that no inclusive group in the COE has grasped the implication of the new appointment procedure for the next ABC. You think many would have picked up on the fact that the next ABC will be to the right of Welby and most likely from the Global south and the implications this has for the future of their movement. The fact that Jayne Ozanne asked Welby to resign is crazy. Does she not know that his successor will be more conservative than him?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Vincent Van Der Weerden
3 months ago

The fact that global Anglicans have rejected ++Cantuar as leader is bound to be a catalyst for them using all in their power through the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) to pack a Canterbury CNC with the most conservative representatives as possible, not because they are remotely interested in the next de facto head of the Anglican Communion but because they will act in reprisal for the LLF trajectory in the Church of England. The Standing Committee of the ACC has announced more details of how their five CNC members will be identified. Coupled with the more conservative current slate of… Read more »

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

So is appointing a global south bishop unconstitutional? Why will the CNC be deadlocked in your opinion? The new CNC is a lot like the papal college of cardinals in my opinion.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Vincent Van Der Weerden
3 months ago

It wouldn’t be unconstitutional per se, but the bishop nominated would need to be eligible to receive a writ of summons to attend the House of Lords. The issue more widely is whether the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as currently structured realistically allows for such a bishop, whose nomination would clearly be to fulfil the Anglican Communion (Instrument of Communion) element of the role, when in practice the primary role of the Archbishop of Canterbury is as Primate of All England. I personally doubt whether the changes were specifically designed to facilitate a nomination of a bishop from… Read more »

Charles Read
Charles Read
3 months ago

All three Norwich lay members voted against item 7. This does not reflect how lay people in this diocese seem to feel about this issue. I hope some questions are asked…

Nic Tall
Nic Tall
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

John Brydon stated on his election statement “I believe in an inclusive and safe church open to all no matter what race, colour, creed or sexuality.” Caroline Herbert wrote “Having followed the progress of Living in Love and Faith since its beginnings, I hope to be able to continue to contribute as General Synod considers the next steps.” Clare Williams said nothing about LLF on her election statement. All three voted against the final motion on LLF, which they also did in the LLF debate in February. Questions should be asked of candidates in any General Synod election, especially as… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Nic Tall
3 months ago

I suppose there could be a case for gay-affirming candidates to mention in passing the voting records of the previous candidates in their own election statements, and some kind of central processing of the voting data on previous votes to those candidates. That kind of information ought not to be masked, but most of the people voting won’t read the official voting records, but may read the candidates’ election statements in their area. Democracy should happen on the basis of *informed* consent.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

The fact is that General Synod members might often be referred to as General Synod Representatives but there is no requirment on them to represent the views of anyone other than themselves once elected. Hopefully their voting record doesn’t contradict anything that they put in their statement that was circulated during the election period.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

I have always been surprised, indeed shocked, by the number of clergy and laity entitled to vote in the GS elections who don’t do so. Many are also rather evasive in their election addresses. It’s difficult to believe the GS is representative of opinion in the C of E.

Philip Groves
Philip Groves
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

Charles, I suspect this sums up the problem. 10 years ago (perhaps longer) I was invited to speak at Norwich Cathedral as a person who was neutral – in the sense I was fostering dialogue – with someone who supported deeper LGBTI+ inclusion and someone who was firmly for traditional teaching. The mood in the packed cathedral was brooding and almost silent for the set piece talks. It stayed that way until a lay person aged around 60’s – who looked like a stereotypical member of the political conservative party in his clothing and accent – spoke about his gay… Read more »

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Philip Groves
3 months ago

Yes I remember that evening – I was there. And your analysis is spot on. In my GS election addresses I have always tried to be open and honest. I declared my membership of WATCH for example and self-described as evangelical. I cannot see the integrity in the addresses of those who do not declare their hand – of course on some issues a person may say they are still thinking it through, which is fine – but have the guts to say what you think.

Andrew Lightbown
Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Did the + Hereford not vote on item 7?

Andrew Lightbown
Andrew Lightbown
Reply to  Peter Owen
3 months ago

ah thanks, but interesting to see another couple of missing bishops – Leeds, and Winchester….

WYH
WYH
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Ah……on that day, The King handed to the Bishop of Winchester the Badge and Chain of Office upon his appointment as Prelate of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter Owen
3 months ago

You would have thought GS would know about these prior commitments and scheduled this vote for another date.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter Owen
3 months ago

Are you saying it would have been literally impossible for GS to reschedule?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

If Private Eye is correct it seems that ‘Brian’ is rather more imperious than his late mother – God rest her soul.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

Pat, the General Synod of the Church of England meets two or three times a year, on weekdays, meaning that lay members who have jobs need to schedule holiday time to attend. I suspect that for many of those people, changing the dates of those holiday times is far more complicated than you seem to think.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Peter Owen
3 months ago

This gives us an interesting insight into the daily life of bishops. One was being made Clerk of the Closet that day. No doubt this is a very important role, but from the title I envisage him blessing and handing out the royal lavatory paper. Someone else was being made Prelate of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. He’ll have to pull his socks up. Yet another at the Palace that day, and still more in the the House of Lords.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

Oh, you are awful, but I like you……….

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Peter Owen
3 months ago

The two bishops closest to HM The KIng, the Clerk of the Closet and the Dean of Windsor, are both conservative on LLF. One controls, or advises very heavily on, the flow of Chaplains to the Sovereign. There is more than one way to make the weather in the CofE.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

So can it be argued that the successful passing of the pro-LLF measures in synod is down to King Charles ensuring that at least three conservative bishops were otherwise engaged at the palace, and hence unavailable to vote.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

Not quite! As we see there was a healthy majority in the bishops, unlike the clergy and laity. 37 members of the House of Bishops voted on Item 7, as amended, or recorded an abstention. There are 53 members in total, so 16 to be accounted for. However, there are eight vacancies: Birmingham (election confirmed after GS); Carlisle, Coventry, Ely, Exeter, Peterborough (yet to be confirmed); Truro; and a southern suffragan vacancy caused by the death of +Woolwich. That leaves eight. Of the diocesans, Hereford was said to have had an appointment with the King. He (not the King) is a dissentient letter… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Anthony Archer
Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

Thank you. It is an interesting illustration of the modern Church of England that for a senior bishop, receiving an archaic bauble from the monarch is held to have a higher priority than participating in an hugely important debate and vote.

I am sure the King would have understood if the Bishop explained and asked to rearrange or postpone.

If I was in the Winchester Diocese I would be tempted to challenge my bishop on his priorities.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

‘I am sure the King would have understood’. Really? So the thousands of such people he sees weekly as part of his duties are free to phone and check diaries if his invite clashes with things they feel are more important? I don’t think so,

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Perhaps I have my tongue very firmly in my cheek David, or perhaps I am being very serious indeed. Or perhaps a bit of both. I have spent many years in the Armed Forces, an experience that included helping to arrange a few royal visits, so I am not naive about how these things work. But I also keep being told about the importance of apostolic succession, the basis for Episcopal authority. And then I read Jesus’ instruction to his apostles in the gospels, and wonder if these are the values that the bishops should therefore live up to. And… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

Not being “awarded the Order of the Garter”. That would be a very high honour indeed — and takes place at a set time of the year in June. The Bishop of Winchester is by the statutes of the Order, its bishop.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

I think it ought to be clear to the King that a bishop’s highest priority is to his full-time position in the Church. Would he be offended if a doctor decided seeing a patient were more important than being named “Head of the Whatever” within the Palace?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

I don’t know why this should bother someone in USA, but, more to the point, why is the Bishop of Winchester being singled out for these inappropriate comments? He was one of several bishops having an audience with the King that day.

As I have explained below, the Bishop is newly in office and, in fact, has not yet been formally enthroned (installed) in his Cathedral. That service is scheduled for 13th January 2024.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

FTR, I would be equally concerned if a bishop in The Episcopal Church chose to skip an important vote in General Convention in order to receive some sort of honor from the President of the United States.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

There’s no comparison. Bishops of the Church of England take the Oath of Allegiance to the King as its Supreme Governor. To the best of my knowledge there is no constitutional link between TEC and your President, and it is a known fact that he is not of that denomination.

Can we leave the subject of the Bishop of Winchester? He was only elected last month and a first audience with the King, who sets the date, is sufficient explanation.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Then, to your way of thinking, “by Royal Command” would be sufficient for a surgeon to postpone a necessary operation for a patient? Or a barrister to choose to not attend a trial?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

I can’t keep spending time trying to explain things which you clearly don’t understand. These exchanges border on the ridiculous and your stance is discourteous both to our King and those bishops who legitimately were elsewhere when a vote was taken.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Pardon me? I understand very well, thank you. I understand that these bishops, in what seems a highly medieval view, deemed their commitment to their sovereign as being more important than their commitment to the people of their diocese, who might legitimately have expected them to be in place to vote in GS.

Have we returned to the days of Henry II and Becket?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

I live in the Winchester Diocese and as yet know very little about our newly-appointed Bishop, but I guess that ‘by Royal command’, even in 2023, takes precedence.

The Bishops of Winchester have been Prelates of the Order of the Garter since its foundation by Edward III in 1348, long pre-dating the C of E! Indeed, the first Prelate, William of Edington, was also Papal Legate and drafted its Statutes. I don’t think its insignia could be described as ‘baubles’ by anyone with a sense of history valuing the continuity of our institutions.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Well the CofE dates back to what, 597? So hardly pre-dating the CofE, Rowland. Indeed, the Church of England is older than the kingdom of England.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

I clearly meant the Church of England by Law Established, not the ancient C of E!

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Yes, but I will resist any suggestion that the CofE is a creation of the 16th century!

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Rowland, I accept everything you say about the long history of the Order of the Garter, and the Bishop of Winchester’s involvement in it. But nothing in that history stops me questioning whether the Garter ceremony should be considered a higher priority than Synod for the Bishop.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

This was not the Garter Ceremony which takes place in June of each year. 2024 will be a ‘first’ both for the present Bishop of Coventry in his new office of Dean of Windsor and Register of the Order, and for Winchester as Prelate, following a hiatus of several years caused by the ‘standing back’ and retirement of Tim Dakin.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I recall when Winchester’s predecessor, Bishop Dakin, was newly-appointed he caused a Hampshire hiatus. He declined an invitation to an event hosted by the Lord Lieutenant, on the grounds that it was his day off!

If that was bad enough, it is hard to imagine a worse way for the new bishop to start than by snubbing the King.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

It would doubtless baffle our North American friends if I were to add that the then Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire was later made a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter!

Yet again, it’s necessary to point out that eight bishops were absent (as counted by Anthony Archer) on the occasion in question, and there is absolutely no basis for the singling out of Winchester.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I don’t think I’m singling out Winchester. I think the absence of any of them for any reason other than health is appalling.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

I am obviously in a minority here so I will make one final post then withdraw gracefully. There are many posters on Thinking Anglicans, who I have learnt to respect deeply for their intelligence, independence, and perception. But what always surprises me, whenever discussions turn to the monarchy, is that many of those same people seem to display almost feudal ways of thinking. In the year of our Lord 2023, in a modern European democracy, what is unthinkable about a group of bishops liaising with the Palace and saying actually that date is the date when we should be at… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

So far as I am aware, the ‘expenses’ of the Order of the Garter (the highest ‘civilian’ honour of our country) do not fall on the public purse. The Order and its membership are solely in the gift of the King. As with Pat O’Neill, I won’t take this discussion any further.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Simon Dawson
3 months ago

This is just speculation, but it may be that the three bishops who were at the Palace that day may have specifically indicated to the Palace that it wiould be a convenient day to see the King, pecisely because Synod was meeting less than a mile away. It meant they would all be in London and not have to make a special journey. I don’t suppose the King spent all day with them.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

I should have realised that the Bishop of Sodor and Man has very recently retired. A diligent bishop who had a significant sector ministry in the British Army, I should have realised that he was unlikely to be absent without leave. My apologies.

Francis James
Francis James
3 months ago

Reading through GS proposed amendments all I could think was how pettifogging & pernickety it all seems. If it was not so serious it would be farcical, only lacking Groucho Marx’s famous ‘sanity clause’.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Francis James
3 months ago

And I don’t believe in no ‘sanity clause’…….

Andrew Lightbown
Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

I suspect that some of the bishops were, in reality, quite pleased to be otherwise detained.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
3 months ago

It suited some bishops to be otherwise engaged.

Neil Patterson
Neil Patterson
3 months ago

In response to the latter part of this thread, I understand a number of Bishops successfully voted from the House of Lords using the remote platform for those on Zoom. Presumably it is easier to fumble with one’s phone on the red benches (especially if a friend messages a reminder at the right moment) than at the Palace.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
3 months ago

The two-year time limit on the experimental standalone prayers of blessing might have looked rather strange were it not for the origin of the revised proposal (namely the +Oxford amendment). The prayers as presented in GS 2328 were on a clear two-year path to authorisation under Canon B2. These intercessory-type prayers are now on a parallel track with the standalone prayers. I suspect few will use those in the light of the availability of the standalone prayers. Had the House of Bishops just gone for experimental prayers at this stage and been more nuanced on how these might eventually have… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

That last sentence is particularly thought-provoking, because if they end up being constrained then there comes a time when church communities will call time on deference and act on conscience instead. Some already do.

Francis James
Francis James
3 months ago

How people get on GS is certainly interesting. For Chi Dio revealing the slightest hint of liberalism in one’s election statement has traditionally been the kiss of death. Despite this 2 of our lay reps voted for the amendment, so things are shifting despite our bishop. Talking to a mild priest the other day I remarked that Chi had never appointed a Diocesan, or Suffragan, who could remotely be called ‘liberal’. Admittedly the last +Horsham did stun everyone by going rogue & accepting women, but he soon left, and although his replacement is a female (a much trumpeted first) in… Read more »

Simon Eyre
Simon Eyre
Reply to  Francis James
3 months ago

The Chichester election was probably the most keenly fought of any diocese with 41 candidates for the 8 lay places.
One lay member from Chichester did not vote during the last Synod. If they had done the Bishop of Oxford’s amendment vote would have been tied.
Those of us in Chichester who voted against the motion are from a variety of traditions including Open Evangelicals, Charismatics and Anglo Catholics I think reflecting the breadth of tradition not in favour of the motion

Nic Tall
Nic Tall
Reply to  Simon Eyre
3 months ago

I would not take any diocese as representative of the whole of the C of E, just as I wouldn’t take any Parliamentary constituency in a General Election as representative of the whole country. Chichester did have a lot of candidates in 2021, although it was 33 candidates for 8 places rather than the 41 stated. In terms of most candidates per place I believe Portsmouth comes out top, with 16 candidates for just three places. However, each individual diocese does have a flavour, and Chichester is alongside Blackburn and London as one of the more consistently conservative dioceses, much… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Nic Tall
Simon Eyre
Simon Eyre
Reply to  Nic Tall
3 months ago

Apologies I had miscounted the candidate numbers.
My own feeling is the more candidates we have for these elections the more likely the outcome is to reflect the views of the lay members of a diocese. There are a number of dioceses where few candidates put their names forward which was disappointing.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Simon Eyre
3 months ago

And as I said before, many dioceses where a largish minority of clergy and laity don’t bother to vote

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

I’m not sure that they can’t be bothered exactly. Isn’t it partly that they have no way to make a rational choice. There are no hustings or debates.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

In my experience, when there are no hustings it’s usually because, when they have been previously held, hardly anyone bothers to come. Electors choose not to educate thmselves.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

My history finals back in 1970 included a question, “A Church gets the sect it deserves” Discuss. Perhaps the C of E gets the General Synod it deserves.?

Nic Tall
Nic Tall
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

There are a few hustings online, with meagre attendance. A better approach is a form of written questions submitted by voters with candidates invited to given a written answer. The Q&As are then put into a single document and sent round all of the electorate. Several dioceses tried this in 2021 (Oxford, Coventry and Winchester if memory serves me correctly). The election guidance for 2026 will encourage all dioceses to follow this, and local voters should request their diocesan presiding officer carry out this exercise if they want greater transparency.

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Nic Tall
3 months ago

And yet – speaking for Oxford here – it proved possible to be elected even if you didn’t record the little video clip requested, or didn’t answer the written questions sent around. Because some people just vote for the people approved by their tribe.

Nic Tall
Nic Tall
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

Turnout in 2021 was up, probably due to the whole system moving online. For clergy it rose from 55% in 2015 to 70% in 2021, for laity it went from 46% (2015) to 53% (2021). Still much to be done to encourage greater lay participation, but among the clergy 70% is higher than most UK General Elections this century.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Nic Tall
3 months ago

But why don’t people vote? Amongst the clergy is it a sense of disengagement ? And among the laity ( some of whom went on Deanery Synod because no one else wanted to) ” oh dear, I don’t know about all this”. I used to discuss things with my parish reps ….don’t other clergy?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Simon Eyre
3 months ago

And that large “tradition”, those who Alec Vidler described as the ‘un hyphenated ” members of the Church of England?

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Francis James
3 months ago

I couldn’t help thinking about these comments when yesterday’s Choral Evensong on the BBC, live from Chichester, was interrupted by climate protesters complaining vehemently about a recent decision by Chichester Diocesan Synod. I couldn’t hear the protest very well and it was faded out after a while, so I don’t know what the decision was which caused the protest, but it suggests, unsurprisingly, that the makeup of their diocesan synod is also overwhelmingly conservative..

Last edited 3 months ago by Malcolm Dixon
Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
3 months ago

There is a peculiar sense about this thread that the Bishops’ votes were the most important ones. As a clergy member of Synod, I was not there the whole time because I had to take a funeral. On one vote the margin was 1 in the House of Laity. The balance in the House of Bishops was never going to be a surprise. The whole point was to test various options in the other houses of Synod. My take on the voting is that there is a small majority for a large change, and that puts strain on a system… Read more »

Nic Tall
Nic Tall
Reply to  Mark Bennet
3 months ago

“There is a small majority for a large change” is a very good way of describing the situation. A more complete description is that there is a slight minority for no change and a slight majority large change. In that context the solution is usually to implement some change, but not a large one. Liturgical affirmation of the goods of civil marriage is much less than equal marriage, and therefore the middle ground that the current situation merits. No change has even less support than radical change, both in Synod and in the wider church. Those advocating for no change… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Two comments from an outsider: First, I’m conflicted about one thing. If people are making a commitment (or at least, implying one) to vote in a certain way if they get elected to General Synod, why would you bother having debates? Surely the point of a debate is to attempt to change people’s minds. But if people are not allowed to change their mind – or are going to be berated for doing so afterwards – then what’s the point of a debate at all? Why not just announce the motions and then have a vote? Archbishop Michael Peers (former… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Your Archbishop was espousing the classic Burkean representation model. This requires both integrity and genuine debate in the chamber, something that rarely (if ever) happens these days in either house of UK parliament, let alone general synod. As you say, General Synod debates are a bad farce, and I am not sure which is worse, the questions or the formulaic non-answers. Of course the electoral base for GS is very narrow. In theory the voters are deanery synod members, who were elected as such by the local church members to their PCC (and the proportion of the congregation who vote… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Francis James
3 months ago

It is dire, but the situation will persist until folk wake up to the realities. The House of Laity is especially non-representative of those in the pew. There are two principal reasons for this. Turnout in the election is very low (below 50%) and the ConEvos ensure that their churches maintain full deanery synod membership and also get their ‘tribe’ to vote. Added to the fact (see above) that ConEvos are grossly economical with the truth in their election addresses (indeed they lie), a small electorate has the wool pulled over its eyes. For the future, once the slate of… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

To the two reasons given for the House of Laity being particularly unrepresentative of those in the pews might be added a third reason. Those in the pews have no vote.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  T Pott
3 months ago

The electoral college for the House of Laity, being the deanery synod representatives, is much maligned as a process, but universal suffrage (occasionally debated) would hand even more power to the tribes.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

Our system in Canada is that General Synod delegates are elected by diocesan synods (we don’t have deanery synods), and the candidates must be either members of the diocesan synods, or be eligible to be members. But one thing that helps us is that we only have GS once every three years, so it’s more of a possibility for lay people who actually have jobs (although it is longer – I think a full week).

It’s not a perfect system either, of course.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Would that mean that members of General Synod are elected to attend one session only; and that there is an idea of the issues that will come up before they are elected?

peter kettle
peter kettle
3 months ago

There is no listing of ‘clergy against’ in the figures for item 7.

Michael OSullivan
Michael OSullivan
2 months ago

If a foreigner is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury for the first time since the Middle Ages, will he or she become a member of the House of Lords just like that?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Michael OSullivan
2 months ago

A good question, but I think that membership of the Lords Spiritual is confined to eligible bishops of the Church of England (only) irrespective of their nationality. Most recently Archbishop Rowan Williams (ineligible as Archbishop of the Church in Wales) automatically became a Lord Spiritual on his election to Canterbury. However, I suspect that your question is directed to non-UK candidates as to which, as far as I know, there have been none in recent times. The HL website emphasises that Lords Spiritual are not peers, but ‘Lords of Parliament’.

Alternative views awaited with interest!

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
2 months ago

Members of the House of Lords must be able to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. That will prevent foreign nationals taking their seat. Rowan Williams was, of course, a UK citizen.

And although the HoL website insists that the bishops are not peers, this is a contested point. I think I am right in saying that it has also been legally held that they are. In practice it makes little or no difference.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

I thought my comment about Rowan Williams was clear. But the question posed by Michael OSullivan might yet arise, and it might require legislation.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

Second reply: Lords Spiritual are distinguishable from peers in that they only hold membership of the HL while in episcopal office. A life peerage might, or might not, follow on retirement from the Bishops’ bench.

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
2 months ago

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think after retirement, they still get a pass to the HoL and can sit on a step somewhere in the chamber (but not speak or vote.) Oh, and I think they can use the (subsidized) catering and drinking facilities. So it is a bit of a ‘club’ reward in older age!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  peter kettle
2 months ago

I don’t think that has any relevance to what we are discussing! Nor, I suspect, does it happen much, if at all. It’s ironic, at least to me, that on a Christian website there is so much criticism and hostility to the presence of a Christian representation by bishops in the House of Lords. Facts: they are (1) the smallest ‘group’ by far, approximately 3% of the total membership, (2) the only one having fixed numbers, and (3) a compulsory retirement age. These three factors, apart from any others, distinguish them from all other members of the House of Lords.… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Michael OSullivan
2 months ago

By a foreigner do you mean non-Commonwealth or non-UK. There could be no difference, surely between an Australian and a Scotsman?

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  T Pott
2 months ago

I should of couse have said Scotsperson, or perhaps just Scot.

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