Thinking Anglicans

Pre-Synod news and comment

The Church of England’s General Synod meets from Tuesday to Thursday of this week. There are links to the papers here and to the Questions here. Safeguarding is on the agenda for Wednesday and there are several questions on this topic – see our article here.

Other news and comment includes:

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK “Net zero” and the faculty jurisdiction

The Telegraph Your net zero push could force churches to close or leave our parishioners shivering, Welby is warned

Helen King sharedconversations February 2022 General Synod – before it starts

Gavin Drake General Synod Update February 2022

Church Times General Synod to focus on race, trafficking, and persecution
The latest Letters to the Editor include three on the proposed changes to the membership of the Crown Nominations Commission.

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Becky Clark
Becky Clark
3 months ago

Thank you for covering the proposed changes to the faculty jurisdiction rules. There was also a letter from me in response to the Telegraph article, which sets right some key points. I reproduce the text below: Sir, Your coverage of the upcoming Synod debate on proposals to amend the rules governing changes to church buildings recognised the valid concerns some parishes have, but failed to mention two important facts. Firstly, the drive towards reaching net zero carbon by 2030 is emphatically not a piece of work directed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, or any other central function. More than half… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Becky Clark
3 months ago

Many thanks for that correction. However, ‘consent’ by diocesan synods should not perhaps be assumed to imply or infer consent by the parishes, since diocesan synods are significantly unrepresentative of the Church at parish level (although they purport to be representative, as part of the Church’s Sovietical system of sham ‘democracy’). In my experience only a very small proportion of parishes, especially the vast mass of acutely vulnerable rural parishes, will have the ability to effect this shift. Indeed, some of them might be wanting to turn off the heat right now as energy bills go through the roof, in… Read more »

Becky Clark
Becky Clark
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Thanks for this thoughtful response. Current findings from work like the Energy Footprint Tool suggest that most small (and especially rural) parish churches will not need to make significant changes. The big work will need to be done by schools, cathedrals and major churches, and other buildings in continuous use. And of course there is little in the way of compulsion that can or will be applied; even these rules changes are mainly about de-regulating, not making things harder.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Becky Clark
3 months ago

Many thanks for that. That is interesting. It seems to me that a large mass of small/rural churches are still dependent upon ageing (and often ancient) oil-fuelled boilers. My chief concern is with the exceedingly long tail of enfeebled churches. As you may know, Lincoln diocese is currently overseeing a grading project for all of its churches, in which PCCs are self-grading from 1 (full use) to 5 (closure). That task is proving to be traumatic in some places. I have encountered benefices lately in which every unit will be graded 4 (festival use) or 5, and these are areas… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

It is also ironic that closing a rural church forces people to drive increasing the carbon footprint of worship – but outside the gathered statistics. (Even if people use electric cars there is still a significant carbon cost per mile in terms of wear and tear, batteries etc. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/26/lifetime-emissions-of-evs-are-lower-than-gasoline-cars-experts-say.html)

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
3 months ago

Whoever is managing the take note debate on Thursday informed by GS 2253 (See of Canterbury: Membership of the Crown Nominations Commission) (the Bishop of Worcester is introducing it) would be well advised to withdraw it. Failure to take note will be fatal to the consultation exercise; moving to next business (if successful) will give a similar (but less critical) signal, but will at least allow for some debate, depending on when it is moved. But the views of Synod members and informed others (see Letters: Church Times – 4 February) are already clear. There is no need for a… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  Anthony Archer
3 months ago

I seem to recall that you were one of the supporters of the recent changes to the CNC which gerrymandered power to the establishment and centralised the processes. I warned then which way that would lead – and we are now reaping the fruits of that powergrab that masqueraded as democracy. By eliminating the input of the grass roots, this is where you end up.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
3 months ago

Think you may be conflating quite a few issues here! The most significant change to the CNC in recent years was the increase in diocesan representatives from four to six. That seriously changed the dynamic, as you well know. I remain an arch proponent for the abolition of secret voting, and was agnostic to positive on pairing (to reduce the influence of the usual suspects to get ‘their people’ elected as central members). This latest ‘initiative’ comes solely from Lambeth. It is an ecclesiological issue. I cannot for the life of me see why the Anglican Communion should have more… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

Another item which appears to have attracted attention, but which is not necessarily for Synod, is this: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bishop-of-brexit-church-models-itself-politics-vd8mv2fgg It is behind the usual Murdoch paywall. Essentially, the bishop of Ely has led a working party which has issued a consultation document that proposes: (i) a possible reduction in the number of lords spiritual; (ii) the amalgamation of diocesan administrations (27 of which are in deficit); and (iii) the creation of a proper portfolio/cabinet system, in which diocesan bishops have designated national portfolios (of course this exists to some extent already). This seems to me to be a report of ‘consequence’.… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

With you on this Froghole, as in so many matters, though not entirely. I value the place that the Church of England has in being able to speak into the governance of the nation, albeit to so little effect. I would be loath to see ‘the CofE’ (or rather bishops thereof) offer to give up or reduce that possibility other than as part of a wholesale review of the Upper House, which I don’t see being on the Agenda for a long while yet- a bold move, Prime Minister. I would hope for a report of such matters of consequence… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Personally I would rather the Archbishop of Canterbury spent 25% of his time in the House of Lords arguing for social justice then spending his time on international matters which, on the face of things, don’t much matter to the membership of the Church of England. Since the incumbent seems reluctant to do that, and many of the Lords Spiritual also don’t seem to prioritise attending the House of Lords, at least with a gaggle of bishops who can attend there is a chance someone will.

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Just a left field suggestion… Diocesans are chosen for their leadership and oversight and hopefully for their ability to lead a diocese to grow deeper, wider and stronger (to paraphrase +Liverpool). They are then given a national portfolio which – if they are seduced to the Lords, takes up a huge amount of time. How about spreading around the responsibilities, giving those portfolios to suffragans as well – according to background skills, talents and passions – so that Diocesan bishops dont end up spending a disproportionate amount of time away from their flock!

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Many thanks to both of you. I think that it was just that The Times (not my favourite paper) has picked up on this report. I have not seen the text of the document to which it refers. I was once strongly in favour of both the house of lords and of the lords spiritual: absent the hiatus of 1641-62 they are much the oldest part of the legislature (their presence in the witanegemot and curia regis long ante-dating the creation of parliament), and it is that sort of ‘survival’ which I think helps to make this an interesting country.… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

If there is a trade off as you suggest between maintaining parishes and keeping the Lords Spiritual, it is indeed an easy decision – parishes. However, unless the Church of England is willing to embrace either lay presidency of the Eucharist, or make ordination more commonplace so that ‘lay’ people are ordained but only to take the Eucharist and the occasional wedding, then I don’t see how parishes can survive in a recognisable form.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

A number of dioceses adopted schemes for Ordained Local Ministry some years ago in order to ensure a supply of clergy who would have just enough training to be able to keep things ticking over in parishes. I’m unclear how many such schemes are still running. I suspect the supply of people willing to undertake such a role quickly dried up.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

The OLM scheme only flourished in a handful of dioceses that pioneered the idea. It has ecclesiological issues (i.e. only being ordained to minister in a particular place) but otherwise was a practical solution. The cadre of Readers was usually the pool. The alternative of course is lay presidency at the Eucharist, which hasn’t been considered by General Synod for over 20 years. Trouble is, many bishops still regard OLM priests as second class citizens. If you also regard SSM priests as second class, you are bound to think not much about OLM priests. As a Reader who has never… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

That’s exactly what I was thinking of. I agree with Anthony (below) that lay presidency is the better option but that’s contentious so a plan B makes sense.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Erudite and well-argued as ever Froghole. With General Synod meeting almost as we ‘speak’ I wonder what if anything might be ‘learning points’ from a ‘tricameral’ example 😉 ‘Episcopally led and synodically governed’- is that it? Or ‘off with their heads’ in an Act of Supremacy, or Supreme somethingorother? A lot of history to ‘learn lessons’ from? If we learn anything from history, it is that we learn nothing from history’- I would happily give credit to the author of that observation if known.

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