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 General Synod Report 10 July 2006

Report on business from the General Synod in York

Monday 10 July 2006.

Debate on the process for the consecration of women bishops.

This debate took place from 9.45am to 1.15pm.

Following the vote on Saturday that the consecration of women bishops was a proper theological development the Synod turned today (Monday) to how the process might be carried forward. In view of the fact that the laity did not vote in favour with a 2/3rd majority it is possible that after the long process the legislation may still be rejected.

The Bishops of Guildford and Gloucester had attempted to produce a development of their former proposals to be considered by Synod. However, the House of Bishops had been unable to agree on this and had therefore proposed that the task of deciding how legislation proceeds be passed to a legislative drafting group so that the Bishops and Synod do not need to make a decision yet.

To the best of my knowledge no evangelicals against women bishops were called to speak in the three and a half hours of debate.

There were a number of significant amendments tabled and three of these were accepted.

David Houlding asked to include in the text reference to the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 111.2 which called on churches of the communion to admit that those in favour and those against women priests are loyal Anglicans. Archbishop Williams felt that the text of the motion should not make reference to any outside reports. This motion was agreed by 209 votes to 166.

Anne Williams – aimed to include reference to the Rochester Report and GSMisc 827 when calling for discussion in dioceses, parishes etc. This was lost although there was quite a lot of support for it.

Jonathan Greener asked that the whole matter be referred back to the House of Bishops until they can propose a definite way forward because the resolution essentially puts of a decision. The Bishops had been unable to reach a decision and had passed the task to a legal drafting group – that is a bunch of lawyers.

Cynthia Dowdle proposed an amendment to ensure that the legislative drafting group includes a significant representation of women. She indicated that she though the group should be half-half. The Archbishop of Canterbury accepted this motion and the chairman then allowed the Synod to move to a vote without allowing anyone to speak against. There was a substantial minority against this amendment.

Arthur Hawes proposed an amendment which would remove reference to legislation and instead provide for a code of practice. He attempted to change this from the floor in order to allow for a later motion which would otherwise fall. Lost with very few in favour.

Paul Benfield proposed an amendment so that it would be clear that the drafting group itself will be asked to prepare more than one form of draft legislation. There was some uncertainty as to whether this amendment was really necessary. In the event, again without debate, it was rejected by 192 votes to 157.

Jane Sinclair south to include the words “consistent with Canon A4” in the resolution. The said Canon reads:
The Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, annexed to The Book of Common Prayer and commonly known as the Ordinal, is not repugnant to the Word of God; and those who are so made, ordained, or consecrated bishops, priests, or deacons, according to the said Ordinal, are lawfully made, ordained, or consecrated, and ought to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests, or deacons.
Although the provision of Priests Ordination of Women provided that parishes do not need to accept women’s presbyteral ministry the argument is that people should be obliged to accept Canon A4 as being somehow more important than everything else. The legislation asserted that there remain those who do not accept the majority opinion.
This amendment was passed following a vote by houses. Seventy one percent of the Bishops were in favour (27 vs 11), sixty four percent of the clergy (118 vs 67) but only fifty-three percent of the laity were in favour (103 vs 93).

Jeremy Crocker proposed an amendment that would require a response to Synod by February 2007. This was rejected with only a few in favour.

There was an attempt to adjourn the debate so that more people might be able to speak on Tuesday morning.

Final form of the resolution with the amendments shown in bold type.

Final form of the resolution with the amendments shown in bold type.
‘That this Synod, endorsing Resolution 111.2 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 “that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans” and believing that the implications of admitting women to the episcopate will best be discerned by continuing to explore in detail the practical and legislative arrangements:
(a) invite dioceses, deaneries and parishes to continue serious debate and reflection on the theological, practical, ecumenical and missiological aspects of the issue;
(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council, in consultation with the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the Appointments Committee, to secure the early appointment of a legislative drafting group, which will aim to include a significant representation of women in the spirit of Resolution 13/31 of the Anglican Consultative Council passed in July 2005, charged with:
(i) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop;
(ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision consistent with Canon A4 to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops;
(iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod; and
(c) instruct the Business Committee to make time available, before first consideration of the draft legislation, for the Synod to consider, in the light of any views expressed by the House of Bishops, the arrangements proposed in the drafting group’s report.’

The afternoon was taken up with consideration of a report from the Commission on Urban Life and Faith entitled 'Faithful Cities'.
The report was introduced and debate begun. The debate was then adjourned so that Synod members could go into small groups to discuss the report.
When the Synod reconvened the amendments and resolution were considerations. In the event all three amendments were agreed as was the final motion which commends the report for wider consumption and asks the Archbishops Council to arrange for the recommendations in the report to be considered.

Evening business began with a presentation on the Clergy Terms of Service Review by Professor David Maclean. This was followed by a question and answer session.

Professor McClean explained that this had been a long process because the Church doesn’t have the resources to move more quickly.
As often happens the Synod that owns a policy does not end up agreeing legislation. Therefore part of the purpose is to remind Synod of what is driving the process.

He asserted that the external stimulus had been the Government determination to regulate by order the terms of employment of ministers of religion. Many of the things encompassed were not controversial, others were. The Synod and Government agreed that some of the rights, in particularly Section 23 to do with employment tribunals etc, should be regulated by a Church of England Measure.
A lot of work has been done in working out how these rights might be conferred on clergy who opt for common tenure.
For example, how do we state the rights for annual leave entitlement? At present Dioceses have their own handbooks which are sometimes vague and clergy in different posts have different patterns.

The Archbishops’ Council determined that many clergy (those without freehold) did not have sufficient protection whilst others (with freehold) were not sufficiently accountable. Thus there are two radically different groups of clergy in terms of employment terms and the distinction between them is largely arbitrary.

The first stage was to introduce the concept of common tenure for clergy without freehold.
In 2005 the Synod agreed to adopt a common set of principles applying to all clergy. Once this principle had been accepted then either it had to be freehold for all, which is deemed unworkable, or common tenure for all.
In terms of housing, for some clergy the freehold brings with it property rights, some with freehold do not seem to have this. Those without freehold may have property rights, most do not. The Synod gave some consideration to who should own the clergy house if freehold is removed. Professor McClean said that any proposal in relation to clergy terms must deal with clergy housing.

The review group had come to the view that housing is distinct from church and churchyard. Housing is relevant to all clergy. The aim is to have a clear statement as to the rights and responsibilities of the housing providers (Commissioners, Cathedral Chapters and Diocesan Parsonages Boards) together with a clear statement of rights and responsibilities of office holders who life in the properties. The intention is to largely have one set of guidelines regardless of whether the property is a freehold property or not.
Professor McClean asserted that the rights of PCCs and Patrons will continue as under the present law.

Jonathan Baker asked how patronage rights will remain the same since the benefice to which they present is going to be changed under the new proposals. McClean answered by saying that there would be less priests-in-charge under the new arrangements. He claimed that the rights of patrons would not be affected.

A question was raised about the ability of clergy to speak out against their Bishop without fear of being removed. Professor McClean maintained that the new mechanism would not in his view make it any less likely.


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