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 General Synod Report 13 February 2008

Report on business from the General Synod at Church House, Westminster Wednesday 13 February 2008

Wednesday 13 February 2008

After the morning communion service the Archbishop spoke about a recent visit to Kenya.

Draft Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure.

The Synod was asked to agree to legislation which will mean that fees currently paid for funerals and weddings to an incumbent will be paid direct to the Diocesan Board of Finance.  There are various other provisions but this was going to be the most controversial aspect. Inevitably the DBF will need to employ extra staff to handle this and a possibility has been raised of the DBF acting as the first contact point for funeral directors.

There were a few strong speeches against the centralisation which this motion envisages.

During debate it became clear that a number of Synod members are very concerned about the way in which this matter is proceeding.  A paper called “Four Funerals and a Wedding” contains a number of issues of principle which they wish to discuss separately before moving ahead with legislation.  However, Synod had been discouraged from discussing that report.

Simon Killwick moved an adjournment inviting the Business Committee to bring forward a debate on the principles before the detailed legislation is taken further.  The vote on this was too close to call on a show of hands but after a count it was passed by 135 votes to 110.  Therefore the proposals will be delayed.

Amending Canon 28

A problem had been identified in Local Ecumenical Projects and the frequency of Communion according to the rites of the Church of England.  The  provision will alter Canon B44 and it appears to relate to a particular problem with a few LEPs because of their particular circumstances.

Eucharistic Prayer for Children

The first business of the afternoon was a Diocesan Synod motion calling for the introduction of a Eucharistic Prayer for use when the majority of those present are children. This stems from the growing number of situations where primary and secondary schools are conducting communions on the basis of who has been baptised.  It is only very recently that the Church of England moved away from the idea that children should be admitted to communion only after making a clear profession of faith.

It was noted that there is now a vast array of liturgical material, indeed there is so much that many clergy have little idea of what can be used (a bit like the pre-Reformation period).  Therefore, whilst it may be possible to construct a child-friendly liturgy at present, it is being suggested that a simple new service be produced, though this, of course, will multiply the options even more.

There were two amendments the first being a request for more than one Eucharistic prayer whilst the second was for prayers for use with youth rather than children.  The first of these was passed but the second was not.  Part of the concern was that  prayer produced by the liturgical commission and subjected to the full synodical procedure is unlikely to be attractive to youth who, in any case, almost by definition will think anything produced for them is un-cool.

There was also a request for material for visual Eucharistic prayers rather than word based.  It appears that this is within the scope of the wording but whether the Liturgical Commission decides to act on it remains to be seen.

The amended motion was passed by a large majority.

Mental Health Issues

It was noted that this sort of report seems to come around about once every five years.  This motion was concerned with various aspects of the way in which mentally ill people are treated and it was amended by various motions.  The final motion was passed without opposition.

Anglican Covenant.

This was a peculiar debate.   The Archbishops of Canterbury and York were mandated by the General Synod in July to produce a submission to the Covenant Design Group.  That submission was made by the end of the year and taken into account by the Group when they produced a revised draft last week.  Most of the submissions to the CDG came from liberal dominated provinces, as do most of the Group.

The majority of speakers argued that the Covenant should not be used to exclude anyone.  What is needed, they claimed, is for everyone to keep together, which appears to be the attitude of the Archbishop of Canterbury as well.  The last thing they want is any notion of disciplines.  Paradoxically some of the speakers did appear content that people who do want discipline should leave the Communion.

Being a take note motion with no substance it was approved without much issue.


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