on business from the General Synod at York University Monday 7 July 2008
First item of business was a progress report on the Anglican/Methodist Covenant. The report usefully addresses some of the issues, including doctrinal matters, that remain unresolved between Anglicans and Methodists. However, there did seem to be a general lack of enthusiasm in the debate which was commented on by more than one speaker. It does no seem that some of the problems are going to be easily overcome.
The Parochial Fees Order 2008 passed without debate. Unfortunately the person who had asked for it to be debated may not have been able to be present because the timing of the debate had been changed at short notice.
A motion for St. Albans Diocesan Synod was debated. This motion, which was agreed sought to stress the value of work and encourage people to see work as part of their spiritual life rather than separate from it. There was an unusual event in that an amendment was accepted by the proposer of the motion but then rejected, on an electronic count, by a narrow margin of only 3 votes.
In the afternoon the Synod began the debate on Women Bishops. Due to the large number of amendments a total of six hours of debate was allowed going up to 10pm. After the first four hours Synod had covered seven of the fourteen amendments. However, this represented the bulk of the difficult decisions.
The initial motion had been put by the House of Bishops which is sadly unrepresentative of the wider Church. Once they had put their motion it was going to be very difficult for any alternative to get through General Synod and this proved to be the case. Every amendment was voted on by houses and all bar one was lost. The motion that passed is important but not to do with provision.
The amendment which would have removed even a code of practice, so that there was no provision at all, was defeated but with over a third of the Synod voting in favour.
Motions which would have led to new Dioceses for those who cannot accept Women Bishops were defeated.
A motion from the Bishop of Leeds and Ripon which would have meant that the option of Transferred Episcopacy was explored in more detail for the February Synod alongside a code of practice was defeated in the House of Clergy. However, the majority of Synod members did vote for this amendment.
The evening session began early at 8pm and went on until 10.15pm. It became clear that a number of Synod members were aware that having disregarded what those seeking provision had said would be necessary they had created a problem and the tone of much of the evening was sombre. An amendment was passed to ensure that the code of practice would be statutory.
At a late stage the Bishop of Durham attempted to get the motion adjourned, but this failed by a narrow margin.
The vote on the final motion, which was very much as put in the first place by the House of Bishops was then approved by all three houses. However, once again, if this had been the Final Approval debate for the legislation it would not have gained the 2/3rd majority necessary in the House of Laity.
After the decision the Archbishop of York tried to say that the vote did not amount to a decision to kick traditionalists out of the Church of England. However, the fact that he said it indicates that is exactly how many will receive the decision.
Vote on the final resolution:
Bishops 28 - 12
Clergy 124 - 44
Laity 111 - 68