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 General Synod Report 10 July 2010

Report on business from the General Synod at York University, Saturday 10 July 2010

Saturday 10th July 2010

Presidential Address
The Archbishop of York spoke about economic matters and in particular that economic recovery must never be seen as a goal in itself but simply as a means to a goal.  Likewise whilst the profit motive is alright, it must not be the dominant motive.
The Archbishop cited the decline of ICI which had changed its objectives from being partly focussed on community to being predominantly focussed on gain for its shareholders.  He spoke positively about the community focus and concerns of men like Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree.  Recovery, when it comes, must be a means of improving human value.

Women Bishops
Clive Mansell introduced the debate on the Revision Committee report.  There will be a vote against this because the Revision Committee has reduced the provision that had been in previous stages of the legislation.  As Chris Sugden pointed out the Synod has previously voted for Transferred Episcopal Authority but the Revision Committee, despite initially deciding to pursue this, was unable to agree on the details and so ended up rejecting it.   A number of traditional Anglo-Catholics have warned that as it stands the draft legislation will be entirely inadequate and leave them with no option but to leave.  For classical evangelicals the provision is likewise inadequate, it ignores the real issue of oversight and jurisdiction.  What is becoming apparent is that many Synod members are prepared to press ahead without proper provision because they are so convinced that they are right.  What is extraordinary is the way that many of them talk as though the Church for 2,000 years has been inferior, enshrining prejudice and clearly spiritually feeble.

The Revision Committee debate ended earlier than expected just before noon.  The take note motion was passed albeit with a number of people voting against.

Women Bishops - Draft Legislation
The debate on the draft legislation began.  The Bishop of Manchester introduced this by explaining that the Steering Committee (who were all chosen because they are in favour of the legislation) will resist all major amendments to the legislation but will accept some minor amendments.

If approved this legislation will pass to Dioceses before returning to General Synod in 2012 for a Final Approval debate which will then require a 2/3rd majority in each of the houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity.  If significantly amended the legislation may have to go back to the Revision Committee for further work.

Clause 1 – makes provision for the consecration of women Bishops.
There was no debate on Clause 1, it was passed although with a significant number voting against.

Clause 2 – This is the first clause making provision for those who are opposed.

Item 512 – Simon Killwick and Simon Tillotson both submitted amendments which would create separate Dioceses.  Parishes would vote by provision in the Measure to become part of these.  There is a certain clarity to this, it is readily understood and it is real provision unlike what is in the existing draft measure.
After substantial debate the amendment was lost with 134 votes in favour, 258 against and 8 abstentions.

Item 513 Rod Thomas and Simon Killwick proposed an amendment which would have the effect of allowing for the Transfer of Episcopal arrangements.  This is more or less the minimum adequate provision which traditional catholics and classical evangelicals have been willing to consider.  It was on the table at one stage in a report by the Bishops of Guildford and Gloucester but was rejected by the House of Bishops.
The amendment was lost in all three houses – Bishops by 28 votes to 10, Clergy by 124 votes to 52 and laity by 118 votes to 73.

Item 514 The two Archbishops proposed an amendment which removed the notion of ‘delegation’ thus ensuring that parishes would be in effect petitioning the wider church rather than a particular Bishop. This gets around one of the problems with the proposals on the table but does little else.

It was clear that many saw this as the last ditch.   The unamended legislation simply fails to address the concerns of those seeking provision and this amendment at least goes some of the way to doing so.  There was some fairly raw emotion and some typically woolly thinking.  People again glibly quoting Scripture about equality whilst ignoring the context of a Church and other Biblical teaching which did not permit women to be presbyters.

The voting was again by houses with the result, as in a previous round of this legislation, that the majority of the synod was in favour of the amendment but it was lost because the majority of the clergy were not.
Bishops – 25 for, 15 against.
Clergy – 85 for, 90 against and 5 abstentions.
Laity – 106 for, 86 against and 4 abstentions.

This caused an attempt to adjourn the rest of the business until Monday morning because clearly some people were quite shaken by the result and by the rejection of the proposal from the Archbishops.

In the event the adjournement was lost and debate continued.
Three amendments followed all of which were introduced, resisted by the Steering Committee and lapsed because 40 members did not stand to require debate to continue.

At 5.50pm, some 25 minutes early, the Synod adjourned.  This business will continue on Monday morning with the debate on the unamended Clause 2.

Draft Budget and Apportionment for 2011

The draft budget for 2011 was presented and agreed together with the individual votes on specific financial matters and the apportionment between the Dioceses.
The total budget which falls under the Archbishops’ Council is just over £28million.  This is up around 1.5% from the present year.  However, the lion’s share of this increase is due to and increase in the cost of Training for Ministry which will account for just over £12million of the total.  As was pointed out around 40% of the stipendiary clergy will retire within the next 10 years so the cost of training clergy is hardly something that can be easily cut.  The other major figure, just over £10millions is spent on the general work of the Council and this has been reduced by 1.5% in order to save money.

After some debate the figures were all agreed without dissension.

Faith and Order Advisory Commission
This is a proposal to streamline the theological work of the Doctrine Commission, Faith and Order Advisory Group and the House of Bishops’ Theological Advisory Group.  There was concern expressed about the centralisation of these bodies into one and the possibility that it might metamorphose into the Anglican equivalent of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly The Inquisition) but this seems rather a remote possibility.  The greater danger is that after several years during which the Doctrine Commission has not produced any more reports something might now appear which re-interprets the doctrine of the Church of England in an unhelpful way.

The main motivation, apart from streamlining, is again to save money.

Consequential changes to Standing Orders had to be left until later on the agenda for lack of time.



Summary of Ammendments on Women Bishops

The legislation allows for Dioceses to introduce schemes which delegate certain episcopal functions to additional male Bishops. Codes of practice, yet to be agreed, will be established to give some guidance to these schemes. The existing Diocesan, male or female, would still have oversight.

Simon Killwick & Simon Tillotson will attempt to amend the legislation to make provision for new alternative Dioceses for those opposed to women Bishops based on the current Flying Bishops.

Rod Thomas and Simon Killwick will attempt to reinstate proposals for Transferred Episcopal Arrangements. These were previously supported by a majority of members of the Synod but were excluded because they were voted down by one of the Houses of Synod.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York will attempt to allow for alternative oversight by Bishops which is not merely delegated but achieved by virtue of the Measure itself.

The Bishop of Salisbury will attempt to weaken the role of the additional Bishops.

Kevin Carey will attempt to ensure that the additional Bishops can exercise pastoral care for clerty and laity even if their parish has not opted for the additional oversight.

Tom Sutcliffee will attempt to create a Commission to review the Diocesan schemes.

Robert Cotton has given notice that he intends to oppose all the provision for those who disagree with Women Bishops.

Anthony Berry requires that PCCs, before opting for the additional Bishops consult all members of the Electoral Roll.

Gerry O'Brien wishes to ensure that PCCs do consider the oversight of additional Bishops and their review.

Hugh Lee wishes to modeify Clause 3(9).

Peter Hobson wishes to leave out 3(10)(b) and 3(11)(b).

Clive Scowen will attempt to modify the rule which currently allows a minority of a PCC to block the passing of the resolution by simply failing to attend the meeting.

Paul Benfield will attempt to allow a majority of the PCC to pass the resolution rather than two thirds.

Brian Walker is also addressing the issue of the number of PCC members who must attend or vote at a meeting.

Miranda THrelfall-Holmes wishes all the provision to expire after 40 years - that is to establish a definite period of reception.

Paul Benfield wishes to tighten the rules regarding future amendment to the legislation.

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