on business from the General Synod at Church House, Westminster Monday 26 February 2007
The February 2007 Group of Sessions of the General Synod began at 2pm this afternoon with the customary introductions and progress updates. Following this the Archbishop of Canterbury gave his Presidential Address focussing particularly on the divisions within the Anglican Communion and the recent meeting of the Anglican Primates. Dr Williams stated that 11 of the Primates had, in previous correspondence, stated that they were dissatisfied with the response of the American Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report however a further 11 were satisfied and something more than a third were unhappy but unwilling to allow this issue (the promotion of sexual immorality) to divide the Communion. This demonstrates just how hard it is going to be to bring any change. Less than a third of the Primates recognise the severity of the issue.
Dr Williams drew attention to the fact that whilst the presenting issue is sexual practice the issue runs much deeper, as everyone has been saying for a long time, and called on the Church to discuss these deeper and more fundamental questions. This is indeed the issue since historic Christianity and modern liberalism have distinctly different ways of approaching the nature of truth and authority, and in particular the nature and authority of Scripture. It is hard to see, however, how discussions can help us to reconcile the irreconcilable.
After the usual report from the Business Committee the Synod debated a report on the Future of Trident. In an amendment passed by a narrow margin the Synod in effect declared itself to be against Trident (by 165 votes to 149) and then approved the main motion by 206 votes to 38.
The final resolution was as follows:
‘That this Synod recognising the fundamental responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government to provide for the security of the country:
a. welcome the response from the Mission and Public Affairs Council to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee’s inquiry expressing serious questions about the proposed renewal of the UK’s minimum deterrent;
b. call on Christian people to make an informed contribution to the issues raised in The Future of Trident in the light of Christian teaching about Just War; and
c. suggest to Her Majesty's Government that the proposed upgrading of Trident is contrary to the spirit of the United Kingdom's obligations in international law and the ethical principles underpinning them.'
Final business of the day was Question time with some 88 questions having been asked for verbal or written response. Sixty four questions were taken with the last couple giving assurances about the funding of theological colleges.
The chamber of Church House has been altered since the last Synod meeting. The greatest applause today came when a member asked why in the new seating arrangement they can see far fewer people than the old one and could something be done about it. More about the new chamber tomorrow.