General Synod Thurs 9 February

February 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

Morning lovelies. Less media interest on us today, obviously, but some important stuff. We’re talking about Additional Eucharistic Prayers for use when children are present. All the speeches have been wildly positive – and those of us in the Liturgical world will remember that there have been calls for this kind of material for twenty or thirty years.

The only issue will be now be whether those who want to make further detailed changes will do so using the clunky ‘recommittal’ process. Hope not.

And we didn’t…and the Prayers will go to the House of Bishops. The point I liked in the debate was that others apart from children might benefit from the prayers – like the deaf community, and I hope the House of Bishops will listen carefully to that and perhaps change the Note at the front to reflect it.

I’ve come out for coffee, so am missing some legal business which relates to Women Bishops but does not, I hope, affect the substance of the debate.

Noon. The legal stuff – which was a ‘take note’  of the legal changes which would be required to enact the Measure to ordain women as Bishops. I gather that various points were made which repeated the stuff from yesterday, and there was a vote by Houses (which is sometimes a tactic to get something to fall, as it only needs to fall in one house). But it sailed through….and if the votes were an indication of how the Measure might get though in July, then there was a 78% vote in favour in the House of Laity. (But I suspect we can read very little into that…)

Now we’re having a presentation by the Bishop of Sheffield on Higher Education Funding. Governmnent changes to HE funding mean that it will cost more than was budgetted to have ordination training validated.  And there is a review of the way ordinands (and Readers) are trained – called ‘Reimagining Ministry’. The Bishop has a massive task – there are 23 training institutions affected by this, whose validation comes from a range of HE bodies, many of whom are putting up their prices!

Proposals include a single validating HE body, with a ‘suite’ of awards designed to reflect the theological range of the C of E. Training institutions can be excepted from this if they can find another HE body which meets the criteria for validation. It all sounds very technical, but will affect they way every ordinand (and possibly Reader candidate) in the land.

There have been various questions about the rigour of the process, worries about the single validation agreement, and relationships with Reader training etc. Someone has just asked the ‘radical’ question: are 23 training institutions too many? (a: it’s an evolving picture – question is what is ‘formational viability’ – ie is there are minimum number of students below which an institution doesn’t train people for ministry in the whole church).

The Bishop (Steve Croft) in answer to a question, says that the problem with such a report is that “everyone is in favour of it as long as they can all be exempted from it”. Goes for much of what we do…

This was all about how it affects us in theological training. There are wider questions about HE funding – but other bodies of the SYnod will be engaging with that at another time I suspect.

Afternoon. We are debating the Government’s process of House of Lords Reform. Evidence has been submitted to the Government by the Archbishops (and hundred of other people, parliaments and groups). Evidence gathering has now finished, so Synod can’t do anything itself, nor can we comment on any proposals from the Government because there are none yet. A committee of both Houses of Parliament is meeting, and the Bishop of Leicester is on it. He tells us that the committee has various headline questions to answer (around the nature of the relationship of the two houses of parliament, governed by convention rather than law, and how an upper house might be elected, etc). The number of bishops in that house might be a first order question for us, but is a following question for the committee.

Synod is fun. You debate the prayer of the church, changes in English law, funding of Higher Education and a change to the constitution of the land. And by and large we debate it pretty well.

As an aside…lots of media here (written, not broadcast), and fewer in the chamber.

About to sign off – as need to get back to the rest of my life.  Thankyou for your kind comments. Writing this as it happens helps me remember what’s going on. The C of E site gives the dry reality of the motions, amendments and votes, so it’s nice to give a personal flavour. See you in the summer. Now that will be tense!

§ 2 Responses to General Synod Thurs 9 February

  • David Bird says:

    Been following your blog as I sit at home on sabbatical. Glad not to be on GS any longer but so pleased that the Additional Eucharistic Prayers got a fair wind. I bleated on about this for many years, indeed I was a young man with young children, but maybe my grandchildren will benefit!! Best wishes

  • Enjoy the sabbatical. yes – I remember your interventions from 1995 onwards! Perhaps all our work in Synod is for the grandchildren rather than for us…

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