General Synod Report Feb 2012

February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Synod members report to their Deaneries. Here’s what I’ve written for mine:

There is now a variety of ways of finding out what General Synod debates and decides. Via the Church of England website you can listen to the debates as they happen, and there’s a record of business done at the end of each day. All the Synod’s papers are made available too, so as long as you can get an internet connection you can hear and read everything that the Synod does. The easiest way is to type ‘General Synod’ into Google, but the exact address is www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/general-synod

When I stood for election I promised to do a blog, as live as I could make it. It’s impossible to be in every debate, but I try to update people about what’s happening, as it happens, and you get some of my comments too. When Synod is on have a look at www.jeremyfletcher.wordpress.com , or just type ‘Jeremy Fletcher’s Blog’ into Google. I put other things on it as well.

So…there’s not as much of a need to do a detailed report to Deanery Synods as there was – you have the tools to find things out yourselves, and many of you do. Edited highlights then follow.

Question Time is a good way of taking Synod’s temperature, and there was great anger about a reorganisation of the Education Staff, replacing two officers who cover children and youth with one officer with a different title. Doesn’t look good, even if the reorganisation might bear some fruit.

There was debate about Women Bishops on three days. Much of this was technical stuff, to make sure that the legislation fits in with other parts of church law and the Canons. The substantial debate was about the ‘Manchester’ motion. Dioceses had voted overwhelmingly to accept the Women Bishops Measure, but some had passed another motion to invite the House of Bishops to change it a bit – mainly to enable a Bishop ministering to a parish unable to receive the ministry of a woman (or certain men) to be enabled to do this by law and not by delegation from the Diocesan Bishop – so-called ‘coordinate jurisdiction’.

All the Synod could do was to send a message to the House of Bishops – we could not tie the Bishops’ hands. In the end we narrowly agreed not to ask for coordinate jurisdiction, but to ask the Bishops to take what they had heard and find a way of assuring the objectors to Women Bishops that their place in the Church of England is secure. I remain hopeful that this will happen, but the final vote in July may well be very close.

We’d made a mess of Parochial Fees last summer. We came to an agreement this time. Wedding fees (the statutory ones) will go up substantially (but will still be the cheapest part of most celebrations), and we made sure that burial fees (which were going to be reduced substantially) were at least the same as they are now. The new way of doing fees means that they can be set well in advance, so we did 2013 and 2014 as well.

We had a debate about Assisted Dying (after a report by an ‘Independent’ Commission which was almost completely positive about it), and affirmed the value of life and the key role of palliative medicine. We heard about the situation in Nigeria, tidied up the Clergy Discipline Measure and the funding of the Diocese in Europe, wondered whether a Deacon could be an Archdeacon (we said no), and heard about a new body to coordinate and support development and relief across the Anglican world – the Anglican Alliance for Relief, Development and Advocacy.

Government changes to Higher Education Funding have had a devastating effect on ordination training, mainly due to academic institutions charging ordination trainers higher fees to validate courses. Moves are being made to reduce the number of institutions which do this validation – indeed looking for one single validating body. This will be complicated. We also discussed the reform of the House of Lords (not that we can affect very much at this stage), and the church’s role in Health Care Chaplaincy.

It was a busy time, as ever. We meet again in July, and though there will be lots of other things to discuss, it will be Women Bishops which will be the focus. Your prayers please!

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