on business from the General Synod at York University Friday 4 July 2008
The General Synod of the Church of England began its July group of sessions in York this afternoon. After the customary opening reports and introductions the Synod considered the report of the Business Committee and then received a presentation from Metropolitan John Zizioulas. This led into a discussion on the Cyprus Agreed Statement from the Anglican Orthodox Theological Commission entitled The Church of The Triune God. It would be fair to say that after a number of years of discussion little progress has been made. The report, as is common with such things, seeks to establish a framework for discussion which is reflected in the title and then consider a number of issues within that framework. Whilst this makes for interesting reading the report really had little to say other than pointing out the obvious areas of agreement and disagreement. The motion was passed without dissent.
In the evening there was a brief introduction to the work to be undertaken by Synod members in groups tomorrow morning. This was followed by Questions.
Some of the more interesting answers to questions were:
The Government proposals in relation to charging churches for the water they drain into the public sewers could cost between £5 million and £10 million or possibly more. PCCs were invited to petition their MPs about this. It will hit urban churches much more heavily than rural ones.
There were a number of questions about Wycliffe Hall theological college and Elaine Storkey took another swipe at the college under the guise of a question. Philip Giddings, in response gave a positive plug for the college noting a remark that it was “full of students” and had “united staff”.
Questions were also asked about the operation of the new Clergy Discipline Measure. There was a request for a figure on the total cost of cases which have gone all the way to a Tribunal but of the two such cases the costs had not yet been resolved fully.
It was also recognised that there are problems in how the CDM operates and that since cases had now run the full course a review was being planned in order to suggest improvements. People with feedback on the operation of the Measure were invited to submit such. It was also revealed taht there had been some discussion on how the Measure was affecting the relationship of Bishops to other clergy and its consequent impact on the exercising of episcopal ministry.
A question was asked about the observations and proposals in the Pilling Report that conservative evangelicals are discriminated against in relation to episcopal appointments (ie there are no conservative evangelicals in the House of Bishops and probably only one in the College of Bishops). The response of the Archbishop of Canterbury was in effect to say that whilst he and the Archbishop of York understand the issue there is nothing they can really do about it.
David Phillips, General Secretary, Church Society