on business from the General Synod at York University Sunday 6 July 2008
Sunday at General Synod
Business began in the afternoon with a Private Members’ Motion on Church Tourism. The main plank of the motion is to endorse the national report “Sacred Britain”. There were three amendments passed, one replacing a reference to the so-called “Greater Churches” with a reference to all churches. The first inserted a reference to the fact that churches are first and foremost a place of prayer and faith. The final amendment encouraged Churches to communicate the Christian faith to visitors. Neither of these two aspects had been included originally because of the broad nature of the original report and probably because of issues to do with funding.
The following debate was on payments to the Churches Conservation Trust.
The second major business of the afternoon was on Climate Change. Inevitably this included various absolutist claims about climate catastrophe whilst other urged caution. The final motion was approved with only a few votes against. One amendment ensured that the motion called for action rather than consideration.
A further slightly controversial amendment surrounded a proposal to explore affiliation with “Stop Climate Chaos”. There was concern about the motives and ethos of this group but the original motion did not require affiliation merely that it be explored so this proposal was kept in.
The remaining business of the afternoon was a couple of appointments and annual reports.
The Sunday evening business was consideration of the report Four Funerals and a Wedding with the accompanying supplementary report on parochial fees. The Synod agreed that legislation should be brought forward to give effect to the proposals and this would then be followed by a fees order. The most dramatic change, if agreed in legislation, will be that clergy will no longer collect and then assign fees but that they will be paid direct to the Diocesan Board of Finance. Amongst other things the legislation is also intended to clarify the position in law with regards to fees which, having arisen by ancient custom, appears to be no longer tolerable in our regulation driven age.
It was also agreed that the debate on Women Bishops tomorrow can extend beyond the allotted four hours into the evening session. This is necessitated by the fact that there are fourteen amendments to the motion proposed by the Bishops.