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 General Synod Report 11 February 2009

Report on business from the General Synod at Church House Westminster, Wednesday 11 February 2009.

First business of the day is first consideration of the draft measure to consecrate women as bishops.  This was taken in two parts, the first to commit the legislation to revision committee and the second to commit the changes to canons to revision committee.  However, the debates were inter-twined.

Interestingly two Bishops (Norwich and Dover) who spoke in favour of the principle spoke against proceeding with the legislation as it stands.

The main issues were rehearsed in the debate. It is clear that as matters stand the proposals are difficult from all perspectives.

The vote to commit the legislation to revision committee was carried by 281 to 114, a vote by houses was not taken. This amounts to 29% of the Synod voting against. It is hard to extrapolate but on the basis of past evidence it would not have gained 2/3rds majority of the house of laity. Again this indicates that when the legislation comes for final approval it still looks like failing.

The vote to commit the changes to the canons to revision committee was carried by 309 to 79.  This motion needed to be passed in order for the full package to be considered together.

The Synod voted unanimously, after debate, on a motion regarding water bills. The Synod heard from many sources, not just churches, of the ridiculous rise in the levels of water bills for non-profit organisations. The water companies are supposed to take into account the fact that many users are not for profit but this is not happening. The motion will request the Government to remind OFWAT of its duties in this regard. An amendment give the motion more teeth was not adopted.

A motion on the uniqueness of Christ finally found its way onto the Synod agenda. There were two amendments which seemed to weaken the motion considerably which were lost and another which added to it which was passed.

This was a good debate with several speakers giving their own testimony and speaking of the impact on others of hearing the gospel of Christ. The final motion was agreed with 8 votes against and reads as follows:

That this Synod warmly welcome Dr Martin Davie’s background paper ‘The witness of Scripture, the Fathers and the historic formularies to the uniqueness of Christ’ and request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.

A paper proposing amendments to the Standing Orders of the General Synod, including one or two matters relating to the working of the Crown Nominations Committee was debated.  A few minor amendments to the amendments were proposed and defeated and the whole item was then passed.

The final vote of the day was on Human Trafficking.  The motion deplored the evil of human trafficking and proposed various measures to try to help in combating this.  An amendment which asserted that the “male abuse of women” was the root cause was narrowly defeated.  The full motion was then passed unanimously.

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