on business of the General Synod at Church House, Westminster, Monday 7 February 2011
Synod began at 3pm with introductions, presentations of various new officers of the Synod and a report on the progress of measures and statutory instruments.
The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, then addressed the Synod and spoke particularly in the light of a recent visit to East Africa. He spoke also about the importance of work being done by churches and others.
The Synod then received the Report by the Business Committee, which as always largely provided an opportunity for people to complain about what was not being included on the agenda. A few speakers also complained that the Synod is being marginalised because it is only meeting for the equivalent of 2 full days rather than the normal 3 or 4.
The first substantial item was an amendment left over from the November Synod concerning the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. For all his fine arguments the essence of the amendment from John Ward was that he does not like the Covenant and wants to try to make it easier to block. After referral to the Dioceses the Covenant can be adopted by the a majority of the Synod voting in favour, though in reality this will likely mean a majority of each of the three Houses of Synod. The amusing thing about this debate was that some called for a vote by Houses on the amendment in an attempt to block it. The electronic voting system then failed forcing the Synod to revert to the old system of voting by walking through various doors. The chairman of the debate said something to the effect that “the system did not give the result we wanted”, which caused much mirth.
The manual vote took some time to organise not least because most people are now not used to it and all in all it must have been getting on for 30 minutes before the voting was complete. In the event the amendment was defeated in each of the three houses although the margin in the house of clergy was only 10 votes.
Final business of this first half day was question time. Because of the problems with the previous debate this was somewhat foreshortened.
Tomorrow’s business includes some amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure, a presentation on the Weddings Project and a presentation on the Ethical Investment Policy.