on business of the General Synod at Church House, Westminster, Wednesday 9 February 2011
Synod began at 9.30am with morning prayer.
Following the prayers the first item on the agenda (item 15) was the House of Bishops' Statement on Marriage after divorce and the Ordained Ministry (GS Misc 960). The statement from the House of Bishops was intended to clarify the implications of marriage after divorce for eligibility for ordained ministry, including the episcopate. The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Jones, proposed the motion: 'That the Synod do take note of this report.' This was then debated by Synod. Most who spoke were in favour of the motion, although Jonathan Frais reminded Synod that this week was national marriage week and that our actions have consequences - clergy should teach and exemplify the word of God. Angus MacLeay reminded Synod of Jesus' teaching on marriage and how society had drifted from its Biblical moorings over the last 50 years. The vote was carried with an overwhelming majority.
Miss Prudence Dailey's motion (item 21) to request a 'faculty' (parallel to that currently in place for those seeking ordination as deacon or priest) for those being considered for the Episcopate was defeated.
Common Worship Baptism Provision (GS 1816 A and GS 1816 B - Item 16 on the agenda)
Revd Dr Tim Stratford (Liverpool) proposed that 'Synod request the House of Bishops to ask the Liturgical Commission to prepare material to supplement the Common Worship Baptism provision, comprising additional forms of the Decision, the Prayer over the Water and the Commission, expressed in culturally appropriate and accessible language.' After Dr Stratford's address the motion was debated with most in favour, as they believed the changes would make the baptism service more comprehensible to the visitor. Amendments 22 and 23 to change some of the wording of the statement were carried. Item 16 was then put to the vote and was carried.
Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission Report: Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (GS 1818 -
items 17 and 18 on the agenda)
12.40pm The Bishop of Guildford, Chair of the Council for Christian Unity and the Rt Revd George Stack (Auxillary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster) on behalf of the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference both made presentations to Synod on the ARCIC report (item 17).
Following lunch item 18 was then moved. Synod was asked to accept the report as a contribution to further dialogue, to explore further the common ground Anglicans and Rome have regarding Mary, and to request further joint study of the issues in GS 1818 - in particular the authority and status of the Roman dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary for Anglicans; also to study the report with ecumenical colleagues, in particular Roman Catholics. The motion was then debated by Synod, the report was largely welcomed by those speaking, although some had reservations. Those in favour included the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Coventry. Amendment 24 (proposed by the Bishop of Chester) and 25 (proposed by Mr John Shelley) to change some of the wording in the statement were both lost.
There were four more amendments put forward (two of which from Revd John Cook requesting that Articles 6, 9, 15 and 22 of the 39 Articles be included), sadly there was not enough time to debate these and the Synod was asked to vote on a motion to close the debate without considering the further amendments. This was narrowly passed with a majority of 18 votes. Item 18 was then put to the vote and was overwhelmingly carried.
The Archbishop of York then gave a farewell speech for the Clerk of the Synod. Following this the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a farewell speech for Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, he then closed the day with prayer.
David Meager, Church Society