on business from the General Synod at York University, Monday 13 July 2009
Monday at General Synod
Monday began with the Archbishop of Canterbury showing a DVD and giving a report of the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica. He drew attention to the merging of the Primates Standing Committee and the ACC Standing Committee into a single body.
He also commented on the way in which The Covenant had been handled and the fact that the fourth section had been deferred. He stated that it would receive further attention by the end of the year.
Attention was drawn through questions to the way in which the so-called listening process is being hijacked, and indeed funded by those who want to promote sexual immorality and to overturn the Lambeth 1.10 resolution on sexuality.
Consideration continued of the Draft Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure. The main debate was on an amendment to do with the way in which incumbents assign fees. If an incumbent does not take the fees himself (thereby receiving a smaller stipend the following year) he assigns them to the Diocese. It is reckoned that 91% of incumbents assign, or claim to have assigned but that in quite a few cases do not have evidence of this. Given that the deed of assignment has to be sealed by the Dioceses and must therefore be recorded and kept by the Diocese as well it was not explained why this was so difficult. Nevertheless, the intention of the amendment was to ensure that clergy would have to assign by default and in fact to opt into the traditional arrangements of receiving the fees. The amendments was passed as indeed was the measure. It will return in February for Final Approval.
There were five motions on pensions. Most had to do with providing for clergy to take a portion of their pension as an additional lump sum at retirement if they preferred. This is apparently quite common in other pension funds and was accepted.
More complex was a resolution which affects those clergy serving in the Diocese of Europe in countries that are part of the EU. European legislation threatened to undermined the entire pension fund and special ways around this have had to be sought. Quite what these arrangements are would be best explained by someone who understands it.
Last business of the day were changes to the Church Representation Rules and the Clergy Representation Rules. The mover apologised for the unexciting nature of the business but in truth almost the entire synod has been taken up with unusually dull business. The changes, which are all minor, were approved.
The London Diocesan Synod brought forward a motion seeking a review of the working of the Clergy Discipline Measure. Although the motion was amended the essence of it remained. The Measure was only approved in 2003 but there is a feeling that the pastoral and disciplinary roles of a Bishop are in conflict. A review will seek to make recommendations on how to tackle this without undermining the need for discipline.
The group of sessions closed with various farewells.