on business from the General Synod at York University, Friday 9 July 2010
Friday at General Synod
The final Group of Sessions of this quinquennium began this afternoon at 3.45pm. Over half the time of this Group of Sessions has been earmarked for the legislation to consecrate women as Bishops. However, the business began as usual with a statement on the progress of Measures and Statutory Instruments and with the report from the Business Committee. This was followed by a debate to tidy up the timing of the appointment of members of the Archbishops’ Council to tie in with the new Synod elected in the autumn.
Some modest changes to the revised Additional Weekday Lectionary and Amendments to Calendar, Lectionary and Collects were approved, though the major items, to do with the increase in readings from the Old Testament Apocryphal books, were beyond the scope of this particular debate. This business will be brought for Final Approval later in this Group of Sessions.
There followed a report on Clergy Pensions and various Amendments to the existing regulations. The only controversial element of these was the return of the provision for benefits for Civil Partners. Though some members did speak and vote against this on the grounds that Civil Partnerships are entirely wrong and undermined the Church’s teaching on marriage, the vast majority of Synod seems to have accepted that this provision has to be made.
The final business of the day, after dinner, was Questions. A number of questions, from different angles, highlighted the cuts being made in the central bodies of the Church of England. Appearing at various points was the rather modest cut of the current full-time National Worship Development Officer to a half-time post, but also including the role of Secretary to the Liturgical Commission. It was pointed out along the way that some Dioceses have axed Liturgical Officers and some Theological Colleges have axed their Liturgy posts.
Questions were also asked about the cuts in the number of posts at the Church Commissioners, the answer being something like 52 posts over the last 5 years, with a current full-time equivalent of 154 posts. The staff of the other central bodies, falling under the Archbishops’ Council has been cut by around 49 post to 148 full-time equivalent.
Whilst these cuts can be seen as a good thing, moving away from a centralised structure, they are another indication of the continued decline of the Church of England, which many attribute to its abandonment of Biblical faith. The claims some made in the early 1990s that the ordination of women as priests was necessary to enable the Church to grow have clearly proved to be without foundation.
Further questions relating to this theme were the present work by the Dioceses Commission, under new powers granted to it not long ago, to re-organise the five Yorkshire Dioceses. It will be an important test-case to see whether this is possible. Also, it was revealed that the typical General Synod representative now represents 5.4% fewer people on electoral rolls than 5 years ago.
Synod Business concluded at 10am.
All tomorrow morning and afternoon and potentially all Monday morning and afternoon plus possibly part of Tuesday morning will be devoted to Women Bishops. The report of the Revision Committee will first be received. Then the Measure will be voted on clause by clause. The are several major amendments relating to the provision for those who reject the innovation. One amendment will seek to bring completely new Diocese, another for a form of Transferred Episcopal Authority, another to tighten slightly the proposed provision and another to remove all provision completely. Alongside these will be some more limited and general amendments.
David Phillips 9/7/10