Friday 22 February 2019

General Synod, February 2019 - Day 3

After the heavy legislation of yesterday a slightly different pace today.

The morning's schedule was that as outlined on Order Paper IV

First up was a Dioscean motion, jointly from Truro and London on Diocesan Synod on Environmental Programmes (GS 2094A) (GS 2094B)(Revised) & GS Misc 1212 (Update)

This was followed by a debate on Evangelism and Discipleship (GS 2118) & (Annex A)

At lunch time I met my wife for lunch (she'd been to the Snoopy exhibition at Somerset House) followed by a romantic walk through St James's Park

In the afternoon the work of synod continued with Order Paper V

First up was standing order business.

54th Report of the Standing Orders Committee (GS 2119)
Proposed changes to the Standing Orders relating to the Crown Nominations Commission (GS 2120)
There was a large debate on whether the Crown Nominations Commission (the body that chooses dioscean bishops) should continue to vote in a secret ballot.

This was voted on by house, and the laity voted against the change The results were :-

House of Bishops: For 19, Against 14, Abst. 1
House of Clergy For 76, Against 66, Abst. 4
House of Laity For 63, Against 99, Abst 5.

Next there was a debate on Growing Faith: Ministry Amongst Children and Young People (GS 2121)

This was followed by farewells to the Bishops of Dover and Norwich.

Finally there was a debate on Estates Evangelism (GS 2122)

Thursday 21 February 2019

General Synod, Westminster 2019 - Day 2

Day two of general synod is a heavy day off legislative business.

After an enjoyable lie in (by my normal  weekday standards) and leisurely breakfast my wife announced she would join me in the journey to Church House as she wished to visit Church House Bookshop. Anyone who knows Jane will be getting worried at this point as they know she loves to buy new theology books. Well any new books actually. Well any books at all new or not!

First problem of the day was actually getting there as the district line wasn't running for too signal failure, so had to take a round about route.

As to the business itself, it consisted of that on Order Paper II :-

Amending Canon No. 38 (GS 2047D)

Draft Church Representation and Ministers Measure (GS 2046BB) - this generated quite a lot of debate. While the document was generally welcomed (especially on electronic voting) there was large concern raised about limiting Deanry Synod to two terms. Concerns were raised about losing existing experienced members. Additionally questions were raised about why term limits were not applying to General or Dioscean Synod members.

The outcome from this was that the section on term limits will be reviewed by the business committee's election review panel.

Draft Amending Canon No. 39 (GS 2047BB)

In the afternoon session legislative business continued with :-

Draft Amending Canon No. 40 (GS 2103A) on religious communities and Report by the Revision Committee (GS 2103Y)

Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No.2) Measure (GS 2104A)

Draft Amending Canon No. 41 (GS 2105A)

Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2019 (GS 2116) & (GS 2116x)

Code of Practice on Co-operation by the Church of England with Other Churches (GS 2117) & (GS 2117X)

We then moved onto Order Paper III

There was some discussion whether the Private Member's Motion: Homeless Task Force (GS 2110A) & (GS 2110B) should be put off due to timed business. However the Synod moved a variation of business to allow this debate to take place. 

Finally the Living in Love and Faith and Pastoral Advisory Group (GS Misc 1200) reported back on their work. 

Wednesday 20 February 2019

General Synod, Westminster 2019 - Day 1

Much enjoyed the later start to the day, heading to the train station for a lunch time train is better than my normal 07:22 to work!

No problem with the trains or underground - did my flat in central Coventry to Church house in about 2 hours door to door.

Always nice to meet synodical friends again - it's a bit like when you went back to university after the holidays.

After the normal opening worship and welcome the first items of business was the business committee's report. Then a motion was moved for meeting dates in the next quinquennium.

There followed a quite frankly tedious debate about whether meeting a weekends was a good idea or not with amendments to change the dates moved.

I abstained on the debates as I am fortunate in that both my current and previous employers were happy to give me unpaid leave to attend synod and I claim back loss of earnings from the synod. (So a big shout out to The Harley Medical Group and Fluid7 for being good employers!)

Following on from this we heard from visiting Anglican Communion guests The Rt Rev'd Paul Korir, Bishop of Kapsabet in Kenya, and The Most Rev'd Dr Prem Chand Singh, Moderator of the Church of North India and Bishop of Jabalpur giving addresses on Evangelism and Discipleship. The contents of these addresses should be made available to read.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had the tough act of following on with his presidential address.

Then there were appointments of Clive Mather as Chair of the Church of England Pensions Board and Rev Charlotte Cook and Mr Joseph Diwakar as members of the Archbishops’ Council for a term ending on 22 February 2024 to be approved. 

Finally we moved on to Questions. I had somehow managed to get a written question at number 4 on the order paper!

I was disappointed  that the
Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich as chair of the Ministry Council felt he could not give a breakdown by diocese as it might identify people, so I asked if he could do it over a 5 year sum total.

He said he would look in to it and indicated that it might be useful as it might show variance between diocese - this is the information I am after. 

Ian Wyllie has a good analysis of question response at

After staying and listening to more of question time I grabbed my bag and headed for my hotel where I am now typing this up.

Sunday 8 July 2018

General Synod, York 2018 - Day 3

As the Sunday's of York Synod always do we started with Mass at York Minster.

Sitting behind me in the cathedral was the newly ordained the Rt Rev'd Viv Faull, Lord Bishop of Bristol. I knew Viv when she was Canon Pastor and Vice-Provost of Coventry so it was good to catch up with her. It must have been strange having just left as Dean of York to be back sitting the congregation.

After the minster in morning I had lunch (roast beef) with fellow Coventry representative Mthr Charlotte Gale before heading into this afternoon's sitting.

The afternoon kicked off with a presentation then a debate on the Church's investment strategy with regard to fossil fuels. The clear issue here was around whether it is better to be involved as an investor and drive the change or pull out. The Diocese of Oxford had moved an amendment to be dis-invested by 2020. A good debate on this tension was held. I think that the Church of England does have influence on these companies boards so I agreed that it would be unwise to set a target of 2020 as this would lessen influence as we'd be out of having any say after 2020. This amendment was lost. Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) moved a further amendment suggesting that the date should be 2023. This was felt that this would give the time to allow proper engagement. The amendment and the motion passed.

A debate was held on the ethics of nuclear weapons. My view on this is that nuclear weapons are clearly a bad thing and it would be brilliant to get rid of them. The question is how? Unilaterally or multilaterally? I feel unilateral would be wrong as then if rogue states like North Korea develop weapons there would be no way to stop them using them as they would have a tactical advantage.

Saturday 7 July 2018

General Synod, York 2018 - Day 2

Today's session started off with the Archbishop of York's presidential address. The full text of this may be found here.

Following on from this the synod moved on to the very important issue of safeguarding. A document (GS 2092) has been produced as the basis of this discussion.

Initially synod received a presentation from some abuse survivors before moving on to a debate.

It goes without saying that there is no doubt that the church has totally failed to live up to the standards expected of it and it is vital that the synod can make the culture change required within the church to make sure that it will not happen again and to find a way to help, in a way that is right for them, those to it did happen.

There were many excellent contributions to this debate, but I will mention only two.

Fr Andrew Dotchin (St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) in his speech mentioned a tweet from a friend :-
‘Church, we have got to stop introducing Safeguarding Training with comments like
“Sorry, I’m afraid we have to go through the boring safeguarding stuff, it’s the rules”
This is part of the problem.
Friends for as long as we see safeguarding as a chore and some kind of ‘necessary evil’ we will continue to allow darkness to grow in the home of light and the hope we are called to offer to a lost world will wither and die.
Jayne Ozanne (Oxford) asked what the church can do to victims to make reparations for what was done. An important question I think which needs to be asked more.

In the afternoon there was a number of seminars members could attend. Additionally the England vs Sweden football World Cup quarter final was shown on the big screen in the main synod chamber. (Clearly having synod in session helped as England cruised into the semi final - I wonder if it was down to the continuing praying presence that always happens when synod is in session)

I attended a session on Digital Evangelism. As well as covering the latest on a Church Near You and the 2018/19 Advent / Christmas / Epiphany campaign we saw a demo of the Alexa Church of England app

and heard some statistics about how it has been used.

Finally after the work of synod was over after diner I enjoyed a couple of pints with my friends and synod colleagues Ben Franks (Birmingham) and Fr Mark Bratton (Coventry)

Friday 6 July 2018

General Synod, York 2018 - Day 1

Once again the odd collection of people that make up the members of The General Synod of The Church of England gathered at the University of York for the July group of sessions.

The central hall at the university where the synod meets has always been very very hot so I was not looking forward to it in this heatwave. However they seem to have improved the cooling system and it was quite pleasant in the synod chamber.

As ever the synod started off with greetings from Anglican and Ecumenical guests. Synod heard from The Most Revd Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, Moderator and Primate of the Church of Pakistan. Bishop Humphrey told us about the issues facing the church in Pakistan and particularly the issues around the persecution of the church.

We then heard from The Archbishop of Central Africa and Bishop of Northern Zambia, The Most Revd Albert Chama. Archbishop Albert talked about working with the national government for peaceful, fair and free elections.

Finally Ralf Meister of the Evangelical Church in Germany, on behalf of the ecumenical guests spoke about the need to work together.
As usual the first substantive item of business on the agenda was the Business Committee report. This was given a bit of a hard time from floor around the decisions not to bring forward any private members motions to this group of sessions (aside from an contingency business item) and particularly around the issues of same sex relationships which the have been put on hold pending the production of the teaching document. This caused many synod members (including myself) to vote against or abstain on the business committee report. However it was still passed easily.

Following on from the business committee report we moved onto legislative business.

The items discussed were :-
Draft Amending Canon No 40 is quite interesting as it covers religious communities and how the new religious communities can have oversight from within the church.

Finally the session finished of with questions.

Later tonight is the ACiS (Affirming Catholics in Synod) group meeting.

Monday 10 July 2017

Speech for The Cost of Citizenship motion at General Synod

Mr Chairman

Thank you for calling me to make my maiden speech on this item.

I’d like to thank Ben for bringing this motion forward today and am happy to support him.

While it is right that there should be a charge to apply for Citizenship this should relate directly to the actual costs of the application rather than an arbitrary figure, so I think it is right that we should call for the government to look at the figures and make them reflect a more realistic level.

We should also be clear also that this debate is not about migration, people applying for Citizenship are already here integrated in their communities speaking English (or perhaps for some Welsh or Scots Gaelic) and now want to fully become part of their adopted country.
And why shouldn't they? Being British is great and we should support and welcome those people who wish to join us in being British.

Please support this motion.