Wednesday 3 August 2016

General Synod, York, July 2016

At the start of July I headed up to my first York General Synod group of sessions.

[ York General Synod ]

I was able to share a taxi from the station to the University of York (where the General Synod takes place) as I heard the person behind me in the queue saying "Convocation of the Province Canterbury" so I was sure we were there for the same reason!

We were all staying in Halls of Residence at the university and I was really surprised with my room - it was even en-suite - much different to Coventry's Priory Hall where I spent 2 years.

[ York Hall of Residence Room ]

The first item on the agenda was a debate on Brexit. I was hoping to speak in this debate, as someone who voted to leave in the referendum I felt it was important to make it clear that it was OK to be Christian and believe in leaving the European Union. Unfortunately I was not called to speak Jayne Ozanne (Laity, Oxford) covered most of the points I wanted to make.

After a good debate both those for and against the EU in chamber voted for unanimously for the following motion :-

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task.

There was a request that a recorded vote be taken, but a number of people (including me) had voting machines that were displaying the wrong name. Rather than vote the old way (by walking through doors just like parliament still do) the request for a recorded vote was withdrawn.

There were various other technical debates and items discussed a full set of decisions made cane be found at

The next day they had been fixed and were back in operation.

[ Synod voting device ]

There were various other technical debates and items discussed.

One interesting debate was on moving legislation forward to the next stage. This covered two items a change in the (ecclesiastical) law to remove any remaining restrictions on church burials for those who commit suicide and a change regarding the rules of vesture for Divine Service. As I support the former but not the latter I and many others did not understand what these had to be taken together. After these have been through a revision committee they will of course come separately.

It was a curtailed synod due to the Shared Conversations on Human Sexuality which were held in private from, Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning. (On Sunday morning there was an opportunity to attend Mass at York Minster. I enjoyed the service and was particularly pleased to see that York have a number of children servers. This is something I have been pushing for at Coventry Cathedral and we have just starting doing.)

I was a bit unsure about the shared conversations (or as I heard some people refer to them as “The dreaded shared conversations”) But I think they went reasonably well, probably helped by the fact I appeared to have a reasonable group. I don't know how the other groups were.

I can't really say anymore about the shared conversations as what was said was confidential.
Following the end of the synod I travelled back to Coventry on the train Tuesday evening and then started a new job on the Wednesday!

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