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.