Synod Begins – Monday 8 February

Apologies, first of all, to all my usual readers who are not at all interested in the work of the national assembly of the Church of England. I will post other things this week to keep you happy too.

The first day of General Synod is concluding as I type – for my part, I really enjoy the February sessions of this assembly of Bishops, Clergy and Laity. It is a chance for me to reconnect with my passion for understanding democracy, governance and institutions. It is a chance to watch the forum that ultimately determines much of the work I do (I am already working on a draft Code of Practice for legislation that will be discussed tomorrow). It is also a chance to be reminded of the good work the Church does, and of the people who are driving forward change here.

This afternoon we’ve had the prayers and introduction of new members, followed by the Bishop of Manchester’s presentation of the work of the steering committee and revision committee for the legislation providing for women bishops’. While his statement wasn’t exactly a surprise, due to its publication last night here on Ruth Gledhill’s Times blog, it was the Business Committee’s choice to deny questions that seemed to take the assembled clergy and laity by surprise and/or dismay. It was, however, somewhat easier to understand when the Bishop read it out – maybe because I’d read it several times but I was again impressed by his ability to speak well.

Moving swiftly onwards  – debate questions arose from three speakers (419, 264, 145) regarding a statement from the Business Committee on the agenda of this General Synod.  I rather wish the first speaker hadn’t spoken quite so quickly as it struggled to focus on the important points and was rather drawn by ‘outsider Archbishops’ and an ‘effective and fascinating forum’. One did feel a tad sorry for the poor Archbishops being attacked at the first opportunity, however warm fuzzies were felt all around as the first round of clapping went to them in the Business Committee’s reply (something about the Archbishops being at ‘the heart of everything we do’). Bless ’em.

Second speaker had problems with online questionnaire (yay for the Church and Communications using the internet effectively to communicate with Synod members all over the country – and a bonus for supplying computers in the basement!) and the third wanted a link to the Progress of Measures and Statutory Instruments statement read out by the Archbishop of Canterbury following prayers. As I understand it, that information should be found here, however that’s currently an empty page . . . I see the problem . . .

Questions followed this and I moved back to my desk to continue with preparation for tomorrow.  Such fun!

I’ll be in the chamber tomorrow for morning sessions, and hopefully the follow-up session on Mission-Shaped Church tomorrow late afternoon/early evening.  Good night all. Maybe more analysis tomorrow . . .

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