General Synod
November Group of Sessions 2000
Preview of the Agenda

The seventh General Synod of the Church of England will be inaugurated in Church House, Westminster, by Her Majesty the Queen on Tuesday 14 November 2000.  The official inauguration will be preceded by a service of Holy Communion in Westminster Abbey which the Queen will attend.

Synod will meet from 14 to 16 November, and its agenda includes the following business.

Themes and Priorities for the New Quinquennium: Report by the Archbishops’ Council

The Council has four themes for its work in the next five years, which Synod will be asked to endorse.

  • Engaging with social issues: To assist the Church to speak and act prophetically on the issues of the day, and particularly alongside those who are marginalised.
  • Equipping to evangelize: To co-ordinate a strategy for encouraging and equipping church members to further the task of evangelism.
  • Welcoming and encouraging children and young people: To welcome and encourage children and young people, and to be encouraged by them, and to engage with them on their spiritual journey wherever they are.
  • Developing the ministry of all: To encourage the development of lay and ordained people in faith, discipleship, leadership, mission and evangelism.
Draft Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Draft Amending Canon No 24

Synod will vote on final approval of this Measure and Canon.  This will complete a major piece of legislation started in the previous Synod.

Draft Synodical Government (Amendment) Measure

Synod will consider the report of the Revision Committee. The draft measure amends some of the law relating to synodical government. In particular it will set a norm on the size of PCCs, make three year terms of office for PCC members the default arrangement, and provide for the over-18s to be on the electoral role for six months before they become eligible for election to the PCC.

Forthcoming Financial Issues

The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Mr Michael Chamberlain, and the Financial Secretary, Mr Shaun Farrell will give a presentation of the main financial issues facing the Church at the present time and show how they inter-relate.

Review of the Church Urban Fund (CUF)

This Review was published in July and addresses some critical issues about the longer term future of the CUF, its relationship to the Church and the way in which it distributes grants to and engages with dioceses. Synod will debate the following motion:

That this Synod:
(a) re-affirm the Church’s continuing commitment and responsibility to ministry alongside the poor and marginalised wherever they may be and especially in urban priority areas;
(b) welcome initiatives by dioceses to develop a locally-based and coherent strategy for evangelism and justice in urban priority areas;
(c) thank God for the achievement of the Church Urban Fund in partnership with dioceses in unleashing new hope in urban priority areas;
(d) endorse the recommendations in paragraphs 13 - 17 of GS 1400 and invite the Trustees of the Church Urban Fund and the Archbishops’ Council to pursue them, in consultation with dioceses; and
(e) request a report on progress from the Archbishops’ Council by the summer of 2002.
The recommendations referred to in part (c) of the motion are as follows.
1: The Synod should ask the Trustees to conduct, as a matter of urgency, a feasibility study on how the Fund might be enabled to continue to 2010, at least in the first instance, whilst sustaining grant-making as near as possible to current levels, and to produce a business plan for achieving that objective.
2: The question of the future of the Fund beyond the immediate next phase should be reassessed in the light of progress in extending the Fund’s life to 2010.
3: The matters touched on in paragraphs 11 and 12 above should be the subject of further consultation and discussion involving the Trustees, the Archbishops’ Council and representatives of dioceses. A further report on them should be made to the Archbishops’ Council by June 2001, and a report on these matters and on progress in respect of recommendation 1 above should be made to the General Synod by the summer of 2002.
4: Those dioceses which do not yet have such a strategy embracing UPAs should be strongly urged to develop one, drawing on the experience of other dioceses in so doing.
Southwell Diocesan Synod Motion on Non-Stipendiary Ministers
That this Synod request the Archbishops’ Council, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to examine the designation “non-stipendiary ministry and ministers” with a view to acknowledging such ministers as “self supporting ministers” and to change their title accordingly.
Bristol Diocesan Synod Motion on Communion before Confirmation
That this Synod request the House of Bishops to initiate a change in canon law, thereby enabling this Synod, on behalf of the Church of England to decide whether to retain the inherited norm of ‘confirmation before communion’ or to change its practice to affirm the norm, for those who have been baptised, to receive communion before confirmation, rather than to leave it to individual diocesan bishops and parishes to make the decision.
The Stephen Lawrence Enquiry

Synod will debate: “Called to Lead: A Challenge to Include Minority Ethnic People”. This is the report of a staff group which has been working on the first stage of an action plan to follow up the report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. It ends with these two paragraphs:

Conclusions: The Challenge
Two weeks after this report is debated at General Synod we will enter the season of Advent and we will look again for that coming of God which is so plainly set out in the Jewish scriptures. In the words of Eucharistic Prayer F in Common Worship, ‘Embracing our humanity Jesus showed us the way of salvation; loving us to the end, he gave himself to death for us; dying for his own...’ It is this context which should be the beginning of any theological response to the place of Black, Asian (and any other minority ethnic) Anglicans inside the Church of England. Advent is a season of expectancy, and hope, but also one of poverty. The poverty is the fact of Stephen Lawrence’s death in one of the richest cities in the world; the poverty is the tiny number of minority ethnic Anglicans called to be ordained in the Church of England in the last decade; the poverty is in the failure in implementation of the stop and search policy of the Metropolitan Police in London, which has alienated so many Black and Asian people from the police which should be their protector. Yet there is also the fact of the future as God’s gift: the kingdom which we cannot build but only be open to.

What we need is the imagination of the Christian hope. The kingdom is not simply the future, but the future as God's possibilities breaking into time, built on the Advent promises. In the demands of Black and Asian Anglicans, in their prayers for a richer life in the Church as the true body of Christ together, we learn that our idols must be broken before the God of justice: we ‘look for your reign of justice, mercy and peace’. This report is not simply about justice, though it is that; nor just about social policy, though that is true as well; it is about the integrity of the Church before its God, in judgement and hope. Ultimately it is about a church trying to keep its doors open to all people.

Iraq: A Decade of Sanctions

This is a report from the Board of Social Responsibility which will inform Synod’s debate on the following motion.

That this Synod, noting with deep sympathy the suffering of the Iraqi people:
(a) hold that the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq is a consequence of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the continued failure by the Government of Iraq to comply with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions;
(b) recognise that after ten years sanctions have failed to achieve their purpose and that continuing with the present sanctions policy is unlikely to yield further political dividend without creating additional human suffering:
(c) call on HMG to work to ensure that the price of securing peace and stability in the region is paid by the leadership of Iraq rather than the most vulnerable Iraqi people;
(d) encourage the BSR to work with Christian Aid, Coventry Cathedral’s Centre for Reconciliation and other bodies working in this area, in raising awareness of the humanitarian situation in Iraq and the underlying causes of conflict in the Middle East;
(e) encourage the Board for Social Responsibility to report back to the General Synod after the CTBI delegation has visited the Middle East next year.
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Presidential Address will conclude the business of Synod. The Archbishop will reflect on current issues facing the church and will share something of his vision for the future.

Peter Owen
last modified 6 November 2000
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