The July 2001 group of sessions of the seventh General Synod of the Church of England will be held at the University of York from 6 to 10 July. Its agenda includes the following business.
Reform of the House of Lords
The Revd David Houlding will propose the following Private Member's motion.
This motion dates back to 1997, but became directly relevant after the Wakeham Report later recommended a reduction in the number of Church of England bishops in the Second Chamber from 26 to 16. A debate on the Report and the Churchs response was the last item on the agenda in July 2000, but time ran out, so this will be the first opportunity for Synod to debate this matter.
Care of Cathedrals Measure Review
The Archbishops Council decided in 1999 to set up a review into the Care of Cathedrals Measure 1990. The Review Group has now reported back and has found that in general the measure is working effectively, and there is no need to alter its basic principles or structure. However there are a number of deficiencies in the detailed provisions which need to be addressed, and Synod will be invited to endorse the Groups recommendations.
Dr Daleep Mukarji (the Director of Christian Aid) and the Rt Revd Bernard Ntahoturi (the Bishop of Matana in Burundi and a partner of Christian Aid) will give presentations on the work of Christian Aid and its new campaign on trade. These will be followed by a debate in which Synod will be invited to affirm the Churchs commitment to international development following the closure of the Jubilee 2000 coalition. To facilitate this process, the Board for Social Responsibility has produced a collection of essays (Development Matters: Essays on Christian Perspectives on Globalisation) and a brief paper (Global View 2001: An Emerging Agenda) setting out a number of key international policy commitments that Synod will be asked to endorse.
The motion before Synod will be as follows.
Third World Debt
Immediately after the debate on International Development Mr Roger Godin will propose the following Private Members motion.
Crown Appointments Commission
In July 1998 Synod called for a review of the working of the Crown Appointments Commission, the body which recommends people to the Prime Minister for appointment as diocesan bishops. The Review Groups report (Working with the Spirit: Choosing Diocesan Bishops) was published in May 2001. It makes a number of recommendations to deal with a number of concerns about important aspects of how the system works, particularly relating to
Baroness Perry of Southwark, who chaired the Review Group, will address Synod, and then there will be a debate on the report, followed by a vote to set up a steering group to follow up its recommendations.
There will be a presentation by the Council for Christian Unity to provide an overview of the work of the Council in supporting the Church of Englands vision for the full visible unity of the Christian Church. The Council has a website at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/ccu/index.html.
Renewing Faith in the Countryside
This debate on rural affairs was originally intended to mark the tenth anniversary of the report Faith in the Countryside, but will now inevitably be set in the context of the foot and mouth epidemic. The debate will be on the following motion.
Archbishops Council Reports and Accounts for 2000
The annual report gives an account of the activities of the Council, and of those bodies that are answerable to the Synod through the Council, during 2000. The report indicates how the foundational work of the Council is being built upon through the development of a set of themes (debated at Synod in November 2000) which will set a framework for all that the Council does over the next five years.
Financial Issues Facing the Church
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, particularly in the light of the recent actuarial valuation of the funded clergy pension scheme which will result in substantially increased contributions from April 2002. This will be followed by debates on the following two particular financial matters.
Review of Allocations and Apportionment
In 1999 responsibility for the distribution of Stipend Support (in the form of Selective Allocations) passed from the Church Commissioners (who provide the money) to the Archbishopss Council. The Council also inherited from the Central Board of Finance the formula for the collection of the Central Apportionment (the contributions from the dioceses to the central work of the Church). The Councils Finance Committee has set up a review of the two systems. The Review Group now recommends (option 1)
Consultations with dioceses by the Review Group have shown general support for the modifications to the Central Apportionment formula, but some dioceses have expressed concerns about the new approach to distributing Selective Allocations. These dioceses are concerned about the removal of the OxLIP (a low-income predictor) and unemployment factors, and believe that the new system does not properly reflect the needs of the disadvantaged in society.
The Review Group has therefore suggested an option 2 which would direct one-sixth of the selective allocations to the most deprived wards (841 out of the 8414 local government electoral areas) with the remainder being distributed as in option 1. This would use an up-to-date index published in August 2000 by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in place of the outdated OxLIP (which was based on 1991 census data). When diocesan bishops were asked in February 2001 to consult in their dioceses and to express a preference, of the 38 responses
Subsequently the House of Bishops considered both options at its June 2001 meeting, and a strong preference was expressed for option 2.
Synod will debate the proposed changes to both systems and will be invited to:
Archbishops Councils Budget for 2002
The Council is proposing a freeze in 2002 on net expenditure on Votes 2 (national church responsibiloities) and 3 (grants and contributions to other organisations). There is an increase of 2.6% in the Vote 1 (ordination training) budget; this has not been frozen in order not to defer vocations, as they form the lifeblood of the Church in the longer term. Vote 4 represents the Councils contribution to the cost of the pension contributions for clergy working for mission agencies, which it is taking over from the Church Commissioners. The 2001 figure was orginally to have been £391,000, but this has had to be increased to pay for the higher contribution rate effective from 1 April 2002.
The net budgets for 2001 and 2002, to be paid by apportionments on dioceses, are shown below. At the beginning of June 2001 it was expected that the 2001 budget would be underspent by about £189,000.
The Health of the Poor
Sir Donald Acheson, former Chief Medical Officer, will address the Synod, and then there will be a debate on the following motion from the Oxford Diocesan Synod.
There will be a debate on the following motion from Wakefield Diocesan Synod.
Church Commissioners Annual Report for 2000
There will be a debate on this report, which will provide members with an opportunity to raise points on the wide spectrum of the Commissioners work.
Review of Synodical Government: Second Report by the Bridge Follow Up Group
The major part of this report is concerned with the size and composition of General Synod. Whilst the Follow Up Group accepts the general principal of abolishing most special constituencies and reducing the size of Synod, it does not agree with all the detailed recommendations of the Bridge Report. The Groups major proposals are to
The Follow Up Group also proposes that
There will be a debate on this report, and Synod will be invited to instruct the Business Committee to introduce legislation to implement its recommendations.
This debate is the only item of business on the last day, and it is thought that this might reduce the number of members who leave early.