General Synod
July Group of Sessions 1998

The York meeting of General Synod this year was dominated by liturgy with the following nine items of business on the agenda.
A Service of the Word
Affirmations of Faith
Prayers for Various Occasions
Canticles at Morning and Evening Prayer

Consideration of Report by the Revision Committee

Series 1 Solemnization of Matrimony

General Approval of extended authorization

Series 1 Burial Services

General Approval of extended authorization

The Lord’s Prayer

Consideration of Report by the Revision Committee

The Eucharist: The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion

Resumed debate on the report of the Revision Committee

Initiation Services - Wholeness and Healing

Consideration of Report by the Revision Committee

Extended Communion

Consideration of Report by the Revision Committee

Pastoral Rites - Draft Forms of Service for Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child, Marriage and Funerals

Drafts for General Approval

Eucharist Prayers

Drafts for General Approval


All received the necessary votes to proceed to the next stage of the process, except for Extended Communion which was not taken because of lack of time.

For the Lord’s Prayer, the revision committee had kept

  • Save us from the time of trial
    and deliver us from evil
  • but Synod now voted for a motion to refer this back, so that it can be changed back to the ASB form. The highlight of the debate was a speech from Canon Professor Anthony Thiselton, who (to quote Church Times) demolished the arguments of many scholars who wrote about “trial”. Unfortunately there was not a speech of similar quality to give the opposite point of view, and I wonder how many members of Synod were persuaded by Professor Thiselton=s oratory rather than by his arguments. Undoubtedly the committee will change the text back to the ASB form, and Synod will have another look at it later.

    The draft services for thanksgiving for the birth of a child, marriage and funerals came to Synod for the first time, and were given general approval after a debate, which was shorter than planned because the previous business has taken longer than expected.

    Appointment of Bishops

    A private member’s motion, proposed by Canon Timothy Yates of Derby in November 1996 finally reached the top of the list and was debated. This sought to end the election of diocesan bishops by Cathedral Chapters. This is the procedure (dating back to Henry VIII) whereby the Queen asks the Chapter to elect a bishop and then tells it who to elect. The Chapter is threatened with dire penalties if it fails to elect the Queen’s nominee, and I understand that this nominee becomes bishop even if the Chapter elects someone else. In the event the motion was amended (completely rewritten would be more accurate) to call for a review of the Crown Appointments Commission procedure. Another amendment from Bishop Colin Buchanan to make the appointment of diocesan bishops a purely church process with no state involvement was defeated.

    [Members may be interested in an event that I was able to attend in York Minster the day after General Synod finished. This was the confirmation of the election of Bishop James Jones as Bishop of Liverpool. After a short service in the Lady Chapel we all went to the Consistory Court (ie the Court of the Vicar-General of the Province of York) sitting in its courtroom off the South Choir Aisle of the Minster. There a dozen documents were produced and read out (so that they could be officially recorded by the court). Some were signed, the Vicar-General declared that the election was confirmed and that “the care, government and administration of the Spirituals” of the Bishopric were committed to the Bishop, and finally Canon Mark Boyling (standing in for Dean Walters) was sent away with a mandate from the Archbishop requiring the Dean

  • To admit and induct The Right Reverend James Stuart into the actual and corporeal possession of the Bishopric of Liverpool.]
  • New Structures

    The National Institutions Measure received the Royal Assent on 2 July, and arrangements are in hand for all the members of the Archbishops’ Council to have been elected or appointed by November. A small group from the Standing Committee has put together a proposed supporting committee structure and this was agreed by Synod.

    Other matters

    Synod formally took note of the report Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women after a slide-show presentation by the Ecumenical Decade working party.

    Synod debated drugs and tobacco advertisements (they are against both) and world peace (they are in favour but were divided about whether to designate a special Sunday).

    Peter Owen
    XIVth Sunday after Trinity 1998
    (amended 6 October 2000)

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