Reflections from February General Synod

Published: 4th March 2024

John 'Tug' Wilson speaking at General SynodThis February's General Synod meeting in London was held over a weekend - part of an attempt to balance the meetings to aid lay members, many of whom have to take holiday from employers in order to attend.

There were as ever many topics to be considered making for a packed agenda. Some issues gain headlines in the media, but many important topics less so. A full report provided for diocesan synod includes a summary of all points of business, but here we have gathered some thoughts and impressions from some of our reps who have recovered enough from the exhausting schedule to comment!

Amanda Robbie (lay) says "I was pleased to see behaviour of PCC members and lay officers addressed in two debates, with overwhelming votes in favour of progress in this area. I look forward to seeing proposals for a PCC Code of Conduct and options for discipline. I was also present at the Clergy Conduct Measure fringe meeting, as I am on the Revision Committee. This important piece of work, which will replace th Clergy Discipline Measure, will be brought to Synod in July in draft form, together with indicative draft rules. You can read more details of the proposed progress of the new measure, which is likely to come into effect in 2026, here

"I was also able to follow up continuing concerns about the migration of clergy and ordinand families from Child Tax Credit to Universal Credit in some personal conversations. Note the responses from the Chair of RACSC [Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee], the Bishop of Hereford, in the Questions Notice Paper - Q4 and Q5. Do please contact me if you have questions about either CCM or Universal Credit issues."

And Penny Allen (lay) thought "This session was better tempered and less adversarial than the last, perhaps due to the three items concerning Conduct of Synod members, lay officers and PCCs", impressions echoed by Revd Pat Hawkins: "This was a more measured synod than some in the recent past and it was good to see that most members had taken comments about the tone of contributions to heart."

"There will rightly be a lot said about the debates on safeguarding and the Prayers of Love and Faith. I felt we did as much as we could reasonably do at this synod on both of these. It was unfortunate that the Jay report was published so close to the beginning of synod, but, given that, I thought it was right to allow for time to examine the implications of her findings.  It will be important however that we do not evade the strength of the challenge of her recommendations and those of the Wilkinson report.

"These are hugely important issues, but it is also important for people to know the range of issues that synod covers, and that we do not spend all our time arguing with each other! So in these sessions we heard about the war in the Ukraine, with a reminder of the importance of praying for the people of Russia too."

Chris Gill also mentioned the energy required to participate well in General Synod: "I’m afraid it takes much longer than a day to recover from the concentration and energy involved in listening to and debating the many different matters at General Synod, as well as the constant interaction with people in the same position."

Particularly strenuous is the role of chairing the sessions, and our Revd Zoe Heming was again moderating a couple of sessions.

Racial Justice

Pat was also moved by another debate: "We discussed the ongoing work of racial justice, and the Church Commissioners’ response to links to Transatlantic Chattel Slavery. I found it particularly helpful to have explained the difference between compensation and reparations; the latter is intended to help repair the consequences of past wrong in the interests of those still living with them. It was salutary to hear of the 'slave Bible', produced to be used with plantation slaves - it had 90% of the Old Testament and 50% of the New removed to avoid dangerous references, notably the entire story of the Exodus."

Lichfield Clergy rep, Revd Treena Larkin was able to contribute to this debate, speaking about the lack of role models in the Church in contrast to her previous experience in the NHS and our resulting failure to see racial bias while also noting her "thankfulness for the many lay and ordained priests and bishops that have walked alongside me and that I am thankful that Lichfield Diocese are moving forwards since the introduction of our RJITG in 2020."

The various presentations and debates are usually streamed live and available on YouTube afterwards. Synod papers can be found at this link

Photos: Lichfield Diocese rep John 'Tug' Wilson and Revd Treena Larkin speaking during the synod.

Page last updated: Monday 4th March 2024 12:22 PM
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