Activists seek candidates for new Synod

Aug 28, 2015 by

by Tim Wyatt, Church Times: AS ELECTIONS for the General Synod near an end, groups campaigning to change the make-up of the Church of England’s governing body have laid out their hopes for the next five years. […]  Similar sentiments were expressed by the election campaign co-ordinator of Inclusive Church, the Revd Stephen France. Inclusive Church has assembled a list of 108 people, clergy and laity, standing for election to the Synod under its banner. “I had no difficulty finding people who want to see the Church change and are willing to stand,” he said last week. “Clearly what happened with women bishops caused an outcry, and was bound to affect the reputation of the Synod, but that’s why we have had no difficulty finding people to stand.” Mr France said that the women-bishops debates, which dominated the last quinquennium, had prompted many of Inclusive Church’s candidates to stand. “Obviously that issue was resolved, but it’s early days yet. Rachel Treweek is the only diocesan woman bishop still.” One of those who are standing for the first time under the Inclusive Church banner is the former Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry. Previously an ex-officio member as the then Second Church Estates Commissioner, he is standing for election in the diocese of Oxford. Read here...

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Pray and fast for climate change? Is the church creating disciples of Christ or eco-warriors?

Jul 15, 2015 by

By Gillan Scott, Cranmer: The latest session of the General Synod of the Church of England drew to a close in York this week and, absent any debate about women bishops, it failed to set the blood racing. Indeed, until we get on to discussing the outcomes of the two-year ‘shared conversations‘ on sexuality, things are likely to stay pretty quiet. A couple of items did manage to gain some media attention, though. Firstly, these shared conversations involving 600 people will cost the CofE £360,000. That’s a lot of money spent on talking about sex, especially when it runs the risk of producing little by way of helpful conclusions. Let’s hope and pray it has been a wise investment. Talking of investments, the second item was the matter of climate change and divestment from fossil fuels. Despite various recent rumblings about the need for the Church of England to set an example and steer away from companies extracting fossil fuels, somewhat surprisingly it would appear that the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EAIG) is in agreement with Brother Ivo. The former national secretary of the Green Party is now a member of Synod and, having changed his mind on many ‘green’ issues, contributed to the discussion as a devil’s advocate, explaining why a complete halt in investing in these companies could potentially be disastrous. Until renewable sources are able to provide the majority of our energy needs, we need to accept that affordable and readily-available fossil fuels are essential not only to keep societies functioning, but also to drive down global poverty. This argument clearly worked as Synod almost unanimously backed the EIAG (and Brother Ivo). Make no mistake though, the CofE will not be turning its back on the issue. It fully intends to ‘engage robustly’ with Shell and BP and other petroleum companies, and it will continue to hold millions of pounds of shares in renewables and work towards a low-carbon economy. Synod also overwhelmingly voted for a motion presented by Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury: Read here Read also:  Bark at the cat, not the blackbird by Andrew Symes...

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Sunday 12 and Monday 13 July at Synod

Jul 13, 2015 by

Church investment in the Environment A major theme at Synod was Christian care for the Environment and the ethical investment policy of the Church of England investment bodies with regard to Climate Change. Dr Paula Gooder gave a splendid biblical overview of material on the environment on Sunday night including the following points: The dominion given to humanity in Genesis 1 26-28 follows the description of humanity made in the image of God – so have dominion as God would and subdue the earth as God would. The antagonistic relationship between humanity and the earth has been transformed through the inbreaking of the new creation in Jesus (2 Cor 5.17)so there can no longer be intrinsic antagonism. The created world is a great good. Creation and redemption is intertwined in Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5 and Colossians 1. The Bible exposition was followed by uplifting worship in the synod chamber led by St Michael-le-Belfry York worship group. Monday began with an hour’s small group Bible study and reflection on the above Biblical Passages. In the two plenary sessions, the main motions were amended to “encourage the work of those energy companies committed to carbon pricing and this amendment introduces into the motion, and also investing in research into cleaner fuels, natural gas, and carbon capture and storage”, since the alternative to fossil fuels for many poor nations isn’t expensive renewable energy but no fuel at all. Fossil fuels will still comprise a majority of the energy mix so it is better to develop this responsibly than cut investment and stifle development or leave energy provision solely to less-responsible enterprises not accountable to shareholders. Switching to low carbon economies will involve investing billions of pounds. Most governments are too short term to do this. It’ll be the BPs and Shells that do it. The synod rejected principled and time bound disinvestment in fossil fuel companies, in favour of holding disinvestment as a last resort if it became clear that such companies were not listening at all. New additional texts for Baptism Additional forms of baptism services were approved in more accessible language. It was stressed that these would need to be coupled with well delivered courses in baptism preparation for parents, godparents, sponsors and where appropriate, candidates. Farewells. As the synod was ‘dissolved’ pending the elections to the new synod due in the early autumn, a quarter of the members will not be seeking reelection. Warm thanks were expressed, among others, to Dr Philip Giddings the chair of the House of Laity who had joined synod in 1985 as a ‘fresh-faced lecturer’ from the University of Reading and been passionate in the many posts he had held for support of laity in the life of the church, and for care for Church House staff. A lasting memory of the farewells was a farewell to the double act of Father David Houlding, a leading advocate for male episcopacy, and Christina Rees CBE, a leading advocate for women bishops. Following the heated...

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Today in General Synod, York July 11th.

Jul 11, 2015 by

Patrick Sookhdeo of Barnabas Fund, and Guy Hordern the former Chair of the Birmingham Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) addressed a fringe meeting today hosted by Anglican Mainstream. The subject was reasons for the Islamist radicalization of young people and the role of Religious Education in combating this.   Patrick Sookhdeo’s talk can be found in full in PDF form, available here: Radicalization and education   After the talks, there was a question and answer session. One important point which came across was the importance of Church of England schools in maintaining a clear Christian ethos as well as being welcoming to people of all faiths and none. Pressure is being applied from secularists, but also liberal Christians, for all schools to teach Christianity only from a phenomenological perspective, ie learning about rites of passage, festivals etc but never opening a Bible or hearing about how people come to faith and live it out. On the other hand, Islam is often taught only from an ultra conservative perspective.   The answer to combating Islamist radicalization, educating young people better about religion in general, and fulfilling the Church of England’s aim of giving young people the chance to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus, is properly constituted SACREs. Dr Hordern explained that while in Birmingham a small number of schools overly influenced by extreme Islamism had hit the headlines, the majority of schools in that region were teaching RE in a positive and constructive way relevant to the local context, based on partnership and dialogue between representatives from the Church of England, other faiths and churches, the local authority and educational experts.   In the main session of Synod there was a debate on the report “Senior Church Leadership – a resource for reflection from the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England”. A speech by Mrs Sarah Finch, a Trustee of Anglican Mainstream, is especially worth highlighting. Here are some extracts:   There are three things in the Report that I as a lay woman, am particularly glad about: The emphasis on the fact that Bishops should be teachers. Hurrah! This is in para 43, point 3: ‘Bishops will be teachers, whose task it is to “uphold sound and wholesome doctrine, and to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinions”, so as to “hand on entire” the Christian faith. Canon C18 and the ordinal, quoted here, are, of course, only following St Paul’s instruction to Timothy, thsat an overseer should be ‘able to teach’, and his instruction to Titus, that an overseer whould ‘hold firmly to the trustworthy message…so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it’ Secondly, the report emphasises the higher allegiance that any church leader owes to God. In para 66 it points us to the instruction in Hebrews 13:17:’Obey your leaders…They keep watch over you as men who must give an account’. Thirdly, the Report insists that Episcopal leadership is essentially collegial....

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Brief reports from General Synod

Jul 10, 2015 by

Today in Synod, York, July 10th. York Synod is presided over by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. He gave a presidential address at the beginning of Synod which was a reflection of Archbishop Janani Luwum’s favourite biblical passage, John 17. He described it as the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer ever recorded in Scripture. Seven Gifts of Grace in John 17 AB Sentamu highlighted seven gifts of grace: Seeing the glory of God Eternal Life vs 2,3 Making the name of the Father known, 6-12 His word 13-19 To overcome Satan 15-16 To be in the world but not of the world 14-19 Sharing in his glory 20-26 It was a faithful, challenging and spiritually nourishing biblical exposition of the highest quality. It is available in printed form but not yet in digital form. Climate Change and Church of England Investments A major theme of this synod is presentations, debates and motions on Climate Change in preparation for the Paris Summit later in the year. The Church of England set out its investment policy which is to encourage transition to a low carbon economy through engagement with companies and policy makers. Disinvestment in energy companies will only take place if they refuse to engage in such a process as a last resort. This will be debated on Monday. Clarke/Woodhead report on Religious Education criticised The Clarke/Woodhead report on Religion and Belief in Schools was criticized for making no attempt to engage with the Church of England Education Office, not referring to the Church’s own 2104 report on RE in CofE Schools, making recommendations that would lead to the downgrading of RE, for its recommendations on Collective Worship, proposing to abolish the rights of parents to withdraw children from RE, and recommending that students be educated about religion in a way that reflects the overall values of our society without specifying what these are or who decides what they are. Leadership Report and the Green Report Under heavy questioning it became clear that the Faith and Order Commission Report on Senior Leadership in the Church, and the Green Report on Talent Management were entirely separate activities that were not in any significant contact with each other. Chris Sugden, member of General Synod for Oxford See also:  ...

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Church of England to begin sexuality ‘conversations’

Feb 14, 2015 by

By Ruth Gledhill, Christian Today: The Church of England is to begin talks on whether to authorise prayers to mark same-sex relationships. The question is raised in the resources published this week to go with the “shared conversations” on sexuality which are about to enter their second stage. The “second circle” of the shared conversations, set up last year in an attempt to resolve the Church’s crisis over sexuality, will begin regionally in April. The dioceses will meet in 13 “clusters” of between three and five dioceses at venues across England between April this year and March next year. The groups will consist of gay and straight clergy and laity. One of the questions the groups are being asked to consider is: “Should the church offer prayers to mark the formation of a faithful, permanent, same sex relationship? If so, what is the right level of formal provision that should be made?” Read...

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