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What happened at General Synod?

What happened at General Synod?
LLF - is there a glimmer of hope?

March 1, 2024

There were debates about Racial Justice (bad), Ukraine (bad), Estates Evangelism (good), Biodiversity (good), Chattel Slavery (bad), Bullying by Lay People/Officers (bad), PCC Codes of Conduct (good), Ukraine War (bad) and Clergy Pensions (review). If you would like more detail about any of these issues just press reply on this email - and I'll be happy to fill you in - I just didn't want to get too bogged down in details here.

And then there were the 'usual suspects':

Having spent £1m on two safeguarding reports, recommending the desperate need and process for creating independent safeguarding structures, the Synod voted for an internal team to consider the way forward. The tone of the debate and the comments being made appeared to show little understanding of the issues. There was confusion about the meaning of 'independence' or 'responsibility'; prioritisation of exisiting staff and structures over the needs of survivors; and bishops who could not imagine a world where they were not in power. The internal team is made up of insiders and the one 'independent' voice has a complex history which could come back to bite.

The Archbishops presented their Commission on Families and Households - Love Matters. In an attempt to balance the Report's recommendations that "the quality of the relationships matters more than the form the family takes," an amendment was put forward to:
"reaffirm the value of marriage, especially when loving, as providing the most stable and permanent environment for bringing up children".

Synod voted against it.

The formal debate about the Bishop of Leicester's approach to Living in Love, Faith and Reconciliation ended in a 'move to next business' - after four amendments had been debated - which can be interpreted as no one really wanted to vote against it but no one really wanted to vote for it.

Anglican Futures have written about the problems with the suggested process and a summary of the whole debate We have also have produced a one page summary of the debate itself - suitable for sharing with PCCs, church family etc - which you can down load here.

The tone of the debate was less vicious but Synod still voted against acknowledging there were those in Synod who could not "simply agree to disagree" and "legally secure structural provision."

The Bishop of Leicester told the press that Synod had given him a "mandate" to press on - and that the next stage would be intense "shuttle diplomacy" to find a way forward. Some are positive about this - believing this will be the opportunity for proper structural differentiation to be considered. That seems rather hopeful - the Bishop of Leicester told journalists that anything that "might look like a split" is off the table to start with and Synod has voted against structural provision three times. Prayer for extraordinary negotiation skills and divine intervention will be needed.

The Bishop of Leicester has promised to bring concrete proposals (if not all the detail) back to Synod in July.


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