A MEMBER of the General Synod who tabled a private member’s motion on the evangelisation of Muslims has protested against its “postponement” from the July group of sessions.
The member, Paul Eddy, a lay representative for Winchester, had received 124 signatures of support for his motion, but, owing to time constraints, a motion on church tourism with 134 signatures takes precedence, and will be the only private member’s motion debated.
Mr Eddy, a theological student who runs his own PR company and was initially UK press officer for Gafcon, had called on the House of Bishops in his motion to “report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multifaith society, and to offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and none”.
He suggested in a press release he issued on Tuesday that the church Establishment had been worried about the effect the debate would have on the “position of the C of E, headed by the Archbishop, in the run-up to Lambeth”. Electronic voting, he said, would have shown how many bishops believed in “the uniqueness of Christ as the only means of salvation”.
Prebendary Kay Garlick, who chairs the Business Committee, said that the committee had met on Wednesday of last week to set the agenda. “For that meeting, we asked for background papers on anything that might be in line, including private member’s motions. There were three which had 100 signatures, and Mr Eddy’s was second in line,” she said.
“It was always possible it would be included, which is why we asked for background papers. In fact, we didn’t get one from Paul Eddy, but we looked at all the material. It’s a very full timetable. There’s a lot of legislation that has to be done, and there’s also a lot, of course, about the women-bishops report.”
Standing orders gave priority to diocesan-synod motions, of which there were to be two at the July sessions, Prebendary Garlick said. She dismissed Mr Eddy’s suggestion that the “church Establishment” had ruled the motion out.
“It’s certainly not that in any way. If there are 100 signatures, then it will be taken. Our decisions are not based on what is in [the motions], but in terms of how many we have time for and the order in which they have to come,” she said. “It would be very unlikely that anything about the content is going to be part of the decision-making. The problem was that Paul had assumed it was going to happen because he was second in line.”
Mr Eddy said that there had been “considerable opposition by liberal bishops and clergy” to his motion, which had had wide support from both the Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical wings on the Synod. “From the telephone calls and emails I have received, people feel very aggrieved that, at this time in the Church’s history, Synod was not given the opportunity to debate evangelism,” he said.
A Church of England spokesman commented on Tuesday: “It is not unusual for General Synod to debate only one private member’s motion during its meetings, especially when there are a number of legislative issues to be debated, as there are at this Synod. . . The motion on the uniqueness of Christ in multifaith Britain is currently next on the list in terms of signatures, and if it heads the list in February, will probably be debated then.”
Mr Eddy is due to be ordained in July 2009. He suggested: “The timing of my ordination, and therefore resignation from Synod as a lay member, has not gone unnoticed by those wishing this debate to go away.” He would be seeking to add more signatures in York, and insisted: “It will be debated one way or another.”