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Synod needs an agenda with less legislation

06 February 2008


From Professor Mike Sanderson

Sir, — The Revd Dr Giles Fraser writes: “Too much religion is bad for your faith” (Comment, 1 February). It could, perhaps, also be argued that that too much legislation damages your mission.

This seems to be supported by the problems identified by the Revd Steve Hollingshurst regarding Bishop’s Mission Orders for new expressions of ministry (Features, same issue), and the focus of General Synod on promulgating and revising canons of the Church of England, particularly for example regarding the requirement for clergy of the Church of England to celebrate the eucharist at major festivals in an ecumenical setting (News, 25 January).

At a time when ongoing commitment to the Church of England, as measured by baptism and confirmation, is in severe decline (News, 1 February), such concern with legislation seems to be misplaced.

The question raised for the Church of England, as for many other Churches, is that raised by Stuart Murray in his book Post-Christendom: are we in the Church into maintenance or mission? Legislation is more to do with maintenance than mission. Perhaps we as an institution need to spend more of our time concerned with the broader issues of mission than tinkering with legislation.

This probably means that the Church of England needs to learn to operate with a lighter touch than it has in the past, and let the outcome be judged by God, not by consistory courts.
85 Linceslade Grove
Milton Keynes

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