THE SYNOD has rebelled against being asked to approve legislation on detailed matters of fees before discussing the principle.
It adjourned a first-consideration debate on the Draft Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure, after hearing complaints about centralisation, focused on a proposal to make fees payable to the diocese rather than the parish priest. John Freeman (Chester) urged the Synod: "Stop centralising everything: it's a bad habit the Government has got into, and the Church should not get into."
The Revd Bill Henwood (York) sought a full debate on the principles. "This Measure is not just a matter of tweaking of fees. It is root-and-branch reform -- a matter of ministry and pastoral mission of the Church." Canon Simon Killwick (Manchester) moved adjournment. It was wrong that the Synod should be looking at just one part of an issue that affected every parish and its interface, he said.
Bishop Packer urged the Synod to resist adjournment. But the procedural motion was carried by 135 to 110, with 12 abstentions.
The Synod went on to approve a change in the law giving bishops more room for manoeuvre in allowing local ecumenical projects to dispense with Anglican-rite communion services on principal festivals; but with the proviso, proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the bishop must have regard to the laity's duty to receive communion in the C of E.
After lunch, the Synod moved on to debate a motion from Durham diocesan synod calling for the "expeditious preparation" of a eucharistic prayer to meet the pastoral needs of children. It was amended by Canon David Bird (Peterborough) to "eucharistic prayers" -- more than one.
The Synod went on to debate mental health, and call for improved services and support for people with mental-health problems. It hoped that the operation of the Mental Health Act would be carefully monitored, and also drew attention to the needs of people in the criminal justice system. It welcomed the recognition of the spiritual needs of the mentally ill and noted with concern the rising incidence of mental distress among young people.
Finally, the Synod took note of a report on the Anglican Covenant. In a wide-ranging debate, concerns were expressed about the form the discipline process took in the latest draft of the Covenant, and the burden that it would place on the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But Dr Williams commented: "In some circumstances, it can be a saving of energy rather than otherwise, if you know what you can't do or what you're supposed to do rather than being endlessly at the mercies of fantasies and projections about what an Archbishop of Canterbury ought to do."