15 July 2009

THE SYNOD endorsed two new appointments to the membership of the Archbishops’ Council, as well as the reappointment of Mark Russell for a further term of two years from 1 January. Mr Russell is chief executive of the Church Army.

A brief CV of the new members was included in a background note to the debate. Mary Chapman, one of the new appointments, is a former chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Management, and of Investors in People, and has been a member of the Ministry Council of the Church of England for the past two years.

The Revd Rosalyn Murphy, the other, is Priest-in-Charge of St Thomas’s, Blackpool, but was for­merly involved in various appoint­ments in academia, business, and public administration in the United States. The background note described her as a “black, American woman” who sees herself as “inher­ently sensitive to the needs and concerns of those who are ‘other’”.

In all, 31 applications were received via a recruitment company. The two new members will join the Council on 1 January. One of the members to be replaced, Anne Sloman, is to chair the new Church Buildings Council, the new statutory body to succeed the Council for the Care of Churches and the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches.

Several speakers wanted to question the process of selection. Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) queried the context of selection and found the workings of the Council “more than a little mysterious”.

Prudence Dailey (Oxford) was also uncomfortable with the process: little was known about the chosen candidates or others who had been short-listed. Was it appropriate, she asked, for the Synod to be rubber-stamping appointments in this way?

Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford) reminded the Synod that the National Institutions Measure set down the process, which gave the Archbishops the opportunity to bring in people who would not otherwise come in through synodical elections. There had been “extensive trawling” and “rigorous assessment” of candidates, and Synod should endorse the results.

Prebendary David Houlding (London) assured the Synod, as a member of the appointing group, that the process had been thorough, and that the candidates had been interviewed both by the group and by the Archbishops.

Tim Hind (Bath & Wells) re­minded the Synod that he had sought a review of the process early on in the history of the Council, and one had been promised. The names had come out far too late for in­formed discussion: the review was needed.

Christina Rees (St Albans) reiterated that the issue was not who the candidates were, but that the Synod was being asked to endorse the appointments without enough information. Justin Brett (Oxford) agreed.

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