BISHOPS — whether pastors or judges, whether too few, too many, or too costly — were a chief preoccupation of the General Synod when it met in York last weekend, finishing its business on Monday. This was a day earlier than normal, saving the C of E an estimated £22,000. One consequence was that many people stayed for the last debate, in which the Synod sent the Clergy Discipline Measure back to the Archbishops’ Council to amend.
Disquiet was expressed about the part played by bishops in the disciplinary process. As it stands, the judicial process effectively requires the Bishop to step back from a cleric or a parish under investigation just when they may think that they need him most. Synod members spoke of the pain and the stress this caused.
Synod members seeking a reduction in the number of bishops were satisfied, for the present, with news of a review.
In a lively debate, a new structure for the central boards and councils was sent back for revision; and the spending priorities of the Archbishops’ Council were questioned.
The way people with a learning disability could change the Church for the better was debated, as was the report of the Good Childhood Inquiry.
The First Church Estates Commissioner gave a sober account of the national economy and the Church’s finances, which also will have an impact on clergy pensions. In a debate on stewardship, it was suggested that the Church’s finances would be radically improved if everyone gave closer to the target of five per cent (current average giving is 3.4 per cent).
See full reports from York