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Discipline process is challenged

by
16 July 2009

by Bill Bowder

Scooting off: Alison Ruoff, a lay member for London, getting about at the General Synod in York SAM ATKINS

Scooting off: Alison Ruoff, a lay member for London, getting about at the General Synod in York SAM ATKINS

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

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