Representation rules

15 July 2009

THE SYNOD approved the Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution 2009.

Introducing the debate on Monday morning, the Archdeacon of Dorset, the Ven. Alistair Magowan (Salis­bury), described these as “the final stages of a regular process of good housekeeping in synodical govern­ment”. Simple

cor­rections had been made to some; salient changes had been included, removing an obliga­tion for candidates in diocesan elections to have a list of electors’ email addresses, and lowering diocesan synods to 100 permitted members. These were worthwhile changes.

Jim Cheeseman (Rochester) supported the reduction in the size of diocesan synods, where the lack of interest in standing for election was “a sad state of affairs”. They should be lively, representative, and able to do their job.

The Revd Dr John Hartley (Brad­ford) identified “some basic confu­sion” about who ran the Church. Anomalies such as churchwardens’ being elected by people who did not go to church needed fixing in a better way.

Adrian Greenwood (Southwark) wanted General Synod members to reflect on the number of times they might seek election, in the interests of the “refreshment of Synod”. No clergy had served more than four terms, but 25 lay members had.

The Revd John Plant (Leicester) had 13 rural churches, five PCCs, 13 district church councils, 26 church­wardens, “and high blood pressure”. He hoped that the Synod would support a motion that gave more flexibility on the ground.

The vote to consider the resolution was carried.

Clive Scowen (London) moved an amendment to retain dioceses’ obligation to provide candidates with electors’ email addresses.

Dr Christina Baxter (Southwell & Nottingham), speaking to the main motion, supported his amendment. Everyone involved with House of Laity elections considered it to be a “rotten borough”; so anything that made elections a better process was really important. Email was a simple and effective means of communica­tion.

David Jones (Salisbury) urged the Synod to resist the amendment. “Lots of us in distant parts of West Dorset don’t have email addresses.”

The amendment was carried.

The main motion was carried by the required two-thirds majority in each House: Bishops 24 for, nem. con.; Clergy 119 for, 2 against; Laity 130 for, 5 against, with 3 recorded abstentions. It will now go to Parliament.

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