THE SYNOD’s Business Committee decided to curtail the York group of sessions, and produced a net saving of £22,000 — a nine-per-cent saving on a total cost of £247,000, the Synod heard during Questions. But a shorter meeting was not to everyone’s liking.
Prebendary Kay Garlick (Hereford), who chairs the committee, introduced the debate.
Nigel Holmes (Carlisle) said that the agenda for this Synod was “very inward-looking”.
The Revd Moira Astin (Oxford) said: “The heart of our business should be to seek God’s will.”
Canon Robert Cotton (Guildford) thought: “There is time for us to be spoken to, but not time for us to converse with one another. . . You don’t PowerPoint your friends.” Where was the discussion about the Anglican Covenant? It felt as though those who organised the Synod’s business had lost confidence in the Synod.
Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) said the time for debate was constantly being “cramped”. “It is up to the Archbishops and Bishops to say if Synod is for discussion or for rubber-stamping decisions.”
Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield) was concerned that, unlike other ARCIC reports, the ARCIC report Life in Christ was not to be subject to a take-note debate, but would be discussed in groups with no follow-up debate. This decision by the Business Committee appeared to be contrary to the House of Bishops. “Have the bureaucrats taken over?”
Shirley-Ann Williams (Exeter) was concerned that the results of electronic voting were being used by staff to decide whom they should appoint to committees.
The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) called for clarity about who decided what went on the agenda.
The Revd Mark Ireland (Lichfield) was disappointed that a private member’s motion on visual liturgy, which would help young people engage with faith, had not been included in the Synod’s programme: “Shortening it by a day could turn out to be a false economy.”
Canon Chris Sugden (Oxford) said that synodical administration appeared to be following the pattern of the state, where the Government was becoming less and less accountable to Parliament.
The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd John Hind, said: “I am frowning inside,” because of the lack of a debate on the ARCIC report. The House of Bishops had been unanimous in wanting one. Had the committee feared that a debate would prove controversial? “What is wrong with a robust debate?” he asked.
The Synod took note of the report.