THE General Synod declined on Wednesday afternoon to express a desire to be in communion with the Anglican Church in North Amerca (ACNA).
But, "aware of the distress caused by recent divisions" in the Anglican Churches of the US and Canada, it recognised and affirmed the desire of those who had formed ACNA to be part of the Anglican family, and "acknowledged that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further".
It invited the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.
Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) had brought a private member's motion. There was no hidden agenda, she assured the Synod; but this was a question of fellowship. "If one part of the body suffers, all suffer."
There was an early attempt to scupper the debate. Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) said that there had been so many claims and counter-claims that it would be difficult to separate truth and falsehood. He moved "next business", supported by a member who spoke of the "grisly inevitability of watching a train wreck in slow motion", and opposed by another who was "deeply offended that what I was going to say was a lie".
Canon Butler's motion was lost.
The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, moved an amendment from the Bishops which formed the main part of the final motion. He believed that Mrs Ashworth's motion would commit the C of E to "too much too soon".
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr John Hind, also felt that there was "serious work still to be done".
The Synod was beginning to run out of time. When it came to voting by Houses on an amendment to the Bristol amendment which would in effect have combined it with the main motion, the electronic voting system broke down, necessitating a time-consuming division through the Ayes and Noes lobbies.
When they returned, that amendment lost, another indefinite adjournment was unsuccessfully attempted. But the mood had lightened. An amendment from the Revd Andrew Dow, to recognise the orders of ACNA clergy as an interim measure, was also lost.
The Bristol amendment was carried, with Mr Dow's other amendment about "distress". The amended motion was carried by 309 to 69 with 17 recorded abstentions.
Full report next week