In brief

14 July 2010

Archbishops’ Council electoral process approved

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, asked the Synod to approve an electoral process for Archbishops’ Council members under which they would be elected for a five-year term. The recommendations, contained in GS 1779, were approved.

VAT relief on church repairs — future uncertain

THE future of VAT rebates on repairs to listed churches is uncertain, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, warned the Synod during Questions. “The auguries for retaining the [Listed Places of Worship Grant] Scheme are not altogether favourable. Now is the time for resolute action,” he said. When asked who was responsible for co-ordinating the Buildings Division’s response to the Government, he replied: “I suppose it’s me.”

Porvoo consultations next year

THERE will be two Porvoo consultations next year, the Synod was told: one on the Churches’ teaching on marriage, to be held in Finland, and another on responding to conflict within the Porvoo Communion, which was to be held in Estonia. The latter would look at questions of mutual accountability, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, said.

Mirfield takes advice on eucharist

THE Ministry Council has passed on legal advice to the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, that an admissions policy requiring all ordinands to attend a weekly eucharist, irrespective of the gender of the president, would be contrary to the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993.

“The College has indicated that while admissions policy lies within its own prerogative, it would wish to respect the legal advice given to the Ministry Council,” the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, who chairs the Council, told the Synod. The College has indicated that such a requirement will not be included in its admissions policy.

Staffing changes reported

SINCE the start of 2005, 52 staff have left or retired from the employment of the Church Commissioners, and not been replaced on a like-for-like basis, the Synod was told. There are currently 154.77 full-time equivalent posts. In December 2005, there were 91.12. But, in January 2009, 73 shared-services staff transferred to the Church Commissioners from the Archbishops’ Council.

Since 2005, 49 staff have left or retired from the employment of the Archbishops’ Council, and have not been replaced on a like-for-like basis. In-year savings in 2009 amounted to £234,000, including two staff (£34,000) transferred to third-party providers.

Compensation ‘could have gone to poorer dioceses’

THE estimated total of payments by the Church Commissioners to clerics resigning under the Ordination of Women (Financial Provisions) Measure 1993 is £27.5 million. The final payments, for those who resigned in 2004, will be made in early 2014. In addition, there was a call of £2.4 million on the unfunded pension scheme in respect of providing pensions for service between the point of resignation and the end of 1997.

In answer to a question from Colin Slater (Southwell & Nottingham) about whether this money could have been used for mission, the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, estimated that it accounted for about £700,000 per annum in grants that could otherwise have been made to poorer dioceses.

Support for racist groups to be conduct unbecoming

AN AMENDMENT is to be introduced, as part of the reform of the Clergy Discipline Measure, to make it “unbecoming conduct” for any cleric to be a member of or promote or solicit support for a party or organisation whose constitution, policies, objectives, or public statements are declared in writ­ing by the House of Bishops to be incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to race equality.

Members to declare interests

SYNOD members could in future be asked to declare any financial or personal interests that they might have when speaking in a debate, Prebendary Kay Garlick (Hereford), who chairs the Business Committee, said when she introduced the committee’s report on Friday. “We have recommended that members should make an oral declaration of financial or personal interests.”

‘Shame’ of Crown Nominations Commission leak

Canon Professor Anthony Thiselton (Southwell & Nottingham) reflected on the apparent leaking of details from the Crown Nominations Commission concerning the exclusion of the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, from being considered for the see of Southwark.

Confidence in the confidentiality of the Commission demanded that any member of the Commission who had possibly leaked business should be required by the Synod to consider his or her position. Breaking an oath, for that was what might seem to have happened, “is a matter of shame”. If there had been a leak, the Synod should know, he said.

Amending Canon promulged

AMENDING CANON NO. 29 (Of the licensing of ministers under seal, of the residence of priests on their benefices, [etc.]) was promulged. The motion moved by the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, was carried without debate.

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