THE Synod had a presentation and a question-and-answer session
on the annual report of the Archbishops' Council.
Canon Robert Cotton (Guildford) told the Synod
that the Archbishops' Council and House of Bishops had established
a "promisingly styled Simplification Working Group".
He said: "We are all too aware of the cautionary tale from
Whitehall, where bonfires of government regulations and red tape
are routinely promised by successive ministers at the same time as
they bring ever more legislation and statutory instruments before
Parliament. We must do better than that."
The group had already "formulated a range of proposals" on the
Church Representation Rules, and was now, with the chair of the
Church Buildings Council, "looking at ways of streamlining the
operation of the faculty system".
He said that new working relationships between the Council, the
Church Commissioners, and the House of Bishops had "developed
stronger, clearer, and more productive partnerships".
"The Council continued to work", he said, "on your behalf and on
behalf of the Church to support the national Church, the dioceses,
deaneries, and parishes in their work to further the Kingdom."
Canon William Croft (Peterborough) noted the
recent ecumenical audit of national church institutions, and asked
whether, in future, the Synod could look forward to a "much more
prominent dimension to the report", especially with regard to the
Methodist Church of Great Britain.
Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) asked about the
Church Community Fund (CCF), for which he was "very grateful". He
noted that the CCF had recently revised its criteria, and that it
was "difficult" to get "pump-money funding" for new projects.
Adrian Vincent (Guildford) noted that the
Government was introducing regulation that meant that any church
that employed someone would have to provide a pension for them.
Could the Council provide advice to parishes on this, and perhaps
negotiate a suitable pension scheme that people could opt into?
Penelope Allen (Lichfield) noted the reference
to ecumenical links in paragraph 40 of the report, and expressed a
hope that this included recognition of ministry, both the
priesthood and diaconate, in other denominations. One difficulty
for those working on ecumenical projects was that the recognition
of ministries "becomes an issue sometimes".
She raised a second point about lay ministry. Given that many
ministers would be retiring in the next ten years, was an action
plan in place yet? She suggested that the thinking seemed to be
Linda Ali (York) spoke about the reference to
"Afro-Caribbean" people. This was "incorrect", she said, "because
we are Caribbean people of a huge number of ethnicities". Referring
to "Afro-Caribbean" meant that a "host of people" were not being
mentioned. Could the terminology be adjusted to "Caribbean and
African origin"? "We are a melting pot of different things."
In response to a question from the Bishop of Ripon &
Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, about how the Church
collected figures for attendance at school services and eu-
charists, and special events such as Remembrance services and carol
services, Andrew Britton, who chairs the Finance
Committee of the Archbishops' Council, said: "There is a lot of
interest in the way we measure church attendance and growth. It's
one of our priorities, and it is important when measur- ing
priorities to know whether you're getting close or further
He confirmed that attendance at school services was not counted,
and said that it was "very important" to look at that. "There's
quite a bit of work to do."
Professor Anthony Berry (Chester) linked
sections of the report dealing with equal opportunities in
employment and reputational risks, and asked whether a failure to
ensure compliance in the area of equal opportunities posed a risk
of reputational damage to the Archbishops' Council.
Answering, Canon Cotton stated that the National Church
Institutions "take their employment responsibilities seriously",
but emphasised that clergy terms of service - if the question was
related to the forthcoming debate on women bishops - were not a
matter for the Archbishops' Council.
The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) asked when the
Archbishops' Council had last talked about self-supporting
ministers and ministers in secular employment; and what the
Council's policy on them was.
Responding, the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven
Croft, said that the Council had last discussed this type of
ministry in response to the Morgan report; and that he expected the
Re-imagining Ministry project to raise those issues