THE draft women-bishops Measure was by
no means the only item of business on the Synod's agenda during its
meeting in York.
Last summer's riots, Fresh
Expressions, and Christianity in public life were among the other
issues debated by members in the University of York's Central
On Sunday afternoon, the Synod debated
a report, Testing the Bridges (
News, 22 June), on the Church's response to the disturbances
that broke out last summer (
News, 12 August).
The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt
Revd Peter Price, opening the debate, said: "The tragedy of our
times is that we have a large population of young people who are
desperate to escape from the constrained lives to which they seem
to be condemned. Where hope has been killed off, and with no
prospect of escape, is it surprising that their energies erupt in
anti-social and violent actions?"
Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) said
that the aftermath of the riots had brought new opportunities for
community work and mission. "The main lesson of the disturbances
has been about resurrection, the God who brings good out of evil,"
The Synod also turned its mind to
instances of the supposed marginalisation of Christians in society.
The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough) moved a Private Member's
Motion urging Christians to "manifest" their faith in public
Mr Trott said that there were "very
determined attempts" to "drive the Church out of the public
square". Christians were not, he suggested, permitted to "manifest
our faith" or "live and work according to our conscience" for fear
of being branded "discriminatory". He gave as an example the
stripping of Christian symbols from hospital chapels.
Some Synod members expressed
scepticism about the motion, among them the Archdeacon of Norwich,
the Ven. Jan McFarlane, who said: "Looking to the structures to
defend us, complaining that we're being side-lined, frankly isn't
very attractive. It is unlikely to win us many supporters."
Nevertheless, the motion was carried
convincingly, by 263 to 25, with 52 recorded abstentions.
The Church's response to the
Government's consultation on gay marriage (
News, 15 June) came under close scrutiny during Questions on
Friday evening. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that he was aware
that many in the Church had been dismayed by the statement, but
said that "it remains the case that we are as the Church of England
bound by the law which governs us." The Government's consultation
paper had been "deeply flawed" in regard to the legal position of
the Church of England and of its clergy, and the "fundamental legal
issues" raised by it would not go away.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John
Pritchard, told the Synod, during a debate on church schools, that
"for the long-term good of the Church of England, nothing is of
greater importance than how we respond to the Chadwick report" (
News, 23 March).
The Bishop also warned that "the days
of equivocation are over. . . Church schools are under suspicion or
attack in many corners of society," from the House of Lords to the
Accord Coalition. The response must not be defensive, "but
confidently on the front foot". The "spiritual core" of schools
must be in evidence.
During a debate on Fresh Expressions
on Saturday evening, attention was drawn to the criticisms made of
the movement in recent years. Nevertheless, the Synod endorsed
Fresh Expressions congregations as "authentic manifestations of
Farewells to Dr Williams were on the
agenda, but were postponed until November, when the Synod will meet
to vote on the draft women-bishops Measure. The Synod did say
farewell, however, to the Synod's senior stenographer, Margaret
Stevenson, who was retiring after 29 years' service.
The General Synod
Church Times special report