Synod delays meeting till next July

23 November 2012

THE General Synod will not meet again in a formal capacity until July, after members accepted the business committee's proposal to postpone the February sitting.

The Archdeacon of Dorking, the Ven. Julian Henderson, who chairs the business committee, said that the pause would provide "time to reflect and refocus on the consequences" of the decision to reject the women-bishops legislation.

Some voices say that a February Synod would "afford the chance of a less crowded agenda, with time to consider the challenges we face as a Church, and with time to do work in groups to strengthen relationships and grow in mutual understanding", he said. "While that may seem attractive in principle, it is not practically possible here in London. There simply are not enough separate rooms available."

He said that the confirmation of the election of the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, as Archbishop of Canterbury would take place on 4 February. "If Synod meets that week, he will be in office, but only just," and would not have been enthroned.

The Archdeacon of Hackney, the Ven. Rachel Treweek, said that postponing February's group of sessions would send a message that, after rejecting women bishops, the Synod members "couldn't bear to spend time with each other for another eight months".

Timothy Allen, from St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, said that a postponement would be "negligent and complacent. . . In the eyes of most of those to whom the Anglican Communion matters", the decision to reject women bishops "wasn't grim, it was a disaster. In the eyes of the general public, and rulers in Whitehall and Westminster, the Church has lost credibility." He said that the Synod should meet.

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, supported the proposal to postpone February's meeting, saying it was becoming "increasingly toxic" to meet at Church House in Westminster. It was "utterly naïve" to think a process could be devised in ten weeks to "repair the damage".

He said that the July meeting at York provided space "where we live together, eat together, and pray together"; a real place where communion could happen.

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