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Synod: Archbishops’ Council

18 July 2014

AN ELECTED member of the Archbishops' Council, Canon Robert Cotton (Guildford), presented the Council's annual report. The Council had given "a lot of attention" to "tending relationships" between itself and the House of Bishops, and the Church Commissioners; and "increasingly between the Council and General Synod", which he described as "a collection of local people actively rooted in communities of holiness".

The Revd Christopher Hobbs (London) asked why the report on the christenings and funerals project used the word christening rather than baptism; he said that this was "unhelpful".

In response, Philip Fletcher (Archbishops' Council), who chairs the Mission and Public Affairs Council, said that the word was used because "that is where people are."

Mr Hobbs also asked how theC of E was helping to reshape Churches Together in England (CTE) to make it "sharper and more effective", other than by reducing their funding.

Mr Fletcher said that the C of E was encouraging the organisation "in the direction it wants to go. It knows it wants to sharpen its processes, and is getting on with that."

Gavin Oldham (Oxford) asked about the "extraordinary" position that people being trained for ordination did not have to undergo any mandatory training in any form on working with children and young people.

Mary Chapman (Archbishops' Council) said that the Church "can't make it mandatory, because the syllabi are controlled by the education institutions". A working party was currently looking at how the C of E could make training in safeguarding issues compulsory.

Susan Cooper (London) asked about lay ministry.

Mrs Chapman said "a lot of work is going on. . . Lay ministry is not something determined centrally or nationally."

Adrian Greenwood (Southwark) said that, of the three quinquennial goals, "reimagining ministry" had seen the least progress, partly because of over-clericalism in the Church. He asked: "Is that hindering the release and empowerment the development of the gifts of all baptised believers?"

Canon Cotton answered that an enormous amount had been achieved on reimagining ministry, but a lot more needed to do be done.

The Revd Amanda Fairclough (Liverpool) asked whether the report would be disseminated to all those who were in licensed ministry.

Paul Hancock (Liverpool) wanted clarification about the pensions costs "specific to the Archbishops' Council", which were said to require additional contributions up to 2016.

Margaret Condick (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) referred to plans to publish the remaining volumes of the Pilgrim course. The course had been "excellent", but needed to be more readable, particularly for those with fading eyesight.

Mr Fletcher said that the readability of the course materials would be discussed with Church House Publishing.

Canon Cotton sought to explain mission funding. Most was distributed by formula to dioceses. But the second part, starting this year, had been distributed in response to bids from dioceses. So far, ten of the poorest dioceses had been given the first opportunity to to bid, and five "substantial" grants of £500,000 to £1 million had been granted to support mission strategies.

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