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Synod: PCC rules

by
18 July 2014

DEBATE on the approval of the Church Representation Rules (Amendment) [(No. 1)] Resolution 2014, which had been adjourned in February after the Resolution was amended, resumed on Tuesday morning.

The original Resolution derived from the proposals for change from the Archbishop's Council's Simplification Group. The amendments would have had the effect of, among other things, reducing the minimum number of PCC meetings required per year to two; and replacing the requirement of giving notice at or near the principal door of the church with one about giving notice in such form as was regarded as likely to enable the electoral-roll members to discover that the meeting was to be held.

Canon Robert Cotton (Guildford) suggested that good governance was not achieved by obeying rules, but by establishing things that the rules point us towards: "Transparency, taking people with us, making sure there is good understanding, ethical behaviour." The Measure was an attempt to bring together the two approaches of gentle legality and bold spirit.

Tim Allen (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) had been critical of the legislation put before the Synod in February as "inadequately prepared". But he would support what was now before the Synod.

Ian Fletcher (West Yorkshire & the Dales) said there was uncertainty about which rules would take precedence. He disagreed with setting a minimum yearly number of PCC meetings. Better to rely on the good sense of PCCs. He told Synod to reject and improve the Measure.

The Revd Jonathan Alderton-Ford (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said that it was "wise" to reduce the number of meetings, but suggested that people needed space to "protest and ask awkward questions. Some people are not nice; some PCCs are silly; some are controlling; some of them are downright nasty."

The rule might be a "guide for wise people and a rod for fools". Some needed an archdeacon to "come along and give a poke, or people will become more and more slovenly, and things will go wrong".

There was an issue about Synod's acting in the past as a watchdog: "If we smell weakness or blood on the platform . . . we draw blood. That's not a way of doing business. We do need robust debate, but, in the end, we want to come out of the process whole, not wounded." On the whole, Synod was now "going in the right direction".

Peter Haddock (Southwark) was inclined to vote against because the current Rules had been a "great blessing to us. I don't think there is enough acceptance and acknowledgement of the role of the Charity Commission". He warned that "people with very good intent do run things in very strange ways."

In a vote by Houses, the motion to approve the Resolution was lost in the Houses of Clergy and Laity, and was lost: Bishops: 13-3-0; Clergy: 65-35-9; Laity: 57-54-6.

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