Cutting red tape to the quick

Simplification

STEFANO CAGNONI

All about mission: the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent

All about mission: the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent

THE General Synod has welcomed the proposals in the report Simplification.

On Wednesday afternoon, moving the motion to support the work of his task group, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent (Southern Suffragans), joked that he had "simplified the Synod", after many members left the chamber at the end of the previous debate.

His report was not about "deregulation", but was "all about mission: mission, mission, mission", he said.

"We went to the dioceses, and they said there is a real problem about mission. Mission wasn't working . . . and there are big blockages about mission and growth that we need to tackle."

He gave an undertaking that "if you give us the mandate to take this further we will consult with those who have no power - the parishes.

"The reality is that we can't do everything. What you have before you is those that got the biggest votes from the dioceses as causing the biggest blockages. . ."

The proposals included some "ill-formed ideas", because he wanted the Synod to say whether they felt it was worth devoting considerable time to tackling these.

Canon Jonathan Alderton-Ford (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said that all the different reports from many denominations showed that church-planting was the most effective method of church growth, providing "growth at both ends".

But, he said, as in nature, plants that were transplanted too soon would become diseased and die. Church-plants could suffer from too little support or from too much interference. He called for "less bureaucracy and more pastoring".

Peter Bruinvels (Guildford) said that he welcomed the "light-touch" approach. He also said that holding hearings in public was helpful.

The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough) noted that much of canon law and the Church's structure came from the Normans, whereas the Anglo-Saxons had a missionary rather than pastoral model. He urged radical action to resolve the current situation.

Timothy Allen (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said that Bishop Broadbent's axe was actually aimed largely at more recent legislation rather than ancient laws. "In contrast, the proposal from the cathedral deans to abolish the confirmation-of-election ceremony for bishops by amending the 1533 Act was turned down as too innovative. . . Don't throw out the good with the bad," he warned.

Moving his amendment, the Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) raised concerns about proposals concerning the compensation for clergy for loss of office after pastoral reorganisation. He warned that they would be "thrown on the scrapheap".

Bishop Broadbent emphasised that the proposals would all be subject to synodical debate later.

The amendment was lost.

Cllr Robin Lunn (Worcester) praised the report, and urged members to look at it whole rather than quibble over individual proposals.

Canon David Banting (Chelmsford) praised the Bishop's Missions Orders, which had helped his own church in planting. He also urged that patronage bodies be consulted.

The Revd Christopher Hobbs (London) said that an agreement had been made with people who had lifetime freehold.

The resolution was clearly carried. It said:

That this Synod, welcoming the proposals in GS1980 and noting the support that the Archbishops' Council, the Church Commissioners and the House of Bishops have given them, invite the Archbishops' Council and the Business Committee, in the light of any comments from dioceses and others, to bring the necessary amending legislation to the Synod for more detailed scrutiny.

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