THE Synod voted — with many abstentions, and only limited time for debate — against a motion calling on the Government to cancel the renewal programme for Trident. Trident asked the same questions as did the EU referendum about how Scotland viewed itself in the world and as a society, the convener of the Church in Society Committee, Professor David Atkinson (Aberdeen & Orkney), said, and there were different views about the morality of nuclear weapons and their use.
The focus of this debate was on the impact of the projected expenditure on Trident — an initial cost of £25 billion, that could rise to £167 billion. The Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, Dr Gregor Duncan, said that the problem with the motion was that it was not radical enough, and he would be not be voting in this debate. “I’m not a pacifist, but nuclear weapons are indiscriminate and so abhorrent,” he said. “Whether or not Trident is renewed, the problem is that we will still possess ones that can be used.”
He was “acutely aware that they are stored within my own diocese. That they were ever put near the largest population in Scotland is a scandal.” That many people in his diocese were employed in the industry was just one of the complexities, he said.
The need to consult with a wide number of people of differing views was acknowledged in the debate.
Support for living wage reaffirmed SUCCESSIVE General Synods have backed motions calling for the Living Wage, and this Synod reaffirmed its support for the minimum wage to be set at the level of the real living wage, and called on public authorities to ensure adequate benefit levels.
This was not a straightforward matter, however, the Bishop of Brechin, the Rt Revd Nigel Peyton, said. He is the chair of trustees of a care home in Dundee, most of whose residents were local-authority funded.
“Unless we pay that rate, the local authority will not place its clients in our home,” he said. “We estimate a rise of between six and ten per cent in the wage bill for our 55 staff. The Scottish Government has said it wishes to raise the wage to £8.25; but that is not being matched by the local authority. The Church must support the Living Wage, but we urgently need to advocate better funding for the elderly.”
He described the potential loss of residential capacity as “catastrophic” for families and care-home owners.
Bishop reports praise for training MISSION was the heartbeat of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Bishop of Argyll & the Isles, the Rt Revd Kevin Pearson, said. He told Synod members: “You can be the change you want to see.” He was happy to report that the largest community of students for a generation or more was training with the Scottish Episcopal Institute: a total of 27, which included 18 new students this autumn, five of whom were under 30.
Validation of the course by the Common Awards team from Durham University had praised “the depth of theological knowledge, understanding, and the depth of theological reflection; the excitement of academic study, and the breadth of the programme the institute offers,” the Bishop said.
Greater flexibility in the placement of curates in the province — not just in the wealthier churches, which are the only ones that can afford them — has come in the form of new curate grants to dioceses from the institute. These will help to pay stipends, employers’ contributions to the SEC Pension Fund, National Insurance contributions, housing provision, and other expenses.