Enabling Act centenary

13 April 2017

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What preparations are being made to mark the centenary of the Enabling Act of 1919? Will there be a celebration of the contribution of C of E lay people and the advantages of synodical government over parliamentary micro-management? Or will the carpers (because the system doesn’t deliver all that they want as soon as they want it) prevent it?


The 1919 Enabling Act brought into being the current arrangements whereby the General Synod can pass Measures that have the force and effect of an Act of Parliament, thus providing the foundation of the formal polity by which the Church of England now legislates, with bishops, clergy, and laity working together. PCC powers also derive from it.

I asked a Question about this anniversary at the February General Synod sessions, suggesting that some academic or popular resources be produced to help people understand the significance of this legislation, which affects every level of church life. I also had in mind some kind of celebratory service.

The Secretary-General, William Nye, said there were no plans. He responded, however, to a supplementary question thus: “Thank you very much for drawing it to our attention two years ahead. I confess to not having spotted it until it came up in your question. We will certainly give some thought to whether there is an appropriate way of marking this anniversary.”

I can’t imagine that anyone is trying to prevent marking this centenary, but some imaginative ways of marking it would help us all register the significance of our Anglican way of doing things — a middle way between rampant congregationalism and an over-weaning episcopate.

(Prebendary) Stephen Lynas (General Synod member)

Westhay, Glastonbury



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