What else the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod did

16 June 2017

SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Standing Committee

THE convener of the Standing Committee, Robert Gordon, gave an overview of the financial context and investment priorities. “We face decline, but that has to be set against continuation and growth, leading to an increasing number of ordinands to give fresh blood to the Church,” he said.

A continuing focus on mission; planning for retirement, and new ordinands and curates; and an examination of the “machinery of governance” to see what was affordable for sustainable growth, was needed, he said.

The Scottish Episcopal Church had had a turnover of £22.5 million in 2015, and its generated resources were seven per cent: £1.6 million. Two-thirds of income came from investment, and one third from quota. The main expenditure went on salaries (25 per cent of £2­­ million expenditure last year). Three per cent of expenditure on support and advice given to dio­ceses was spent on grants for bishops and deans; three per cent was spent on building grants; and 15 per cent on mission support grants.

The Standing Committee was not “wilfully malicious or incom­petent”, he said. The investment yield was better than forecast, and the building grants came to £56,000 against the £126,000 available through grants. “We will spend it in the years ahead; it is not being poured away.” Other areas that were under bud­get included the com­mun­ica­­tions board.

The committee underspent by £155,000 in total, Mr Gordon said. There would be spending on the Scottish Episcopal Institute, and consideration would be given to pushing more into ministry and support grants. Other consider­ations included an evaluation of the pensions fund.

He referred the Synod to the level of support for curate funding, where, he said, there was a lack of clarity on the percentage of stipend being offered.

There was room for negotiation, Mr Gordon said. Because appropri­ate places were needed in which to place curates, the Committee needed to consider affordability.

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The Very Revd Andrew Swift (Argyll & The Isles) said that the Synod needed to be brave and take risks. The habit of underspending, in case there was a problem ahead, had been the case in previous Synods, he said. Receiving grants from a central point increased confidence in the dioceses. “I hope we do not starve the weak dioceses
. . . It is encouraging that 75- or 100-per-cent charges are being talked about, but the self-confidence this gives is invaluable.”

Mr Gordon agreed but said that the block grant structure, which had been maintained, put the decision making to the dioceses. The investments of dioceses were being renewed, particularly in areas which had the potential to grow.

 

Safeguarding

THE Standing Committee for the protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults said that a great awareness was needed on safeguarding procedure to avoid serious consequences

Chris Townsend, a member of the safeguarding committee, said that it had been a busy year for the committee. A greater awareness of safeguarding was needed on all levels; there could be serious consequences otherwise. “It is not an add-on.”

Safeguarding was the responsibility of the vestry. The level of knowledge would be increased by greater attendance at safeguarding training sessions. The committee was putting together web resources for those who could not attend.

The risk of harm and abuse in church would never be eliminated. “To do this, we need to work as a whole Church. Safeguarding concerns must be reported immediately; no one should try to struggle on by themselves and make a serious situation worse.” Incomplete returns made it difficult for the Church to know where it was; therefore, the committee was issuing a safeguarding audit to the dioceses, and recommendations for improvement.

The Revd Peter Harris (Edinburgh) asked how many training sessions had taken place in the past year. The feeling locally would be that there needed to be more.

Mr Townsend said that there had been five sessions across the Church. Some sessions had to be postponed and rearranged.

 

Ecumenical relations

THE Synod approved a motion to apply for membership of the Conference of European Churches, after being urged not to forget its place in the wider ecumenical community.

The Chair of the Synod of the Methodist Church in Scotland, and of the Shetland Methodist District, the Revd Most Revd David P. Easton, thanked the Synod for its welcome and hospitality, and for allowing the Methodist Church to be present, particularly for the debate on sexuality. If the Synod were setting questions for an ecumenical pub quiz, it might include what the words around the symbols on the shield of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) were: “Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order”.

The Primus, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, talked of “radical orthodoxy”, which said something about what was important, and the bigger picture: the debate was part of that. “Let us not forget that we are part of a wider community, particularly in light of the election. We are going to be living in uncertain times, and in Scotland we are living in a changed and changing landscape. The vote yesterday was part of that, recognising issues beyond the walls of the Church.” He wished Bishop David well on his retirement.

Canon John McLuckie, the convener of the Inter-Church Relations Committee, said that ecumenism was changing, and that the Church and its bodies needed to find a new, relational work, rooted in “profound spirituality” of unity and dialogue. A commitment to the SEC’s church partners meant that a commitment to shared mission could be reviewed. It needed grass-roots co-operation and theological discussion. This was also the case in the Conference of European Churches, which had reset its priorities. He proposed the motion

The Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, the Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, said that he had been involved in the decision to withdraw eight years ago, which had been the right decision at the time, but now the time was right again. This strategy might be effective in other areas.

Canon McLuckie said that there was a major review under way on ACTS (Action of Churches Together in Scotland), and, while he recognised the point, it might not be the time.

The motion was carried.

The Synod went on to approved a proposal for synods of spring 2017 regarding the Episcopal, Methodist, United Reformed (EMU) Partnership.

Canon McLuckie, moving the motion, said: “It is a chance to refocus the senior partnership, and where we focus our energy in that partnership.” Margaret Kieran (Edinburgh) said that she was delighted by the motion, as she had shared in many events.

Canon McLuckie said that he fully supported the motion, but that the conversation and history of ecumenical partnership was not easy. He had been sceptical about EMU [Scottish Episcopal, Methodist in Scotland, and United Reformed Churches in Scotland] group meetings at first, but had come to appreciate the difference that it made. “People still look at me blankly when I talk about EMU: we need to do more at grass-roots level to raise awareness. . . It needs to be more than a declaration on paper; more than words.”

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The Revd Mitchell Bunting (United Reformed Church) said that the partnership had played a significant part in his ministry. “It is a living reality, the recent Assembly of the Confederation of Scotland; so it could become ECUM. It will be an open reflection.”

 

Lay representatives

BISHOP STRANGE proposed a second reading of a revised Canon 63, S.3, “Of the Office of Lay Representative”. The changes were very simple, he said, but had been brought because a significant number of lay representatives were not part of the vestry process; they needed pastoral and legal support.

Howard Thompson (Edinburgh) was in favour, but said that the motion needed to go further. The canon stated only how you got elected, not what the rights and responsibilities were, once you were elected. This was the sixth year that he had been elected to the diocesan synod, he said, but he had not known what he was doing at first.

Most years, the Synod went without major contested issues, but some years there were emotional and sensitive issues to debate. “If your congregation attempt to persuade or put pressure on you, there is no guidance on what to do, and it is hard to resist that pressure; to say that it is the conscience of the Synod member.”

Dr Anthony Birch (St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane) said that he had no objection to increasing the size of vestries, but wondered about the involvement of alternates.

The Revd Peter Harris (Edinburgh) agreed with Mr Thompson, and asked for clarity on what clerics should do if their lay representative voted differently.

The Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, the Rt Revd Mark Strange, agreed. There was a process, he said, and he urged members to write down their concerns, and submit them to the Faith and Order Board, to be handed down to the Canons Committee. “That is a separate process.”

Dr Beth Routledge (Glasgow & Galloway) wanted to clarify whether the motion was referring to lay representatives of the diocesan synods, or the General Synod. Bishop Strange said that the motion was to do with the vestry and diocesan synod, not the General Synod.

A two-thirds majority was required, and achieved.

 

Communications

INSPIRES, the magazine of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has been discontinued amid radical changes to the communications committee to ensure its sustainability and online reach.

The Revd Christopher Mayo, the convener of the Information and Communication Board, thanked the Synod for its hard work, particularly the director of communications, Lorna Finley. “It has been a year of endings, beginnings, and new possibilities,” he said. “Our approach to communications will be missional, with stronger and wider ties to media channels, recognising that we live in a world of professional communications, and democratised access.”

Targeted resources and skilled communicators were needed to serve the community, and on an international stage, he said; and there had been a significant gap in the Church’s social-media provision — “never through lack of content, but capacity”. Aiden Strange had been appointed as digital communications co-ordinator as part of that change.

Mr Mayo said that it was with regret that the magazine Inspires had been discontinued. A new website, pisky.scot, had been launched, however.

He finished by introducing a welcome video, to feature on the new site, commissioned by the board, and created and produced professionally, “to capture the flavour of the breadth of life” in the Church. It was an opportunity for the Church’s mission to be laid bare, and would be open to all to offer content, although it would be moderated.

The Revd Lesley-Ann Craddock (Glasgow) was sad about the closure of Inspires. She enjoyed social media, she said, but her congregation would miss the magazine, particularly those who did not have access to the internet. She warned not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Canon Dominic Ind (St Andrews) said that it had been right to fold Inspires, and praised the video for capturing the “essence” of the Church.

Dr Beth Routledge (Glasgow & Galloway) said that there were exciting times ahead, but that this was a good time to acknowledge the “strong foundations” that the committee was working on.

Ruth Warmer (St Andrews) supported the concern over distributing the work of the Church to the disadvantaged. She regretted that Inspires had closed, and asked whether there was another way to bring the disadvantaged into the life of the Church.

Grant Swain (Moray, Ross & Caithness) asked whether closing down what was not economically viable would be repeated for small parishes. Mr Mayo said that it was more a question of a lack human resources to sustain the magazine.

 

Mission

PRESENTING a report from the Church’s Mission Board, the Revd Jane Ross (Glasgow & Galloway) said that the board would focus on intentional discipleship, and the call back to this effective mission from the Anglican Communion. The Scottish Church Census was a more pressing matter to acknowledge, and the mission and ministry policy was to be revised accordingly.

A block-grant review panel had been formed, but had expressed no concern regarding the distribution of funds, she said. Information would be circulated to the dioceses to develop further strategies for mission. She highlighted two observations: some decisions seemed to have be driven by lack of money rather than vision; and clerics provided strong leadership. Therefore, the block grants to support them were welcome.

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She gave examples of local mission initiatives in the six dioceses: cafés, mission centres, discipleship programmes, foodbanks and meals on wheels, child-friendly churches, and support for the seafarers on the Clyde — all of which had inspired callings to ministry. “Mission projects do not have to be large-scale,” she said.

A promotional video was shown about a mission pub in Moray.

Referring to the report, Ms Ross said that growth and decline in mission were often forgotten, but that the board hoped to create imaginative ways of mission and “dare” to fund them. Spending had moderated decline, she said.

She pointed to trends of church membership in Scotland: there had been steady decline in all church attendance from 1980 to 2015, but this was mainly data from the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church. The independent churches had increased; and the SEC had “an increasing share of a declining market”.

Communicants in the SEC had declined by about 30 per cent from 1980 to 2006, or by 450 per year, but this increased in the decade to 2015. Communicants per charge between 2006 and 2015 had reduced by 17 per cent.

“We need to be realistic about these figures,” she said. “How will these affect membership, and how we do mission?”

Provost Holdsworth said that, while it was helpful to match the numbers with the stories, periods of church growth mainly increased through church-planting. Smaller missions did not contribute in the same way, he said. “How can the Church own and work with that truth?” A new charge needed only 30 members, and this should be promoted, he concluded.

Canon Malcolm Round (Edinburgh) said that it was hard to look at the statistics, and asked why the communicant statistics had been chosen and not the snapshot of Sunday attendance.

Dr Burch said that ages did not appear; perhaps the Churches were not dying out as fast as ages would lead them to believe. Was this hidden good news, he asked.

The Revd Kirsten Freeman (Glasgow & Galloway) asked whether the board had looked at where the new housing was being planted in Scotland, most of which was separate from established churches.

Victoria Stock (Edinburgh) wondered how much collaboration there was between the mission board and communications board.

Ms Ross said that there was collaboration, and it was a useful link that would be strengthened. New housing was something to think about, as well as church-planting, which required bravery. The statistics did not measure much of what happened in the Church; so other successes had been measured.

 

Environment and social issues

THE Synod committed the Church to a resolution on climate change and investment.

Introducing the debate, the Revd Professor David Atkinson, convener of the Church in Society Committee, said that its report had dealt mostly with environmental issues. Most people identified with issues associated with the man-made part of global climate-change, but how it affected the Church’s investment policies was different, he said. Climate change affected all investments. The board’s report was a practical way of addressing this challenge, by engaging with companies and people.

The convener of the Investment Committee, Adrian Tupper, said that all dioceses held stakes in the Unit Trust Pool (UTP), and that its value totalled £66.5 million, which was invested by an investment manager. Investing in financial markets had risks, but, given the long-term nature of the UTP, these could be managed, he assured the Synod, and the benchmark for return had been surpassed for several years. About 35 per cent of UTP funds was managed directly, and where ethical investment decisions were made.

Of all investment sectors, half were “screened out” by the Church, including tobacco, weapons, gambling, and pornography. “We do not think it is ethically Christian to share in these profits,” he said. Companies did not benefit from buying or selling shares, therefore shareholder activism was the only way to engage.

Dr Donald Bruce, a member of the committee, reiterated the seriousness of climate change, and the physical and chemical balance of the planet, which would continue have an “alarming” effect worldwide. It had already had “immense effects” on people and communities, particularly those with the least resources, the poorest, and the most vulnerable. “We cannot continue business as usual with energy, transport, and lifestyle: we must have a significant change to radically reduce the burning of fossil fuels,” he said.

The Paris agreement had committed countries, but “we should all become eco-communities, year on year” he said. “Unless we do something, our investments are meaningless.” The question whether the Church should divest in tobacco and gambling had a “Yes or no” answer; fossil fuels, because they were an “invaluable” raw material of many uses, did not.

The Church was too small alone, but it had joined the international investors group on climate change, which had £17 billion in assets, and which could monitor companies’ carbon emissions, and intervene. This had led to the divestment of Shell, BP, and, more recently, Exxonmobil, and represented a change from investment as “business as usual” to ethical issues’ being “embedded” into standard practice.

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Motion 12 recognised that all were involved, and offered a series of specific proposals, Dr Atkinson said. It was proposed by Bishop Armes, and seconded by Dr John Ferguson-Smith, the Convener of the Administration Board.

Alan Werritty (St Andrews) congratulated the committee on the “realistic” report, but suggested that scrutiny could also have been given to smaller portfolios. “This is unfinished business,” he said, before pointing to the precedent set by the Christian Aid campaign Big Shift, which urged Christians to write to the big banks on the subject.

The Revd William J. Shaw (Edinburgh) said that fossil fuels were particularly important in his parish, and that other climate-change issues, such as fracking, should be addressed. “Could this information be given in short form to congregations,” he asked, “so that they know what they are investing in?”

The Revd Kirstin Freeman (Glasgow & Galloway) agreed that fracking should be taken seriously. An area of her parish had caved into an old mining pit; so the problems were various. She pointed out that, for most congregations, it was difficult to borrow from outside sources to achieve low-carbon-emission lifestyles.

Jim Gibson (Glasgow & Galloway) commended the report, and asked whether the motion would be followed by an annual report.

The Bishop of Brechin, Dr Nigel Peyton, asked whether any of the pooled funds were being ethically screened.

Mr Tupper said that, under the current rules, the UTP pool funds could invest in unethical ventures, but they were so small that the difference made would be fractional.

Dr Atkinson noted the points raised, and asked whether the speakers could correspond in writing so that the concerns could be followed up by the committee.

Motion 12 was carried. It states:

 

That this Synod, conscious of its responsibilities as a Christian Church
(a) Calls on all members, congregations and Dioceses to develop approaches consistent with a low carbon economy;
(b) Encourages the Church in Society and Investment Committees to work with and as part of the Church Investors Group as a means of informing and setting the Scottish Episcopal Church’s policy on investment in an era of climate change and helping small investors to implement such policies;
(c) Seeks to follow the example of other churches by restricting its direct investments in companies deriving over 10% of their revenues from the extraction of thermal coal or tar sands;

(d) Asks for an annual meeting with the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Investment Managers, currently Baillie Gifford, at which the means of agreeing any limits to investments in companies with a poor environmental profile and encouraging the use of targets and processes suggested by the Church Investors Group might be discussed;
(e) Seeks to put in place a mechanism, which would allow the policy of the Church Investors Group on voting at company meetings, to be put into effect;
(f) Encourages the Scottish Episcopal Church Pension Fund Trustees to follow similar approaches.

 

Ethical issues

DR ATKINS then moved a take-note motion proposals that arose after the report had been submitted, such as organ donation. The committee was in consultation with the Government over an “opt-out” system, which had raised practical and theological concerns. Organ donation was a gift, he said, whereas an opt-out system suggested expectation, and presumed consent.

“If an individual is valued by the organs they contain rather than the person, they are being considered in the context of death and age,” he said. Concerns were also expressed about whether the Government and the NHS had the operating system needed to run the system. The Church should provide guidance in this area, he concluded.

Dr Donald Bruce, a committee member, said that the the debate of the 1990s centred around the ethics of genetic modification. While that was good work, advances had been made that allowed precise changes to the human genome to be made, and that had opened up a whole new area of ethical debate. Regulation would be hugely important; there were now “very serious issues” to consider, including the effect on future generations; experimental babies; three-parent babies; and “unpredictable and untreatable” consequences of manipulating mitochondrial DNA.

Canon Kathy Collins (Moray, Ross & Caithness), who had been a senior hospital chaplain in Wales when the opt-out system of organ donation had been adopted, said that she was disappointed by the concerns raised. “Opt in or opt out, we still have the choice of whether to give the gift of life.” The conversation over organ donation was more important than the legislation, she said, and should not start in the hospital, but in schools, churches, and families.

Dr Routledge drew on her background as a physician in biomedical science to give practical examples of the technique of genome editing.

The motion to take note was carried.

 

Training

INTRODUCING presentations from the Institute Council and the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Argyll & the Isles, the Rt Revd Kevin Pearson, who is also the Convener of the Institute Council, said: “Evangelical truth and apostolic zing is our motto, and mission is the heartbeat of our Church, which is the pacemaker.”

Canon Anne Tomlinson said that the Scottish Episcopal Institute (SEI) had refocused its training courses to be responsive, “focused on formation of knowledge, character, skills, and virtues”. There would be more candidates joining the Durham context-based training-course who were below the age of 45 than above, in September. This, she said, would bring new challenges, excitements, and demands.

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Some candidates had existing degrees, but others were now studying theology full-time. Its placement programme allowed students in the central belt of Scotland to train with the community in shopping centres, arts facilities, and royal depots, as well as placements outside the UK. “It would be good to see equal growth in licensed lay ministry, and well-trained theological lay leaders.”

The SEI was offering modules to any interested persons, not just authorised ministry, Professor David Jasper (Glasgow) explained, and they were available live on Skype. The SEC had ministerial experience, theology, and liturgy to share, he said, and the new journal “invites dialogue on what it means to be an Episcopalian in the 21st century, as a catalyst for prayer, thought, and reflection”. He mentioned the website www.scotland.anglican.org. “It is our hope to continue to be a resource for the wider Church, and whet theological appetite.”

A context-based training pathway was being set up, Dr Tomlinson said. “Our existing course places emphasis on field modules and reflective practice. Many desire to train with an ‘on the job’ emphasis: four days on a primary church placement, and two dedicated to academic work.” This placement would be financially supported.

Canon Dave Richards (Edinburgh) explained that the context was changing in a post-Christian, post-Christendom Scotland, and previous methods would not equip clerics of the future. “We value a 17th-century liturgy, but we are not a 17th-century Church,” he said. “The world has changed, and, therefore, the way in which we train must change, so ordinands can adapt.” The new course has been modelled on that of St Mellitus, in London, although no partnership had been formed, as had first been hoped.

“It might be appealing for congregations who might not be able to afford a curate, but who could afford an ordinand,” he said, although there was a “tension” over whether incumbents would be thought of as “cheap labour”.

The bar had been raised on selection, Dr Bruce said, but there was a shortage of priests to serve the smaller charges. He also suggested that leniency might be needed for the selection of rectors and Readers, to increase numbers.

Kennedy Fraser (Glasgow & Galloway) was disappointed that the statistics for Readers were not shown, and questioned whether the small uptake of lay leaders was to do with an uptake of worship leaders.

Colin Sibley (Argyll & The Isles) was disappointed to see an invitation to join the Friends of the SEI, and donate, on a bookmark handed out at Synod, suggesting that it was being “funded on a shoestring” rather than from central funds.

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The Revd Ken Webb (Edinburgh) was encouraged by context-based training, and said that the key to its success must be in the quality of training incumbents.

A final-year curate, the Revd Diana Hall (St Andrews), thanked the SEI for their “hard graft” in changing training, and said that she was excited by the developments.

Responding to the speakers, Bishop Pearson said that avoiding academic training led to a lack of resilience in incumbents, and the Church needed people to lead for a long time. Lay leaders needed to turn up to the training being offered. Figures showed that the SEI had recruited one lay leader this year.

“Historically, our Church ignored lay leadership, and we are only rediscovering what a resource it is; the training being offered is very extensive,” he said. The SEI was aware of the tendency to train incumbents in wealthier parishes, and was trying to move away from this; but this required “fresh money” for housing and expenses, hence the creation of the Friends of SEI. “We need 50p extra every week, from every member of our Church, to fund training programmes and future curates.”

 

Farewells

THE Synod said farewell to the retiring Primus, and to the Bishop of Brechin, Dr Nigel Peyton.

The Primus, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, paid tribute to the Bishop of Brechin, Dr Nigel Peyton, on his retirement. Dr Peyton had agreed to lead the “cascade process”, resulting in the revision of Canon 31, and had “patiently, quietly, and steadily” built an infrastructure for ministry in the long term. His development of the Church Army Mission, which had been praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, had crossed into the ministry of the cathedral. “Those things do not happen by accident, but by imagination and leadership,” Bishop Chillingworth said, before wishing the Bishop and his family well in his retirement.

Addressing the Primus’s own retirement later this month, Bishop Strange said that it had been difficult to know where to start, except for the phrase “When I was working in Northern Ireland” — so often spoken by Bishop Chillingworth. His tales of eccentric Irish relatives had allowed the bishops to get through Faith and Order meetings “with a degree of joy”, he joked.

The Primus had continued to ask all the right questions, and his ability to network across Scotland and the Anglican Communion had been “amazing to watch”, while at all times working on his vision for his Church. “It has, at times, been difficult for the rest of us, at first, as he huffed and puffed, saying that it was obvious, because he lived and breathed this vision,” Bishop Strange said.

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And not everything had been plain sailing, not least the Columba Declaration, and argumentative bishops and vestries. Remembering his Irish smile and mischievous look, Bishop Strange finished by thanking the Primus for his “remarkable service”, for which the Synod stood to applause.

Bishop Chillingworth responded that, while Scotland had been good to Ireland, a part of him would never get over the shock of finding himself in Scotland, which was now his home, and that of his extended family. “I have had the most wonderful working relationships of my whole life here,” he said. “There has been a wonderful balance of political leadership, and the stability and utter faithfulness of provincial administration.”

He reassured any Synod members who were concerned by the number of pastoral vacancies that the Church had had stability, out of which had come a rich ecclesiology: mission policy, the SEI, and the acceptance of same-sex marriage. “Only a period of stability allows you to do that,” he said.

 

Doctrine and liturgy

NEW rites for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter had drafted by the liturgy committee.

Dr John Davies, the convener of the Liturgy Committee, said that the new pastoral offices had been given the approval of the Bishops, and that new booklets accounted for the large overspend. The main business of the year had been the drafting of new rites for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, which were to be presented at the end of August. All feedback to the committee was welcome. The committee had also decided against the continuation of a trial period of the 1920 Prayer of Consecration.

The doctrine committee was being reformed, Professor David Jasper (Glasgow) said. He introduced the latest essay, and apologised that Dr Harriet Harris was unable to complete it before her resignation. It suggested that society was facing a “pandemic of loneliness”, contributing to poor mental well-being, and social distrust, “affected by fear-mongering hate-crime and other acts of violence”. The plan was to commission another essay on the theology and the part played by the Bishops, and a more outward-looking document on the “nature of truth in post-truth world”, besides working with other committees on Holy Week and Easter liturgy.

 

Pensions

PENSION investments had had an “unusually” good year, but there might be trouble ahead, the Synod heard.

Presenting the Pension Fund Trustees’ report, their chairman, Richard MacIndoe, said that member pensions totalled about £2.2 million, which was normal. More unusual was the investment side, which had a market value of £6.8 million. It had been an unexpectedly good year, driven, ironically, by Brexit: the fall in sterling, and the rising value of UK equity investment. Investors had bought bonds in their uncertainty, pushing the price up.

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The sting in the tail was the investment strategy for growth (1.7 per cent), which usually did better than low-risk investments such as bonds. Funds for liability had, therefore, increased by £6 million, which was good for assets; but this was not a windfall, because future growth might be more limited. “If return from investments reduces benefits, the pressure is on employer contributions if investments go down,” he said. “Six months is a long time; there may be trouble ahead.”

Bishop Armes asked whether the pension fund had an ethical fund policy. Mr MacIndoe responded that this kind of policy could not be implemented on pooled funds, as the pension fund existed only to pay liabilities.

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