THE central hall at the University of York which acts as the General Synod’s debating chamber was filled with jubilation on Saturday afternoon, not after some testing debate, but after England’s World Cup quarter-final victory over Sweden.
Seminars on topics including the House of Bishops’ teaching document on human sexuality were moved so that delegates could watch the match on a large screen.
Shortly after the final whistle, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, tweeted: “Team England you have done it and we gladly rejoice! Rest well and know that you are in our prayers! Peace to you all!”
Dr Sentamu had been in and out of the central hall, but present throughout was the Archbishop of Canterbury, who posed for selfies with Synod members at half-time.
Also watching were the Bishops of Bath & Wells, Guildford, Carlisle, Birmingham, Willesden, Salisbury, Stockport, and Southampton, the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of South East Asia, the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, and the First Church Estates Commissioner, Loretta Minghella.
The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, who is a keen football fan, shouted “Close them down!” at the England defenders in the nervous moments late in the game.
It was unlike a usual football crowd. Synod members clapped politely after a good bit of play by England, and laughed at jokes by the commentators. When Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli were subbed off in the game, both received an ovation from the large audience.
At the end of England’s 2-0 win over Sweden, which means that they play Croatia on Wednesday evening, Dr Sentamu led chants of “Engerland”, and danced with joy.
Before the game, Dr Sentamu was in a hopeful mood. He tweeted: “TEAM ENGLAND it’s your time to shine! Please play the beautiful game as a TEAM: Together Each Achieves More! Take Risks! In Chinese, risk has 2 word pictures: Opportunity and Danger! Please Exploit the inevitable, Pace, Composure and Attacking Football: Go 4 IT.”
No one we spoke to could recall a previous occasion when Synod sessions had been re-timetabled to avoid clashing with a sporting event.
Read a report of every General Synod presentation and debate from York 2018, here