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Mixed voter turnouts in General Synod elections

01 October 2021

YouTube/Church of England

A lay member, Annika Mathews, features in the #StandforSynod film

A lay member, Annika Mathews, features in th...

HUSTINGS attendance has benefited from being largely via Zoom, but there appears to have been no rush to vote early in the elections for the General Synod.

While some groups in Liverpool have been very engaged, the wider diocese has been focused elsewhere, the assistant diocesan secretary, Canon Stuart Haynes, suggested. There were low bookings for the online hustings, but a clear picture had yet to emerge. In Lincoln, at the start of this week, 20 per cent of the electorate had voted, and the hustings had attracted good numbers.

“Thirty-seven people attended the House of Laity hustings, and 22 the clergy one. Another 25 people viewed the laity video via the website over the weekend,” the diocesan secretary, Canon David Dadswell, said.

The level of engagement in Worcester is also described as good: hustings on Zoom have been relatively well attended and a range of questions asked. Samantha Setchell, the director of communications, said: “We’ve currently had just over 20 per cent of votes cast, with ten days left.”

Canterbury reported a good turnout at both its hustings, and a voter turnout currently standing at 31.21 per cent — exceeding the target of 25 per cent at this stage. The total electorate is 503, with total votes cast so far, 157.

In Truro, there was always interest in the General Synod and its elections, the head of communications, Kelly Rowe, said. But, with Cornwall currently a higher-response area owing to the number of Covid cases after the summer influx, live hustings had not been possible: candidates’ videos had instead been posted on the diocesan website.

Online hustings in Southwell & Nottingham attracted audiences of between 20 and 30: a higher level of attendance than in 2015. “A range of questions were asked by the electorate, and candidates engaged actively to provide answers,” the CEO, Martin Cooper, said. “I would describe both meetings as fast-paced, lively, and positive.”

There was disappointingly low turnout to the virtual hustings in Exeter, but candidates had a thorough grilling there. Each had two minutes to respond to each of six questions. They were asked what radical steps were needed to address declining numbers; their view on the Methodist decision to permit same-sex marriages (News, 2 July) and its possible development in the C of E; what might encourage and support more outreach and mission to children and young families; how they saw the future of the parish system; what issues they most wanted to get involved with in the Synod; and what evidence would be visible in their own parish or place of work of the Five Marks of Mission.

The campaign group Save the Parish has 130 candidates standing, including the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, London, the Revd Marcus Walker (News, 6 August). “We have no idea at all of how [our candidates ] will do,” he said on Wednesday. “We are brand new and have nothing to measure ourselves against. We have cast our bread upon the waters.”

Inclusive Church is supporting candidates in every diocese bar Europe and Sodor & Man: a total of 113 clergy and 122 lay candidates, and double the figure in 2015. Its 11 supporting partners include Affirming Catholicism, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, Modern Church, and WATCH (Women and the Church). All these candidates have publicly signed up to the statement, “I am committed to equality for everyone, at all levels and roles within the Church, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, mental health or sexuality.”

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