A LAST-MINUTE scramble means that lay people who have been shielding during the pandemic, or who attend churches where communion has been suspended or restricted, will still be able to stand for election to the General Synod.
On Sunday, at one of the last sessions of the present Synod, members were alerted to a small clause in the legislation that governs who can stand in this summer’s elections for the next five-year Synod: Rule 50 of the Church Representation Rules (House of Laity: qualifications for election), paragraph (2). This referred to the requirement that any lay person seeking to stand for election to the next Synod must have received holy communion on at least three occasions in the 12 months to 12 July.
Jamie Harrison (Durham), chair of the House of Laity, asked the Synod to accept an amendment that took into account the extraordinary restrictions caused by the coronavirus. Sam Margrave (Coventry) said that he had just managed his third communion thanks to a midweek visit by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet. Other members said that they would be unable to stand again were the rule not changed.
Mr Harrison’s amendment added the clause: “and the person is to be treated as meeting the first condition for the purposes of these Rules if the person would have met it but for matters connected with coronavirus (within the meaning of the Coronavirus Act 2020)”.
Synod voted 273 in favour of the amendment, 11 against, with seven abstentions.
The Rules will be laid before both House of Parliament on Wednesday and, barring objections, come into force on Thursday.