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Tuesday, 14 February 2006

And finally... from February 06 General Synod

Thank you, if you have been following my musings and meanderings over this month's CofE General Synod February meetings. They are listed below, and as with most blogs, in reverse order, so you might want to start reading from the bottom in the February Archive on the right.

Most of the official documentation of synod is now available from the official CofE site, and the other source with useful ongoing information is Thinking Anglicans. A CofE RSS must!

So what of the reflections over last weeks sessions?

There was a lot of debating on Women in the Episcopate! Then Synod should not be approaching such a decision lightly, - so good. I was very surprised - and much filled with hope too - at the final vote being all but unanimous. That vote was not, of course, a vote in favour of women bishops in the CofE, yet, but was a vote we should proceed in that direction, making adequate provision for those opposed. For me, going forward as a church that is able hold both those for and those unable to accept the ministry of women bishops, is very important; if we are able.

Would I vote against women bishops if it threatened a split in the CofE? If there was a real, inclusive, working solution pending in the short/medium-term, I would be prepared to wait a bit, and vote against. But if it is all basically a stalling tactic; ‘wait, but actually we never want it, and will never accept it’: then adding together most of the other arguments (theological, historical, reasoned, etc), and, as there are a number of Anglican provinces already with women bishops, I think I would vote for.

Other reflections from this Synod? I loved the diversity of the people. I made a point of sitting in different parts of the chamber, and if possible with some new member or another. (So far I have managed to do so withoufrighteningng most other members off!) With someone you have not met before there is that frisson of wondering whether they are on the women bishops scale, or the gay clergy scale, or indeed any other scale you could mention.

The other diversity I enjoyed more than I had expected, was the diversity of some of the debates that, at first glance - well, ok, hit the boring pile. Time and again - with the slightly obsessional way of not wanting to miss anything exciting in the chamber that keeps a new boy there to bladder bursting point - I found I had stumbled across a debate with valuable things to teach me, relating to the wider church, and probably a parish/individuagovernmentnt near you.

I was also struck at hosometimeses the outside impression of what went on, and what really went on, could sometimes be so different. Take, for instance the ‘Caterpillar Inc.’ debate. Well, actually, it was a debate on Ethical Investment, with a few additional riders added in a following motion. The way it was reported, one would have thought the motion was decidedly anti Jewish - which it was not, as I for one would have no truck - sorry - with any such angle. Being pro-Palestinian Christian does not automatically mean that the Synod is therefantiaSemiticitic: not this member, and not any I spoke to about the issue.

I trust that ++R's letter to the Chief Rabbi was able to allay some of those concerns. I could not agree more with his words: “...it may be helpful for me to clarify what this resolution did and did not say and, even more importantly, what it did and did not imply... I must repeat that no-one in the Synod would endorse anything that could even appear to endorse terrorist activities or anti-Semitic words or actions...

How Synod is reported is one of those things that I ache over. Sometimes itÂ’s great, getting the feel spot on - but sometimes reading the reports I wonder if I was in the same country - far less the same debate - the slant, or selective quoting, can so colour the impressions people are left with. I was fascinated that even some of the journalists in the Synod press room (don’t ask how I ended up there...) also found this. I loved the discussion where none of the other journalists agreed on the take one had publicised on the Women BishopÂ’s debate. ‘No-one else heard what you think you heard in that debate, .withheldes witheld to protect the innocent; me in this case, from a defamation & slander & writs & such]’ they said.
So it’s not just me, then!

So, as this is primarily a live-ish blog from Synod, it’s is (probably) a wrap from me until Synod next meets in July in York. Shorts and T-shirts at the ready. Reputedly. But probably not from this correspondent, who was born wearing a jumper.

If there are other Synod members who would like to join this blog, and contribute as well, email me to my email address in the Synod members list, and I will add you on too.

Alastair GS101

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