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Saturday, 5 July 2008

Common Tenure & other legislative business - (c) 5July2008

Synod often has exciting, godly, and even at times media attracting debates. But it also have to deal with dry legislation at times. Saturday afternoon contained mecessary progress on Pensions, Vacancies in Sees (when appoining a new bishop in a diocese), and other Miscellanious Provisions...

And there was Common Tenure again. This was to be the final Final Approval debate on what is properly termed the Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure (GS 1637B), and Common Tenure is one of the key aspects of this.

In February's Synod, my report on the Common Tenure debate received a number of comments fearful of the future. The debate on Saturday afternoon was the final approval - no time to change any of the content of the Measure.

Prebendary David Houlding made a speech in contributing to the debate, commenting on the loss of freehold. My neighbour sitting in the chamber leaned over and said to me "David Houlding will be one of those who will hold on to his Freehold, rather than switch to Common Tenure when it comes in...".

No sooner had my neighbour said this, before Fr. Houlding said "I expect many of you suspect I will not be willing to hand over my freehold - but you will be wrong. Not only will I be handing in my freehold and coming under Common Tenure, but I will hope to get my letter in by return of post." He received a significant round of applause, as one from a part of the church which is sometimes suspicious of the rescinding of the freehold as part of some central plan to shift the power away from local parochial clergy, who was outspokenly pro Common Tenure.

In my deanery, with over 20 clergy, only some 6 or so have freehold. I am one of those 6, but as part of my concern for the protection provided by Common Tenure to my colleagues, I will be following Fr. Houlding's example, and handing in my freehold.

Alastair, GS101

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