Monday, 7 July 2008

Setting Our House in Order (And, of Course, the Synod).

These pictures show (in contrast to the text below, which is all about the Synod), some minor re-ordering at St Hilda's. We have moved all the chairs forward to the edge of the dais, so that the sightlines are inproved and people are closer to the altar. This has created a useful space at the back of the Church for congregating as well as opening up the Baptistry more. It also has the great boon of moving the back seats away from the draughts from the door in colder months. It also gives some idea of how the Church will look when the re-ordering proper is completed, which will see a community room at the back of the Church and the dais ripped out completely.

Debate is continuing at York as the amendments are rattled through. Voting is interesting, certainly showing who is deeply unsympathetic to us, only seven Bishops voted for giving us nothing, I do not have the names at hand at the moment, but it will be interesting when they become available. It is impossible to discern yet the mind of Synod yet, but what can be discerned from voting patterns and amendments carried and rejected is that it becomes more and more likely that we will have a result tonight.

The Bishop of Exeter has said, interestingly, that he does not believe that a Code of Practice would have sufficed after Women Priests were begun. He called for legislation that ensured 'absolute parity of jurisdiction' for male and female diocesan bishops. 'The second principle must be that those who wish to continue to believe and behave as Anglicans have always believed and behaved should be able to and not on sufferance.' Father Simon Killwick, Proctor in Convocation, Chair of the Catholic wing of Synod and Rector of Moss Side helpfully explained that he has, like me, shifted his opinions from supporting a third province to supporting the new Dioceses approach, adding that the Diocese in Europe was only established in 1980, so the precedent is not new.

This news just in, copied from Ruth Gledhill's account of the debate, gives worrying news....

''The Bishop of Portsmouth, Kenneth Stevenson, said: 'When a code of practice arrives on a bishop's desk there's a sigh at another piece of paper but also a welcome that people are going to hold you to account. A code of practice has teeth. It is also the kind of instrument that has a balance between responsibilities and rights... The advantage of a code of practice without legislation means that you can revise it and that is very important.' He warned against 'structural separatism' and producing a church of 'two groups not in communion with each other.' This was an 'ecclesiological nonsense and an ecumenical stumbling block.'

The large, long round of applause that greeted this speech gave a good indication of where the synod is going.''