Despite all of the difficulties being presented by the weather the Synod Chamber at Church House, Westminster looked suitably full for the beginning of this Group of Sessions. It was going to be slightly odd for me as I had to leave early in the Session because I needed to be back at Southwark Cathedral for the Annual Service for the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass (one of the livery companies who are neighbours of the Cathedral).
Before I went into the Chamber it was good to be able to see the affirming catholic and WATCH stalls next to each other in the exhibition space. The affirming catholic stall brings together the Society of Catholic Priests, the Company of Servers, Gospel Imprint and Anglican Catholic Futures. It’s good that we’re working together in this way and having a visible presence in the Synod.
So to the opening of the Synod. The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed us and Prebendary David Houlding led the worship. In the particular welcomes it was good to see Bishop Elijah from the South Sudan in the gallery. Our prayers are with his people. I remember the great celebration we had at the General Synod in York for the creation of that new nation and the role of the Anglican Church there. That was just a couple of years ago and who could have anticipated then where we would be now.
Synod always begins with the Report of the Business Committee. In the debate particular mention was made of the Palace at Wells, which will come up in Questions this evening (I’m sorry not to be there for that) and the crisis being undergone by those suffering as a result of the floods.
The Business Committee then presented the dates for forthcoming Groups of Sessions. So, if you want to populate an empty diary here are the dates that were accepted.
2016 Monday-Friday 15 -19 February Friday-Tuesday 8 – 12 July
Monday-Wednesday 21 – 23 November (contingency dates)
2017 Monday-Friday 13 – 17 February Friday-Tuesday 7 – 11 July
Monday-Wednesday 20-22 November (contingency dates).
2018 Monday-Friday 5 – 9 February Friday-Tuesday 6 – 10 July
Monday-Wednesday 19 – 21 November (contingency dates).’
The Ethical Investment Advisory Group then made a very good presentation on their work. They spoke about three areas of investment in particular – alcohol, pooling funds and in relation to climate change. Professor Burridge spoke well about the biblical principles behind their work. Having £9 billion across the institutions to invest means getting the ethical policy right is vitally important. I was pleased to hear about the work going on and it will be good to bear all this in mind when we debate the Southwark Motion on the environment on Wednesday.
So I had to leave the Synod then and was very sorry to miss the debate on Gender-based Violence. But lots of prayers please for the debates tomorrow on the ordination of women to the episcopate.