A Look Back at General Synod 2018 in Armagh
The General Synod of the Church of Ireland took place in the Armagh City Hotel from May 10 to 12. A huge range of Church of Ireland business was presented and discussed over a very busy three day period. The following is an overview of matters which may be of interest in Dublin & Glendalough. Full reports from General Synod are available on their website at: https://www.ireland.anglican.org/synod/2018/news
In his Presidential address, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke Archbishop Clarke focused this year on the themes of being a ‘safe’ Church – not only with regard to safeguarding children and young people but also in the Church’s ministry among adults at risk of harm, and those in need of care and protection; being a model and symbol of generosity; and being an ‘agile’ Church.
On the latter theme, he said: ‘…as Christian disciples living in “liquid modernity”, what are we to do; in the words of the psalmist, “What can the righteous do?” They must, first and most importantly, recall the solid foundations on which we are to rely in any place and time – in the words of the traditional prayer for the work of the General Synod, that we may “evermore hold fast and abide in the Apostolic and true Catholic faith”. But we must also be ready to think carefully and critically about everything around us, and indeed about ourselves.’
Archbishop Clarke also highlighted and endorsed the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative, which is a call to a global wave of prayer over the ten days from Ascension Day (10th May) to Pentecost, and the initiative was commended by Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh when he addressed Synod.
The Archbishop also commended the publication of a new Commentary on the Constitution of the Church of Ireland which was launched at the General Synod.
You can read the full text of the Archbishop’s address here.
Launch of Constitutional Commentary
The Commentary on the Constitution of the Church of Ireland was launched at General Synod. Officially launching the book, former Lord Justice of Appeal for Northern Ireland Sir Paul Girvan, who oversaw the publication, said that the laws of the church were an aid to the advancement of the Kingdom not an end in themselves, he said. “It is not the be all and end all of the church’s existence because the real constitution comes from Jesus’s mandate to go out and make disciples of all men and bring the good news to the world,” he stated.
He said that the Constitution was a mixed bag and described the commentary as an attempt to provide background information and details on how the provisions work and what effect is to be given to them. The Constitution was something that evolved and continued to evolve to face up to new challenges, he added.
The Commentary on the Constitution of the Church of Ireland is published by Church of Ireland Publishing. It can be purchased at £10/€12 at the General Synod and will be available afterwards through the Church’s online store: https://store.ireland.anglican.org
A total of six Bills were introduced. Of interest to Dublin & Glendalough were:
A Bill providing for the inclusion of An Order for Morning and Evening Prayer for Use on Sunday in the Book of Common Prayer was passed General Synod. The Bill sought to provide a clearly defined structure for Sunday worship.
A Bill seeking to make the same provision for the implementation of and adherence to the Church’s new Adult Safeguarding policy by parishes, clergy and diocesan bodies, as is already provided for Safeguarding Trust, the Church’s child protection policy was passed by members. The Bill is in line with the extension of the concept of safeguarding to include ‘adults at risk of harm’ and adults in need of protection (NI) and ‘vulnerable adults’ (RI).
A Bill which sought to establish a proportional and representative formula for the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives of General Synod, and to reduce its membership was withdrawn when members voted, after a lengthy debate, to refer the issue to Standing Committee who are to bring proposals to General Synod 2019. The proposed formula would allocate the number of representatives according to the number of cures within respective dioceses subject to 2:1 laity/clerical representation. Six additional seats would be allocated to each diocese to proportionally increase the representation of smaller dioceses. The Bill’s proposer, Andrew Brannigan (Down & Dromore) said there was currently an imbalance in representation on General Synod and suggested his proposal of basing representation on the number of parishes in a diocese was fair and missional. However, opposers, while agreeing that Synod’s membership must be reduced, feared that the move would result in southern dioceses losing far more representatives than northern dioceses.
Statement from the House of Bishops
The Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman, the House of Bishops said in a statement to General Synod.
Their statement noted that the issue had been passed to the House of Bishops following the conclusion of the work of the Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief at General Synod last year.
The archbishops and bishops said that it had been noted that following the production of the Guide to Human Sexuality, there was little appetite to discuss further these issues in parishes.
“It would seem that there is no consensus in General Synod, the House of Bishops, or in the church island–wide to change the Canons of the Church of Ireland on the matter of marriage. Thus the Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman. No liturgy or authorised service is provided therefore for any other situation. As the archbishops and bishops have already made clear to the clergy of the Church of Ireland, it is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, but if clergy are invited to offer prayer after a same sex marriage, any such prayer must remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of Ireland,” the statement reads.
The statement concludes: “It is widely recognised that there is no simple solution for these and other issues of human sexuality; but with compassion, humility and concern, we offer our continued commitment to attentive listening and to respectful discussion. We ask that all members of Synod who continue to hold strong opinions do so with integrity and compassion, and to also hold in prayer before God the challenging diversity that exists within the Church of Ireland”.
Report of the Representative Church Body
The report of the Representative Church Body noted that, during 2017, the total funds available to the RCB increased by 2.8% to €193.9 million (from €188.6 million). Total expenditure from General Funds remained constant at €7.2 million.
RCB Exposure to Fossil Fuels Investments to be Reduced.
A private members motion calling for the continued reduction of the Representative Church Body’s investments in fossil fuels was passed. Proposed by Stephen Trew, the motion urged the RCB to continue the positive work of collaborative engagement, increasing investments in renewable investments and reducing exposure to fossil fuel producers, so that by 2022 (as amended by members from 2020), companies where more than 10% of turnover is derived from fossil fuel extraction, will be excluded.
Daily Worship App Launched
The Church of Ireland brought The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) into the smartphone era when it launched its Daily Worship app at the General Synod.
The app is an initiative from the Church’s Central Communications Board in close co–operation with the Church’s Liturgical Advisory Committee. Daily Worship presents Bible readings, prayers, canticles and Services from the BCP in one place and in a simplified format. These are available for each day of the year, covering five Services: Morning and Evening Daily Prayer, A Late Evening Office, Compline, and Holy Communion.
Daily Worship can be purchased for €1.09/99p, and downloaded from the App Store (https://apple.co/2rv5aYM) and Google Play (http://bit.ly/2KOaD5t) for use on Apple iOS and Android devices from 10th May.
RCB Receives Eco–Congregation Award
The Representative Church Body was presented with an Eco–Congregation Ireland award at General Synod this afternoon. Archdeacon Andrew Orr, chair of Eco–Congregation Ireland, presented the awareness award to honour the work of the RCB and the RCB staff.
The RCB’s Green Charter in 2015, the Environment and Social Governance Strategy, the tree planting strategy, the resources on the RCB website, the pilot project for parishes in Down and Dromore, the keep cups in Church House and the beehives were among the factors which led to the award. These all make the Church of Ireland one of the most environmentally aware churches on this island, Archdeacon Orr said.
Third Level Chaplaincy Highlighted
The Revd Rob Jones and Scott Evans of the Third Level Chaplaincy Team Act 3 in Dublin, along with the Revd Barry Forde of the Hub Belfast, spoke of the opportunities and challenges of third level chaplaincy in Dublin and Belfast in an informal session. Act 3 connects the Church of Ireland chaplains in Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Dublin City University and Dublin Institute of Technology.
Council for Mission Launch Mission Booklet
To live up to their commission to stimulate and encourage mission within and from the Church of Ireland the Council for Mission has collected good news stories of mission and discipleship from right across Ireland. These are presented in their booklet “Radiant Faith: Living out the Five Marks of Mission”.
The booklet includes stories from all 12 dioceses including an Eco–Congregation in Cork, Cloyne and Ross; Tuam, Killala and Achonry’s fresh water project in Kenya; The Bible Comes Alive in Clogher; and healing rooms in Redcross (Dublin and Glendalough)
Liturgical Advisory Committee Motions
Two motions proposed by the LAC were passed by General Synod meaning they have been given leave to be introduced as Special Bills at General Synod 2019.
The first motion, proposed by Bishop Harold Miller, sought leave to be given for the introduction of a Bill in the General Synod of 2019 to approve for use in the Church of Ireland a Service of Prayer and Naming and a Funeral Service in Cases of Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death.
The second motion sought leave to be given for the introduction of a Bill in the General Synod of 2019 to approve for use in the Church of Ireland Holy Communion by Extension for Persons Unable to be Present at the Public Celebration.
Amendments can be submitted on both Bills for up to one month after Synod.
Report of the Board of Education
Canon Brian O’Rourke presented the Republic of Ireland part of the report. He drew Synod’s attention to the Amendment to the Equal Status Act which will remove the ‘Baptism Barrier’ to primary school enrolment. However, he said minority schools could set their own criteria to apply when oversubscribed. He said that this was a significant legislative allowance. He added that the board would consider the implications of this and issue guidance in the coming weeks.
He also drew Synod’s attention to a Capitation Grant Campaign which drew together all primary schools. He said that the Capitation Grant was decreasing putting primary schools under financial pressure and showed a video to Synod members. He urged parents and grandparents to look up the video on YouTube and share it with their local TDs.
Church of Ireland Youth Department
Presenting the report of CIYD, Simon Henry recalled the Church of Ireland Youth Forum in the City North Hotel earlier this year and spoke of the need to reach out to young people and hear their voices.
“I, on behalf of CIYD, on behalf of the young people we engaged with at the Youth Forum, am asking you as bishops, clergy, leaders and influencers in your parish and dioceses to get behind young people and give them more opportunities within your parish and your diocese. A simple way to start this would be having a regular youth–led service, with strong leadership and input from young people in shaping it. CIYD, and local diocesan youth officers and youth councils, would love to help you achieve this,” he said.
He added: “We have to remember that Church is no longer at the centre of many of our communities. Young people inhabit a world that is increasingly pluralistic and morally relative. Yet, they are more than ready to hear about Jesus Christ. They are more than ready to give him their life and take those first steps into discipleship. It is vital that we do everything we can to direct young people towards God and to help them develop their faith and provide opportunities and not barriers”.
He said young people were often not taken seriously and only valued as the church of the future rather than the church of the present, he stated and added that the church had much to gain from all they had to offer.
Dublin & Glendalough Communications Competition Winners
There were two Dublin & Glendalough winners the Church of Ireland Communications Competition which focused solely on print media this year.
First prize in the parish magazines/newsletters section went to Kilternan Klips’ – Kilternan Parish. The judging comments stated: “Well done! Excellent layout – the use of columns helps to make it clear to read. Good mix of articles on current issues facing Christians today – all linked in to the gospel hope. Nice range of pictures to illustrate parish events.”
In the other/affiliated organisations category, Friend’s News – the magazine of the Friends of Christ Church Cathedral was a runner up. This was praised for its “Good use of content, using coloured backgrounds to break up articles. Wide range of content from historical reflections to recent events and profiles of ecumenical canons.”