Tuesday 10 February 2009

General Synod Day 1

Changing Attitude has been present at every General Synod meeting for the past 8 or 9 years. The primary purpose of being here (given that I am not a member of Synod) is to network, to sit with friends in all three houses, review developments, catch up with news both personal and ecclesial and make contact with new bishops and synod members I have never met before.

Changing Attitude always has a display at Synod. This time we have brought two of the panels from our stand in the Market Place at Lambeth. The latest CA newsletter is on display, together with the post-Lambeth edition and a new supporter’s leaflet (though all 1,000 copies have to be reprinted due to a printer’s editing error). Davis Mac-Iyalla is due to join me in Church House at noon today and Brenda Harrison is also registered as an exhibitor and may come later in the week. Being an exhibitor gives us access to the coffee area, and it’s possible to sit there all day and never be in want of a good (mostly) conversation or encounter.

I didn’t arrive until 5.30 yesterday, and the conversations I had were mostly about my experience at the Primates’ meeting and my reflections on what happened, plus some looking ahead to the Covenant debate on Thursday. MCU has produced a helpful paper: http://www.modchurchunion.org/Publications/Papers/Covenant/2009/Briefing%20Paper%20for%20General%20Synod%20Feb%2009.pdf
At the end of the session at 7pm I went for a Chinese meal with synod members from Ripon and Leeds, including Nigel Greenwood, trustee of Changing Attitude who was made a lay Canon in Ripon Cathedral last month. Also eating Chinese was Justin Brett, friend and supporter of Changing Attitude who blogs here: http://gensyn.blogspot.com/2009/02/so-what-do-you-actually-do-at-synod.html

I will be present at the WATCH reception this evening and up early tomorrow morning to take part in the vigil prior to the debate on women bishops.

One of Monday’s conversations, set in the context of the Primates’ meeting, reflected on the prospects of bringing a motion to Synod looking to change policy on same-sex blessings and the ordination of partnered lesbian and gay clergy. Paul Collier, chaplain at Goldsmiths, thought the possibility of introducing legislation had been delayed, and might not happen for 10 or 20 years.

I think that the situation continues to be very fluid in the Communion, and as each meeting happens and new developments arise, interest groups react and reposition themselves and the dynamic changes. I’m more optimistic about achieving some success in Synod, even if it is in the form of a permissive rather than legal motion. Changing Attitude is committed to explore the possibility of moving ahead with legislation through our partners in the General Synod Human Sexuality Group.

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