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Bishop praises General Synod *Updated

by Jonathan Ball last modified 27 Feb, 2012 03:13 PM

The Bishop of Salisbury has reported this morning (9 February) that the debates so far have been long, intense and passionate.

Bishop praises General Synod *Updated

The General Synod in progress at Church House Westminster

Order of business is now available here.

The General Synod gathered on Monday afternoon (6 February) in Church House Westminster for its first of three meetings this year. The gathering will last until this afternoon.

Women bishops are central to a General Synod agenda that includes debates on assisted dying, health care, House of Lords reform, and Eucharistic prayers for use when children are present.

The Synod is spending a significant amount of time on the process designed to make it possible for women to be bishops while also making provision for those who, for theological reasons, will not be able to receive their ministry. This will be the present Synod’s first opportunity to engage with that process since it was elected 18 months ago.

The Bishop commented today: 'Yesterday’s debate on the ordination of women to the episcopate was long, intense and at times passionate. Members were very very attentive to the needs of those who think differently to themselves.'

There are four separate items of business dealing with different aspects of this process, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These include fine-tuning of the draft Measure and consideration of making specific requests to the House of Bishops in relation to the next stage of the process in May. These debates lead towards a possible final debate in July.

On Wednesday the Synod voted to present the draft Measure for the Consecration of Women Bishops unaltered to the July Synod.

Bishop Holtam added, 'The House of Bishops has been asked to look again at the proposals and may make changes that are not substantial. If we are to find the longed for way forward together,  we will need to be as wise as Solomon!'

Synod also debated assisted suicide, and heard about the Anglican Alliance for Relief, Development and Advocacy, which aims to co-ordinate the work of the Anglican Communion internationally on relief and development issues.

Finally, there is a debate this afternoon on the reform of the House of Lords and a debate about Health Care. The Church of England has always had a strong commitment to the ideals of the NHS. There is a particular call in the motion for chaplaincy provision to remain part of the core structure of the NHS, a position recently backed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. There is also a commendation of the work of Anglican agencies and networks in promoting health and wholeness worldwide.

The Bishop summed up his first impressions: 'Overall General Synod is impressive, if bewildering for a newcomer. The emergency debate on Nigeria led by the Bishop of Durham was immediate and sobering. The contributions from Salisbury members have been good!'


Parishioners can keep in touch with the General Synod. Background papers and other information are posted on the Church of England website ( ).

A live feed is available courtesy of Premier Radio (accessible from the front page of, and audio files of debates, along with updates on each day’s proceedings, are posted during the sessions.

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