General Synod Report Nov 2015

General Synod Report

A look back at November 2015 and forward to February 2016


A new five year term of General Synod is now underway.  Elections took place in the summer and your lay and clergy representatives are listed at the end of this report. Synod was inaugurated on Tuesday 24th November in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.  A service was held in Westminster Abbey and a stirring sermon was preached by Fr. Raneiro Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal Household.  Preaching on Haggai 1:1-8 “Rebuild my House”, Fr. Raneiro urged us… not to remain prisoners of the past……and never to allow a moral issue like sexuality divide us more than love for Jesus Christ unites us.    These are important words as we receive an update on the Shared Conversations at the February Synod.

Significant agenda and debate items

November’s was a short Synod but covered a range of debates, a Presidential Address from Archbishop Justin, Presentations and opportunities for questions, both at the formal question session and following Presentations. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a Presidential Address, which is available:

Debates included The Church Buildings Review, which is particularly applicable to some of the work we have been thinking about in this area in Exeter Diocese. The report has been commended for discussion in dioceses, deaneries and parishes and effectively says:

'That this Synod, acknowledging both the blessing and the burden of the Church of England's stewardship for so many historic buildings and the missional opportunities provided by our buildings, whatever their age:

  • develop a strategy to inspire, encourage and support churches and their dioceses to invest in their facilities to serve their communities and provide opportunities for mission.


The Migrant Crisis was another significant debate and the headline of the synod debate there was: 

'That this Synod, recognizing that almost 60 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict or generalised violence, a fifth of them because of the tragic conflict in Syria, and noting the compassionate response of British people to the suffering and needs of those displaced by conflict and other causes:

(a) urge parishes and dioceses to work closely with local authorities and other community partners, to provide practical and sustainable resources and structures for the resettlement of vulnerable refugees and to pray for all those seeking to address the causes as well as the symptoms of this crisis; 


These covered the Renewal and Reform programme – a wide ranging attempt to use resources to actually change things rather than simply talk about changing them. There are five parts to it:

  • Developing discipleship
  • Simplification
  • Resourcing ministerial education
  • Resourcing the future
  • Working on central structures


We also heard a presentation on Global Warming, from the Archbishop of York and Margaret Sentamu and ‘Public Perceptions of Jesus’.  

All the papers from General Synod can be found on their website here:

4. Next time

Synod meets in London from Monday 15th – Wednesday 17th February and the Agenda is available on line.  We shall be participating in group work on Evangelism, and the main focus will be the first tranche of legislation to come before the new Synod, including a Measure to give effect to recommendations of the Simplification Group, and the developing work on the Archbishops’ Renewal and Reform programme.  Key debates will be on the reports on Resourcing Ministerial Education and Resourcing the Future.  Two Diocesan Synod motions will be debated, one on Parochial Fees, requesting that statutory fees for funerals and weddings should include costs for heating and providing a verger; the second requesting the Mission and Public affairs Council to study the impact of sanctions on benefit claimants. 

Representatives for Exeter

Clergy the Ven Douglas Dettmer, the Rev Canon Andrew Godsall, the Rev Graham Hamilton, the Rev Canon Anna Norman Walker

Laity Emma Forward, Anne Foreman, Dr. Sam Robinson, Jack Shelley