Added on 21/03/2012The Standing Committee of the General Synod met on Tuesday 13 March 2012. The meeting was opened with a scripture reading and prayers, including prayer for the Colton family, marking the recent death of the Bishop of Cork's father. The Archbishop of Armagh noted the election of Mr Gordon Benn as a member of Standing Committee, representing the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. The Honorary Secretaries reported that the process for Standing Committee elections was currently underway and that preparations for the General Synod at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 10-12 May, were advancing.
Bishops’ Conference: Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief
The Archbishop of Armagh reported on the conference which had taken place at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Co. Cavan over the previous weekend, 9-10 March, and referred to the closing statement which he and the Archbishop of Dublin had issued (available at http://ireland.anglican.org/news/3989) as well as to collated feedback from the conference which was provided to Standing Committee members. In the statement, the archbishops had reflected their sense of the breadth of opinion in the Church of Ireland but, while difficult issues remain, there is a strong sense of the cohesiveness of the Church. He relayed how the two external conference observers had noted an atmosphere of positive engagement and had praised the process. From the conference evaluation forms and issues raised at the round-table groups the majority of respondents had found the event to be a broadly useful experience, noting in particular the helpfulness of the seminars.
Standing Committee members discussed the conference, with much in the process welcomed and the conference model considered useful for future engagement of Synod members with significant issues. With regard to identifying a way forward, it was agreed that more detailed proposals would be brought to the next meeting of Standing Committee on 24 April, setting an agenda for work within a clear timetable. Matters would include articulating the position of the Church of Ireland in its witness of marriage and contingent issues, and pastoral care for gay and lesbian people in the Church.
Standing Committee resolved to request the Archbishops of both Armagh and Dublin – representing both Provinces of the Church – to convey its prayerful good wishes to HM Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee this year.
The Church of Ireland Priorities Fund provides grants to a wide range of worthwhile projects across the island in the following areas: ministry; education; community; places of need; outreach initiatives; and innovative ministry in rural contexts. Mr Roy Totten, Chairman of the Priorities Fund, presented the portfolio of 2012 awards from the 2011 fund. The Priorities Fund Committee had received 85 applications requesting grants amounting to €2,302, 509 and has recommended 62 grants totalling €563,828, reflecting the available budget. The report and its recommendations were received and adopted. One of the supported projects is an innovative venture by 'The Dock' at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. A grant of £25,000 is being provided as 'seed funding' to establish a ministry of connection and outreach to the unchurched and as yet centreless community in that unique location.
Standing Committee also resolved that, as recommended by the Fund, the diocesan targets for contributions to the 2013 Fund should not be increased.
CCB Literature Sub-Committee appointments
The Revd Kenneth Rue and Mr Richard Ryan, manager of the Good Book Shop, Belfast, were appointed to the Literature Committee until the end of the triennium.
Moravian Church in GB & Ireland Provincial Synod
It was agreed that Ms Katherine Turner be appointed to represent the Church of Ireland at the Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church in Great Britain and Ireland, 8-11 June, in Swanwick, Derbyshire; the Revd Canon Ian Ellis was appointed as a supplementalist. The Church of Ireland and the Church of England declared a common life and mission with the Moravian Church in the Fetter Lane Declaration of 1998 (see: http://www.church-of-ireland.eu/Archives/synods/synod98/appendix98.html).
Standing Committee appointed the Revd Canon Patrick Comerford and the Revd Lynne Gibson to represent the Church of Ireland on the USPG Council.
Many have been conscious of the importance to work of the Church, particularly in the areas of ministry and mission, of accurate statistics and the need to gather relevant and consistent statistics in order to establish useful baselines. Standing Committee approved a draft enabling Bill on the collection of statistics and refers it to the Bills Committee for consideration and presentation to General Synod this May.
Review of Episcopal Ministry and Episcopal structures
The working group tasked with examining the scope and nature of contemporary issues in the provision of Episcopal ministry in the Church of Ireland provided a revised report to Standing Committee. Mrs Ethne Harkness, chairman of the working group, presented the report, which Standing Committee approved and also approved a draft bill for the creation of a Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Episcopal Structures which it refers to the Bills Committee for consideration and presentation to General Synod in May. Should General Synod choose to set up a Commission, Standing Committee proposed that the following people compose membership of it: three bishops; two Honorary Secretaries of the General Synod; Mr Andrew McNeile; Mr Roy Totten; Mrs Hilary McClay; Revd Sandra Pragnell; Mrs June Butler; Revd Andrew Forster; Ven. Gary Hastings; Revd Canon Colin Moore; and Revd Canon Victor Stacey.
Other reports received:
A number of reports were received including an update on the progress of the Children’s Ministry Network by Mr Peter Hamill; a report of the Clergy Tied Housing Working Group by the Revd Brian Harper; a report of the Clergy Code of Duty and Conduct Committee by Mrs Ethne Harkness; and a report from the Honorary Secretaries on the abolition of Provincial Mediation Panels, which have not been used. It was resolved that Standing Committee establish a sub-committee to prepare guidelines on pastoral reconciliation, mediation and arbitration for the use of the Church and make recommendations on the future of a Severance Fund.
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