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Standing Committee News September 2013

Standing Committee

Added on 24/09/2013

The Standing Committee of the General Synod met on Tuesday 17 September 2013 in Church House, Dublin and was chaired by the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Dr Paul Colton, as the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin along with several other bishops were attending an episcopal meeting of the Church of England.

The meeting was opened with a scripture reading and prayers. Bishop Colton welcomed Archdeacon Roderic West as the newly elected clerical member of Standing Committee from the Diocese of Down & Dromore. Mr Robert Neill, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Representative Body, was also welcomed to the meeting in order to discuss matters relating to stipends and the clergy pension levy (see below).

Honorary Secretaries’ Report
The Honorary Secretaries reported that the Census across the Church of Ireland will take place in November, and it is hoped that the resulting figures will be brought to Standing Committee in March 2014 and to the General Synod in May 2014.

It was noted that, as had been indicated to the Honorary Secretaries by the bishop of the dioceses, the Synods of Cashel and Ossory and Ferns have voted for the dioceses to unite and that from October 2013 the working title of the dioceses will be the Dioceses of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory.

General Synod/Standing Committee Finances
The Budget Sub–Committee presented a paper relating to applications for funding. The committee had aimed to keep as close as possible to the previous year’s budget; it was felt that certain items such as training and capital expenditure particularly in the important area of Church communications should be more appropriately funded directly by a capital stream of the RCB, and that funding allocations should be limited to the organisations, committees and sub–committees of the General Synod. The report was noted and it was resolved that the recommendations be adopted as amended and forwarded to the RCB Allocations Committee.

Minimum Approved Stipends
Reflecting the rate of inflation in Northern Ireland running at around 3%, it was resolved that Minimum Approved Stipends shall be as follows from 1 January 2014:
(a) no stipend shall be less than £26,788 per annum in Northern Ireland or €36,219 per annum in the Republic of Ireland in the case of an Incumbent or a member of the clergy appointed as Bishop’s Curate or of a Diocesan Curate over the age of 30 years.
(b) the stipend for a Curate–Assistant shall be in accordance with the following scale:
First Year 75.0% of minimum stipend for incumbent
Second Year 77.5% “
Third Year 80.0% “
Fourth Year 82.5% “
Fifth and succeeding Years 85.0% “

Pensionable Stipend
It was resolved that Pensionable Stipend shall be as follows from 1 January 2014: (a) Pensionable Stipend shall be £25,498 per annum in Northern Ireland and €36,219 per annum in the Republic of Ireland in the case of an Incumbent or a member of the clergy appointed as Bishop’s Curate or of a Diocesan Curate over the age of 30 years. (b) Pensionable Stipend for a Curate–Assistant shall be in accordance with the following scale:
First Year 75.0% of Pensionable Stipend for incumbent
Second Year 77.5% “
Third Year 80.0% “
Fourth Year 82.5% “
Fifth and succeeding Years 85.0% “

Clergy Pensions Levy
Giving effect to the decision already taken at the General Synod 2013, it was resolved that, in accordance with the Constitution and on the recommendation of the Representative Body and the Trustee, the rate of levy to be paid by each diocese towards the cost of securing the solvency of the Clergy Pensions Fund from 1 January 2014 be set at 13% of the Minimum Approved Stipend in force at 1 January 2014.

Charity Legislation
The Standing Committee approved the establishment of a joint Standing Committee/RCB working group to monitor the progress and operation of the pilot charities registration scheme in Northern Ireland. The working group will consist of the Primate, the Diocesan Secretary of Down & Dromore and Connor and two representatives each from the RCB and the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee nominated Mrs Ethne Harkness and the Revd Andrew Forster as its representatives.

Girlguiding Promise
In July Girlguiding UK took the decision to remove the words ‘to love my God’ from the Girl Guide’s promise and replace them ‘be true to myself and develop my beliefs’, effective from 1 September 2013. and obligatory for all girls joining the Guides and for all current Guides renewing their promise. Standing Committee resolved to convey the following statement to Girlguiding Ulster and Girlguiding UK:

‘The Church of Ireland wishes to convey to Girlguiding Ulster and Girlguiding UK the high value it places on their work with children and also the partnership between the Church and Guiding through the provision of premises, leadership and other support.

‘However, we are deeply concerned that, as of 1st September 2013, all new members and leaders will be expected to make a new promise “To be true to myself and develop my beliefs”, replacing the previous promise to “love my God”. We regard the words in the promise “To be true to myself” as falling far short of Christian values and therefore cannot support this promise being used.

‘We request that Girlguiding Ulster and Girlguiding UK, as soon as possible, provide its many children and leaders from a Christian background the option to make a promise to serve God.

‘In addition, we request that no Church of Ireland based Guiding unit compel its new members to make this new promise containing the wording “to be true to myself”.’

Northern Ireland Community Relations Working Group
At a previous Standing Committee meeting it was proposed that the group that was established in 2010 to respond to the ‘Cohesion, Sharing and Integration’ consultation should be re–convened. There have since been important developments in the field of community relations: in May, the Northern Ireland Executive launched its ‘Together: Building a United Community Strategy’ policy document and there are currently multi–party talks being chaired by Dr Richard Haass.

Standing Committee agreed that a group based on the membership of the 2010 group should be established on a more long term basis and the following were appointed to a ‘Northern Ireland Community Relations Working Group’: the Bishop of Down & Dromore (Chairman); the Bishop of Clogher; The Ven. George Davison; and the Revd Barry Forde. The working group may co–opt up to three additional members. It is tasked with responding to consultations and developments on the issue of community relations in Northern Ireland (including the new ‘Together Building a United Community’ policy document and the forthcoming multi–party talks) and to act as a liaison and support to the Primate in this area. It may consult as it deems necessary and issue statements and papers on its own behalf or (with the prior approval of the Standing Committee) on behalf of the Church of Ireland.


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