Home

Church of Ireland Home

The Constitution

The Constitution

In the years since the last consolidation of the Constitution in 1988 there have been substantial changes not least in respect of clergy pensions where ten statutes have effected further improvements in the scheme for the provision of pensions for clergy and for the surviving spouses of deceased members of the Clergy Pensions Fund.

Probably the single most significant change in the Constitution since 1988 has been that effected in 1990 when provision was made to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate. It is appropriate, therefore, that this edition of the Constitution should be drafted in inclusive language.

The Standing Committee of the General Synod decided that a consolidation Bill should be submitted to the General Synod of 2003; this Bill was passed and became the Statute Chapter XV of 2003. It has followed the precedent of earlier such statutes; the former edition of the Constitution is repealed with effect from 1st October 2003 and the new edition of the Constitution, as contained in the First Schedule to the Statute, will come into effect on that date. The provisions of the Constitution are preceded, as before, by the Preamble and Declaration adopted by the General Synod in 1870.

As the consolidation Bill could not include any change of substance the Standing Committee, in anticipation of this consolidation, authorised the introduction of two other Bills to make miscellaneous amendments to the provisions of various Chapters of the Constitution; these are Statutes Chapter IX of 2002 and Chapter XIV of 2003 and their provisions have been incorporated into the text. Hence the text as it appears in the First Schedule is up to date.

Each of the last five editions of the Constitution contained an Appendix which included the Standing Orders of the General Synod, the Constitutions of the Standing Committee and the Board of Education and extracts from certain relevant Statutes. This, the thirteenth edition of the Constitution, contains a similar Appendix revised in inclusive language.

The index has been revised and simplified.

The process of adopting inclusive language throughout the Constitution entailed painstaking work. While responsibility in the Parliamentary sense rests with the Honorary Secretaries of the General Synod and the Legislation Committee, they wish recognition to be given for their work and commitment to Mr John Buttimore, Miss Elaine Whitehouse and Mr Derek Phillips, Synod Officer, and to Mrs Claire Burrows, whose legal expertise proved invaluable.