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June 2014 Standing Committee News

The Standing Committee of the General Synod met on Tuesday 17 June 2014 in Church House, Dublin. The meeting was chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh and by the Archbishop of Dublin, and was opened by the Archbishop of Armagh who expressed his appreciation to Bishop Trevor Williams and Dean Raymond Ferguson who are both retiring this summer. Archbishop Clarke wished both men well in their respective retirements, noting with gratitude their service to the Standing Committee and the quality of their varied ministries in the Church of Ireland. Mrs Ethne Harkness led the meeting in a scripture reading and prayers before business commenced.

It was resolved that PricewaterhouseCoopers be appointed as Auditors of the accounts of the Representative Church Body for the year 2014, on terms to be agreed by the RCB Executive Committee.

General Synod
There was discussion of the proceedings of the General Synod held at Christ Church Cathedral in May past and helpful comments were made for planning future Synods by the Honorary Secretaries relating to timetabling, bills procedures, wording of motions, break–out or facilitated discussion sessions, enabling fuller participation and the format and timing of the Synod Service.

The Archbishop of Armagh said that he felt the 2014 General Synod had been a positive one ‘with a healthy sense of every part of the Church working together which augurs well for the future’.

Census Statistics for Mission
During November 2013, as agreed at the General Synod in 2012, the Church of Ireland undertook a parish–based Census exercise with a view to enabling dioceses and parishes to plan ahead for spiritual and numerical growth on an evidential rather than anecdotal basis. Following the gathering of this data, Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, kindly provided an analysis of the figures. Dr Botting provided a presentation to the Standing Committee describing how these ‘first–time’ baseline statistics can be used. The results have been separately issued and can be found at: http://ireland.anglican.org/news/5191

Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief
A report from the Select Committee circulated to members for the April meeting of the Standing Committee which did not take place was noted. The Select Committee reported that it had begun to draft a framework document and to put in place an advisory panel to the Committee composed of (initially four) people providing LGBT insights and Scriptural understanding.

Long–Term Church
The Archbishop of Armagh referred to his paper ‘Long–Term Church: Towards 2034..?’ which had been circulated to the members of the Standing Committee in advance of the General Synod and which he had aired publicly in his Synod Presidential Address (see: http://ireland.anglican.org/news/5118). The Archbishop spoke about the need to ‘lift our eyes beyond the present and to work beyond to where God might be taking us to’. In cross–referring to the Census statistics provided at the meeting, he spoke about the identifiable gap in early adult participation and the need to try to ‘strategise unselfishly for the future’. To that end, the Archbishop has established a small steering group to work with the Secretary General of the RCB in putting shape on the ideas, composed of himself, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Archdeacon of Belfast and the Chairman of the RCB Executive, Mr Robert Neill.

It was agreed that a grant of €1000 be provided from the Royaties Fund to subvent the publication of Dr Caroline Gallagher’s book on ‘First Fruit Churches and the Diocese of Meath, 1798 – 1823’.

Church Hymnal Supplement
The Standing Committee approved Hymns Ancient and Modern as the publisher of the supplement to the Church Hymnal and authorised the Honorary Secretaries with the assistance of staff to enter contractual negotiations with Hymns Ancient and Modern to that end.

It was agreed that the Hymnal Supplement Committee shall consult with the Braille Unit of Maghaberry Prison to produce a Braille edition of the supplement (and is authorised to negotiate the necessary terms and conditions, bringing any requests for grant assistance from the Royalties Fund back to the Standing Committee).

Mr Stephen Carson was also appointed as a member of the Hymnal Supplement Committee.

The Standing Committee appointed Dr Kenneth Milne to attend the Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church of Great Britain and Ireland later this month.

Following the resignation of the Very Revd Sandra Pragnell from the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures, Mrs Brigid Barrett was elected to serve on the Commission.

The Revd Canon Dr Ian Ellis was appointed as a Church of Ireland observer to the Methodist Church’s Faith and Order Committee.

The Revd Canon Dr Adrian Empey was appointed as a Church of Ireland representative on the Irish Council of Churches European Affairs Committee for three years.

It was agreed that Archdeacon Helene Steed will attend the Porvoo Communion Church Leaders’ Consultation in York in September, along with the Secretary General, Mr Adrian Clements.

It was resolved that Miss Elva Byrne and the Revd Ása Ólafsdóttir be recognized as Church of Ireland representatives acting as a liaison between the Church and the charity Here2Help (though not working in a governance capacity).

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