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September 2014 Standing Committee News

The Standing Committee of the General Synod met on Tuesday 16th September 2014 in Church House, Dublin. The meeting was chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh and by the Bishop of Meath and Kildare. The Revd Gillian Wharton led the meeting in a scripture reading and prayers before business commenced. Archbishop Clarke opened by welcoming the Revd Canon Patrick Comerford to the meeting following his election in June as a new clerical member from the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough (replacing the Revd Gillian Wharton on her election as an Honorary Secretary).

The Honorary Secretaries provided a brief report including the nomination of the Revd Gillian Wharton to represent the Church of Ireland at the meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales taking place on 17th September.

General Synod/Standing Committee finances
The Budget Sub–Committee met in September to consider applications for funding and a position paper was provided for the Standing Committee’s consideration. The report was noted and it was resolved that the recommendations be adopted and forwarded to the Representative Church Body Allocations Committee.

Stipends and pensions
Mr Robert Neill, Chairman of the RB Executive Committee, was invited to address the Standing Committee regarding Minimum Approved Stipends (MAP), the Pensionable Stipend and Clergy Pensions Fund Solvency Levy.

Following Mr Neill’s presentation and discussion it was resolved that Minimum Approved Stipends shall be as follows with effect from 1 January 2015: (a) no stipend shall be less than £27,324 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 scale: First year: 75% of minimum stipend for Incumbent; second year, 77.5%; third year, 80%; fourth year 82.5%; fifth and succeeding years, 85%.

It was also resolved that Pensionable Stipend, with effect from 1 January 2015, 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 same scale as given above.

Regarding the Clergy Pensions Fund Solvency Levy, it was agreed that the levy rate to be paid by the dioceses from January 2015 towards the cost of securing the solvency of the Fund remain unchanged at the rate of 13% of the MAP.

Retirement age of clergy
A paper was received from the Representative Church Body relating to the compulsory retirement age of 75 years for clergy, bishops and archbishops in the context of Europe–wide equality legislation. The Standing Committee resolved to endorse the rationale behind the maintenance of a compulsory retirement age as given in the paper, noting that the position paper did not propose any change but confirmed the existing policy as it continued to serve the needs of the Church.

General Synod 2016
There was discussion around the venue and date for the General Synod in 2016. The Honorary Secretaries and Synod staff have been exploring a number of possible options and further work will be carried out to progress plans further following the constructive discussion which took place at the meeting.

Conversations with the Moravian Church of GB and Ireland
The Rt Revd Michael Burrows presented a report from the Anglican Affairs Working Group (through the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue) to the Standing Committee regarding ongoing theological discussions with the Moravian Church. As noted in the paper, ever since the Fetter Lane Agreement of 1996 the Church of Ireland has acknowledged the Moravian Church as one of its most special ecumenical friends. Standing Committee received the report and approved the recommendations for moving forward.

Pensions Board
The Revd John Auchmuty was elected to the Church of Ireland Clergy Pensions Board, following the retirement of the Revd Ted Woods from the Board earlier this year.

It was agreed that the Ms Kate Turner and Mr Peter Munce be appointed to the Northern Ireland Community Relations Working Group.

Dr Kenneth Milne was appointed to the Irish Inter Church Committee until June 2015.

Reports were received from those who attended the Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church of Great Britain and Ireland; the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and the Methodist Conference in Ireland. The Rt Revd Alan Abernethy also provided a report from and spoke about his attendance at the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Geneva in July.

For further information please contact:

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