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September 2015 Standing Committee News

The Standing Committee of the General Synod met during the afternoon of Tuesday 15th September 2015 in Church House, Dublin. The meeting was chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh and by the Archbishop of Dublin. The Revd Gillian Wharton led with a scripture reading and prayers, including prayers for refugees in crisis, before business commenced.

Honorary Secretaries’ Report
Archdeacon George Davison provided a report on recent activities undertaken by the Honorary Secretaries including working with RCB staff on ongoing Charity Registration matters and Lobbying developments in line with the Regulation of Lobbying Act (RoI) effective from 1st September.

It was noted that an invitation from the Anglican Alliance to the Church of Ireland to attend its European Regional Consultation in Wales later this month had been received and that the Bishop of Tuam has agreed to attend.

Minimum Approved Stipends, Pensionable Stipends & CPF Solvency Levy
The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Representative Body, Mr Robert Neill, was invited to speak to the Committee. Rates for Minimum Approved Stipends, as recommended by the Executive Committee had been considered by the Representative Church Body at its meeting on the morning of the 15th for onward recommendation to the Standing Committee in the afternoon.

The Standing Committee resolved that Minimum Approved Stipends with effect from 1 January 2016, will be increased by 2% in Northern Ireland and 1.75% in the Republic of Ireland: £27,870 (NI); €36,853 (RoI).

With regard to Pensionable Stipend, as recommended by the Representative Church Body and the Trustee, the Standing Committee resolved that Pensionable Stipend with effect from 1 January 2016 shall be: £25,498 in Northern Ireland and €36,219 in the Republic of Ireland.

As for the Clergy Pensions Fund Solvency Levy, following the recommendation of the Representative Church Body (having considered the financial status of the Fund and having received actuarial advice), the Standing Committee resolved that the rate of levy to be paid by each diocese towards the cost of securing the solvency of the Fund from 1 January 2016 be set at the unchanged rate of 13% of the Minimum Approved Stipend in force at 1 January 2016.

Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief
A Guide to the Conversation and Study Guide will be launched on the 18th of January 2016 in Church of Ireland House, Dublin, and on the 19th January 2016 in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

Royalties Fund
Standing Committee resolved that £84,825 be expended to buy copies of the various editions of the supplement to the Church Hymnal, Thanks & Praise, in order to provide a stock of the books for parish use.

Standing Committee also approved a grant of €1,000 to subvent the publication of the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures’ booklets for General Synod 2016.

Dignity in Church Life Charter
Following the approval of the Dignity in Church Life Charter at the General Synod in May 2015, the Standing Committee received a presentation from Mr Adrian Clements, Secretary General; Ms Patricia Cooney, who has provided advice on the development of the Charter and related policies and Ms Antoinette Doherty of the RCB Legal Department, and received an updated copy of the Dignity in Church Life Charter booklet. Further presentations will be made to Diocesan Synods during the autumn to enable the wider Church to give consideration and feedback to these ‘Long–Term Church’ initiatives. It is envisaged that final version of policies and procedures will be available in November.

Mediterranean and Southern European Refugee Crisis
Members of Standing Committee spent time discussing the gravity of the deepening plight of those fleeing their countries of origin and coming to Europe as refugees at this time. In addition to the statement made by the Archbishop of Armagh earlier in the month and to the Bishops’ Appeal’s call for special collections and its liaison with the Irish Refugee Council and relief agencies, it was noted that other parish– and cathedral–based initiatives were underway; however, much more needs to be done by people and government. On a proposal put forward by the Bishop of Meath & Kildare, the Standing Committee expressed its desire to support whole–heartedly further efforts to respond to the crisis which may be made by the Church and ecumenical partners in coming days, weeks and months.

Christian Aid
Standing Committee agreed that Miss Ruth Handy be confirmed to Christian Aid as the voting member for the Church of Ireland for the next two years.

Election of Honorary Secretary
Mr Ken Gibson was elected as a lay Honorary Secretary of the General Synod, following the resignation of Mrs Ethne Harkness in June. Mr Gibson is a retired Northern Ireland Civil Servant and has held a senior position in the International Fund for Ireland; he is also a member of the Church and Society Commission and has been Lay Honorary Secretary of the Connor Diocesan Council since 2002. He will hold office until the day before the next meeting of the General Synod in May 2016.


• Mrs Daphne Townsend was appointed as the Church of Ireland’s liaison person with PACT, subject to review at the Standing Committee meeting of June 2016.

• The resignation of Mr Andrew McNeile from the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures in June left a vacancy to be filled by election by the Standing Committee. Mr Wilfred Baker was elected. On behalf of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop of Dublin in the chair expressed thanks to Mr McNeile for the enthusiasm and industry with which he had contributed to the work of the Commission.

• The Bishop of Connor was appointed as the Church of Ireland representative to the Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church in Great Britain and Ireland in July 2016.

Reports were received from those who had attended: the Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland; the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends; the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; and the General Assembly of the Non–Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

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