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June 2016 Standing Committee News

The Standing Committee of the General Synod met on Tuesday 21st June 2016 in Church House, Dublin. The meeting was chaired by the Archbishop of Armagh.  The Revd Gillian Wharton opened with a scripture reading and prayers, including prayers for Mr Adrian Clements on his retirement as Chief Officer and Secretary–General.  Archbishop Clarke noted that this was the last meeting of Standing Committee to be attended by Mr Clements and added his appreciation for the sense of purpose and determination which he had brought to the role.

Honorary Secretaries’ Report
Mr Sam Harper presented a report from the Honorary Secretaries and highlighted arrangements for the Church census, to take place in November.  Members of Standing Committee were encouraged to bring forward suggestions for questions on this year’s census form to the Honorary Secretaries within the next 10 days.  The format will be finalised at the September meeting of the Standing Committee.

General Synod 2017
The Honorary Secretaries confirmed that the next General Synod will take place in the South Court Hotel, Limerick, on 4th–6th May 2017.  A discussion on the general proceedings and future venues for General Synod took place, during which members requested more variation in timetabling and contributed insights from the annual conferences of other Churches.

The Rt Revd Patrick Rooke was also appointed as a Church of Ireland representative on the board of Christian Aid Ireland (effective from its AGM in October).  Seven members were appointed to the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue: Ms Gina Copty, Mr Philip McKinley, Dr Ken Milne, the Revd Canon Ian Ellis, the Revd Canon Patrick Comerford, the Revd Canon Daniel Nuzum, and Ms Cate Turner.  PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed as auditors of the accounts of the Representative Church Body for 2016.

Episcopal Ministry and Structures
Following a discussion of the way forward on episcopal ministry and structures, the Standing Committee requested the Honorary Secretaries to provide terms of reference for a facilitation committee to support and work with dioceses.  A further discussion will take place at the September meeting of the Standing Committee.

Long–term Church
An update on several projects being taken forward under the ‘Long–term Church’ initiative was provided by Mr Adrian Clements in his last address to the Standing Committee. Handbooks for Dignity in Church Life have been produced and are being prepared for distribution.  An external review of the Church is planned in advance of the 150th anniversary of disestablishment and scoping for members of the review panel will begin shortly.  An initial meeting for a review of the Constitution – to make its text more accessible to readers – has taken place.  Work is also under way to co–ordinate the distribution of resources from central Church to parishes and to provide a contact person who can advise parishes on their financial sustainability.  Registration for charities legislation is also ongoing.

Children’s Ministry Network
Mr Ken Gibson introduced a resolution supporting the development of children’s ministry in 2016 and 2017 and looking forward to receiving detailed proposals at the September meeting.  Ms Lydia Monds and Dr Peter Hamill updated members on the work of the Children’s Ministry Network and set out a vision for its future, emphasising the passion for this ministry in the Church.  Dr Hamill looked forward to the development of a children’s liturgy for the Church of Ireland, welcome packs and specialist training in this area of ministry.

Adult Safeguarding
Dr Peter Hamill also updated the Standing Committee on the increasing focus on adult safeguarding and the development of an adult safeguarding policy in Northern Ireland.  Following a discussion on the issues involved, the Standing Committee endorsed the development of a code of practice in respect of working with vulnerable adults.

The Standing Committee approved the establishment of a Safeguarding Trust Board to monitor the development of safeguarding policy for both children and adults, to develop training across the island, and to manage safeguarding issues as they arise.  The Revd Gillian Wharton was nominated to the board in her capacity as Honorary Secretary.

The Bishop of Tuam closed the meeting in prayer.

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