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November 2016 Standing Committee News

Mr Sam Harper, outgoing lay Honorary Secretary for the Southern Province of the Church of Ireland.
Mr Sam Harper, outgoing lay Honorary Secretary for the Southern Province of the Church of Ireland.

The Standing Committee of the General Synod met on Tuesday 22nd November 2016 in Church House, Dublin, and was opened in prayer by Mr Sam Harper. This was the last meeting to be attended by Mr Harper, who will retire as one of the lay Honorary Secretaries, and members warmly expressed their gratitude for his dedication, energy and enthusiasm over the years since his appointment in 1994. Mr Harper responded by stating it was his joy to serve God in this part of His vineyard for the benefit of the Church and Christ’s Kingdom.

Priorities Fund

Following a request from the Priorities Fund Committee, the Standing Committee approved revised criteria for the Church of Ireland Priorities Fund which will be implemented for the 2017 fund and 2018 grants. The revised criteria will cover four areas: training – lay and ordained; Christian education; outreach initiatives; and innovative ministry in a rural context. A brief presentation was made by Mr Roy Totten, Chairperson of the Priorities Fund Committee.

Honorary Secretaries’ Report

In making their report, the Honorary Secretaries confirmed that the 2018 meeting of the General Synod will take place in Armagh City Hotel, from 10th–12th May. Sales of the Thanks & Praise supplement to the Church Hymnal have reached €54,000 and £70,000 to date and Recorded Church Music CDs are now available.

The Standing Committee instructed the Honorary Secretaries to take a motion from Connor Diocesan Synod, in relation to the work of the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures, into consideration. The motion asks that the Facilitation Committee considers the views, reflections and needs of all dioceses.

The Standing Committee approved the transfer the Church of Ireland Marriage Office (Northern Ireland) from Church House, Belfast, to Church House, Dublin. This facility acts as the agent for the Bishops of the Church of Ireland in all matters relating to the Church’s responsibility under Article 10 of the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003. The contact number will consequently change from 028 9032 3188 to 01 497 8422 with effect from 1 January 2017.

Long Term Church

Mr David Ritchie, Secretary General and Chief Officer, gave a presentation on the Long Term Church framework which seeks to enable the Representative Body to better support the mission of the Church carried out by diocese, parishes and chaplaincies. The initiative incorporates a number of projects under three themes: technology; accessibility; and facilitating mission.

Statement to Citizens’ Assembly

The recently established Citizens’ Assembly in the Republic of Ireland will – in the first instance – consider the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. The Standing Committee approved a statement for submission to the Assembly which draws on previous submissions made by the Church on the issue of abortion and reiterates the Church’s position as submitted to the Oireachtas in 2013.

Appointments

The Standing Committee also appointed a working group to seek a new publisher for the Book of Common Prayer following the liquidation of Columba Press. An advisory council was appointed to provide guidance on upholding the distinctive ethos, values, and traditions of the Church of Ireland Centre for Education (at Dublin City University) and the schools which it serves. Representatives were also appointed to attend the next AGM of the Irish Council of Churches and Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 24th–28th May 2017. The Church will be represented at the latter event by the Rt Revd Alan Abernethy (Bishop of Connor) and Ms Uta Raab (Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough).

The meeting closed with the grace.

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