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Day 2

Report of Standing Committee Highlights Broad Range of Work

The report of Standing Committee was presented to General Synod in Armagh this afternoon (Thursday May 10). In proposing the report, Judith Cairns thanked the current members of Standing Committee for their commitment and work over the last triennium and welcomed the newly elected Standing Committee who take up the reins in June.

She noted that the committee is helped by a number of coopted members who are selected because of their special skills. They are also supported by staff members of the Synod Department, Press Office, Children’s Ministry, Bishops’ Appeal, Safeguarding and Education and Priorities Fund.

Mrs Cairns highlighted some of the work undertaken by Standing Committee over the last year which included:

·         conclusion of the work of the Parish Development Working Group;

·         formation of the Advisory Council to the Church of Ireland Centre for Education at Dublin City University;

·         progression of the work of the Children’s Ministry Network – in partnership with the Sunday School Society;

·         establishment of the Safeguarding Trust Board; and

·         charities.

“I have very much enjoyed my triennium on the Standing Committee. When I looked back, just at the work undertaken in this last year, I was struck, again, by the breadth and range of the matters dealt with and the detail and professionalism that is apparent in the output of the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee’s remit is to carry on the work of the General Synod between sessions – and I can report to you that the members take that responsibility seriously, scrutinising these items carefully on your behalf,” she concluded.

In seconding the report, Archdeacon Simon Lumby drew the attention of Synod to five particular sections: the report of the Central Communications Board; the Social Media and Digital Communications Guidelines; the Facilitation Committee; the Parish Development Working Group; and the Working Group for Refugees.

“Whilst the report focuses on some key and significant Church projects and activities regarding the care and reception of refugees, it alludes to the positive way in which the Church at a local level has responded to secular and civil outreach projects. I invite Synod to be mindful of an implication here; that unless the whole community – of which we are a part – responds with love and generosity to those in need, then that need is unfulfilled,” he stated.

Discussion on the report touched on the following points:

·         Small projects overseas get little support and Bishops’ Appeal provides crucial support for small project which were struggling for resources.

·         There were no detailed accounts for Bishops’ Appeal in the Standing Committee report. An explanation for this was given and Synod was informed that the accounts would be on the Bishops’ Appeal website before the end of the month.

·         The Advisory Council to the Church of Ireland Centre at DCU and Synod were urged to ensure that people in DCU of a Church of Ireland background have contact with the Church of Ireland the the Church of Ireland Centre at DCU. Synod members were informed that the Church of Ireland Centre at DCU was solely concerned with initial teacher education.

·         The Church of Ireland is now a leading church in the EU on the Environment and it was suggested that the Church of Ireland should have a lead bishop of the Church of Ireland.

·         Church State Structured Dialogue was highlighted and the recent positive meeting between the Church of Ireland with the Government of Ireland.

·         The collection of Church of Ireland statistical information and the importance of filling out the cards in November was stressed and concern was expressed that analysis of the census was not yet available.

·         Next year’s Synod in Derry–Londonderry was highlighted.

·         The small writing on Synod members’ badges was raised.

·         The allocations of the Priorities Fund was highlighted and tributes paid to Sylvia Simpson who is retiring as Priorities Fund administrator and welcomed Claire McNally as the new administrator.

·         The Parish Development Working Group said it had been a privilege to work with parishes over the past years.

·         The forthcoming new edition of the Book of Common Prayer was publicised.

·         The new Bishops’ Appeal calendar was highlighted. The funds from sales of the calendar support Bishops’ Appeal.

·         The Church and Society Commission’s work was highlighted.

·         The forthcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment in Ireland was raised and it was suggested that the Archbishops did not speak for the Church of Ireland on the issue. The Archbishop of Armagh said that he and the Archbishop of Dublin were speaking on RTE for themselves and not the Church of Ireland and while they did not speak for the Church of Ireland they could speak to the Church of Ireland.

·         The Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill that is currently going through the Dail was raised.

·         The Church of Ireland Daily Worship App was launched.

·         The communications work that happens within the church was commended.

·         On climate change it was noted that the temperature in Church of Ireland cathedrals was on average 3 degrees cooler than other cathedrals.

·         The work on the Facilitation Committee which addresses issues arising from the work of the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures was highlighted with news that there had been consultation and dialogue with all 12 dioceses to identify and explore ways forward.

·         On the subject of Safeguarding Trust, Gabriel Crystal was thanked for his work in the Republic of Ireland having now moved on to other work.

·         Pioneer ministry was highlighted.

·         The work of the Refugee Working Group was outlined and parishes who are acting generously towards refugees were thanked.

·         Prayers and direct action were urged for asylum seekers arriving in Ireland, living in Direct Provision, struggling for the right to work or having difficulty in applying for Family Reunification.

·         The Sanctuary Movement was commended for the provision of practical resources for those wishing to provide safe and welcoming spaces in churches.

In reply, Mrs Cairns thanked all who contributed to the debate.

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