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The Representative Body of the Church of Ireland met on Wednesday, 11th December 2019, at Church of Ireland House, Dublin.  The Archbishop of Armagh opened in prayer and welcomed Bishop Andrew Forster to his first meeting of the RB in his capacity as Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.  On behalf of the Representative Body, the Archbishop wished Bishop Forster every blessing in his new role.  Mr William Allen (Clogher) and Mr John Junkin (Derry and Raphoe) were welcomed as new members.  Ms Julie Beck was also welcomed as a new co–opted member of the RB.

Presenting the Allocations Committee report, Mrs Helen Arnopp outlined that the allocations budget for 2020 was €3,468,881 (net of support from the Stipends Fund) – a decrease of €24,822 (0.7%) from approved allocations for 2019.  The committee recommended that funding for Belfast City Chaplaincy, a joint project with the Methodist Church in Ireland, be continued for a further three years up to 2022–23.  A proposal from the Children’s Ministry Network and Sunday School Society is under active consideration by the Allocations Committee and RB.

Mrs Helen Arnopp.
Mrs Helen Arnopp.

On behalf of the Investment Committee, Mr Kevin Bowers presented the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Policy and Policy on Climate Change for 2020.  The RCB has divested from companies involved in the extraction of thermal coal and tar sands, and has sought to increase its exposure to renewable energy assets.  Additional restrictions have been implemented for companies involved in oil and gas extraction – especially those whose activities are incompatible with seeking to limit a global temperature increase to 2°C under the Paris Agreement; the RCB seeks to be fully divested from these stocks by 2022.  Mr Bowers commended the RCB’s Investment Portfolio and ESG Manager, Ms Sarah Dunne, on her work in this area.

Archdeacon Terry Scott was co–opted as a clerical member of the RB Executive Committee and Mr Oswyn Paulin was co–opted as a member of the Library and Archives Committee.

The RB agreed to a proposal from the Audit Committee to change the year end date for the General Unit Trusts from 30th June to 31st December, in line with the RCB’s financial year.

Mr David Ritchie outlined recent progress on the Long–Term Church initiative, including as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Disestablishment:

– the launches of Irish Anglicanism, 1969–2019, in Dublin and Belfast; and

– the National Service of Commemoration for the 150th anniversary of Disestablishment in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as guest preacher.

Mr Ritchie thanked the Archbishop of Armagh for his vision and leadership in relation to Long–Term Church since its establishment in 2014.

The Archbishop of Dublin thanked the Archbishop of Armagh, on the occasion of his last RB meeting, noting his open–heartedness in facilitating debate, open–mindedness in allowing discussion of important issues, and his good humour.  Mr Saville commended his practical and people–focused approach to the business of the RB.

In reply, the Archbishop of Armagh thanked all the members of RB for their commitment and welcomed the RB’s constructive work with the Standing Committee for the common good of the wider Church.  He recalled the proposing speech for its report to the 2014 General Synod by Mr Robert Neill, outlining that the first priority of the RB is Jesus Christ.

The Archbishop thanked the Chief Officer and RCB staff for all that they give to the operation of the RB and the Church as whole, and closed the meeting with a blessing.

The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke.
The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke.

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