From: The Christian Post
The first General Synod of the Church of England in 2005 is going to be held on Feb. 14-17. The agenda for the Synod was released last week. It focuses on the debates on women bishops, homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, clergy terms of service, the environment and higher education.
AdvertisementSessions regarding the high-profile issue of women bishops and the Anglican Communion have been highlighted as key topics for discussion. Concerning women bishops consecration in the Church of England, the synod will focus on the report entitled, Women Bishops in the Church of England?. The report was published in November 2004 by the working party chaired by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir Ali.
Based on the report, Bishop Nazir Ali is going to chair the debate on the theological issues concerning women bishops while the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, on behalf of the House of Bishops, will identify a number of options the Church of England could take.
Currently in the church, the conservatives have suggested that they may leave the church if it allows the agenda of women bishops to proceed. Therefore, an option that creates a separate province and a new package of financial compensation for those leaving will be considered. The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to introduce a motion which both welcomes the report and sets out a timetable for change.
After the motion is suggested, the Synod will debate the issue again in July to determine whether it wants to embark upon a lengthy process or removing all the legal barriers to women bishops.
Another major issue is regarding homosexuality within the Anglican Communion. In the light of the current rift between conservatives and liberals over homosexuality in the communion, the General Synod will look into the Windsor Report from the Lambeth Commission published on 18th October 2004.
In 2003, the US Episcopal Church ordained the first actively gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. Also, the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada performed blessings for same-sex couples. These sparked concern over the ordination to the episcopate of a person being in a sexual relationship with a partner of the same sex, and the blessing of committed relationships of same sex couples.
Conservatives argue that homosexuality is in contrary to the teaching of the Bible and the churches that allow homosexuality will be considered “walk-out” from the communion. Therefore they urge the church to decide whether it accepts the principle of “autonomy-in-communion” or it believes that this principle limits its own freedom to make major and fundamental changes.
However, a motion from the House of Bishops is expected to ask the Synod to back the Windsor Report calling for a moratorium on homosexual consecrations and the blessing of same-sex relationships in the Anglican Communion. They welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury’s efforts to resolve the crisis and they acknowledge the importance and possibility of reconciliation with the “context of repentance and forgiveness…”