Tuesday 24th November
Tuesday started with the official inauguration of the General Synod with a Mass in Westminster Abbey and the official opening speech afterwards by Her Majesty the Queen in the Assembly Hall
As the Queen was going to be present the security a Church House was tighter with a bag search on entry.
As synod members we all had to gather in cloisters of Westminster Abbey to form up in our dioceses to process into the abbey.
The Coventry Representatives on The General Synod
The Eucharist was celebrated by The Archbishop of Canterbury and the sermon was preached by the Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa.
Following the services we all trooped back to the Assembly Hall to hear Her Majesty's speech officially opening the synod.
After lunch in the afternoon the main work of synod began.
It kicked off with a presidential address to the synod from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Following this there was a report of the Business Committee.
This was followed by a report on the Reform and Renewal programme. This is a far reaching plan to shape the Church of England for the future. It will impact on areas of the church, and will no doubt for a large amount of the business over the next few years at synod. The timescale is for scrutiny by Synod of the Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education changes will take place in February 2016. Also in February Synod is expected to receive the legislative proposals for Simplification. As part of the process of legislative simplification consultation document on a new enabling measure was brought forward.
Finally supplementary questions to those previously submitted were asked.
Wednesday 24th November
After starting the day with worship the first item of the day was a motion to present a loyal address to the Queen.
This was followed by presentation from the Archbishop of York and Margaret Sentamu on Global Warming.
The assembly hall then filled for a debate debate on the migrant crisis.
What was of particular note was the Archbishop of Canterbury stating that the motion (as outlined on the order paper) could commit the Synod to supporting the use of force to protect migrants (and presumably potential migrants.)
The motion was passed with 333 in favour, none against and 3 abstentions.
Next the discussion turned to legislation with Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 which helpfully came with an explanatory memorandum. Although this sort of work is not what comes to mind when you think of General Synod (if you have only seen the big debates on the TV or read about them in press) it is important work as part of the synod's legislative role.
This was followed by two reports on Public Perceptions of Jesus report (and booklet) and secondly the report of the Church Buildings review group.
Finally the Archbishop of Canterbury said farewell to William Fittall, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, who was attending his last meeting of the Synod and then progued the synod until the February group of sessions.
One last thing to do before heading to catch the train back to Coventry was a meeting of the House of Laity on it's own to hear from those wishing to stand as Chairman or Vice Chairman of the House and those standing for the Archbishops Council.
Such was my first group of sessions for General Synod. I very deliberately did not speak as I wanted to see how everything works first and get a feel for it. I will probably be making my maiden speech at the February sessions, but of course it depends on the debates, as there is not guarantee you will be called to speak on any debate, but on your maiden speech it is quite likely you will.