THE P RTAL April 2018 Our Window in the CofE Page 24 Anglican News The Revd Paul Benfield G eneral Synod met for two and a half days in February at Church House Westminster. After the usual preliminaries, we heard a presentation and then a debate on the report ‘Discerning in Obedience: A Theological Review of the Crown Nominations Review.’ This report was commissioned by the Archbishops in 2016 and was led by the Revd Professor Oliver O’Donovan. It was a wide-ranging review of the way the CNC operates in nominating diocesan bishops. Among recommendations made were that diocesan vacancy-in-see committees should start work before a vacancy occurs and its members should have more preparation, in particular to ensure good representation of the diocese. There is always a tension between local needs and national needs and the report suggests ways of discerning whether candidates have acquired the necessary theological culture to be not only a diocesan bishop, but also a member of the House of Bishops. on the joint working party which was recommending the proposals, whilst others had grave reservations. In essence it is proposed that the Methodist Church should take episcopacy into its system by the Presidents of the Methodist Conference being episcopally ordained by Anglican bishops. Question time included many questions on safeguarding and, in particular the Carlile Report into the matter of the allegation against Bishop Bell, but answers were in the main not very elucidating. We returned to safeguarding on Saturday with a presentation about recent developments, followed by questions. This, the report argues, is a bearable anomaly. But that anomaly would last for over 40 years. Furthermore, it is not clear what meaningful oversight the presidents and past presidents of the Methodist Conference would have. They would seem to be bishops solely for the purpose of ordaining presbyters. We were told by the Archbishop of Canterbury that the next few months would be difficult for the Church of England as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse started oral hearings. This has proved to be correct as the Inquiry began a case study into the Diocese of Chichester and has heard oral evidence from those involved in the Diocese in the past and present, including the former and present diocesan bishops. Perhaps the most controversial matter discussed was the proposal that the Church of England and the Methodist Church should recognise each other’s orders. Schemes involving relations between the Methodists and Anglicans often seem to place Catholic Anglicans on opposite sides of the argument. Older readers will remember the unity schemes of the 1960s and 1970s which saw Eric Kemp and Graham Leonard with different views and this time two well known Catholic members of Synod – Bishop Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham and Fr Thomas Seville CR served When presidents or past presidents ordain future presbyters, those presbyters would be ordained in the apostolic succession. However, it is proposed that those current Methodist ministers (who have not been ordained by bishops) should be deemed to have been so ordained. There was clearly concern in many quarters that the motion welcoming the report might be lost (or only just passed) and so the Bishop of Portsmouth moved an amendment inviting ‘the Faith and Order Commission, in consultation with the Methodist Church, to explore and elucidate further the relationship between episcopal ordination and eucharistic presidency, as this touches on the full visible unity of our two Churches’. This was accepted, allowing the main motion to be passed (though with many Catholics and others voting against it). It remains to be seen wh en the work requested will be done and whether anything will come back to the July Synod which meets in York on the second weekend in July. Meanwhile the Methodist Conference in Nottingham will be discussing the report on the first weekend in July. It is possible that it does not receive an enthusiastic reception there because many Methodists are suspicious of bishops. ___________________________________________ Geoffrey Kirk is unwell. We wish him a speedy recovery.