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The discrepancy between Diocesan and General Synods

Fairness

The list of who voted yes and no in the debate on women bishops (opens PDF) has now been published. Electronic voting systems have their plus points and their negatives, I guess.

The Head of Communications for the CofE has encouraged everyone to “love your enemies” as they look through the list.

I certainly think it is important that people don’t vilify or criticise those who chose to vote ‘no’. That doesn’t help anyone.

I would, however, like to use it to illustrate something of the discrepancy between Diocesan Synod’s voting and General Synod by taking the illustration of my own diocese, Rochester.

Votes recorded at Diocesan Synod were as follows:

House of Bishops – 100% in favour, 0% against
House of Clergy – 75% in favour, 25% against
House of Laity –  72% in faovur, 28% against

Votes recorded by Rochester representatives at General Synod were as follows:

House of Bishops – 100% in favour, 0% against
House of Clergy – 50% in favour, 50% against
House of Laity – 40% in favour, 60% against

In 2010, I highlighted some problems in the Rochester Diocesan Synod elections and, notably, how one church managed to contribute three of our Synod reps (two laity, one clergy). Speaking to one of my Deanery Synod representatives who voted in that election, they were telling me that a number of the potential candidates failed to disclose which church they attended and which affiliations they held.  Bishop Alan Wilson tells of similar experiences in his diocese.

I appreciate that Synod reps are under no obligation to ‘represent’ their Diocese in how they vote. But I do wonder how many of them would have got elected if people had been able to join all the dots and work out that a. had an imbalance in having so many from one church and b. had a number of people elected who were not prepared to support women in the episcopate. The system is in need of reform.

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