Friday, 9 July 2010

One down, four to go...

So - what's the story so far? Well, it's been a pretty normal session so far. We've done some legislation, we've welcomed some observers and new Synod members. Notable among the ecumenical visitors was the Evangelical Lutheran Archbishop of Estonia. After a brief introduction his speech was read for him by an assistant - both of them formally dressed in the sort of frock coats that bishops in this country haven't worn for decades. It was a fascinating talk about how the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Estonia - which was once the State Church - was suppressed under communism and has subsequently had to build itself back up virtually from nothing.

The legislation was almost without incident, but not quite. We had some brief Liturgical business to do. Pete Broadbent the Bisop of Willesden was in the chair, and dispatched it in minutes. Then we moved to pension reforms. Synod had, reluctantly, agreed to various reforms in February to deal with the projected deficits in the scheme. We had also passed a motion that asked for surviving civil partners to have identical pension rights to surviving spouses. Then someone suggested in the general debate that perhaps we ought to think about this again, as we didn't want to give the impression that Civil Partnerships were the same as marriage. In its immediate context this sank below the surface quite quickly as people got sidetracked into widows' pensions (including what sounded like the suggestion that they should be seen as compensation for bearing children, which was an interesting reflection in the current social climate). However, when it came to the debate on the specific rule change, up popped one of the clergy members of Reform...

My heart sank, I have to say, and I scuttled out of my comfortable corner of the hall to try and attract the attention of the Chairman. What followed was a delight to hear. Partly, of course, because I didn't end up saying anything, but mostly because the next four speakers spoke passionately in favour, and the legislation was passed virtually nem. con. Obviously, for someone with my views that is encouraging, but it is also encouraging in another sense - it means that Synod is sticking by past decisions, and this may well be our best hope of emerging reasonably unscathed from the next two or three days.

1 comment:

Believer said...

Splendid - let's hope that your optimism is proved well founded.

"widows' pensions (including what sounded like the suggestion that they should be seen as compensation for bearing children...)"
One wonders what widowers' pensions are for.