Ruth Gledhill: General Synod Day 1
General Synod Day One
Before I return to the inevitable, I want to put in a strong word for Father Malcolm Hunger, who in his online diary describes how he is living on his church roof, St Michael’s in Camden Town, to raise funds for his local community. There are some hilarious passages, such as the saga of his smelly socks, how he feels he must eat offered lunch of a homeless man, and how he fights and fights the temptation to remove his shoes until he can hold on no longer, tears them off and plunges his feet in a bucket of cold water. Homeless people apparently endure misery because they daren’t remove their shoes to sleep at night, apparently they get stolen if they do.
It all puts the troubles of the Anglican Communion in an interesting perspective. Rowan Williams received extended applause at General Synod with his latest statement, posted on to his website, on the troubles of the Anglican Communion. Thinking Ánglicans has also posted the statement along with other reports on the troubles.
But what has most impressed me today has been the letter by Paul Oestreicher in the Church Times. Di vestment has come up again at this Synod, in questions, where the Ethical Investment Advisory Group was challenged on why it had not advised the Church Commissioners to divest from Caterpillar “despite the request by this Synod in February to do so.” The Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, replied that the group’s decision not to recommend disinvestment was set out clearly in its statement in March. The group had to consider whether there had been any change since September when its original decision not to disinvest was announced. Dr Selby said: “The group believed that circumstances had not changed, and that no new factors had been raised in debate of which it had not taken account.” The group has also raised with Caterpillar the issue of spare parts and is “satisfied” with the assurances given. One of the groups that has been lobbying for divestment is War on Want, and as the Jerusalem Post reports, the Charity Commission is looking into complaints that an anti-Israel meeting War on Want is organising this weekend might be in breach of its charitable status. Anglicans for Israel contrasts the Church of England’s stance on Israel with that of the Roman Catholic Church, which is taking a more positive approach.
But Canon Oestreicher makes a link in his letter, not on divestment, but with the present troubles facing the Church and its historic relations with the Jewish community. You have to subscribe to the CT to read the letter in full but I hope editor Paul Handley won’t object if I reproduce some parts here.
As Canon Oestreicher says, Dr Williams’ analysis of the situation in his letter to the Primates puts paid to the charge that he cannot speak with clarity. Indeed, his statement to the Friday Synod also does the same. Oestreicher continues to argue however that there is an ecclesiological question arising from the proposed covenant about whether the Church is a static or dynamic community of faith. “Is tradition or is innovation to be normative?” he asks. “Who are to be the insiders?”
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