On Day 2 of the General Synod meeting in Belfast the Report of the Representative Church Body was presented, as well as the Report of the Council for Mission, the Report of the Board of Education, and the Report of the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue.
The Report of Standing Committee was seconded by our Diocesan Youth Officer, Hilda Connolly, and the Rev. David Bowles also spoke to the report.
The Working Group on Pioneer Ministry brought forward proposals for pioneer ministry, and a motion on the housing crisis was proposed by the Church and Society Commission.
Another highlight was the announcement of a Clergy Assistance Programme by the Church of Ireland to help to improve mental health among leaders in ordained ministry. The programme was announced by Bishop Pat Storey, who chairs the initiative, as part of the Church’s mental health promotion project, MindMatters COI.
On Day 3 the two bills passed their final stages, and the Report of the Commission on Ministry was presented, highlighting a range of issues. Canon Paul Arbuthnot and former Diocesan Secretary Wilfred Baker both spoke to the report.
Dr Simon Elliott from Cloyne Union of Parishes proposed a motion to consider the development of a Church of Ireland Policy on Welcome and Equality. The proposed motion requested to consider
“…prohibiting discrimination in the church’s treatment of employees, office-holders, volunteers and contractors on the grounds of age, civil status, disability, family status, gender, membership of the Travelling Community, political views, race or sexual orientation…”
From Cork, Cloyne and Ross, speaking in favour of the motion were Bishop Paul Colton, Dean Susan Green, and Stephen Spillane, churchwarden at St Anne’s Church, Shandon. However, due to some opposition, the members of the General Synod voted 204 to 57 in favour of not voting on the main motion.