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How many amendments? (Updated with key speeches)

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

This blog was written as a "noddy-guide" to the CofE's General Synod's debate on blessing same-sex couples, in November 2023.

Votes and some key speeches have since been recorded in italics.


For those following General Synod - here is a quick guide to the various amendments in the Living in Love and Faith debate that will be taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.


The main motion is:

‘That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides feel pain at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, and encourage the House to continue its work of implementation.’


This will be introduced by the Bishop of London and it is likely that the Chair will allow a few speeches for and against the main motion as it stands before any amendments are debated.


The first seven speeches give a taste of the debate (watch below from 1:58:27)

  • Ms Julie Withers - "I am a licensed lay minister... I was married in June this year... my wife and I had been together for twenty years."

  • Mr Richard Brown - "Marriage, which isn't marriage, using liturgy, which isn't liturgy - I wonder how you think these things play out with very large numbers of people?"

  • Rev Jodie Stowell - "When it comes to supporting the move to bring Prayers of Love and Faith to the life of the Church and her people, I cannot see it as anything other than the just, right, fair, merciful, compassionate action of God's Spirit.

  • Mr Peter Barrett - "I do not want Justin to resign, I do not want to take him to court, my church does not want to stop paying the parish share and give my money to a group of trustees who will decide what to do with it - it saddens me that people are doing this it is not the way of Christ."

  • Mr James Wilson - "I started to attend the Church where I currently worship as it was coming to terms with the suicide of a member of the congregation, Lizzie Lowe, she was 14.... she was coming to terms with the fact that she was gay."

  • Rev Neil Barber - "There is a simple choice for each one of us here today, each bishop and archbishop, each member of the House of Clergy and each member of the House of Laity. Jesus is clear, Joshua was clear - I am with them - and I implore you Synod to echo Joshua's words, "As for me and my household we will serve the Lord."

  • Rev Will Pearson-Gee - "I love you all but we cannot walk together - we need to part company so we can start talking about other issues - like mission."


There are 14 amendments, numbered 31-44, which can be seen on Order Paper IV. The amendments will be debated in order using the following process:

  • The amendment is 'moved' by the named individual - they are usually given five minutes, or so, to explain why they wish to amend the main motion in this way.

  • The Bishop of London will be able to respond to the amendment - indicating whether they agree with it or why they would encourage people to vote against it.

  • There then follows a debate about the amendment - officially people's speeches should be related to the amendment and not the main motion - but that isn't always the case.

  • After a number of speeches on either side the amendment is voted on. It is likely that someone will jump up and ask for a counted vote by houses - which means over 50% of bishops, 50% of clergy and 50% of laity have to vote in favour for the main motion to be changed.

  • If an amendment is accepted, the appropriate change to the motion takes place at that point and Synod moves on to the next amendment. If it fails, then Synod just moves on to the next amendment.

Once all the amendments have been debated the main motion as amended is then debated. And at the end the the Bishop of London will be given the chance to respond to the debate before Synod votes on the final motion.


So, what are the amendments?


The Bishop of Durham to move the following amendment:

31 ‘Leave out “feel pain” and insert “are being deeply hurt”.’


This appears to be a linguistic change, but it should be noted that it changes the meaning from pain that is being felt by people to deep hurt that is being done to people.


This amendment was accepted by the Bishop of London and passed by a show of hands.


The Ven Malcolm Chamberlain (Sheffield) to move as an amendment:

32 ‘After “at this time”, leave out “recognise the” and insert “is disappointed by the limited”.’


This appears to be an attempt to complain that not enough progress has been made by the bishops.


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 1 Against - 22 Abstentions - 13

Clergy : In favour- 78 Against - 100 Abstentions - 9

Laity: In favour- 88 Against - 104 Abstentions - 9


The Bishop of Durham to move the following amendment:

33 ‘Leave out “progress made” and insert “work and consultation undertaken”.


The meaning of this amendment will depend slightly on whether amendment 32 passes or fails - but appears to be a way of neutralising the work that the bishops have done from 'progress' towards the introduction of PLF to 'work and consultation' about PLF. If it passes it may help some people vote for the main motion.


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 11 Against - 23 Abstentions - 2

Clergy : In favour- 95 Against - 94 Abstentions - 2

Laity: In favour- 101 Against - 90 Abstentions - 6


The Revd Neil Patterson (Hereford) to move as an amendment:

34 ‘Leave out “as reported in GS 2328”.’


This allows people to vote in favour of the main motion without appearing to approve of the aspects of GS 2328, which some believe rowed back from the motion passed by General Synod in February.


Dr Ros Clarke - "... makes it clear just how divided the bishops are - not just on the subject of same-sex relationships but also on the legal advice and the motion before us. Synod it is not progress to be presented with legal advice which most of us have not been allowed to see and which has divded those who have seen it." (3:07:28)


Mr Philip Baldwin - "Christianity is not about repression, hypocrisy and denial, it is about generosity, compassion and love... to move to a position where it ultimately serves and celebrates LGBTQI+ people." (3:53:02)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 13 Against - 20 Abstentions - 1

Clergy : In favour- 84 Against - 99 Abstentions - 6

Laity: In favour- 86 Against - 106 Abstentions - 5


Mr Clive Scowen (London) to move as an amendment:

35 ‘Leave out all words after “GS 2328,” and insert “but call on the House to take no further steps towards implementing that motion until this Synod has considered the full legal advice received by the House prior to agreeing the proposals in GS 2328.”.’


There have been many requests through Questions to persuade the House of Bishops to publish the legal advice they have received - this is another attempt to get this information into the public sphere. The House of Bishops is unlikely to vote in favour - but if the House of Clergy and the House of Laity voted in favour it might increase the pressure on the bishops to publish the advice.


Rt Rev Sarah Mullally - "It is clear and it is transparent. And therefore I would suggest to Clive that tonight, go back, re-read GS 2328 and you will see the legal... the foundation of the legal advice we have been given. (4:13:14)


Rev Tom Woolford - "Publish the legal advice without delay - I've said it, let's see it and then it can be sorted." (4:35:05)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 10 Against - 22 Abstentions - 2

Clergy : In favour- 88 Against - 99 Abstentions - 0

Laity: In favour- 93 Against - 98 Abstentions - 6


The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham to move as an amendment:

36 ‘Leave out all words after “GS 2328,” and insert “and call on the House not to commend the draft suite of prayers before this Synod has considered the complete Pastoral Guidance replacing Issues in Human Sexuality.”.’


The House of Bishops have said they will not publish the Pastoral Guidance on whether or not clergy can enter into same-sex marriages until next year. This is an attempt to link some certainty about the nature of the Pastoral Guidance to the introduction of the Prayers of Love and Faith.


Rev Dr Ian Paul, "The great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus himself, our supreme pastor was also Jesus, the Teacher. He never separated his pastoral care and love for his people from his teaching. We cannot separate his command to love from his command to obey and the reason we need those commandments is we do not know rightly how to love." (4:00:36)


Rt Revd Pete Wilcox, "The glacial progress is ... far more to do with the intractible trickiness of answering two fundamental questions - 'Will the House of Bishops maintain, or will we relax, the discipline which currently prohibits clergy from entering into same-sex civil marriage?' and, 'Will we maintain, or will we relax, the frequently stated position of the House of Bishops that the only proper context for sexual intimacy is heterosexual marriage?" (4:56:10)


[Synod broke for worship - to return the next morning]

Revd Rachel Webbley, "We in the parishes understand that things change. Women don't have to wear a hat to church, left-handed cildren don't have their fingers rapped and divorced people are not automatically barred from re-marrying in church." (46:02)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 12 Against - 25 Abstentions - 2

Clergy : In favour- 80 Against - 97 Abstentions - 1

Laity: In favour- 92 Against - 93 Abstentions - 0



The Revd Vaughan Roberts (Oxford) to move as an amendment:

37 ‘Leave out all words after “GS 2328,” and insert “and call on the House not to commend the draft suite of prayers before this Synod has considered proposals for structural provision having the confidence of both those who do and those who do not seek change.”.’


The House of Bishops have not even begun to decide on proposals for structural provision - so the structural provision, which many conservatives have said that they need, will not be in place before the prayers (and possibly the standalone services) are introduced. This is both an attempt to slow down the introduction of the PLF and to ensure an even handed approach to the process.


Revd Canon Vaughan Roberts, "If this motion is passed there will be a tearing of the fabric of the Church of England at the deepest level – in every parish, deanery and diocese." (1:00:49)


Miss Lucy Gorman, "People are planning wed... planning blessings, as of February's decision, let's let them do that, let's just crack on and do the work we voted for in February." (1:12:50)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 13 Against - 26 Abstentions - 1

Clergy : In favour- 81 Against - 103 Abstentions - 4

Laity: In favour- 90 Against - 102 Abstentions - 1



The Bishop of Oxford to move as an amendment:

‘38 At the end insert “and ask the House to consider whether some standalone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis, on the timescale envisaged by the motion passed by the Synod in February 2023”.’.


This is the key amendment - and it is likely that the Bishop of London will support it. If passed it will introduce standalone services to be introduced with Synod's support. If it fails the Archbishops could still introduce them.


Revd Kate Wharton, "I believe to pass this amendment would be pastorally irresponsible, practically irresponsible, theologically irresponsible and collegially irresponsible" (1:42:40)


Very Revd Mandy Ford, "Numerous people, of whom I am one, have had a service of thanksgiving following entering a Civil partnership in their own parish church - with the full knowledge of their diocesan bishop for ten years. And to my knowledge, in that time not a single clergyperson has been disciplined for conducting such a service." (1:44:35)


Rt Revd Martin Warner, "Doctrine is what inspires adoration of God, martyrdom and mission and it is eschatalogical, asserting that what we are and do now is orientated in some intrinsic way to the eternal reality." (1:48:00)


Mr Benjamin Johns, "Living in Love and faith can be summarised in four words - 'Did God really say?'" (2:02:48)


This amendment was carried after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 25 Against - 16 Abstentions - 0

Clergy : In favour- 101 Against - 94 Abstentions - 1

Laity: In favour- 99 Against - 98 Abstentions - 2


The Bishop of Guildford to move as an amendment:

39 ‘At the end insert “and, in particular, to bring the “forms of service” in Annex C to GS 2328 (the suite of prayers) for approval in the same way as the “forms of service” in Annex D (the stand-alone orders).”.’


This is an attempt to ensure that both the prayers and the standalone services are not introduced without a 2/3 majority. It is a key vote for the conservatives.


Rt Revd Andrew Watson,"The irony is, that like the Day of the Lord, the day of B2 will come, but to change the image from the Holy Scriptures to Michael Rosen's book, 'We Are Going on a Bear Hunt' - 'We can't go over it, we can't go under it, Oh No! We've got to go through it."


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 13 Against - 27 Abstentions - 1

Clergy : In favour- 90 Against - 103 Abstentions - 0

Laity: In favour- 93 Against - 104 Abstentions - 3


The Revd Dr Sara Batts-Neal (Chelmsford) to move as an amendment:

40 ‘At the end insert “and request the House of Bishops to publish section 3 of the Pastoral Guidance, on ministry, by 31st March 2024.”.


This is an attempt to ensure that the bishops are accountable for actually producing the final parts of the Pastoral Guidance in time for next year's 'discernment process' - the bishops have said they hope to have it in place by February so they may accept this amendment.


Mrs Nicola Denyer, "Lay people have lots of different ideas about where the Church of England should go, not just on LLF, but also what kind of coffee we should have after a service, and what kind of biscuits we should get when the bishop comes to do a confirmation. Difference is OK." (3:08:50)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 8 Against - 26 Abstentions - 8

Clergy : In favour- 78 Against - 103 Abstentions - 10

Laity: In favour- 91 Against - 101 Abstentions - 5


Mr Sam Margrave (Coventry) to move the following amendment:

41 ‘At the end insert “recognising all of us together are Christ’s body, and each of us is a part of it, call for the House of Bishops to make arrangements for a referendum to be held, to ask all members currently on electoral rolls within the Church of England, their views on these matters.”.’


This would be a novel approach - which goes beyond a referral to the diocese, when votes are taken in the diocesan synod.


This amendment was not debated - because the Bishop of London rejected it and there were not 25 members of Synod who wished to debate the matter.


Ms Jayne Ozanne (Oxford) to move as an amendment:

42 ‘At the end insert ", and ask the House of Bishops to consider whether sexual activity outside of marriage is a first-order creedal issue and publish that opinion.".’


This amendment is similar to amendment 35 - the request for legal advice to be published. The question has been asked many times and no answer has been given.


Revd Patrick Richmond, "There are issues explicitly in Scripture, that pertain to our salvation, but which are not creedal, indeed they have not been challenged in the history of the Church and so there has never been a need to set it down." (3:34:16)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 3 Against - 28 Abstentions - 8

Clergy : In favour- 70 Against - 110 Abstentions - 7

Laity: In favour- 85 Against - 106 Abstentions - 6


Mr Sam Margrave (Coventry) to move the following amendment:

43 ‘At the end insert "and, further encourage the House of Bishops to ensure transparency and openness as further debates take place and decisions are made in relation to Living in Love and Faith.".’


This looks like a motherhood and apple pie amendment - but still might fail because it is "unnecessary." [Actually this was an effort to challenge the House of Bishops' decision to meet in 'secret']


Revd Marcus Walker "... my vote will be analysed and examined and anything I say will be explored, analysed and examined. two of the Houses of this House (sic) have to debate in public, have our votes known in public and that is right because what we say and what we do is of serious important matter." (3:59:32)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 6 Against - 24 Abstentions - 7

Clergy : In favour- 81 Against - 99 Abstentions - 7

Laity: In favour- 97 Against - 94 Abstentions - 8


[Synod broke for lunch]



The Bishop of Durham to move the following amendment:

44 ‘At the end insert “and to propose firm provision that provides a clear way of distinguishing differing views and seeks to ensure that all God’s people are able to recognise those with whom they disagree (as well as those with whom they agree) as God’s gift to one another within the family of God.”.’


This is another attempt to raise the importance of 'differentiation' but some may think it might undermine the need for structural provision.


Canon Dr Jamie Harrison, "I've been told that there is no appetite for that [conversations about structural provision] (I wonder if that is true, there are no guarantees, no certainties that a settlement can come out of this but if we don't try we will never know." (25:32)


Revd Canon Paul Butler, "Schism is a great sin and I am afraid that what we have heard so far from the Church of England Evangelical Council is advocating schism." (32:22)


This amendment was lost after a counted vote by houses

Bishops: In favour- 14 Against -19 Abstentions - 2

Clergy : In favour- 88 Against - 90 Abstentions - 9

Laity: In favour- 86 Against - 105 Abstentions - 10


[Both conservatives and progressives voted against this amendment]


The final motion was therefore:


‘That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides are being deeply hurt at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, and encourage the House to continue its work of implementation and ask the House to consider whether some standalone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis, on the timescale envisaged by the motion passed by the Synod in February 2023.'


Mrs Alianore Smith, "It does not seem wise or prudent to vote on something as important as this when there is incomplete pastoral guidance and a lack of transparency around legal advice." (1:02:22)


Mr Daniel Matovu,"The 44 bishops will correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that the mission of the Church was to encourage people to get into the Kingdom of God, not help them get disqualified from it." (1:11:45)


Rev Adrian Clarke, "A good number of my congregation have put their family's lives on the line in Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and many more would be willing to do so to defend the Scriptures, the very Word of God ... and consequently they are saying to me that if these prayers are passed, either we leave the CofE or they will leave this church." (1:24:00)


Revd Canon Alice Kemp "As a Church founded on the love of God, is this who we really want to be? A Church that wants to be exempt from the Equality Act? That wants to do things that keep us from being part of everybody?" (1:22:32)


Rt Revd Sarah Mullally (summing up)

"The legal has been in conversation with theology. This has been an iterative process..." (1:53:50)


"None of us denies the deeply divisive nature of our disagreement but this is not a creedal issue, unity however is. We have sought to thread reassurance through the proposals but for some this will not be enough and therefore the House of Bishops has committed to look at formal structural provision. For some the simple fact that I have led this process has meant they see me no longer as in communion with them, I want to ensure them that I still believe that we are in communionwith one another. And whilst I may no longer be invited to eat at their table, they will always be welcome at mine. And if that means I need to sit outside with the powerless, th emarginalised and the lost, then that is where I will sit and I am certain that I will also encounter Christ there." (1:57:05)


The motion passed


Bishops: In favour- 23 Against -10 Abstentions - 4

Clergy : In favour- 100 Against - 93 Abstentions - 1

Laity: In favour- 104 Against - 100 Abstentions - 0


Lord have mercy.

 

Recognising that many faithful Anglicans will be confused about what has happened and what might happen Anglican Futures offers fortnightly online gatherings:

Close to the Edge - on Tuesday morning at 10.30am and Thursday evening at 7pm.





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