The results of the General Synod (parliament of the national church) election in the Church of England indicate that conservative evangelicals will have the numbers to block changes such as allowing gay blessings or marriage ceremonies.
The psephologist Peter Ould crunched the numbers based on campaign statements from new Synod members and provided a full report on the widely read Psuphizo blog run by evangelical scholar Ian Paul.
By using the labels “orthodox” and “revisionist” to describe the synod members’ position on same-sex blessings, he achieves these results.
House of the Clergy
Orthodox – 79 (40%)
Revisionist – 83 (42%)
Unknown – 34 (17%)
House of the Laity
Orthodox – 73 (37%)
Revisionist – 69 (35%)
Unknown – 55 (28%)
To make a change in doctrine or liturgy – or authorized services – in the Church of England requires a two-thirds majority in every house. This means that evangelical and progressive groups have the numbers to block change.
However, the existing services in the church are conservative in terms of sexuality. It is the progressive side that seeks change.
It was an election decided on the main issue of the day, sexuality, according to Ould. “The majority of elected members will associate with the two largest synod groups (Evangelical Group on the General Synod, ‘EGGS’ and Group of Human Sexuality) which roughly mirror the two pressure groups, CEEC [Church of England Evangelical Council] and CI [Inclusive Church], who recommended lists of candidates. Turnout increased simply because voters knew exactly where their candidates stood on the key issue of the day, knew who they agreed with and who they disagreed with, and were informed by the ” party ”with which they agreed on how to vote.
The CEEC demands a biblical / orthodox position on the sexuality of the candidates it supports.
Oul’s takeaway is, “Since the electorate knew quite explicitly what they were voting for, this finally puts an end to the misconception constantly spread by those who want a change in church teaching that the average person on the benches supports their position ”.
Inclusive Church fielded the most candidates the group fielded, twice the number in the last election. The commitment of their candidates was “I am committed to equality for all, at all levels and roles within the church, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, socio-status. -economic, mental health or sexuality ”.
CEEC urged “Anglican Orthodox Evangelicals…. to safeguard the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England.
One possible change would be for the bishops – who form the third house of the tricameral synod – to authorize “experimental services”. A process of meetings, with study material called “Living in Love and Faith,” discussing sexuality is taking place at CofE with many progressives anticipating that this will lead to change. The results of the general synod election may mean that this is postponed for at least five years – the length of time that new members of the synod will serve.
Ould is the twin of Sydney Senior Deputy Minister David Ould at Parramatta Cathedral.