The Chalice tag-line says that we support women as deacons, priests and bishops. A few months ago, the Chichester Diocesan Synod passed a motion requesting that Canon C 22:1, which states that an archdeacon has to have been in priests orders for seven years, should be amended so that distinctive deacons may also be appointed as archdeacons. We have had distinctive/permanent deacons in the Church of England since 1987; and some of these are experienced and capable women and men who could admirably take on the role and tasks of archdeacon.
The motion was set as contingency business for July 2011’s General Synod, but not taken; and then set for Wednesday morning in the Feb 2012 agenda. It however got bounced again, when an important emergency debate on Nigeria was placed on Wednesday, and unexpectedly promptly, was finally popped back in to the agenda on Tues afternoon. This is my [Alastair Cutting‘s] personal look at the debate, and some of its shortcomings.
Below are: (if these links aren’t working from the front page, try the full post)
- links to the papers
- a link to the audio recording of the debate
- the text of the introductory speech
- the results of the voting
- the Church Times report is available online as part of their full Synod digest, with just the report of this debate here
- finally, a commentary/reflection from me as to why I think the Church of England still needs distinctive deacons in the Archdeaconate
Alastair Cutting, Chichester, 96
(I was presenting the debate in the absence of Bishop John Hind, who was on duty in the House of Lord’s, as the timing of the debate had been shifted at short notice.)
I had heard of the expected vacancy in the see of Chichester; but I hadn’t expected the bishop’s absence to take effect quite so suddenly… This introduction is partly his – and partly not.
This motion seeks to remove from Canon C22.1 the requirement that an archdeacon must be in priests’ orders, and to clarify that a permanent deacon may be appointed an archdeacon.
The Secretary General has given some of the history. Now I don’t want to argue about what he has written, although I think some of his statements are questionable. Although I shall also say a bit about history, my aim is not antiquarian. I am more concerned for the integrity today of the threefold ministry to which the Church of England lays claim, but which has been obscured for many centuries and to some extent still is.
Some members of General Synod may know the lovely Church of St Saviour in Chora in Istanbul. In the inner narthex there is a mosaic lunette dating from about 1320 representing the restorer and donor of the redecorated church, Theodore Metochites, presenting the church to Christ Pantocrator. Theodore was a statesman, scholar and patron of the arts. More relevant for our purposes, is that his father was George Metochites, archdeacon of Constantinople in the 1270s and 1280s. As a deacon, George served as ambassador to the papal courts and was an important figure in the attempts to heal the great schism between the Greek and Latin churches at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. A good fairly late example of a diaconal archdeacon of considerable influence.
Thus, while the Secretary General is correct in drawing attention (more…)