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Anglican Church of Australia

General Synod

CIRCULAR LETTER

To: Diocesan Bishops, Administrators and Registrars

Subject: Updated Advice – Special Session of General Synod in 2020

Date: 4 June 2019

The General Synod Standing Committee met on 31 May to 1 June 2019.

At this meeting it reviewed the legislative program and arrangements for the Eighteenth
Session of the General Synod (GS18) planned for 2020.

At this same meeting it received reports from the General Synod’s Doctrine Commission and
the Church Law Commission on the implications of amendments to the Marriage Act 1961
(Cth) and discussed how the issue of same-sex marriage could be addressed at GS18 in
2020.

Following consideration of these arrangements and issues it resolved as follows:

The Standing Committee:


1. resolved to recommend to the Primate that a special session of General Synod be
convened between 31 May and 5 June 2020 at Novotel Twin Waters Resort,
Maroochydore, Queensland and that the business for the special session be this
Church’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into
Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and other such business as shall
be agreed by the Standing Committee at its November 2019 meeting
2. resolved that in conjunction with the special session, a conference also be
convened involving some or all General Synod members and possibly others to
consider the range of issues this Church is facing in relation to human sexuality,
same-sex relationships and marriage, and possible ways forward for this Church.
(SC2019/01/11)

It was the view of the Standing Committee that the Church’s response to the issues of
human sexuality, same sex relationships and marriage is likely to be developed through an
extended process. It considered that there are benefits to commencing that process with a
conference to facilitate discussion and engagement outside the constraints of synodical
processes.

ABN: 90 767 330 931 ● Suite 4, Level 5, 189 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 2 8267 2700 ● Fax: +61 2 8267 2727 ● www.anglican.org.au

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Special Session of General Synod

Section 23 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia outlines the requirements
for holding ordinary and special sessions of General Synod.

S23(d) provides that:

(d) The procedure and powers of Synod in a special and an ordinary session shall be
the same, provided that in a special session no business other than the business
specified in the mandate the conduct of such business and matters of procedure
shall be transacted.

The Standing Committee has resolved “ that the business for the special session be this
Church’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional
Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and other such business as shall be agreed by the
Standing Committee at its November 2019 meeting

The Primate’s Mandate will confirm the business to be considered at the special session.

The Safe Ministry Commission is coordinating the response to the recommendations of the
Royal Commission for Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and has already
identified a program of legislative amendments and other initiatives to be considered by
resolution.

The business program is yet to be confirmed but it is anticipated that the duration of the
special session shall be at least 2 days.

Conference Program

The conference will be structured to facilitate consideration of the “range of issues this
Church is facing in relation to human sexuality, same-sex relationships and marriage, and
possible ways forward for this Church”.

The Standing Committee will oversee the design of the conference. Conference papers will
include ‘Marriage, Same-sex Marriage and the Anglican Church of Australia: Essays from
the Doctrine Commission’. This publication of essays is provided in response to resolution
GS48/17 at the Seventeenth Session of the General Synod which requested the Doctrine
Commission to “facilitate a respectful conversation in our church by means of a collection of
essays on marriage and same-sex relationships that explores scriptural and theological
issues….”

The conference program is yet to be confirmed but it is anticipated that the duration of the
conference shall be at least 2 days.

Deferral of the Eighteenth Session of General Synod (GS18)

The Standing Committee has resolved to hold a special session of synod during the dates
initially set aside for GS18.

The decision to hold a special session of synod in 2020 means that GS18 will be deferred.

Ordinary sessions of Synod shall be held at intervals not exceeding four years. The Standing
Committee can by resolution extend the time between ordinary sessions of Synod to six
years.

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As the Seventeenth Session of General Synod was held in September 2017 the Eighteenth
Session must be held before September 2023 (if Standing Committee chooses to extend the
time).

Standing Committee has not confirmed the date and venue for GS18.

Confirmation of General Synod Representatives

The Primate’s Mandate will be issued for this Special Session of Synod no later than 1
February 2020.

In response to the Mandate, Diocesan Bishops will be asked to certify the number of clergy
and lay representatives for their diocese and return their names and contact details to the
General Synod Office.

Dioceses have already been requested to schedule the processes for electing or appointing
General Synod representatives before the end of 2019, in order to be able to provide
representative details as soon as the Mandate is issued.

Registration and travel bookings for diocesan representatives will open in February 2020.

The General Synod representatives will also be invited to participate in the conference, to be
held in conjunction with the special session.

Representatives should plan to attend the combined special session and conference for 4-5
days between 31 May and 5 June 2020. The confirmed program will be issued as soon as it
is finalised with detail of arrival and departure dates within that period.

Cost of participation

Financial and administration arrangements for the special session of synod and the
conference will be the same as would be put in place for the ordinary session of General
Synod.

The General Synod is responsible for the cost of travel for all General Synod members and
all other venue costs and meals.

Dioceses are responsible for the cost of accommodation for their representatives.

Ongoing Updates

Further advice will be provided as arrangements are confirmed. Please do not hesitate to
contact me if you require additional information at this stage.

Yours sincerely

Anne Hywood
General Secretary

T: +61 (0)2 8267 2701


M: +61 (0)412 103 734
E: generalsecretary@anglican.org.au

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