7 December 2022

Motion on biblical marriage withdrawn, Day 2 of Melbourne Synod

Melbourne Synod continues online tonight. Picture: iStock.

13 October 2022

10.40pm

Well, it’s been quite a night.

In summary:

Synod withdrew the motion to Uphold Biblical Marriage after Ms Fiona McLean who had moved it, sought to withdraw it, saying that the debate would be painful and time consuming.

It was decided that there would be no Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce. The taskforce had been a stipulation of Section E of the Gender Equity motion, which was then amended.

A motion to amend Property Strategy and reflect a commitment to respect Traditional custodians, was also passed.

There were some sobering discussions about the diocesan budget.

There were also a number of amendments which we hope to be able to give more detail to tomorrow.

Thank you again for joining us, and so it’s good night from Jenan Taylor.

10:20pm

Motion 35, Celebration of 30 years of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne was moved by Reverend Colleen Arnold-Moore and seconded by Reverend Canon Dorothy Lee.

That this Synod joyfully celebrates the 30-year anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in this Diocese; remembers with thanks those who fought for the recognition of women’s Priestly gifting in this diocese; and continues to call women to their priestly vocation and leadership in this diocese.

Leave was sought to move the formal motion and 368 voted in favour of leave.

Next a vote in favour of the motion was passed with 382 in favour.

10:10pm

A further amendment to delete section E in in Motion 22, Gender Equity, has been suggested, and the debate on amendment has been resumed.

Section E in full currently states:

requests Archbishop in Council to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce to operate for an initial minimum period of 5 years. The Taskforce will
i. provide support across all levels of the Diocese (parishes, agencies, governance bodies, etc) to develop, implement and monitor targets relating to diversity
ii. recommend to Archbishop in Council relevant output targets (such as measuring the performance of committees) for gender diversity on all boards and committees,
iii. provide to Synod an annual diversity audit report of all Diocesan bodies, committees and offices (including clergy appointments across all parish and sector ministries) based upon those used to report to the Australian Government Workforce Gender Equality Agency (https://www.wgea.gov.au)

Dr Beagley said that along with Dr Holmes she was deeply disappointed that there would be no Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.

The motion for amendment was passed with 307 in favour.

10:00pm

Dr Leanne Beagley moved the Gender Equity motion, Motion 22 which asked that the synod:
– welcomes the Report of the Gender Quotas Committees;
– confirms a commitment to representative equality within leadership and governance at all levels (Bishops, clergy, laity) within the Diocese;
– commits itself to an input target of 50% women nominated for election and 40% women elected in all Synod elections;
– requests Archbishop in Council to adopt this input target for all committee appointments in the Diocese and to include this target in the Diocesan strategic directions; and
– requests Archbishop in Council to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce to operate for an initial minimum period of 5 years.

Seconder Dr Scott Holmes lamented being one of a few men who wanted genuine change. He said, among other things, it was time for men to make room for others, and to see the leadership skills of women.

Dr Jenny George said she supported the motion but wanted to make sure that targets only remained in the arsenal of tools that could be used to facilitate the way forward.

Mr Colin Foxwell wanted to amend the motion. Suggestion instead of referring to 50 percent women, that it be changed to 50 per cent to each gender. Because there might come a time when there are no men represented.

Dr Beagley was not comfortable to accept the amendment saying it defined gender in a binary form.

The motion for an amendment was lost with 231 voting against and 205 in favour.

9.40pm

Synod has withdrawn a motion on Biblical Marriage put forward which sought to affirm that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

The statement sought initially to reaffirm the statement which became an Act at the 18th meeting of General Synod held in May 2022.

It was moved by lay representative Fiona McLean and seconded by the Reverend Ben Lui Wong.

But Ms McLean tonight sought to withdraw the motion saying she recognised that passing the motion would immerse them in painful and time consuming debate.

Leave was given and the motion withdrawn.

9.35pm

Motion 25 Accessibility and Inclusion has been moved by Ms Jill Pickering and seconded by Reverend Cheryl Sullivans

437 voted in favour of the motion.

9.30pm

Bishop Genieve Blackwell has moved the formal Motion 19 Prevention of Violence Against Women. Seconded by Reverend Scott Holmes.

That this Synod welcomes the Family Violence Policy, Procedure, and Guidelines for church workers in the Diocese of Melbourne, which provide information on support services available and include support options for employees experiencing family violence (such as flexible working arrangements and family violence leave) and encourages all parishes and agencies of the Diocese to make use of these guidelines in their efforts to improve the way we respond to, and prevent, family violence.

Bishop Blackwell noted in her speech that Safe churches that are for those who have been marginalised and mistreated are attractive.

The motion was  passed with 442 in favour.

Read more: Leaders enrol to understand family violence in a Christian context 

Read more: Chance for churches to improve violence response, prevention

9.20pm

The Reverend Angela Cook said she longed to see a vision for property, that respected the Indigenous owners of the land, to make the word of God fully known to growing areas of Melbourne.

The amended motion was passed with 85 per cent in favour.

9.15pm

A motion to amend Motion 24 has been voted on and 299 were in favour.

Again all amendments will be available on the synod portal tomorrow.

9:00pm

Dr Judd wrote about property strategy in February.

Read more: We have the money, now we need vision

Archbishop Freier asked Mr Loughrey whether an amendment to Motion 24 was appropriate. Reverend Dr Andreas Loewe said he supported an amendment as well. But Reverend Dr Canon Chris Carolane said he didn’t understand aspects of it, so hoped to have that clarified.

All documents with amendments will be published tomorrow.

8.55pm

Motion 24 Property strategy was moved by Dr Andrew Judd, seconded by the Reverend Angela Cook.

That this synod:

  • Notes that, as per the reports and answers to questions at its last meeting:
    •  i. approximately $69 million has been realised from sale of church properties in the last decade,
    • ii. $2.7 million sits in the Ministry Presence Initiative Fund,
    • iii. 7 congregations in this diocese are currently renting their place of worship, and
    • iv. 1 new place of worship has been built with diocesan assistance in the last decade.
  • Directs Archbishop in Council to form a strategy for better allocating the assets of the church to ensure that the word of God is preached and the sacraments duly administered in compelling and outward-looking congregations throughout this diocese.
  • Requests Archbishop in Council to report back on the acts done in this matter at the next Synod

Dr Jenny George spoke in favour and said it was also important to steward the assets well. Mr Neil Sigamoney also supported it. However Rev Dr Garry Deverell and Canon Glenn Loughrey said that what was missing was a recognition of a figure put aside for reparation for the land that the Indigenous people were never compensated for.

8.30pm

Synod has voted on Motion 3 to receive and note the budget.

They also received Motion 30, Balancing the Diocesan Budget, in the following form only.

  • Thanks the General Manager and Chief Financial Officer for their work preparing the Diocesan Budget for 2023,
  • Notes that the proposed budget involves a consolidated deficit of $1,480,000 across the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, the Anglican Development Fund and the Melbourne Anglican Diocese Corporation,
  • Notes that there is no plan to return the budget to surplus, and
  • Asks Archbishop in Council to reconsider the budget, looking for ways to bring our expenditure in line with our income, whilst preserving ministry as much as possible,

8.20pm

Chris Porter also spoke in support of amending Motion 30 saying it was a significant risk to accept a $1.48m deficit. He said Archbishop in Council should be asked to review the budget and give more detail as to why a deficit was required and reject motion 3, the Diocesan Budget for 2023.

Motion 3 has been moved by Mr Neil Sigamoney. Among the reasons to accept motion 3, Mr Sigamoney said an environmental officer role for the diocese was to be developed, as well as a disability officer, and for children and youth ministry, so it needed to be considered how those things were to be funded.

He gave reasons about why bringing the budget back to balance was not going to be straightforward. The deep cuts that had to come to do so would mean that funds would have to come from some major ministry areas. He asked that synod received and noted the budget for 2023.

8:00pm

Motion 30, a motion Balancing the Diocesan Budget has been put forth by Andrew Judd and seconded by Matthew Crichton.

Motion 30 asked synod.

That this synod:

  • Thanks the General Manager and Chief Financial Officer for their work preparing the Diocesan Budget for 2023,
  • Notes that the proposed budget involves a consolidated deficit of $1,480,000 across the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, the Anglican Development Fund and the Melbourne Anglican Diocese Corporation,
  • Notes that there is no plan to return the budget to surplus, and
  •  Asks Archbishop in Council to reconsider the budget, looking for ways to bring our expenditure in line with our income, whilst preserving ministry as much as possible, and
  •  Respectfully declines to receive the Diocesan Budget for 2023.

There is a call to vote for an amendment to this motion.

7.50pm

Standing orders are being discussed, including what might be considered and reconsidered. We might follow this up tomorrow, so we can give it more detail.

7:30pm

General Manager Justin Lachal is now talking about the Diocesan budget. He said there were ‘significant headwinds’.

Numbers not recovering from COVID and society not supporting religious belief had impacted performance. He said an increase in the compliance regime continued to surprise with things like insurance also going up.

There was a $1m budget deficit after depreciation.

However, there had been incremental improvements with parishes however.

He spoke about how increased Information and communications technology, changing the way in which payroll was rolled out and the redesign of TMA and a website redesign were positive aspects.

In closing Mr Lachal said there are challenges, a deficit budget gives no pleasures, but that the diocese was facing challenges with a growth mindset.

7:15pm

Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier has urged people to practice self care and to perhaps consider reaching out to lifeline and other people whom they trust, given that there will be matters discussed tonight that will raise personal questions about family violence and trauma.

He has gone on to look at questions, and pointed out that a question concerning the MATC Trustee election is out of line, because it contained opinion.

Other questions related to professional standards review, The Melbourne Anglican and the Birch Trust.

7:00pm

Good evening all. Jenan Taylor taking you through tonight’s synod proceedings.

Items on the agenda include the diocesan accounts and budget, as as well motions about the prevention of violence against women, and upholding biblical marriage, but first prayer and couple of beautiful hymns.

Reverend Michael McNamara has said the Lord’s prayer and also prayed for Iran, Australia’s emergency services, high school students entering final exams, the prime minister Anthony Albanese and for all the Australian Churches.

One of the last motions last night, was brought by the Reverend Patrick Senn at Merri Creek Anglican.

It was about a generous grant from the UK’s Benefact Trust and the facilitation of that by the Melbourne Anglican Foundation for a number of church planting initiatives.

Mr Senn thanked the donors and in particular Melbourne Anglican Foundations as well as Bishop Kate Prowd, Church Planting Canons Julie-Anne Laird and John Sanderson for their help.

It was passed with 419 in favour.

Tune in to watch proceeding here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsJyQDPnRb8

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