In it, I asked him for a "ball-park figure for the likely cost of the House of Laity meeting in January to consider the vote of 'no confidence' in the Chair, Philip Giddings".
Like I said in the email, it was obviously a busy time (even busier now, I guess), but then it can't be an easy time for Philip either.
A true estimate of the cost must be hard to gauge, given that it will include travel and subsistence, and perhaps even time off work, for all the members. However, there must be some obvious daily costs that one can work out from the usual gatherings of the Synod (a sort of 'total minus the clergy and bishops' would do it, I guess).
Nevertheless, in these days of austerity and the need to reduce unnecessary expenditure, we who are paying for it through our quotas etc surely have a right to ask and to know.
We also have the right to know why this meeting is being called. Below is the email sent to all members of the House of Laity setting out the reasons for which Canon Stephen Barney is calling for this special meeting. Judge for yourself whether you think this is a justifiable reason for taking this course of action.
Dear fellow member of the House of Laity,
I am writing to you to ask you to consider whether we should call a special meeting of the House of Laity as soon as possible, to debate whether we can still have confidence in the Chair of the House of Laity following the events of Tuesday.
If you feel that a debate on this issue would be useful please could you e mail Nicholas Hills, Secretary to the House of Laity, firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to me stating your General Synod number, expressing your view on this. To call a special meeting 10% of the members have to vote for it.
My reason for asking you to think about this is that I do not have confidence in our Chair for since:
a.. His speech against the measure followed directly after Justine Welby's and therefore directly undermined what the Archbishop elect had said
b.. Since it was against it did not support the views of the House of Bishop's as a whole
c.. Speaking as the Chair of our house his speech was instrumental in convincing some of the undecided members of the house to vote against
d.. The speech was therefore a significant contributor to the reputational damage the Church of England is already suffering at the hands of the press, which is also manifest in the comments of the Prime Minister, the emerging reports of withdrawal of financial support, the angry reaction of church members and the disbelief and ridicule expressed by many of our secular friends, all of which will damage the mission of our church
e.. The failure of the measure is already giving momentum to the idea that the only likely solution now is a single clause measure, which would result in a worse outcome for the minority groups than was on offer on Tuesday.
I have always been one of the first to say that individuals must vote according to their consciences, however leaders have other responsibilities and accountabilities. I feel that if I am to support the leader of a group of which I am a member then that leader must show wise and good judgement and that this has not happened.
Canon Stephen Barney
General Synod member 325
Chair Diocesan Board of Finance
Former Public Company Director and Divisional Managing Director
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