The General Synod of the Church of England has voted "not to take note" of a Report by the House of Bishops following a debate on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships.
A take note debate is a neutral motion which allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in a report without committing the Synod to the formal acceptance of any matter.
The vote required simple majorities in each of the three Synodical Houses. A total of 242 people voted in favour of the report 184 against and 6 abstentions - with a majority of Synod members voting to "take note" of the report. However the report failed to obtain a simple majority in the House of Clergy.
Bishop Christopher, who was present for the debate, said:
"I was disappointed by the outcome. I believed that the Report was – as the Archbishop of Canterbury described it in his very good speech – a valuable 'roadmap' by which the Bishops could help the Church to attend to its multiple responsibilities in these matters.
One of the merits of the Report was that, although there is indeed a wide spectrum of views in the House of Bishops and the College of Bishops, the Report had the support of the vast majority of the serving Bishops of the Church of England as an expression of the mind of the episcopate on the framework within which, and the principles by which, a settled position could be reached. The House of Bishops agreed to seek the views of the other two Houses of Synod by way of a Take Note Debate, which would allow us to learn from the wisdom of synodical colleagues as we worked on the areas of fresh work to which the Report committed us.
Much to my embarrassment, however, I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward. Due to a moment of distraction I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the Report! I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.
The work of the House of Bishops will continue as we seek to fulfil our particular doctrinal and pastoral responsibilities for the well-being of the Church and its mission, and I look forward to taking a full part in that process."
Please pray for the House of Bishops and all those involved in this process.