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put General Synod online

New Zealand’s General Synod papers are typed up on a computer and, hence, the papers are digital prior to being printed off. Rev. Peter Carrell has been reading the 2010 General Synod papers and is discussing them on his website. Peter is not a member of General Synod – hence, there is clearly nothing confidential or secret about these papers.

After the meeting of General Synod, the proceedings of General Synod are published – this publication includes these papers.

I urge the province (the provincial secretary) to place the General Synod papers, motions, and other material online now. In the interests of transparent governance. In the interests of being a church living in the 21st century. In the interests of increasing interest in the decision-making processes of our church. In the interests of increasing understanding of our church.

There is no effort involved in putting them online. Take the digital files. Put them online. Host them on the General Synod website (the minutes of a previous General Synod are there, highlighting there’s no issue in principle). Host them on Anglican Taonga. I urge Anglican Taonga to make placing the General Synod papers online a priority as the official news source of this church.

If this is not forthcoming, Peter – scan the papers and host them on something like scribd, with a link from your site. I’m happy to host them here. There is no excuse for them not to be online.

My wish-list for General Synod.

General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia meets this year from 10 to 14 May in Gisborne.

ps. Further to the discussion on this site re. why is the episcopal ordination this afternoon not being webcast: why not webcast General Synod discussions? General Synod is a public meeting and anyone can go and watch.

pps. as a courtesy I have contacted Rev Peter Carrell, Anglican Taonga, and the General Secretary to let them know of this post.

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13 thoughts on “put General Synod online”

  1. Hello Bosco
    Your courtesy is appreciated.
    For clarification: my comment on my blog, Anglican Down Under, re the likely approach being taken to the Covenant by General Synod, is based on being part of a meeting in which discussion of the Covenant-at-General-Synod took place and thus I learned of a likely motion which GS members will be invited to consider.

    My only personal access to GS papers is by requesting to look at a GS member’s papers. (That is the same access which any member of our church has). I have taken advantage of that opportunity to have a cursory glance at some things being said about the Covenant, but have not time in the immediate future to seek to borrow all the papers for GS and even less time to scan them!! (I have a personal interest in the Covenant-at-General-Synod because I contributed, on request from the General Synod office, a paper on the Covenant, as part of a series of papers elicited from members of this church, arguing the pros and cons of the Synod. It is likely that I will personally publish access to my paper on my blog shortly).
    I agree with Bosco that digital access to the papers would be a good idea; but, should this happen, I forewarn readers that we are talking about a decent sized book of fairly soporific material, not 25 pages of ripping yarns!!

    1. Thanks Peter. The only points I might add relates to your comment, “That is the same access which any member of our church has”.
      I am not sure that the average member of our church even knows that General Synod is meeting.
      Other than on your site and mine, where has it been mentioned?
      (Is it being prayed about in the parishes and communities that you are aware of?)
      Also: does an interested person in Ross or Opononi really have “the same access” to these papers as you do, employed for theological education and formation in one of our largest cities?
      That comment reminded me too much of the availability of the plans for the destruction of the earth in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 😉

  2. Im curious about that Bosco. Wouldnt the discussion of G Synod documents, prior to G Synod presuppose any decision making? What good is to be gained from that? Ought not the discussions take place at Diocesan/Regional level? If one is seriously concerned about the transparency of G Synod, ought not they be pro-active at Regional and Diocesan levels?

  3. Im all in favour of having access to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Im sure Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford would sympathise with that as a necessity) however, it would be entirely a greater privilege to be at the table of the authors and the contributors to said document. May I be ever mindful that too frequently it is the lowest bidder that manufactures the much needed crafts required to defend the earth from its impending destruction!

    My experience of Regional and Diocesan Synod suggests that many members are ‘building the plane as they fly it’ to borrow a phrase quite frighteningly fitting with my post 😉

  4. I do hope your quest bears fruit Bosco, Peter.

    When I joined the CoE’s General Synod in 2005, I started the General Synod blog (link at my name) to help disseminate news and views. Initially it was/I was treated with considerable suspicion, incase I ‘let things out’. Yet that didn’t stop members of the press, who were not always even on the side of synod, as it were, being invited in, given wifi access, allowed photographs etc before synod bloggers were able to.

    Now things have progressed so that all our papers are public, and there are audio feeds of sessions available, all accessible from quite a good section on the CofE site: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/gensynod/
    I think it can’t but help to have materials more openly available like this.

    For what it’s worth, I was at the 2000 ACANZP General Synod (sitting next to Ross Bay, now you mention it). I learned much from the experience, and have manage to sneak the ACANZP in to a few of my speeches at our Synod. They should show up in the tag search at:

    1. Thanks so much, Alastair. Many people all over the world similarly followed TEC’s General Convention debates online, including webcasts, twitter, and official documents online.

  5. Hi Bosco
    It is true, now that you have revealed my location for all to see, that I do not live in Ross or Opononi :), so yes, I do have a physical advantage accessing a member’s papers (unless a GS member happens to live in Ross or Opononi … in that case I think Anglicans there would know which of their number were a GS member!). But (a) I still have to borrow them (b) a GS member still has to lend them. And you would expect the more assiduous members to be reluctant to let them out of sight!!

    1. I think you are here arguing even more strongly for putting the papers online – as clearly it is not easy to get hold of these, Peter.

  6. Peter Carrell

    Hi Bosco
    A small update
    I am intrigued today to find – not unexpectedly, really, because Synods with motions and bills are often like this – that some of the initial motions and bills have chopped and changed around a bit since the initial mailout.

    That could be an argument for not posting material online: if it is not of a settled nature then, arguably, it should not be posted until it has become a settled resolution.

    Nevertheless your point remains about reports being published: they normally do not change!

    1. Thanks for this update, Peter,
      What are the alterations to motions and bills? (remembering that we still have no real idea what the initial motions and bills are).
      Can you please explain how you see such changes being an argument in favour of not posting material online? I can only see it as reinforcing the value of using the internet. Presumably the motions and bills are going to go through the normal processes which include amendments, so no one expects that the original motions and bills all will necessarily look the same at the end of this – I see this as an argument in favour of having such things reported online. Online communication is about immediate communication and the possibility of alteration and flexibility. When TEC had its General Convention people were following on Twitter which bishop was voting which way name by name, diocese by diocese, as they were voting.
      An individual, Sharlene Douglas-Huriwai, has taken the initiative of setting up a General Synod wordpress blog (remember that to do so is totally free and extremely simple). Maybe that is the (only?) way forward in our church, for individuals to do this sort of thing voluntarily in their spare time. Like this site.

  7. Peter, isn’t that what debating motions are all about – being chopped and changed. That is what amendments do! I’d say publish them online as they are, then add the changes as things develop.

    At the CofE General Synod we have recently started trying out having the text of the motion projected. As the amendments are then debated, new text is added in, in a different colour, demonstrating the change to the motion that the amendment will make with lines through etc. As each amendment is voted on, the text then becomes black, and forms part of the final motion.

    I’ll be watching the #synod and #GS10 Twitter feeds!

    1. Thanks Alastair, you are reinforcing the point I made in my comment well. Peter knows how easy it is to set up a blog and a twitter feed. Peter knows how quick and simple it is to update these. Synods have this material digitally in the first place – so there is no issue about preparing “content”. It is almost beyond my comprehension why this is even being discussed. Let me press my point: is the church’s neglect of the internet a sin of omission?

  8. More than this… when will we get OUR Prayerbook online. It’s mad that so much was spent on Living Liturgy, and most of us still don’t have useful access in this day and age to our liturgical texts…

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