In Other Business…
The Director reports on the 2013 National Assembly
Comments received since the National Assembly indicate that the change to holding it on a single day at St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, was widely welcomed, though correct use of the sound system and arrangements for those who are hard of hearing will need further attention if, as is hoped, the Assembly is held at St Alban’s again next year. We are grateful to the Vicar and his colleagues, and all who helped to make it such a successful day.
Some of the proceedings are covered elsewhere in this issue. Photographs, audio files, texts of some of the addresses and a transcript of the Women Bishops debate are available on the website.
Maintaining recruitment efforts
In my report I highlighted the need to maintain our efforts to recruit new members. Between 1 April and mid-October we lost 96 members: 54 through death and 42 by resignation or ceasing payment, a significant proportion of those because of age, illness or infirmity. 79 new members were recruited in the same period, so the net loss was 17.
The good news is that 27 of the new members joined since 1 September, resulting in a net gain of 5 in those six weeks. But there is a great deal more to be done in order to stop the decline and begin to grow our membership again. If every member recruited just one new member, we’d have more members than we’ve ever had before, we’d be able to fund our core work from our membership, and we could spend legacies, which we still want to encourage, on what they should be spent on: one-off expenditure, special projects, mission and growth.
The Assembly approved a significant change to the Constitution. At present the Council is the Trustee body for the Charity, but with up to 50 members, currently 37, it is far too large to exercise its Trustee responsibilities properly. With effect from 1 January, an expanded Executive Committee will become the Trustee body. It will consist of the three Officers elected by the Assembly, to be known in future as Chairman, Lay Vice-Chairman and Clerical Vice-Chairman; three members elected by the Council; and the Treasurer and up to three further members, chosen for their expertise with the Council’s approval. Other minor and consequential amendments were also made.
The Chairman thanked the following regional deans, who have retired this year, for their work: Fr Alan Cross, Fr Tony Delves, Fr Alan Jones, Fr Gareth Jones, Fr Martyn Neale, Fr Reginald Stretton. The Bishops would be discussing the job specification for regional deans, and their roles in relation to Forward in Faith and the Society, at their meeting in November, after which the relevant bishops would be making new appointments, after consultation with the clergy.
The Chairman also thanked the Director’s Assistant, Colin Niblett, for holding the fort in the first three months of the year, after Stephen Parkinson’s retirement. He thanked Fr Ian Brooks for editing Forward Plus! since it began in 1997, almost 60 issues, and Cyril Wood for his work as Treasurer of Forward in Faith since its inception 20 years ago.
Fr Christopher Smith, Chairman of the Church Union, reported to the Assembly on the plans for the new newspaper, to be known as Together – The Catholic Voice in the Church of England, which he will be editing. It will be published quarterly from Lent 2014 as a joint venture by the leading catholic societies, in place of Forward Plus!
The Secretary, Fr Ross Northing, announced that the 2014 National Assembly will be held on Saturday 15 November.
Mrs Mary Nagel (Chichester Diocese) was elected to fill the vacancy for a lay representative of the Richborough constituency, which comprises those dioceses, other than London, Southwark and Rochester, for which the Bishop of Richborough is the PEV, whether or not he is the bishop for the C parishes in those dioceses.
After the Assembly, the Council met briefly. The following were co-opted as members of the Council for the coming year: Fr Paul Benfield (Legal), Preb. John Brownsell (Vocations), Mrs Sandra Fowles (Scotland), Mr Daniel Howard (Ordinands), Bishop Tony Robinson (Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society), Fr Christopher Smith (Chairman of the Church Union), Fr Nicholas Spicer (Provincial Master of the Society of the Holy Cross). The Council also appointed Mr Jonathan Prichard (a former Diocesan Secretary of the Diocese of Chichester) as Treasurer of Forward in Faith for the next four years. ND