Ecclesiastical law

Tag: House of Bishops

Clergy Discipline and Same Sex Marriage: Inappropriate Conduct?

‘it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in Holy Orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives’  (House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance)

‘Disciplinary proceedings under this Measure may be instituted against any [ordained minister] alleging … conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders’ (Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, s.8(1)).

Although the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 effectively forbids the solemnisation of homosexual ‘marriages’ in church, it does not forbid clergy from entering into same sex marriages.  However, the House of Bishops of the General Synod has just issued a robust statement entitled ‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’, affirming that ‘the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged’.  The statement was published, appropriately enough, on St. Valentine’s Day, 14th February 2014 (accessed on the Church of England’s internet website the following day).

The statement does not explicitly threaten disciplinary action against clergy who take advantage of the 2013 Act to enter into same sex marriages.  However, the assertion quoted above, that to do so ‘would not be appropriate conduct’, may contain a broad hint (reinforced by being printed in bold text on the internet).  The words ‘appropriate conduct’ echo s.8(1) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, also quoted above.

Of course, the House of Bishops is not able to decide authoritatively if making a same sex marriage constitutes misconduct under the 2003 Measure.  The Measure confers that power on the disciplinary tribunals constituted by the Measure, and on the higher ecclesiastical courts (cf s.17 and s.20).  The House can only express the collective or majority opinion of its members.  Nor is the House even in a position, collectively, to institute disciplinary action against clergy.  That is the individual responsibility of each diocesan bishop (cf. s.12).

Criminality and Immorality

As the accompanying Code of Practice points outs, the Clergy Discipline Measure provides no further definition of ‘unbecoming or inappropriate’ conduct (para 28).  However, the legislative history of s.8(1) may give some indication of its intended scope.

In the presecular era there was probably little distinction between law and morality.  Behaviour considered immoral was generally also illegal, at least if done in public.  The 1662 Ordinal (and its predecessors) give opportunity to object to the ordination of a deacon or priest on the ground of a ‘notable crime‘.  Writing in the early 18th century, John Ayliffe suggested that ‘All the causes of deprivation [of clergy] may be reduced to these three heads … want of capacity, contempt [of the ecclesiastical court] and crimes‘ (cited in Combe v De la Bere (1881) 6 Probate Division 157 at 163).

Clergy lifestyles were regulated by canon 75 of 1603.  Canon 75 provides that clergy ‘shall not give themselves to any base or servile labour, or to drinking or riot, spending their time idly … playing at dice, cards or tables, or any other unlawful games’.  Canon 109 deprecates ‘adultery, whoredom, incest or drunkenness … swearing, ribaldry, usury and any other uncleanness and wickedness of life’, whether by clergy or laity.  In the early modern period, the ecclesiastical courts were known affectionately as ‘the bawdy courts’, because they exercised criminal jurisdiction in respect of such behaviours.

In the late 19th century ecclesiastical law was amended to take account of the growing divergence between secular law and Christian morality, in order to preserve clergy discipline.  The Clergy Discipline Act 1892 was passed ‘for better enforcing discipline in the case of crimes and other offences against morality committed by clergymen’ (recital).  It provided that clergy were liable to ecclesiastical discipline for ‘an immoral act, immoral conduct or immoral habit’ (s.2).  It further provided that these forms of immorality ‘shall include such acts, conduct and habits as are proscribed by [canons 75 and 109]’: ‘shall include’ suggests that immoral behaviour is not limited to that suggested by canons 75 and 109.

Then the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963 provided an ecclesiastical offence of ‘conduct unbecoming the office and work of a clerk in holy orders’ (s.14).  ‘Unbecoming’ may be a rather broader term than ‘immoral’.  The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 seems to broaden the scope of clergy discipline still further, with its phrase ‘conduct unbecoming or inappropriate’, in s.8(1).

Is the wording of s.8(1) broad enough to discipline a clergyman for entering into a same sex marriage?  The purpose of the 2003 Measure was to provide a disciplinary regime for clergy similar to that of secular professions such as doctors or lawyers.  The old terminology which suggested that the ecclesiastical courts exercise a ‘criminal’ jurisdiction over clergy was dropped.  The standard of proof of misconduct was also lowered from the high criminal standard to the civil standard (s.18(3)).  Nevertheless, the Clergy Discipline Measure is still penal, or quasi-criminal, in character.  This means that s.8(1) must be interpreted restrictively or narrowly.

Homosexual acts may be capable of constituting misconduct under s.8(1).  This is clear both from the plain wording of s.8(1) and its legislative history.  However, it does not follow from this that entering into a same sex marriage would contravene s.8(1).  Modern ecclesiastical legislation makes clear that the clergy cannot justify their immoral behaviour merely because such behaviour is no longer illegal.  The law has permitted or tolerated homosexual acts for many years now.  However, as a result of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, same sex marriage is not merely an act that the law permits or tolerates.  It is a status that is positively conferred by law.

It is therefore hard to argue that the law should regard as immoral, or even as unbecoming and inappropriate, the acquisition of a status that the law itself confers.

Doctrine and Discipline

Such an argument is also contradicted by the Court of the Arches’ decision in Banister v Thompson (1908) Probate 362.  The decision, like the House of Bishops’ pastoral guidance, concerned a marriage that was valid in English law but contrary to the Church’s teaching, in that case marriage to a deceased wife’s sister.  Canon Thompson refused to give Holy Communion to a parishioner, Mr Banister, who had made such a marriage.  When disciplined for this, he relied on the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to refuse the Sacrament to an ‘open and notorious evil liver’.

The Court did not deny that Mr Banister’s marriage contradicted the Church’s teaching.  It even admitted the difficulty: ‘the recent Act [legalising marriage to a deceased wife’s sister] seems to recognise a distinction between the civil and ecclesiastical aspects of marriage, and to alter the law as to the one without purporting to affect the law as to the other … This … creates some difficulty for those who are concerned with its administration’ (p.389).

Nevertheless, the Court firmly rejected Canon Thompson’s defence and upheld Mr Banister’s right to receive Holy Communion.  It was ‘impossible to say that these persons [Mr and Mrs Banister], lawfully married … can … be so described [as open and notorious evil livers] merely because they are living together as man and wife’ (p.390).  The Church’s teaching per se was not sufficient to justify the legal sanction.

It is true that the facts of Banister v Thompson were different from those addressed by the House of Bishops.  The case concerned a lay parishioner’s right to the Sacrament, not a clergyman’s tenure of office.  However, it makes the point that the law cannot very well condemn someone for making a lawful marriage, even if the marriage contradicts the Church’s teaching.  The accusation ‘conduct unbecoming or inappropriate’ is couched in milder language than that of ‘open and notorious evil liver’, but the potential consequences (removal from office, prohibition for life from officiating as a clergyman) are still severe.

The House of Bishops’ statement suggests that ‘The effect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 … [is that] there will, for the first time, be a divergence between the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer’ (para 9).  Banister v Thompson, which is now more than 100 years old, reminds us that this is not the case.  The 2013 Act has undoubtedly widened the ‘divergence’ between Church and state concerning marriage.  However, the divergence  began at least as early as 1857.  By permitting the dissolution of the marriage contract by divorce, and remarriage after divorce, the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 effectively denied the Church’s teaching that the marriage contract, once validly made, is indissoluble except by the death of one of the spouses.

Ecclesiastical law responded to the divergence by imposing disciplinary penalties on clergy who became involved in divorce proceedings.  Today the Clergy Discipline Measure makes clear that clergy who are divorced or separated for adultery or unreasonable behaviour are liable to penalties (ss.30 and 31).  Clergy are also required to disclose divorce and separation orders involving them (s.34).

However, there is still no law to forbid a clergyman who has been divorced from marrying again, even though his former spouse is still alive, or from marrying a divorced person.  There is a general rule that a person who has been divorced and remarried etc may not be ordained, but still nothing to prevent a divorced person who has already been ordained from remarrying.  Even the general rule forbidding ordination is no longer absolute.  A bishop may now obtain a faculty from the Archbishop to permit the ordination of a divorced and remarried person, or the spouse of such person.  (See canon C4(3) and (3A) of the Canons of the Church of England.)

Thus, if a clergyman is to be disciplined for making a same sex marriage, the court may want to know why such a marriage constitutes ‘inappropriate conduct’ under s.8(1) of the Clergy Discipline Measure, when a second marriage following divorce apparently does not.

For these reasons it is suggested that s.8(1), despite its broad wording, is still not broad enough to discipline clergy for making a same sex marriage that is lawful under English law.

This conclusion does not deny the force of the House of Bishops’ statement qua pastoral guidance.  As the statement says, ‘[clergy] getting married to someone of the same sex would … clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England’ (para 26).  The teaching is found in Canon B30 and in the Book of Common Prayer, which are cited in the statement.

Thus for clergy to make same sex marriages is indeed unbecoming and inappropriate in the context of Canon B30 and the Prayer Book.  However, the disciplinary offence of ‘conduct unbecoming or inappropriate’ must be understood in the context of the Clergy Discipline Measure, and not (at least not directly) in the context of Canon B30 and the Prayer Book.  The Clergy Discipline Measure itself must be understood in the context of English law, of which it is a part.

Discipline and Pastoral Care

The case of Bland v Archdeacon of Cheltenham (1972) 1 All England Reports 1012 makes clear that disciplinary proceedings should not be used as a device for resolving a pastoral difficulty, however genuine and serious.  The Rev Mr Bland was found guilty of various ecclesiastical offences and sentenced to be deprived of his benefice.  His cantankerous behaviour had alienated the parishioners to such an extent that his Sunday services were attended only by his housekeeper.  The chancellor therefore held that ‘it is my duty to pass sentence pro salute animarum, for the good of souls, which includes both [Mr Bland] and the souls of [his parishioners] … the convicted clerk and the cures where he was working [should] part company now for ever’ (p.1021).

However, the Court of the Arches strongly disapproved this decision, as based on ‘a wholly wrong approach’.  It held that ‘The paramount consideration in selecting the appropriate sentence for an [ecclesiastical] offence … should be the gravity of the offence.  Censure of deprivation … should never be pronounced in respect of an offence which does not merit such censure merely because it is highly desirable to part an incumbent from his parish and there is no other administrative method of removing him from his benefice’ (p.1021-22).

Of course, the Bland case was not concerned with the Church’s teaching.  However, it was concerned with the relationship between ecclesiastical discipline and pastoral care.  Clergy who enter into same sex marriages create a pastoral problem, for the reason identified by the House of Bishops.  They may not drive their parishioners from the Church as the Rev Mr Bland apparently did, but they still cause the Church’s teaching on marriage to be misrepresented or obscured (cf Pastoral Guidance, para 24).

The Court of the Arches’ dictum in Bland, emphasising that an ecclesiastical penalty must be determined according to the gravity of the offence, reinforces its decision in Banister v Thompson.  How can a lawful marriage be regarded as a ‘grave offence’, or indeed as any offence?

The obvious legal solution to the pastoral difficulty is to amend the law, and so bring clergy discipline into alignment with the Church’s teaching.  This would require new legislation making it a specific ecclesiastical offence for clergy to enter into same sex marriages.

Any amendment of the Clergy Discipline Measure to include such an offence would, of course, require the approval of Parliament, which might not be forthcoming in the present climate of opinion.  However, the General Synod has a common law power to legislate by canon, inherited from the Convocations, which does not require parliamentary approval (see Synodical Government Measure 1969).

It has been suggested that canons made under this common law power are not binding upon lay people, but there is no doubt that they are capable of binding the clergy.  The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 also confirms that ‘No Canon of the Church of England is contrary to s.3 of the Submission of the Clergy Act 1533 [ie. no Canon is contrary to the secular law] … by virtue of its making provision about marriage being the union of one man with one woman’ (s.1(3)).  The phrase ‘provision about marriage’, not being limited to the Church’s teaching on marriage, would seem to be broad enough to encompass a new disciplinary canon forbidding clergy to enter into same sex marriages.

The Two Structures of the Church of England: Pyramids with Grass Roots

‘a pyramid structure of dispersed authority with the General Synod at its top and parochial church councils at the ‘grass roots’.’

(Mark Hill QC, Ecclesiastical Law, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition 2007, at p.38)

This memorable description of the legal-constitutional structure of the Church of England comes from the leading commentary on the subject, and offers an intriguing insight into the mind of its learned author.  However, it is argued that the Church of England, or ecclesiastical state, is better understood as comprising two structures:

(1)  the late mediaeval structure and

(2) the late Victorian structure.

The late mediaeval structure comprises the hierarchy of Archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, cathedral chapters, rectors (including lay rectors) and vicars, and Church courts, organised into provinces, dioceses and parishes.  This was the structure inherited from the late mediaeval Catholic Church and which survived the Reformation.

This structure was reorganised and rationalised by legislation from the 19th century onwards.  Recent reforms of the mediaeval structure include

(1) the introduction of team and group ministries, whereby rectors and vicars work together in the same parishes, instead of in separate parishes

(2) the reorganisation of the Church courts by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963 and the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003

(3) the reform of cathedral governance by the Cathedrals Measure 1999.

These adjustments have not altered the late mediaeval character of the structure.  The effect of modern legislation has been to reinforce the structure, not to dismantle it.

The late Victorian structure originated in the voluntary work of clergy and pious laypeople.  It started as a reaction against the secularisation of state and society in the 19th century.  The structure comprises the various institutions of what is now called ‘synodical government’, such as parochial church councils (PCCs), diocesan boards, conferences and trusts, houses of laity, and various other committees and corporations.

These institutions were not constituted by ecclesiastical law until the 20th century, but they began on a voluntary basis in the 19th.  Indeed some of them are still outwith the scope of ecclesiastical law.  Thus the Lambeth conferences and the theological colleges of the Anglican Church date from the 19th century, but they have never been legally incorporated into the structure of synodical government.

The most recent major development of the late Victorian structure was probably the creation of the Archbishops’ Council by the National Institutions Measure 1998.  The Dioceses Measure 1978 (now repealed) permitted the creation of ‘area synods’ within dioceses (s.17(2)).  However, synodical government by ‘area’ seems to have been discontinued by the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007.

The convocations form the link between the mediaeval and Victorian structures.  Although virtually suppressed in the early 18th century, they were revived in the mid-19th century to form the nucleus of modern synodical government.

The development of modern synodical government is described in a Church of England report Government by Synod (1966).  In 1886 and 1892 the two Convocations admitted lay representatives to their proceedings for the first time since the middle ages.  At first, these new Houses of Laity had only a consultative, advisory role.  Lay representatives could comment on proposed legislation, but approval of the legislation depended on the bishops and lesser clergy alone.

In 1903 a new ecclesiastical assembly called the Representative Church Council was formed, comprising both Convocations, including their lay representatives.  This body evolved into the Church Assembly.

The Church Assembly was granted certain legislative powers under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, also known as the Enabling Act.  Half a century later, and following the 1966 report, the Church Assembly was reconstituted as the General Synod, under the Synodical Government Measure 1969, s.1.  The 1969 Measure also constituted the diocesan and deanery conferences as synods (ss.4 and 5).

It was originally felt that a synod was, or should be, an exclusively clerical body.  Thus the institutions of synodical government were originally described in secular, functional terms as ‘assemblies’ or ‘conferences’, because they included lay members.  The word ‘synod’ did not appear in legislation until the 1969 Measure.  The Church in Wales still declines to describe its representative assemblies as synods.  The Welsh equivalent of the General Synod is called only the ‘Governing Body’.

A mid-20th century commentator noted that the 1919 regime  ‘imposed a modern democratic system on a mediaeval theocratic one, and the two do not easily dovetail together’. (Bishop of London, ‘Our Legislative Assemblies’ (1954) Theology, p.204).

He further observed that the reverence for the ‘sacred’ office of the clergy meant that ‘the Enabling Act [of 1919] … left the rights of convocation unimpaired.  The four houses [of convocation, for Canterbury and York] were still responsible for matters of faith and worship because such questions were regarded as the special province of the clergy’.  The Church Assembly was kept separate from the convocations.  This caused practical difficulties: ‘it has never been quite clear where the rights and duties of convocation end, and those of the Assembly begin’.

Archbishop Michael Ramsey, who presided over the 1969 reforms, argued that the General Synod was practically needed as a forum ‘in which bishops, clergy and laity will sit together, debate together and decide together’ (House of Lords Official Report, volume 302, column 843).

However, a minority of the authors of the 1966 report remained unconvinced.  They argued that the ancient convocations

‘must remain provincial synods whose members are summoned … in the old sense of being set apart, under the vows of obedience … and subject to canonical discipline, to discharge their doctrinal and pastoral responsibilities’ (p.106).

This dissenting opinion evoked a concept of the synod as the self-regulatory professional authority of the ordained ministry, rather than as the Church of England’s ‘parliament’.

Although this view did not prevail, the present regime of synodical government includes certain safeguards of the ‘sacred’ ministry of bishops and clergy.

Hence diocesan and deanery synods, and PCCs, are not supposed to issue ‘any statement purporting to declare the doctrine of the Church on any question’ (Sections 4 and 5 of the 1969 Measure: s.2(2) of the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956).  A similar restriction was imposed on the Church Assembly under the 1919 Act (Appendix, rule 14(2)).

However, the restriction applies only to the declaration of doctrine.  It does not forbid discussion of doctrine.  It may difficult in practice to distinguish a discussion of doctrine from a declaration of doctrine.  The internet websites of dioceses and parishes suggest that the restrictions on declaring doctrine are widely ignored in practice.

The General Synod is not prohibited from declaring doctrine, but Article 7(1) of its constitution provides that legislative provisions or Acts of Synod which ‘touch’ worship and doctrine can only be approved by the General Synod ‘in terms proposed by the House of Bishops and not otherwise’ (1969 Measure, schedule 2.7(1)).  Again, the Church Assembly was subject to a similar provision (1919 Act, Appendix, rule 14(1)).

The members of the House of Laity of the General Synod are now mostly elected by the elected lay members of the deanery synods (Church Representation Rules, 35(3)), though there are ex officio and co-opted members as well.  There is no separate representation for licensed lay ministers.

However, licensed lay workers are ex officio members of their local deanery synod and so, unlike other lay people, have a direct vote in elections to the House of Laity (rule 24(6)).  Strangely, the rule refers only to lay workers, not lay readers, even though the Canons suggest that lay readers and lay workers are distinct (Canons E6 and E7).

Apart from this special provision for lay workers, the lack of direct representation for the parish electors means that the House of Laity suffers from something of a ‘democratic deficit’.  Ironically the ancient clerical convocations were probably more representative of their constituencies than is the modern General Synod.

Archbishop Ramsey acknowledged this difficulty.  Speaking in the House of Lords in 1974, he referred to the objection that ‘the [General] Synod fails to represent the laity because it is elected by 36,000 people, while there are nearly 2 million people on the parish [electoral] rolls’ (Official Report volume 354, column 867).  He suggested that direct election to the House of Laity by the parishes was simply too expensive to introduce.

The difficulty nonetheless remains, that the House of Laity is composed of persons with no individual responsibility for the ministry of the Church, its cure of souls, and with only a very doubtful claim to represent the lay members of the Church.  It has been observed that the House of Laity represents opinions rather than people.

The two convocations are organised by provinces, whereas the General Synod, like the Church Assembly before it, is a national body.  The 1966 report referred to the ‘fears of the Convocation of York as to the possible loss of status of the Northern Province should the powers of its convocation be curtailed’ (p.12).  The report also suggested that ‘in matters of theology and liturgy the views of North and South do not always coincide’ (p.97).

This concern may be reflected in Article 7 of the General Synod’s constitution which provides that a legislative provision or Act of Synod which ‘touches’ worship and doctrine may, after being settled by the House of Bishops, require the further approval of each House of each convocation sitting separately, and of the House of Laity sitting separately, if either convocation or the House of Laity requires this.

By the late 1990s, the North-South divide was evidently less acute.  The 1997 report Synodical Government in the Church of England suggested that the convocations had no significant function any more and recommended their abolition.  Nothing has yet come of this recommendation.

The 1969 Measure provides that the two Archbishops are joint Presidents of the General Synod (schedule 2, para 4(i)).  The National Institutions Measure 1998 likewise provides that the Archbishops are joint Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council (schedule 1.2).  The 1966 report stressed that ‘the two English primates should complement and balance each other … Canterbury should not be allowed to develop into a patriarchate or papacy’ (p.98).

The collegial character of the two Archbishops’ responsibilities for synodical government is in contrast to the status of ‘president’, ‘primate’ or ‘spiritual leader’ sometimes claimed for the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to the Anglican Communion.

There may also be some misunderstanding of the place of the House of Bishops in synodical government.  The Interpretation Measure 1925 makes clear that the House of Bishops is ‘the House of Bishops of the General Synod’ (s.3).  It is not the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

According to yet another Church of England report Working as One Body (1993), the House of Bishops ‘has twice yearly residential meetings’ which are held independently of meetings of the General Synod (p.74).  Nevertheless the House of Bishops is not a free-standing institution.  It exists only as one House of the General Synod, or as one House of each Convocation, alongside the Houses of Clergy and Laity.

The 1997 report concludes that ‘Synodical Government is an attempt to seek and find the mind of Christ for His Church, as well as consensus in the ordering of the Church’s life’ (p.10). The 1966 report suggested that ‘no system of synodical government at the centre can be effective without a corresponding and complementary system in each diocese’ (p.8).  The diocesan and deanery synods should complement the work of the General Synod and of each other.

The functions of the General Synod are stated in Article 6 of its constitution (1969 Measure, schedule 2).  One of its functions is ‘to consider and express … opinion on … matters of religious and public interest’.  Sections 4 and 5 of the 1969 Measure provide that the diocesan and deanery synods share this deliberative function.

The diocesan and deanery synods also have a kind of reciprocal deliberative function.  S.4(5) of the 1969 Measure provides that diocesan synods must

‘keep the deanery synods … informed of the policies and problems of the diocese, and of the [agenda] of the diocesan synod’, and ‘keep themselves informed, through the deanery synods, of events and opinion in the parishes, and shall give opportunities for discussing … matters raised by deanery synods and parochial church councils’.

The function of the deanery synod under s.5(3) is ‘to bring together the views of the parishes … on common problems, to discuss and formulate common policies on those problems … to sound parochial opinion … to raise … matters … with the diocesan synod’.

The PCCs share the deliberative function of their diocesan and deanery synods.  According to s.2(2) of the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 they may also discuss matters of religious or public interest but, like the synods, are not supposed to ‘declare’ doctrine.  They may give advice to, and raise matters with, the synods.  S.2(3) obliges PCCs to consider expressions of opinion by parochial meetings.

The late mediaeval structure clearly has a vertical character.  It is a hierarchy with Archbishops at the top, parish clergy at the bottom, and bishops and various ‘dignitaries’ in between.  The late Victorian synodical structure has a circular or lateral character.  It surrounds the vertical mediaeval structure and so protects and reinforces it, keeps it standing upright in the shifting sands of a secular state and society.  The mediaeval structure would collapse without the support of the Victorian structure.

With its combination of mediaeval and Victorian elements the constitutional structure of the Church of England may indeed resemble the architectural structure of many of its ancient church buildings.

The reference to ‘dispersed authority’ in Hill’s Ecclesiastical Law requires clarification.  There are two processes at work in synodical government

(1) the legislative process and

(2) the deliberative process.

It is true that the legislative functions of the Church of England vest only in the General Synod (1969 Measure, schedule 2, Article 6) and the Archbishops’ Council (for terms of service regulations under s.2 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009), though certain important Measures and canons also require the approval of a majority of the diocesan synods (1969 Measure, schedule 2, article 8).

However, the legislative process originates in the deliberative process.  Our account shows that the deliberative process involves the diocesan and deanery synods and PCCs as much as the General Synod.  The General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council are therefore located at the centre rather than at the top of the synodical structure.