BY A STAFF REPORTER
THE Church of England took the first step towards securing freedom from Parliamentary control at last week's meeting of the General Synod. It agreed to receive the Chadwick Commission's Report on Church and State and to send it to the dioceses for immediate consideration.
The Chadwick Report recommended that the Anglican Church should have complete control of its own doctrine and worship and should be more closely consulted on bishops' appointments.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, said it was important to promote a Bill on disestablishment during this Parliament. The Christian Church. he said, was now passing out of the "established" era and was moving into fresh relations with the State and community.
The Church was becoming
less an "institution" and More an "experimental" fellowship, finding new ways of expressing Christian truths. In this stage of the Church's history it must have its freedom of expression.
NEW UNDERSTANDING A new understanding with the State was needed if the Church of England was to unite with other Churches. Dr. Ramsey did not regard the appointing of bishops as a first priority in the changes that were needed.
The Archbishop of York, Dr. Coggan, said the present method of appointing bishops was done with the utmost care.
The Earl of March (Guildford diocese), vice-chairman of the Chadwick Commission, pointed out that the Free Churches in England were "no longer fundamentally opposed to any kind of Church-State relationship."
He went on: "Equally there are certain aspects of the present form which would prevent organic union with any of these Churches, namely Parliamentary control of worship and doctrine and the Prime Minister's rote in the appointment of bishops by the Crown."
Canon H. B. Barlow (Birmingham) said that, like trade union leaders, bishops should be elected by the body they were to serve. He knew one West Indian diocese to which an English clergyman offered £5,000 if it would elect him bishop.
The General Synod decided by 301 votes to 145 to admit non-Anglicans to Holy Communion. It passed a resolution from Prof. G. W. H. Lampe of Cambridge that the Canon Law standing commission should prepare a draft canon permitting baptised and communicant members of other Churches, in good standing in
their own Churches, to Holy Communion.
Prof. J. N. D. Anderson, chairman of the House of Laity, said: "We want the Church of England to be a truly national Church and not an episcopal sect." He said he believed that the move was theologically sound and would be ecumenically helpful.
In another decision, the Synod compromised on the future of Church of England colleges. Two, at Lichfield and Durham, are expected to close, and the future of two others at Bristol and Kelham is to be reconsidered. The bishops came under fire over their plan to close all four.
Dr. Ramsey said: "We are asking the Church to support a very hard decision, but I believe the decision will be welcomed by the Church." It was agreed by 216 votes to 174 to receive the bishops' report, but it will now be reconsidered by the bishops.