The Queen has officially opened the Church of England’s General Synod at Westminster Abbey.
Beginning with a service to mark the inauguration of the Tenth General Synod, Her Majesty was joined by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for the serivce presided over by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury at the Abbey.
A sermon was delivered by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, along with other readings, before the Royal couple headed to the opening ceremony in Church House, the Westminster headquarters of the Church of England.
The General Synod is the supreme authority of the Church of England, opened after elections in the dioceses every five years. Her Majesty is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and she gave a short speech to the assembly, as is tradition.
The Queen said: “Thank you Archbishop for your welcome and for setting today’s proceedings in the wider historical context.
“The last Synod will be particularly remembered for the way it was able to enable women to be consecrated as bishops.”
Bishops and elected representatives from the clergy and the laity form the synod, which began in 1919, known then as the Church Assembly. The powers it holds means measures passed and approved by both Houses of Parliament become law with, such as allowing women to become bishops, as happened in the last synod.
Her Majesty continued, saying she was “pleased” that a multi-faith gathering was one of the first events of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The main debate focussed on how Britain responds to the escalating refugee crisis, which continues after The Queen has left.
“This new Synod too will have to grapple with the difficult issues confronting our Church and our world,” said The Queen, then advising the members to “continue to draw deeply on your faith, judgement, and life experiences,” in coming to decisions in this session.
“My prayer is that, as we sang in that joyous hymn this morning “His glorious light may shine ever on our sight, and clothe us round, the while our path illuming,” she finished.