Church of England General Synod to be formally opened by Queen

The Queen will be present when the Church of England General Synod is formally opened later today.

She is due to open the newly elected Synod after a service of Holy Communion at Westminster Abbey, where she will be joined by the Duke of Edinburgh.

As Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she will address the Synod’s 476 members as they begin their new five-year term.

The Synod is set to debate the Big Society initiative launched earlier in the year by Prime Minister David Cameron and the impact of planned welfare cuts.

The Church of England said the Big Society was of “considerable relevance” to the role of religious bodies. It has been in discussion with Government ministers about how they might work together to promote greater social cohesion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, recently warned that the Coalition’s plans to force people in long-term unemployment into unpaid manual labour would push them into a “downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair”.

Also on the agenda is the Anglican Communion Covenant, a controversial mechanism to maintain unity and resolving disputes among the Provinces.

It was first proposed in the Windsor Report in 2004 as a means of holding the Communion together after the consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson in the US threatened to tear Provinces apart.

Synod will be asked to formally consider the Covenant before it is referred to the dioceses. It is expected to makes its way back to Synod for final approval no sooner than 2012.