A 400-year old law mandating that all churches had to hold a weekly service on Sundays has been changed after the Bishop of Willesden called it "out of date."
The Church of England's General Synod held a vote on the law, from 1603, and the majority chose to put an end to it. The law mandated that priests had to hold a service every Sunday in every church in their care, which sounds reasonable until you consider that some priests in the countryside have ended up with 20 churches to run due to declining attendance.
Those priests weren't pegging it between 20 services every Sunday, though: they had to get special dispensation from a bishop not to hold a service in them all. Now they don't have to do that bit.
Fundamentally, then, this isn't going to change the number of services happening -- it's just going to change the process for priests to give them a bit less admin. And if there's one thing the holy spirit can't stand, it's admin.
The Right Reverend Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden and chair of the badassily-named Simplification Task Force, comments:
"This just changes the rules to make it easier for people to do what they're already doing. It stops the bureaucracy.
This was just one (amendment) where we said, 'out of date, doesn't work, we're operating differently in the countryside now, therefore lets find a way of making it work'."
Frankly, a lot more areas of law could do with this kind of thinking.
The same General Synod meeting also agreed on six new principles for how the church treats LGBTI people, encouraging priests to see "difference as a gift rather than a problem."