women bishops: REFORM and WATCH respond

REFORM has issued a press statement: Reform members resolve to vote against women bishops Measure:

General Synod members at the Reform conference this week joined over 160 other Reform members in resolving to vote against the current draft measure on women bishops at the Synod’s watershed meeting in November.

Speaking at the conference Reform chairman, Rev’d Rod Thomas, a member of the General Synod House of Clergy, said: “After all the tweaking and tinkering with amendments we have sadly been left with a draft Measure which in the long term is likely to have very detrimental effects on our ministries, however benign it may appear in its first few years.

“We are therefore going to oppose this measure and urge those who want to see a strong evangelical presence continuing in the Church of England to join us in doing so.”

The resolution passed was this:

2. Women Bishops
This conference believes the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure represents a step in an unbiblical and therefore wrong direction for the Church of England. Its provision is entirely inadequate for those who believe the Bible’s teaching of male headship in the family and the church. Recent amendments by the House of Bishops will make no material difference. It therefore urges the Reform Council to continue to campaign vigorously against the Draft Measure and calls on General Synod members to vote against it in November 2012.

WATCH has issued a briefing note and consultation paper which can be found as a PDF here. The covering note reads as follows:

Dear WATCH friends,

Since the announcement by the House of Bishops that wording suggested by Revd Janet Appleby (“the Appleby amendment”) has been selected to replace the previous Clause 5(1)c of the draft Women Bishops Measure, WATCH has been consulting widely to help us determine how best to respond. We would like to give all members the chance to contribute and you will find a very short briefing attached which we hope you may find helpful.

It is already clear that WATCH supporters are divided on whether or not they are happy to support the amended Measure and that people hold their opinions with passion and integrity. As we approach the crucial debate in November we want to be clear that WATCH is not intending to campaign either for or against the Measure. We see our role as being to highlight the arguments and issues at stake for those who support the full flourishing of women in the Church and to allow voices to enter the national debate that often go unheard.

Please be in touch to let us know your views before 15th October by emailing: consultation@womenandthechurch.org

Thank you
The National WATCH committee
29th September 2012

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Alastair Newman
Guest

Rod Thomas grossly misleads if he thinks the admission (or not) of women to ordained ministry in the Church of England has anything at all to do with being an evangelical and/or wanting to see a “strong evangelical presence” in the CofE. It does not.

Pam Smith
Guest

I read it as a not very veiled threat that Reform members – who presumably are the ‘strong evangelical presence’ referred to – will withdraw from the C of E if women become Bishops.

I’m not sure where they’re planning to go to.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Ignorant Yank’s hypothesis: WATCH’s failure to play tit-for-tat (i.e., “we’ll endorse anything the conservatives oppose”) might actually help the amended measure’s passage?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

From the outside (ACANZP) looking in – on the contra-indication by ‘Reform’ of its attitude towards the newly-amended Draft Measure to come before the General Synod of the Church of England in November – Reform’s action is not at all surprising. Reform is determined not to tolerate Women Bishops in the Church, therefore, it will implacably oppose any movement towards their inclusion. (Although, if they left the Church in the wake of Women Bishops being approved – as someone has already mentioned: Where would they go? I’m not sure that even the Ordinariate would accept them) On the other hand,… Read more »

John R. Robison
Guest

The “headship” thing is what I find amazing. If that is the center of theological anthropology and ecclesiology for English Evangelicals, no wonder the CoE is so often a laughing stock.

Pam Smith
Guest

I am assuming Reform’s withdrawal from the C of E might involve the setting up of the English version of ACNA, with ensuing wrangles about various legal issues as we have seen in the US.

Which will obviously bring new converts to Christ flocking in droves, since obviously the good news he brought was mainly about making sure the right categories of people were excluded from leadership and fighting about who owns the silverware.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Pam – from my understanding I think Reform aren’t suggesting withdrawal from the C of E due to women entering the episcopate (they have accepted that this will happen) but rather that there isn’t suitable provision for those who theologically disagree. In many respects Reform are being very Anglican here…wanting to keep unity as one church whilst being able to hold to differing theological positions which is what we are all about isn’t it? In fact, I would say that they are being far more Anglican (in this sense) than the many of the pro lobby who I have met… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

@ John R Robison Just to correct your assessment – evangelical Anglicans in the CofE are split on the issue of the ordination of women. Only a minority (those we call the Con Evos) hold to the so-called headship understanding. The majority of evangelical Anglicans have rejected the headship argument as not being consonant with scripture.

Pam Smith
Guest

@Bob – taking out your subjective experiences of what you call the ‘pro lobby’, you appear to be saying that Reform are indeed threatening to leave the C of E if they don’t get exactly what THEY have decided is the best way forward.

So regardless of what any of us think of using such a threat as a way of winning an argument, the question about where they are planning to go, and how ‘Anglican’ such a threat is, remains.

Father David
Guest
Father David

How can something which is found in Scripture not be “consonant with scripture”?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Bob
“the many of the pro lobby who I have met whose message has been ‘our way or the high way’…”

Really?
So women and their supporters have accepted that there must be parishes that can chose never ever ever to be served by a woman.

And those parishes have accepted… what?
That everywhere else can have women as long as they remain completely unaffected? That is being more Anglican than actually giving and taking?

How?

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘…wanting to keep unity as one church whilst being able to hold to differing theological positions which is what we are all about isn’t it?’

Applied very selectively. Not invoked around equality and the rights of lgbt people.

To be honest, I have no idea what ‘we’ are ‘all about’.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

The word ‘headship’ is never mentioned in the Bible.

‘head’ is a metaphor and so needs interpreting / approaching with imagination.

robert Ian Williams
Guest
robert Ian Williams

Reform and FIF have now rejected the revised clause. It looks like a defeat in November.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Its provision is entirely inadequate for those who believe the Bible’s teaching of male headship in the family and the church.”

Why does such a belief deserve any provision at all?

That some people in the Church of England still believe this is nothing less than an embarrassment.

Pam Smith
Guest

Surely Reform and FiF would have voted against any legislation that enabled women to be bishops? I understood that people who are against women being bishops voted for the original clause because they thought members who supported women in the episcopate might vote against the legislation as well if that clause remained. I don’t think anyone who is opposed to women’s ordination is ever going to vote to enable it. If this means that General Synod is not representing the views of the majority in the C of E, maybe that will encourage those of us who vote for GS… Read more »

H.R.
Guest
H.R.

‘… wanting to keep unity as one church whilst being able to hold to differing theological positions’…etc

Surely this is an impossible dream?
What’s the point of claiming ‘unity in diversity’ when, in reality, we are rendered dysfunctional in the effort to please everyone.

Helen Rawdon

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Lack of ecumenical progress, women and gays suggest that Helen Rawdon is right. What seems to keep the show on the road is the fact that C of E life is so parochial…and most of the “issues” aren’t really issues for most people in the pews…it’s the roof, the common fund, the Sunday School, the choir, whether we keep the 8 o’clock.. What interests me, given Christianity is an Incarnational religion, is that we live with diversity over biblical authority, substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, devotion to the BVM, eucharistic doctrine and extraordinary liturgical anarchy etc yet find the… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

PS re Jeremy’s post. i have often thought that “headship” is a doctrine held “in” the C of E, but in what sense is it a doctrine “of “the C of E?? I dont believe it, Jeremy doesn’t, Bishop Pete doesn’t,Bishops who institute women priests to benefices dont believe it..and that is most of them. It seems to me Reform is more or less saying,”Please, we know most of you are apostates, but please let us stay on board..we are the true C of E.” …rather like the Non Jurors though they did mostly leave. The puzzle to me is… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“maybe that will encourage those of us who vote for GS members to be a bit more incisive in our questions to candidates at the next elections.”

Posted by: Pam Smith on Saturday

Pam’s remark does darw attention to the fact that, in the election for General Synod, diocesan synods need to exhaustively question the candidates, who may, or may not, represent the views of either the diocese or the people in the pews. This may not have happoened in the past. otherwise, how ever did Chris Sugden get elected to General Synod?

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Do we know how many clergy and laity actually vote in GS elections…I always did, and always asked my Deanery Synod reps if they had voted…usually we had a full chat about issues and candidates. I think the voting percentages ought to be in “Communist State” percentages eg 95%+ but I do wonder?

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

The level of participation in clergy elections to GS is normally quite high, but dropped in 2010. (460 clergy out of 800 for London electors, I think) It is a universal franchise – all licensed clergy get to vote. It’s also STV, which means that you get a fair and proportionate spread of opinion, representative of the diocese as a whole. (Which would mean that Chris Sugden is representative of a significant proportion of the Oxford electorate, though he only came on at a subsequent recount of votes at a by-election). The lay suffrage is much less representative – I’ve… Read more »

Bob
Guest
Bob

Erika: Yes, sadly this has been my painful and humiliating experience. Thus the hub issue isn’t how – can both groups be happy and satisfied with outcome. Even with full alternative oversight for the conservative/traditionalist/reform parishes, they will still be greatly affected I think in comparison to how things are now. If they were being unanglican their line would be far harder and something like, “no women bishops or we’ll leave” which isn’t what they are saying is it? Laurence Roberts: Surely we are about being Anglican and what makes us distinct from other denominations – 39 Articles, canon laws… Read more »

H.R.
Guest
H.R.

Bob,I take your point but until we can truly say…

‘We are one body because we all share in one bread’

there is no true unity.

If ‘Provision’ is granted for those who in conscience cannot accept the episcope of women then we condone discrimination in the most holiest of our sacraments the Eucharist -fundamental to our credence.

This applies too in an ecumenical sense –
existing at the heart of our dysfunction and despite our open mindedness on many other issues, is the crux of the matter, for me.

Helen Rawdon

Rosalind R
Guest
Rosalind R

The Anglican church has always been generous about the range of individual theological views it can encompass. But it achieved this (historically) by “orthodox” behaviour eg under the (16th C) Elizabethan Settlement you could still believe in RC dogmas, or presbyterian ones, as long as you attended the C of E church, and in practice, accepted the authority of the bishop. What is at issue, as I see it, is that if an individual’s theological conviction leads him or her to believe that a woman cannot be a priest or bishop, then this leads to a break down of “practice”,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Bob, but you are saying “no women anywhere near us”. I would genuinely like to understand where you believe you compromised. Because what I can see is female priests and their supporters accepting a reduced role in the church and recognising that there will be parishes which will never accept them. That’s a big thing to accept! And it impacts directly and personally on every single female priest and bishop. What is it you are giving in return? All I can see is that you say “we won’t object to women in other parts of the church as long as… Read more »

Bob
Guest
Bob

Erika, Sorry for the slow reply…I suspect this feed may have gone to the history files beyond page 1 on the TA site! This is such a messy/complicated issue and I’m not clever or thought through enough to be able give suitable ideas and solutions to the issue (if that is possible at all!). Putting aside all the very painful history of women’s role in the church to date, if the current legislation for women entering the episcopate is carried in reality how much will they have to compromise? Is the code of practice strong enough in keeping the “reasonable”… Read more »