Thinking Anglicans

women bishops: voting in diocesan synods

The detailed report on the reference to the dioceses of the now failed legislation is contained in GS 1847 available here in PDF format.

As has been widely reported, 42 of the 44 dioceses passed the legislation. The two dioceses where it failed were

Chichester: Bishops 0-2-0, Clergy 30-35-0, Laity 37-41-0 (failed in all three houses)

London: Bishops 2-1-0, Clergy 39-41-0, Laity 45-37-0 (failed only in the Clergy house)

Less widely reported are the aggregate voting figures for all dioceses:

Bishops: 75 for, 13 against, 4 abstentions
Clergy: 1503 for, 461 against, 50 abstentions
Laity: 1664 for, 489 against, 72 abstentions
Thus the proportions voting against the motion were: Bishops 15%, Clergy 23%, Laity 23%.
These contrast with General Synod proportions of 6%, 23%, and 36% respectively.

There were numerous following motions proposed and debated. GS 1847 summarised it thus:

  • Motions calling on the House of Bishops to amend the draft legislation in the way proposed by the Archbishops at the July 2010 group of sessions were carried in 6 dioceses and lost in 4 (in one case, as a result of a tied vote in the House of Laity). In five cases the motions passed called on the General Synod to debate a motion to that effect. Any motion which the General Synod has been called on to debate in that way constitutes a “diocesan synod motion‟ for the purposes of its Standing Orders.
  • Other motions calling on the House of Bishops to amend the legislation were carried in 5 dioceses (including one in which the diocesan synod motion was also carried) and lost in 27 (including one in which the diocesan synod motion was carried).
  • Of the two dioceses which voted against the legislation, one passed both of the above motions and one passed neither.
  • A motion calling for the General Synod to debate a motion inviting the House of Bishops not to amend the legislation was carried in 1 diocese.
  • Motions concerning the Code of Practice were carried in three dioceses (including one in which a motion calling for amendment of the legislation was also carried).

Thus, in aggregate a total of 11 motions calling for some kind of amendment passed, and a total of 31 motions failed. GS 1847 contains much fuller information on all of them.

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Will AdamJane MethuenMark BennetAndrew Hooper Recent comment authors
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Andrew Hooper
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Andrew Hooper

As usual the C of E is getting caught up in its own bureaucracy. In order to try to assuage everybody, it ends up pleasing nobody. From parish PCC to rural deanery, deanery, diocese, laity, clergy Bishops and Archbishops, evangelicals, anglo-catholics, old uncle Tom Cobley and all, it’s hard enough for a churchwarden at the bottom of the chain to understand, let alone your average Jo. If you want women bishops, have them. Though why anybody would want to be a bishop, man woman gay or saint beats me.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

I know this is an unsustainable argument, but a neutral looking at the figures without knowledge of Synodical politics in any detail might think that the difference in voting between Dioceses and General Synod arose because the bishops adjusted the legislation so more bishops would vote for it. This did not affect the clergy much, but some lay members voted against because they thought the bishops had pushed too far!

Jane Methuen
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Jane Methuen

Am I right in thinking that the vote in General Synod was NOT primarily about whether or no women should be Bishops, but upon whether or no the pastoral provision for those against their consecration in principle would be adequate subsequent to such consecration? 74 members of the house of laity were afraid the measure would not give them such provision. May I ask these 74 what provision they would now make for pastoral and spiritual care for those who are feeling rejected and deeply disturbed by the General Synod vote, and whose loyalty to the church is being stretched… Read more »

Will Adam
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Will Adam

I have done some number crunching on the difference between Diocesan Synod voting on the (unamended) measure and the voting of GS members. The results are: 1. In general, where fewer than two-thirds of GS members (clergy and laity) voted for the measure fewer than two-thirds of the clergy and laity in Diocesan Synods voted for it; 2. In some cases where this is the case the difference is rather large (Winchester Diocesan Synod laity 62% in favour, GS lay members 14% in favour); 3. In 4 cases (Bradford laity, Europe clergy, Wakefield clergy, York clergy) more than two-thirds of… Read more »