Thinking Anglicans

House of Laity meeting – press reports

The Church of England website has this press release about this afternoon’s debate.

House of Laity rejects vote of no confidence
18 January 2013

The House of Laity, meeting in Church House, Westminster today, rejected a motion of no confidence in its Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, with 47 voting for the motion and 80 voting against.

The motion was brought by Mr Stephen Barney, a lay canon of Leicester Cathedral, who said he had lost confidence in Dr Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity following Dr Giddings’ speech in the debate on women bishops legislation in November. In a letter to all members of the House of Laity before the debate, Mr Barney said, “Whatever we decide, I hope it will contribute to resolving this issue in the long term, for the flourishing of all.”

After the vote, Dr Giddings told the House: “Mr Chairman I am grateful for that vote of confidence but I need to, in a sense, take my medicine. There are clearly a substantial minority of the House who do not have confidence in me. I intend to continue in office but I shall take careful advice from colleagues about how we proceed from here. And in particular I think we need to have some kind of debate about what are the expectations of chair and vice chair in matters of this kind. I hope and pray that we can now put this behind us and the temperature can be lowered and that we can seek to work together for the sake of God’s mission to this country.”

There are several online press reports of the debate.

Madeleine Davies and Ed Thornton in the Church Times House of Laity bid to oust Giddings fails

Sam Jones in The Guardian Female bishops: house of laity chair survives no-confidence vote

Lauren Turner in The Independent Women bishops: Church leader Dr Philip Giddings wins confidence vote

BBC Church of England no-confidence vote defeated

John Bingham in The Telegraph Spectre of gay bishops feud returns amid Church debate on women

Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service England’s laity rejects ‘no confidence’ vote in their chair

Christian Today Church of England: Philip Giddings survives lay vote

Andrew Brown of The Guardian has this comment: God’s hand in General Synod politics.

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David Lamming
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David Lamming

In litigation, the general rule is that costs follow the event. Accordingly, will the 47 members of the House of Laity who voted for the defeated motion of ‘no confidence’ in Dr Giddings at least offer to pay £808.51 each towards the estimated costs of £38,000 of staging today’s extraordinary meeting of the House?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Unfortunately, the costs of further reputational damage from today’s vote are greater.

The Church of England now officially has confidence in someone who supports discrimination against women.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

The whole debate was a waste of time and money. Its instigators should have known better, and as much as they have attempted to clothe their actions in a cloak of reasonableness, they have been found out. Canon Stephen Barney proved himself both misguided and intolerant in his quest to unseat Dr Giddings. £38000 down the drain, and this in a time of financial hardship. Perhaps Canon Barney should now consider his own future.

commentator
Guest
commentator

David Lamming & Benedict:
Do I take it that you wish only those with financial backing to be given the opportunity to raise their concerns as members of the Houses of General Synod? Such actions as demanding that they meet the cost of issues that are voted down would do just that. Dr Giddings has the backing of Anglican Mainstream and, I dare say access to funding, so he will still be in a privileged position should your strictures be imposed.

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

Personally I am grateful to Canon Barney for bringing this motion. It all needed saying and as a result Dr Giddings has made some undertakings which we will hold him to. The financial cost leaves me unmoved, I’m afraid. Of greater concern is the spiritual bankruptcy of Church which seems to think that defending people’s right to discriminate against women is a moral imperative but treating women as equally valued and loved by God is an optional extra.

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

Let me add this Telegraph Article to the list

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/9810735/Women-bishops-row-just-got-interesting.html

The comments under the article are more interesting, and the opening of the first comment says it all:

“Shoddy, inaccurate, ill-informed commentary: why was this useless piece commissioned and posted? “

My answer:

Because it was by Helen Goodman, Shadow Culture Minister and member of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee.

I wonder if Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee is stuffed with such low calibre MPs because “Well a job’s a job, and if I can’t do education or health I’ll do this.”

Disgraced of NZ
Guest
Disgraced of NZ

Jeremy you miss the point completely. The chair of any of the three houses is quite entitled to have an opinion on any contentious issue; as in this case, did the chairs of each of the three houses. The point in question was; did the chair of the house of laity abuse or compromise his position by expressing his personal opinion in the debate on the legislation to permit women bishops. The overwhelming opinion of the house was that he did not. NB. I am not a lay person, not an evangelical nor an opponent of women bishops. I wouldn’t… Read more »

Jeremy Bonner
Guest

Why could the motion not have been brought at the next regular session?

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Why can’t the liberals get it..there will not be women bishops in the Church of England for some years.Philip Giddings’s constituency are well organised on this, and they turn a blind eye to divorce and re-marriage. Homosexuality is one of the few issues they agree on.

I feel the best approach for the liberals is not petty harassment like this but via the women ordained abroad. A measure to recognise women bishops abroad and their ordinations and confirmations would pass easily.

John Wirenius
Guest

David and Benedict,

The numbers by which the motion was defeated indicate that roughly half of those who voted against it supported the vote to allow consecration of women to the episcopacy. Do you really think that suggesting punitive members against the other half is an appropriate response to those members of the HoL?

Churchill’s admonition “in Victory, magnanimity” might stand you in good stead, especially as there are further votes to come.

John
Guest
John

I entirely agree with Benedict (though from ‘the opposite side’). The end does not justify the means. The motion was wrong. Giddings was entirely within his rights to express his views at Synod, and the notion (especially as expressed by ‘Thinking Anglicans’) that he should have deferred to Justin Welby is grotesque. The columns of Andrew Brown and Stephen Bates on the ways Christians, including Anglicans, conduct their debates and negotiate their disagreements make sobering and shaming reading. Giddings has also responded to the outcome in a reasonably sober and dignified way. The fact that his views on other matters… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

It was foolish to pursue this course of action unless it succeded or had a good chance of doing so. It was always somewhat unlikely to have a positive result and more work should have been done to ascertain the chances of success.

Feria
Guest
Feria

Dear commentator, Normally, I’d agree with you that enabling equal participation in democratic debate and voting is well worth spending money on, even in “a time of financial hardship”. But I think that if we applied that principle in a consistent manner, we wouldn’t have anything like the House of Laity as presently constituted. Instead, we would have devoted the necessary resources both for direct elections to the House of Laity, and for a voter registration drive so that we’d get close to having all 14 million members of the Church of England on the Church Electoral Roll [*]. [*]… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Commentator, you are splitting hairs in response to our comments. The truth of the matter is that there was absolutely no need for this vote which was unprecedented and the result simply of churlish behaviour on the part of Canon Barney and his supporters, simply venting their spleen against Dr Giddings, because the vote on women bishops had gone the wrong way for them. Just take a look at the spurious reasons for the motion and tell us, as well, why the Venerable Christine Hardman, who has also expressed her personal opinion as Chair in past debates on women bishops… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Jeremy you miss the point completely. The chair of any of the three houses is quite entitled to have an opinion on any contentious issue….” Really? Let’s see how far you really go with this. What if the House of Laity had elected as its chair someone who it then emerged is a member of the Ku Klux Klan? Some opinions are beyond the pale. The lesson of November is that government, society, the larger culture will not tolerate a Church of England that discriminates against women. This Synod has now had two chances to declare that it does not… Read more »

Tim Moore
Guest
Tim Moore

Are we sure the emergency session cost £38,000? It’s not the fault of the House of Laity or Stephen Barney if it was.

If this synodical governance thing is so expensive, why don’t we just have the bishops decide everything and save money on all of that (sort-of) democracy lark?

commentator
Guest
commentator

Benedict – the comment I am addressing is the expressed wish to put a barrier up for any and all who exercise their synodical rights, however ineptly. Personally, I am of the view that the writings and sermons of Dr Giddings provide enough material to make it quite obvious that, were I to be voting, I would vote for another candidate. But the members of the House of Laity should all have an equal opportunity to ‘work the system’. But you set me a task and so will I will try to address it. The Ven. Christine Hardman, albeit as… Read more »

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

Robert – I’ve said this before, but Philip Giddings’ constituency stance wasn’t entirely responsible for the Measure being blocked; between them the Conservative Evangelicals and the traditional Catholics did not have the votes to block the measure. It was liberals uneasy at the provision whose numbers ultimately pushed the total to over a third.

That said, his constituency is not shrinking, so the time to come to some other kind of compromise may be limited …

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

“… the vote on women bishops had gone the wrong way for them.”

Actually it was really a vote on *what to do for people who disagree with women bishops… And I would hazard a guess that the same people who wanted to eject Dr Giddings from the Chair would also try to eject anyone from the church who does not agree with them…

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Jonathan
I agree with you that those opposing the defeated Measure were not all Conservative Evangelicals and Traditional Catholics. But I have to question your claim that the others who voted No were “uneasy liberals”. I believe that only one of them (Tom Sutcliffe) can be so described. I would be interested to learn of evidence to the contrary.

Pam Smith
Guest

Re the cost of the meeting (in reply to Tim Moore) – the only mention of £38,000 I can find by Googling other than the one in this thread is on the Law & Religion UK blog of January 17th, which links to a post on Anglican Mainstream which now seems to be unavailable.

http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2013/01/17/questions-for-the-house-of-laity-and-the-church/

http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2013/01/15/house-of-laity-meeting-on-friday-january-18/

Unless anyone has any firmer information it seems to have been a guess rather than a costing.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

A senior Church House employee also questioned that figure last week in my hearing, suggesting that it might be the cost of a full day of a full General Synod meeting. There clearly were some opportunity costs of Friday’s meeting, e.g. security guards and rental of voting devices, but I suspect the true figure is much lower. No doubt a Question will in due course be answered…

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Ooh! I’d be quite happy to invite Giddings to dine at our house!

In fact, I think that’s a rather good idea.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I thought someone had done an analysis of those who voted it down.

Wasn’t there a letter to the Times that supports Jonathan’s view? The only person I know who said he would but still voted against was Glynn Harrison from Bristol and you would hardly describe him as any sort of liberal.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

There are quite a few people in the House of Clergy and the House of Laity who are in favour of women bishops but who voted against the legislation. Probably not enough swing votes among the Laity, but the votes against weren’t monochrome. My suspicion is that the debate on Friday will have driven a few more people who would support women bishops to require more provision for those opposed. The bile from supporters of the no confidence motion – and the vilification of Anglican Mainstream and Reform – is likely to prove counter-productive in a Church of England that… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Oh, and invoking the Klu Klux Klan is a variant of Godwin’s Law.” Not so fast. We are told that Godwin’s Law can be invoked as a distraction or a diversion, to fallaciously miscast an argument as hyperbole when the analogy being drawn is appropriate. So, is an analogy between the Ku Klux Klan and opponents of women bishops appropriate? I suggest the analogy may be drawn, without hyperbole, because both discriminate. The KKK discriminates against blacks. Opponents of women bishops discriminate against women. The problem, of course, is that because opponents of women bishops for the moment have had… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Citing “Godwin’s Law” where a comparison is *apt*, should be a Yet Another Variant of Godwin’s Law!

People w/ XX chromosomes are sick&tired of having discrimination against them tut-tut’d like it’s No Biggie. It is. And it’s a sin.

Stephen Barney
Guest
Stephen Barney

Folks I have read your comments with much interest, As I said it was never about winning, I do hope that having aired this and related matters we can begin to move to a better place as the house of laity, the word trust seems to be very emotive, but I do think it is the elephant in the room as we all desperately want a solution which enables all to flourish. Without trust I can see no solution other than no women bishops or women bishops but many leaving. Both outcomes would be so sad. Some will of course… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I confess I don’t understand this talk about Chairs not speaking their mind. Dr Giddings was not the Chair of the discussion in question. He is Chair of the House of Laity. Because he is in that place he is not allowed to speak in a debate he is not chairing? That just sounds bizarre. Can someone clarify, please.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Well observed Jonathan.. I think you are right.

However I still think a women bishops abroad measure is a good idea.

J Knightley
Guest
J Knightley

The KKK : opponents of women’s ordination comparison is not apt. The opponents believe that women should not be eligible for specific positions of authority and responsibility in a certain voluntary organization. The KKK believed that blacks should have no rights in society as a whole beyond a bare right to existence–and even that only on condition that they not attempt to claim any rights beyond it.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“The opponents believe that women should not be eligible for specific positions of authority and responsibility in a certain voluntary organization.”

Which “voluntary organization” would that be–the Church of England? Or the House of Lords?

Furthermore, the false “doctrine” of male headship holds that women have no rights in the (national, established) church beyond the bare right to attend.

This purported distinction does not hold up very well.

JCF
Guest
JCF

J Knightley, that’s what called a “quantitative distinction”. The OOW crowd believe women are only a *little bit less* made in the Image of God; the KKK believes blacks are made a *lot less* in the Image of God.

A “little bit” of sin is still SIN.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I think this whole business of feeling the Church has to provide special arrangements for what it might consider to be a ‘Loyal Opposition’ group in the Church of England – on the issue of whether, or not, the Church should act justly towards women who might feel a call to be a Bishop – to be divisive rather than unitive. Should the Church encourage entrenched division on what – to the world at least – appears to be an issue of discrimination against women’s ministry in the Church? Surely, if the Church of England deems women capable and called… Read more »

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

I am glad Stephen Barney moved this motion and I do not think he should feel responsible for any expenses.
I do fear it will make those opposed to women bishops more determined to have concessions which many of us believe to be beyond acceptance.

They do not care about the witness of the Church which they want to turn into a closed sect any way. We cannot give in to them however long ,sadly, we have to wait for women bishops. We must witness to the gospel of an inclusive God.

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Jean-

Do I take it that the “inclusive” church you envisage will have no respected place for the inclusion of those women who differ from you on gender roles in the church and family?

johnny

Pam Smith
Guest

johnny may – without wishing to answer for Jean Mayland, for me the problem with your question is the word ‘respected’. With its cousin ‘honoured’ it has featured a lot in discussions about this issue, and the prominence of these words perhaps explains why no resolution is being reached. We are told that those who are opposed to the ordination of women voted against the measure in November because it did not contain ‘proper provision’. I gather ‘proper provision’ means something that is legally binding on all parties. This ‘proper provision’ would provide a respected and/or honoured place for those… Read more »

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

I agree with you, Pam. Stephen Barney should not have to contribute to costs. He was working within the rules and customs of Synod. Mind you, the motion should never have been brought as Philip Giddings was working within the rules and customs of Synod.

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Pam- thanks for your response which seems to me to be both constructive and helpful. I agree that greater “terminological exactitude” would help in progressing this debate- and then I fell into the trap of using terms sloppily! I agree entirely that legislation cannot change what people think or feel. No Measure of Synod or Act of Parliament is going to change people’s convictions. Does this not highlight, however, why the current impasse has been reached over the consecration of women? There are two irreconcilable views, both held with honesty and integrity and both hitherto given a place in the… Read more »

Pam Smith
Guest

I wasn’t too sure about the actual motion myself and I think the discussion (that Philip Giddings after the vote indicated he was willing to have) about he role of the Chair would have been a better use of the time. Not knowing much about the standing orders of General Synod I don’t know if such a meeting could have been called in the same way though. I do think if a sizeable number of HoL members were unhappy with Philip Giddings’ role in the proceedings in November, it needed airing. ISTM there are already too many festering wounds poisoning… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

The House of Laity SOs are here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/40502/standingorders.pdf [scroll down to pages 141 – 153] There is no role description for the Chair (probably there ought to be), but the assumption is that it is not a convenor role, but an elected representative role, to which you are elected on a quasi manifesto. Giddings is fulfilling the role on the same custom and practice basis as his predecessors. Oswald Clark (against the OoW); Christina Baxter (pro OoW, but in favour of provision); Tim Hoare (sceptical, but voted for the OoW). We all knew what they thought, where they stood, and… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

johnny said, ‘[T]hey are wittingly inviting discrimination on themselves.’

Indeed they are. And why?

False consciousness, Stockholm syndrome, all sorts of possible explanations.

The fact that some women buy into a gender-biased system does not make the system just. It simply speaks to its power.

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Jeremy, I’ve noticed that your comments are rarely under-stated but I appreciate a good polemicist. Of course you will appreciate that your argument is entirely circular- “the system is misogynistic; people do not see it is misogynistic, therefore it must be mysogynistic”. It seems that we have two alternatives- the women that I have seen in the media are mentally ill, stupid or deluded or they do actually find what they believe to be the best way for them to live. Of course the latter is inherently more likely than the former but moreover, given what I saw of them… Read more »

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

Johnny – some thoughts which are intended to develop the discussion of earlier today. I have long thought much of the language used can lead to potentially confusing thinking on the subject of how those who believe women can be ordained and those who believe they can’t, can live in one church. First, unity. As far as I know this attempt to provide a “sealed off” part of the C of E for those who do not believe women are truly priests, or can hold any role of authority in the church, is the only time that Christians have tried… Read more »

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

The 25% to 30% statement about the number unable to accept women in ministry derived from the misuse of research, the reseach company have asked for that statement to be retracted.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Johnny, you suggest my argument is circular. To understate: How interesting. Are you really asserting that my only basis for holding opposition to women bishops to be misogyny is the assertions of opponents to the contrary? That would be quite a feat of argumentation, if it were my argument; but of course it is not. As for the opponents of women bishops: Yes, they are deluded. And yes, it is quite possible for intelligent people to be deluded by belief. The question is whether any belief that Christianity requires discrimination is something that the CofE wants to continue to tolerate.… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

A small minority of (very vocal) women are opposed to women bishops. Nothing new in that: some very distinguished women E.g. Gertrude Bell, Mary Ward campaigned against women’s suffrage. Female genital mutilation would cease overnight without the support of women. Susie Leafe says that she wants a bishop who is a father to his diocese. Fine-but should that desire affect church governance? She doesn’t think women makes good decisions and cites Eve. Fine-but maybe some history lessons might help. She and others think Paul’s opinions binding on the church for ever where gender is concerned, but I haven’t heard her… Read more »

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

Johnny,

The women to whom you refer should certainly stay in the Church, even though ,quite honestly, I hope that at some time they may change their minds

What is not acceptable is that a small group of them should prevent the rest of us from having women bishops – something for which I have worked and longed for more than 50 of my 76 years

J Knightley
Guest
J Knightley

I’m always surprised by the defenses people find for indefensible positions. Jeremy—There may be a few opponents of women’s ordination like that, just as there may be a few proponents who think men should be suppressed. But I certainly don’t know of one who is in favor of restricting the sex to ‘a bare right to attend.’ All believe that they have vitally important and honorable ministries in the service of Christ. To put the KKK comparison another way, how many female ministers have been lynched, forcibly ejected from their homes, or kidnapped and tortured, all for their collar? And,… Read more »

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

The new film Lincoln speaks into our women bishops issue. It shows something of people in entrenched positions. Even a political genius like Abraham Lincoln might have found it dificult to solve our problem, lets hope new ABC can.

Alternatively we could refer to the letter in the Times “Why is the church of Enlgand alway arguing about sex and money” ……… trouble is it was written in 1778!