THINKING ANGLICANS

Women Bishops in Wales

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales will be meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013. The agenda includes group discussion on women bishops, as this extract from a press release describes.

The ordination of women as bishops will be discussed by clergy and lay people from all over Wales at a key Church meeting next week.

Theological arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, on April 10-11.

The 144 members will be put into seven groups, each facilitated by a bishop, to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against.

The discussions are being held ahead of the introduction of a two-stage Bill to the Governing Body in September to ordain women as bishops. That legislation, however, will not be addressed by the groups next week.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, says, “It is now five years since the last time that Governing Body considered the question of the ordination of women to the episcopate, and many of its members will have changed. The bishops feel it is important that Governing Body has the opportunity to explore the theological questions behind these issues, and understand the conscientious reasons why those opposed to the ordination of women to the episcopate would not be able to accept the sacramental ministry of a woman bishop as well as the theological reasons why those in favour believe that the time is right for such as a step.”

The discussions will take place on Thursday morning from 9.30am.

The full agenda is available online.

The Governing Body previously considered a bill to allow women to be bishops in April 2008. It was defeated then as it failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.

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Will this and every question have to be discussed whenever there has been a change of membership of a church body? I had thought that discussions had taken place and conclusions had been reached, hence the legislation.

Stephen
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Stephen

Here we go again! Do not women in ministry feel insulted to have to go through this time after time? Has not all this already been discussed at great length?

JCF
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JCF

“to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against”

Do you think God had to listen to papers presented by Satan, For&Against, before accomplishing the whole Adam’s Rib thing? O_o

Cynthia
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Cynthia

It isn’t only women in ministry, Stephen. It’s all of us who are being insulted time and time again. The big question is whether or not women are created equally in the image of God. And time after time we are told that we are not. It’s insulting and depressing at best.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Will they also discuss the merits and effectiveness of ducking-stools and herbal broth cures with added eye-of-newt perchance ?

Only asking.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“Theological [insert emoticon here] arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales …”

It’s not enough that the church is foolish, but it must be seen to be foolish. What a sideshow. But I suppose the martyr complex at work in the opponents of gender equality requires both a spectacle and an audience in order for it to be worthwhile having one. After all, what’s the fun in being a martyr if you can’t draw a crowd?

Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

It may be tiresome, but for supporters of women bishops in Wales, isn’t this better than just letting the 2008 decision stand?

rjb
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rjb

Nobody is being insulted, Cynthia, and the question at issue is not whether women are created equally in the image of God. Failing to acknowledge the legitimacy of our opponents’ concerns (however theologically questionable their premises might be) is no way to convince them that they should reconsider. For those of us who would like to see women bishops as soon as possible (if not last year!) I’d suggest the approach recommended by the apostle in Romans 14: “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while… Read more »

william
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william

It’s never easy for the Church to be about ‘semper reformanda’. There are always those – as our comments show – with their philosophical presuppositions which cannot be questioned!! God certainly created us male and female; by definition equality is irrelevant. So is inequality in this! By making us creatures in His image male and female, distinct,and together forming the image He would have on earth – it is dishonouring to His diversity to conflate and talk about ‘gender equality’. Until we grasp that basic foundational glory of our creaturehood, the church will be forever engaged in the battles which… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

William,
and unless it is always the more powerful group that dictates to the less powerful group what God wants for them, without taking their opinions into account, we will continue to see this as nothing more than a power play that has nothing of God in it.

johnny may
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johnny may

Erika, and surely therein lies the rub. Is the power play the powerful liberals vs the weaker traditionalists or the powerful men vs the weaker women (I don’t believe that but anyway for the sake of argument…)? Both sides can equally plead “discrimination” and “oppression” and it gets us nowhere. Its just linguistic games. As Cynthia has said elsewhere and William highlights, there is more than one legitimate reading of Scripture on these matters. Added to that both can plead, if they wish, that they are the victims in all this. It always ends-up in deadlock. That is why I… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Sorry, that was of course meant to read “and while it is always…”

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Exactly, Erika. It’s about power. It’s about the power of the few to oppress others. To William and rjb (who says that we women should not feel insulted by substandard treatment at the hands of the church), the fact of the matter is that if some women are called to ministry and the old white men bar them, that is an exercise of power and it is oppression. When they exercise that power, all of us women, not just those called to ministry, get the message loud and clear. And it has devastating consequences. We must not be in denial… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

rjb In the early feminist movement of the 1960’s, women got together to share experiences. They set up rules for these conversations to not interrupt and not to tell each other how they should feel. Their men had told them for years how they should feel. I’ve been told that that was perhaps the most liberating part of women’s lib. When you tell me it isn’t an insult, yet again, to hear the issue of WB’s debated, this is breaking a cardinal rule of telling me how I should feel. It is an insult to have to hear yet again… Read more »

william
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william

Johnny I would strongly encourage you not to begin to think of structural change or factional separation. Together we form the living organism which is the body of Christ on earth. Within the Church of Scotland we managed to retain structural unity throughout our deliberations and biblical discussions, back in the 80’s, on ordaining women elders. Maybe it was easier within Presbyterianism, but maybe not, to function within our biblical understandings [and that is crucial]; congregations being able to have all male or joint male/female kirk sessions. We are almost maintaining functional unity on the homosexual clergy issue also, although… Read more »

william
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william

Cynthia
I think I can understand just a little of the zeal with which you are pursuing this matter.
But do you remember Professor Gamaliel’s wise advice to equally zealous folks on another issue?
What if indeed you were to discover Acts 5.39[final statement]?
In building the Church of Jesus Christ His mind and His wisdom are fundamental. When God says My ways are not your ways, we must listen carefully to all that He has revealed to us.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

For Johnny, you wanted evidence that exclusive language and suffering are linked. Here’s one LGBT example and one Witness for women. Article linking “Christian” driven homophobia to an epidemic of teen suicides. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/michele-bachmann-teen-suicide?page=3 I note that there have been many, many, other instances. This one got covered because it was in the Congressional district of one of the GOP candidates for US President, Michele Bachmann. There is cause and effect. Earlier, I wrote about my Witness in Haiti, it apparently got edited. I wrote about how much the visits of female clergy and PB from TEC means to the women… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

William, I’m all ears. So what’s your rational for resisting WB’s? I’d love to come to a place where I can at least feel compassion for your side. I can’t right now because I live on the edge; I do lay ministry in our inner city and in Haiti. I see the suffering. I’m seeing the actual cruelty of the oppressive position, which has been dominant for centuries (like racism and other failings). The arguments so far: complementary theory, difference described as the “glory of our creature hood,” Scripture misinterpreted (cherry picked, really), and Scripture conflated with culture. Some people… Read more »

johnny may
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johnny may

Cynthia, with the very greatest of respect that is anecdote, not evidence. If you are to continue to make assertions, linking women bishops and rape etc they will be without any force unless they are supported by some empirical evidence. Likewise describing those who disagree with you as akin to or actual “abusers” is empty without you being able to prove connections between their conduct and negative outcomes for women. I appreciate that you have a certain worldview and of course you are entitled to that but if you are going to convince the rest of us that it is… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

It is very hurtful to a whole group of people when churches debate whether their kind may be ordained. In this case, it is the consecration of women to the episcopate.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Sister Mary
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Sister Mary

Cynthia, thank you. You speak for women and their status worldwide, not just English Anglicans.

There are already women bishops in the Anglican Communion. The procedure will not be turned back.

Rosie Bates
Guest

Staggering – it has only taken the Governing Body of the Church in Wales five years to come up with a process that reads like something from the late 80’s early 90’s. Male Bishops as the group facilitators? The Bishops ‘feel’ it is important? We need to know what they believe not what they feel. I pray women in the Church in Wales will tell them what they can do with their feelings which suggest appeasement rather than a commitment to to fully enable women’s ministry. The language of press releases often seem to be about dampening down feelings rather… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

The tone of the press release is a bit paternalistic.

But what a joy it would be in September if the Church of Wales could show the way.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Johnny, if CoE and Wales exclude WBs, it loses credibility to tackle social justice within the UK and without. It is that simple. I’m not a social scientist, my guess is that there is a ton of research showing the empirical link with discrimination and suffering. It certainly is the American experience, I saw evidence of it in Haiti and I’ve read and listened to Desmond Tutu who is all about lifting people up. There was an American civil rights leader, either Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, who noted – American southern dialect coming – De Nile isn’t just a… Read more »

John Holding
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John Holding

William wrote: Cynthia – do you remember Professor Gamaliel’s wise advice to equally zealous folks on another issue? I am glad William has brought Gamaliel to the discussion. Several decades ago, when the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod was discussing the ordination of women to the priesthood, one of the leading opponents was an eminent and highly regarded Anglo-Catholic Archdeacon. He made his opposition crystal clear, and brought up Gamaliel. Time passed — a couple of decades as I recall — and that same Archdeacon was again talking about the ordination of women. He was now in favour, precisely… Read more »

johnny may
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johnny may

Gary Paul Gilbert, With regards to “it is very hurtful to a whole group of people when churches debate whether their kind may be ordained. In this case, it is the consecration of women to the episcopate.” It is equally hurtful when people make the wholly discriminatory assumption that all women (or men) share the same view merely by dint of their gender. That is why the debate in the CofE is not as you suggest about whether women can/will be bishops but about how to provide equally for those men AND women who do and do not accept the… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Johnny, there is strong evidence that discrimination and stereotyping lead to ill effects such as depression and violence. There is evidence that inequality leaves people vulnerable. Check out the UN site that Jane gave. Check out a ton of social science and leaders in social justice. It is before your very eyes. “De Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt.” The idea that the problem is that men need to be nicer is rather naive, and patriarchal. It comes down to power, which must be shared. You have women telling you that we are discriminated against and we want equality,… Read more »

johnny may
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johnny may

Dear Cynthia, In the few months I have been following this site I have become convinced both that I am not and will not be a liberal. I love your comments but your last two posts show the reasons why I have come to that conclusion. That is because your responses demonstrate a combination of the liberal, illiberal and discriminatory. You say: A. Falsely, that I am trying to define you- I am not. I am 3,000 miles away on the end of lots of ones and zeros. You can do as you like- I claim no power over you… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Thanks Johnny. You misunderstand much, and it’s a world view thing I guess. I’ll try to explain the logic. When you don’t accept WB’s, you are defining women as not capable or appropriate or something, in that role. I personalize it as a rhetorical gesture. It doesn’t matter that I’m 3000 miles away, for now (or I’ll be in the UK this summer). When your theology excludes me and my sisters from a role, that is defining and excluding us. It just is. There’s nothing abstract about it, you’re telling half of the population that you find us unacceptable in… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

Bearing in mind that only about 1 per cent of Welsh persons actually attend the Church in Wales on an average Sunday!

william
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william

Cynthia Have you ever considered the possibility that your argument is with God? Do you ever consider the possibility that there is anybody in this world [and beyond!] who can justly make decisions about you, your life and your usefulness. Or is that not allowable? In your mindset, when anyone/anything goes contrary to your world view does it just become “your theology excludes me …..” and not the living God, I mean the One who is there [not the one we have defined for ourselves!], daring to have His way? And just imagine, if there is a God who is… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

William, have you considered that you are playing God by overriding the discernment of all those women who feel called to the priesthood by him? And the discernment of all those who affirm her discernment and train her? And the discernment of all those in her congregation who feel enriched by her priesthood? Have you considered the possibility that it is you who is denying God his right to call Cynthia to the priesthood? Will you really take on the enormity of being answerable for that? Ultimately, we are all responsible for our lives before God. What makes you think… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

TA watchers may be happy to learn that Wales will not be hosting a FULCRUM conference and so we will not have to follow its advertising and outcome here.

william
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william

Erika The christian religion is both a historical and a revealed religion:Jesus Christ, the divine eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Through His life, death and resurrection He became life-giving Spirit, so His followers can be spoken of as those who are born of God. They are then called and delight to hear the voice of their good shepherd and obey. It seems that kind of supernatural perspective of the life and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ is alien to the perspective which sees belief and obedience to the inscripturated Word of the living God as… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

William, yes to all of that. How does it help us to discern whether your theology of women in the priesthood is correct or that of all those churches all over the world who have women priests? You telling Cynthia that she is wrong because you are right and you understand the mind of God is nothing more than an assertion and quite an arrogant one too. She is just as entitled to tell you that her ministry is clearly thriving and supported by her church and her congregation and by excellent theology. Will we ever know the truth? I… Read more »

Veuster
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Veuster

> Have you considered the possibility that it is you who is denying God his right to call Cynthia to the priesthood? Will you really take on the enormity of being answerable for that? How can we know what God wants, except through listening to the teaching of the Church (by which I mean the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the world, not a province of it such as the Church in Wales)? Whether we like it or not, the testimony of the Church, both past and present, is overwhelmingly against the ordination of women. Who are we… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

In other words: Submit to the Word of God . . . which requires discrimination against women.

No wonder that many people don’t even try to listen for the Word of God, or seek to understand it.

The CofE’s resistance to women bishops isn’t just damaging Anglicanism–it’s bringing all of Christianity into disrepute.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“How can we know what God wants, except through listening to the teaching of the Church (by which I mean the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the world, not a province of it such as the Church in Wales)?” You may mean that, but that doesn’t really mean anything, does it. Or are you seriously suggesting that all those Anglican and Lutheran and Baptist and Methodist etc. churches with women priests are wrong, just because the Catholics haven’t given their approval? You may personally believe that to be so, but that’s as far as it goes. The CoE… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

William, your argument consists solely of “My interpretation of God is correct and everyone else’s is wrong.” You claim history as part of it and I’ve pointed out the churches nasty history of racism, burning witches, etc. The idea that you are right and millions of women and male supporters are wrong is breathtaking. A circumspect view would take in the fact that Jesus’s harshest words were for the Establishment for excluding and demeaning people, and that his ministry lifted women up, extraordinary for his time. My rhetorical device of saying “you’re telling me that I’m not equal” has backfired.… Read more »

william
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william

Erika asks – “How does it help us to discern whether your theology of women in the priesthood is correct or that of all those churches all over the world who have women priests?” Answer is very simple at one level: we sit down together with the Scriptures, and submit to them as the wisdom of God which He has been pleased to reveal to us. I detect that both Cynthia and yourself would rather hold to the view that the Scriptures may be wrong! ie some would want to argue with God, because their religion is not the revealed… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

No, William, Scripture is not wrong. Our interpretation of it may be.

Can I go back, for the last time, to the point that the CoE has already discerned that women can be priests and that it has ordained women to the priesthood for 20 years?

You are having the wrong argument.

We are not about to tell all these women that they must leave their parishes!

The only only only question is to which extent your view will be accommodated in the CoE.
You can wish it was different. But it actually isn’t.

Veuster
Guest
Veuster

> I repeat – whether women can be priests or not is NOT the argument.

Erika, around two thirds of the world’s Christians say that it *is* the argument. Compared to the vast preponderance of Christians in the world – Roman Catholics and Orthodox – Anglicans are in the minority.

Who are we to say that we not only know better than nearly all of the Christians who have lived during the last two millennia but also know better than most of the Christians who are alive today?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Scripture – God created male and female in his/her image (the “his” is grammar, not literal). In God there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female… Jesus breaking taboos to lift up women at every turn. Mary Magdalene the first Witness to the Resurrection.

In early Christiandom, there were female deacons and leaders. When it became institutionalized it took on the cultural norms.

William, this is Scripture and history that one ignores at one’s peril.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Erika, around two thirds of the world’s Christians say that it *is* the argument. Compared to the vast preponderance of Christians in the world – Roman Catholics and Orthodox – Anglicans are in the minority. Who are we to say that we not only know better than nearly all of the Christians who have lived during the last two millennia but also know better than most of the Christians who are alive today?” You write as if the Reformation never happened. Many of the reformed churches are very open to women’s ministry, as are the Anglican Churches in Canada, Scotland,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Veuster, I suppose it depends on why you have the argument. If you sit down in a pub with your mates discussing the principle of women priests, your argument is a valid debating issue. But if you are a member of the CoE it is completely irrelevant. Your church has already got women priests. Thousands of them. And this very minute as many women are being trained for ordination as men. You seem to be ignoring this completely in your determination to claim that women cannot be priests and that this is still a reasonable argument to make in this… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The Angel of The Lord appeared to Mary and she conceived by the Holy Ghost. ‘Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you, blest are you among women…..!’ “

And, Yes! Mary was actually a woman! Do we need any further proof of the value of women to God? Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ was a direct response to her ‘finding favour with God’. In today’s world (and the Church) God is helping to raise the status of women to what God had intended for women from the very beginning. Let’s just get on with it!

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

Those who do not want to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood and their eventual consecration to the episcopate in the Church of England are a clear minority who can choose to remain within the C of E or choose some other ecclesial body which suits them. To deny people of talent a chance to contribute to the larger body is a sin.

The debate about the ordination of women is over.

Gary Paul Gilbert

william
Guest
william

But Gary what if the decision was ‘wrong’? Does that not matter? We just press on … And cease to be the Church of Jesus Christ? In your drive for equality – “To deny people of talent a chance to contribute to the larger body is a sin” you may not be grasping things as they are in God’s world. The male of the species is barred from bearing children into this world? Is that a sin? Presumably on God’s part! We need to escape the indoctrination society has fallen into – ‘gender equality’ in its abandonment of the wisdom… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

William, as it’s just as likely that the Catholic decision not to have women priests is “wrong”, we cannot escape the responsibility of making a choice. And if we did get it wrong? Then what? What are you afraid of? The big bad God in the sky who will be pouncing on you, saying “ha! I caught you out! you got something wrong!”? If you’re that scared of this God, then stay in a church or in a part of the CoE that does not have women priests. You’ll feel safe there. Let the rest get on with their discernment… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“But Gary what if the decision was ‘wrong’? Does that not matter? We just press on … And cease to be the Church of Jesus Christ?”

So . . . being the Church of Jesus Christ requires gender discrimination?

Are you by any chance on Richard Dawkins’s public-relations team?