Thursday, 3 April 2008

Women, Communion and the Church

From Inclusive Church
Women, Communion and the Church

3rd April 2008

Inclusive Church (IC) is disappointed by the Church in Wales’ decision not to allow women to be bishops. But we are pleased that the Church in Wales resisted pressure for any arrangements which would have discriminated against women and which would have destroyed the unity and integrity of its episcopate.

Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH (Women and the Church) and member of IC’s Executive Committee said, “I applaud the leadership shown by Archbishop Barry Morgan and the Welsh bishops’ resolute decision not to compromise the principle of having women as bishops on the same basis as men are bishops.”

The vote on women bishops failed narrowly to get the required two-thirds majority in the house of clergy.

For IC, Revd. Dr Giles Fraser said: “People mustn’t get disheartened. This will go through. The Gospel points towards full inclusion and if that’s what the Gospel says, that’s what God wants. Therefore all will be well.”

Inclusive Church has prepared a statement celebrating the historic generosity of the Anglican Communion and calling for renewed unity among churches. Churches in agreement with the statement are asked to send an email to listing the church’s name, parish, diocese and province.

It reads

“As Christians, we believe that all people have been made in the image of God. We believe that God loves each and every person with an infinite, never-ending, unconditional love.

As members of the body of Christ, we acknowledge each person’s unique and valuable contribution as we seek together to build up that body in love.

As members of the Anglican Communion, we celebrate the gift of our diversity and are committed to being a broad Church that accepts and welcomes difference. We acknowledge our need of God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings which harm our shared witness in the world. We believe our unity is rooted in our baptism in Christ, and we will seek to maintain that unity through the grace of the Holy Spirit who lives and works in each one of us.”

As the Lambeth Conference approaches - at a time of debate and discernment in our life together - we believe the best way forward will not include segregating or excluding those with whom we disagree.

This invitation is intended for churches, and not individuals and should have the agreement of Church Vestries or PCC’s. Questions or comments can be addressed to

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 11:37pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: InclusiveChurch

Giles Fraser writes:
'The gospel points towards full inclusion'.

The more general one's statements the more one suspects that they have deliberately been made general in order to skate over details and nuances. This particular generalisation is true in some ways and untrue in others:

(1) The NT speaks regularly (Rev 22, broad and narrow ways, sheep and goats, many are called but etc etc) about the fact that some are included and some are not - albeit this has a lot to do with their own choice.

(2) Would you 'include' those who wished to be excluded? If not, we arrive at more or less the NT position.

(3) One always has to ask the question 'included in what?' or 'included as what?'.

(4) This has nothing to do with my position on the bishops issue: NT bishops are local supervisors/overseers not members of some modern-style ecclesiastical hierarchy. In fact it is by seeing later and modern models (as opposed to NT models) as some kind of norm that a lot of confusion arises; even more so on the issue of 'priests'. The point is simply that one smells a rat when people speak in too-general terms.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 9:15am BST

"'included in what?' or 'included as what?'."

Included in that group which is loved unconditionally by God, which is to say all of Creation.

"NT bishops are local supervisors/overseers not members of some modern-style ecclesiastical hierarchy."

What do you mean? Am I correct in taking from this that you believe that since the Threefold Order didn't develop till after the NT period, it does not represent the Spirit leading us into Truth? As a reference point for my attitude to this, even though I have often decried the evils of the Imperial Church, I still think God led us to that state for a reason, just like I think He's leading us away from it now. So, I believe the Spirit didn't stop leading us after the last full stop at the end of Revelation. To me what you say here suggests otherwise. Correct me if I'm wrong. Also, for someone who has in the past stressed the traditional approach towards marriage, I find it contradictory that you don't have the same respect for the traditional approach to Church hierarchy, not to mention the Sacraments, since Holy Order is at the root of "sacramentality", to coin a word since I am ignorant of the real one. The idea of bishop as local supervisor is no less radical an innovation in the faith just because it is now about 5 centuries old. As I have said before, the problem lies, I think, in the fact that the Shepherds of God's Flock got made into the Bosses of God's Flock, and was a significant part of our selling out the Gospel to the world. The interesting thing is that it is the conservatives in this, and often those who are most in adoration of the Reformation, who seem to see bishops as Bosses, and who want them to have "Boss type" power.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 3:04pm BST

"'included in what?'"

In those loved by God unconditionally. Which would be all of His Creation.

"NT bishops are local supervisors/overseers not members of some modern-style ecclesiastical hierarchy."

What does that have to do with anything? The Spirit who leads us into all truth guided the development of the Threefold Order over a couple of centuries. Though I often decry the Imperial Church, I still believe the Spirit led us to that as well. You seem to be suggesting that anything that developed in Christianity after the final full stop at the end of Revelation is at best suspect if not out and out wrong. Can you clarify? Consider as well that you are talking to Anglicans, and, for most of us, the Threefold Order is an important part of the faith. You are not an Anglican and thus perhaps see it in different terms.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 6:17pm BST

This is a landmark victory for the women. The Governing Body steadastly refused to place the concept of alternative episcopal oversight into its Constitution. That would have created a second class order of women bishops. In effect the aims of GRAS were achieved.

Would you have wanted the bishops to give in to the blackmail of some of the opponents and get the bill passed by appointing a flying bishop?
I was at the debate, they boldly asked for a bishop and said they would then voyte for the Bi

A second class order of bishops would have been the result.

GRAS should take heart and press the English bishops similarly to nail their colours to the mast.

The motion falied also because women were under represented in the House of clergy. On that score if criticism is to be even handed the women had 11 years to change that under representation.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 8 April 2008 at 6:11am BST
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