Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Senior women clergy write to General Synod members

A group of senior women clergy have sent the letter below to the members of General Synod to express their opposition to the bishops’ amendment to Clause 5 of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, and urging Synod members to adjourn their debate to allow the bishops to think again.

To all members of General Synod:

Following the House of Bishops’ amendments many people have asked for the perspective of senior women clergy regarding the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure as it now stands.

We the undersigned wish to express our deep dismay at the introduction of Clause 5(1)(c), which has serious implications for the way the Church understands itself and undermines women so profoundly that we are now unable to support the Measure.

We recognise that bishops voted in favour of this amendment in good faith, believing that further assurances for those unable to accept the ministry of ordained women would help secure the Measure’s passing.

However, with the introduction of this clause the Measure is likely to be defeated. It is therefore our hope that the General Synod will adjourn the debate in July and return the legislation to the House of Bishops for further reflection. This will give the opportunity for the Measure (as passed by 42 of the 44 dioceses) to be returned to General Synod for approval later in the year.

The Venerable Christine Allsopp (Archdeacon of Northampton)
The Revd Canon Sarah Bullock (Bishop’s Advisor for Women’s Ministry Diocese of Manchester)
The Venerable Annette Cooper (Archdeacon of Colchester)
The Venerable Penny Driver (Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness)
The Very Revd Vivienne Faull (Dean of Leicester)
The Venerable Karen Gorham (Archdeacon of Buckingham)
The Revd Canon Jane Hedges (Canon Steward & Archdeacon of Westminster)
The Venerable Canon Janet Henderson (Archdeacon of Richmond)
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons)
The Revd Rosemary Lain-Priestley (Chair of the National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women’s Ministry)
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle (Dean of Birmingham)
The Very Revd June Osborne (Dean of Salisbury)

The Venerable Jane Sinclair (Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey)
The Revd Canon Celia Thomson (Canon Pastor, Gloucester Cathedral)
The Venerable Rachel Treweek (Archdeacon of Hackney)
The Very Revd Dr Frances Ward (Dean of St Edmundsbury)
The Venerable Christine Wilson (Archdeacon of Chesterfield)
The Revd Lucy Winkett (Rector, St James’s Piccadilly)

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 at 4:03pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Thank you for this post. I suppose we should also assume that this is the list of the persons most likely to be honored with being named bishop in the C of E.

Posted by: Jeff Allison on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 at 6:04pm BST

Shamefully and sadly some women are supporting those who are opposing the ordination of women bishops. I wonder how long the all male house of bishops think they can continue to deceive us about the ministry of women bishops? There should never be any conditions in the first place, a woman bishop must have the full rights and authority as their male counterparts. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 at 6:48pm BST

Jeff, not very likely now.

Posted by: Wade McClay on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 at 11:40pm BST

This is an impressive list of names, and therefore this is a serious intervention. These are women who have demonstrated through their own ministries, exactly why there should be female bishops. Many of them are outstanding. This presents a dramatic statement and also contains within it a heartfelt appeal for women to be taken seriously at the heart of the church, in every respect as competent of leadership ministry as any man. They are, in many respects, the heart of modern Christianity in the Church of England, and if even a quarter of them became bishops, the impact would be profound. They are already getting on and doing ministry all around the country. In the eyes of many, they are held in as much respect as bishops if not more, and regarded as every bit as competent as men already are as bishops. They are entirely competent to lead the church, and I believe most people in the pews would want them to. Quite simply, most people see no reason why we don't press on and just treat men and women as bishops the same. The issue of pastoral care for people who in faith believe in male-only priesthood is a valid and important one. But there is a sense of crisis here, when even fellow bishops are unhappy with the recent episcopal intervention, and these admirable female leaders are making it clear that they are not seeking to be sidelined in the discourse about decisions most people believed had already been arrived at. In many ways this statement presents a real challenge to the way things have been gone about. If government of the church is synodical, then does the house of bishops really have a mandate to represent the mind of the church, or is it resorting to exercise of power because it can. If so, that is quite a 'masculine' mindset and way of going about things. Women are at the heart of so much ministry in the church now, are co-operative and collaborative, and bring unique gifts. Up and down the land, women are more than playing their part in parish life. The women who have signed up to this document include some very respected and very steady-minded people.

Posted by: Susannah on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 1:39am BST

How come - the senior Archdeacon in the Church of England hasn't signed the letter i.e. the Archdeacon of Canterbury? The one who, after all, enthrones all diocesan bishops of the Southern Province.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 6:54am BST

Thank you ladies for your positive intervention by letter at this stage of the debate. By your actions you show us your love of your church, and the your responsible positions within it.
Clearly your positions and influence in the church is shown to be more positive than many of our Bishops.
The church can only move forward when you together with the Bishops work together, and are accepted as equal partners in the total ministry of the church. Many of you being chosen as Bishops.
Continue your good work 'Bishops in Waiting'

Fr John

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 8:44am BST

"Women .... are co-operative and collaborative" Susannah

Some are and some aren't. It does depend on the individual woman.

Posted by: Laurence C. on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 8:56am BST

I think it is due time for the House of Bishops to LISTEN to the Women of The Church.

The disciples didn't listen to Mary Magdalene when she was sent by Jesus to tell them the news of his resurrection. Why? because of their mistaken idea of the place of Women in the Church.

If Women are not listened to, they may become dis-spirited and withdraw their ministry! And where would the Church of England then find itself?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 12:50pm BST

"How come - the senior Archdeacon in the Church of England hasn't signed the letter i.e. the Archdeacon of Canterbury? The one who, after all, enthrones all diocesan bishops of the Southern Province." [Fr David]

I think you may be mistaken. That role belongs to the DEAN of Canterbury, currently The Very Revd. Robert Willis.

The Ven. Sheila Watson is indeed the archdeacon of Canterbury but to hold that position confers no seniority of itself among the dignitaries in the Church of England.

Posted by: RPNewark on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 6:13pm BST

Yet another blow for the House of Bishops as I see that the Prime Minister transpires to reduce their number in the House of Lords from 26 to a mere 12.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 7:26pm BST

It is indeed the Archdeacon of Canterbury who places bishops into their episcopal seats in the Province of Canterbury. Not the Dean.

I think I'm right in saying though that in the northern province it is the Dean of York who formally places bishops on their seats.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 9:03pm BST

I distinctly remember attending the Enthronement of Bishop Simon Phipps in Lincoln cathedral many years ago and the good bishop was placed in his cathedra by none other than the Venerable Bernard Pawley - Archdeacon of Canterbury. It is correct that the Dean of Canterbury - the Very Reverend Robert Willis placed Archbishop Rowan on the throne of Saint Augustine but it is the Archdeacon of Canterbury who enthrones the diocesan bishops of the Southern Province. One of the most recently enthroned was none other than the Bishop of Salisbury and the diocesan website clearly states:- "The Archdeacon of Canterbury as representative of the Archbishop will place him into the Bishop's throne" i.e. none other than the Venerable Sheila Watson. When it comes to "All Gas and Gaiters" - you'll have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one over on Father David!

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 9:16pm BST

No: in the Northern Province it is the dean of the cathedral concerned.

Posted by: abbey mouse on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 10:13pm BST

Don't hold your breadth for any of the Canterbury Diocese senior clergy to publicly make waves -and who can really blame them - they are all close colleagues of Rowan and in this particular instance collegiality seems wholly appropriate.

Posted by: TBPilgrim on Friday, 29 June 2012 at 12:27am BST

So, does the Archdeacon of Canterbury support or oppose the introducion of Clause(1)(c) which her Father in God has greatly assisted in adding to the Measure? I think we should be told.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 29 June 2012 at 7:25am BST

Guess you need to email or write to her to ask, David. Emoting on Thinking Anglicans is unlikely to elicit a response.

Am intrigued by hints dropped on a couple of recent TA threads, suggesting that the House of Bishops may not have approved 5(1)c by a substantial majority. Be interesting, should that be the case and in light of the strong, broadly-based opposition to the measure, to see how they might respond should it be referred back to them for reconsideration.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Saturday, 30 June 2012 at 1:38pm BST

All four female deans of cathedrals have signed this letter but the Archdeacon of Canterbury is not the only female Archdeacon not to add a signature. Eight have signed but aren't there at least eighteen female Archdeacons - what about the absent ten?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 2 July 2012 at 8:49am BST

100% of female deans have added their signature to this letter but the majority of female Arcdeacons have not! In addition to the missing signature of the Archdeacon of Canterbury - the Archdeacons of Northolt, Lewisham & Greenwich, Wells, Rochdale, Norwich, Suffolk, Chesterfield, Malmesbury and Bodmin have also not signed the missive.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 3 July 2012 at 11:54am BST

Father David, in your last comment you have noted the failure of female Archdeacons to sign the letter. Have you not realised that Archdeacons are more directly bound to the politics of their Ordinary than the Deans of Cathedrals? This could explain the failure in this instance.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 10:35am BST

Father Ron, in which case it would seem that ten female Archdeacons are "more directly bound to the politics of their Ordinary" than the eight who actually signed. Or are you suggesting that this gives us a further indication as to which bishops actually voted for the two amendments and which bishops voted against? If the bishop voted For then the Archdeacon from that diocese abstained from signing - if the bishop voted against then the Archdeacon signed? Just a thought as I'm not quite sure what you mean by being "directly bound to the politics of their Ordinary"! Surely they have minds of their own and were free to sign the letter if they agreed with the content?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 4:17pm BST

It is of course possible that at least some of the Archdeacons who didn't sign were ill/on holiday/on retreat at the time

Posted by: Maggie on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 5:24pm BST
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