Wednesday, 4 July 2012

"Proper Provision" and women bishops

The group Proper Provision has written to members of General Synod urging them not to vote for an adjournment of the women bishops debate next Monday. The letter can be read on the Anglican Mainstream website, and is copied below.

Time to put this Measure to the test – from Proper Provision

Dear Member of General Synod,

We are writing to you on behalf of the thousands of loyal Anglican women who believe that men and women are inherently equal, and that our families and churches prosper when men take responsibility to provide godly oversight and headship. You may have heard about the petition we took to the House of Bishops asking them to amend the Measure.

We would urge you not to seek an adjournment for three reasons:

1) The House of Bishops have listened:

  • To the laity and clergy in the Dioceses, of whom 23% rejected the unamended Measure and 3% abstained.
  • To General Synod:
    • who in February voted to ask the House of Bishops to make amendments as long as they were insubstantial. The Group of Six has ruled that they are insubstantial.
    • and who historically have never given two-thirds majority support to an amendment or motion on this topic unless it specifically moved towards proper provision.

The House of Bishops have listened to the concerns of this substantial minority and simply sought in their amendments to clarify two points in order that it would make it easier for these people to give their consent to this innovation, the heart of which goes against their conscience.

2) The amendments have revealed how unwilling to compromise some proponents of women bishops can be.

WATCH have suggested that both sacramental assurance and headship are “non-gospel theologies” which “indirectly contribute to domestic and sexual abuse and violence against women”.

A Statement of our Concerns 11/06/12 p5

WATCH have also criticised the House of Bishops for attempting to “provide a permanent, guaranteed doctrinal space” for those who seek male clergy and bishops.

A Statement of our Concerns 11/06/12 p6

The suggestion that we are not fellow-Christians and that the women in our congregations are unsafe is personally hurtful. Doctrinally, it makes a mockery of the 1998 Lambeth statement, affirmed by General Synod in July 2006, which recognized that both those in favour of women bishops and those opposed were loyal Anglicans.

The House of Bishops deemed the amendments necessary to provide proper provision for all loyal Anglicans. The adjournment motion is simply an attempt to remove even that (inadequate) provision in favour of arrangements that are anticipated to be purely temporary and which will immediately be wholly insecure.

3) An adjournment will be expensive and may achieve very little.

In November 2010 it was estimated that a four-day Synod in London cost approximately £400,000 (including the lost revenue from Church House). While recognizing that our meeting may be shorter, we are not convinced that this would be money well spent.

If the Measure returns in its present form then nothing will have changed; we will have simply delayed the day when supporters of a female episcopate finally have to decide whether their priority is the Bishop’s attempt at church unity or their own particular understanding of equality.

If the Measure returns without the amendments then, unless it is defeated, we will have confirmed that there is no secure place in the Church of England for those who until now have been considered loyal orthodox Anglicans.

It has been the constant desire of the majority of General Synod both to consecrate women as bishops and to provide for those who seek male clergy and bishops. Let’s use the time we have in July to try and convince one another that this Measure could work and if we can’t do that, then so be it.

Surely the time has come to put this Measure to the test and move on.

Lorna Ashworth GS 287
Jane Bisson GS 428
Mary Durlacher GS 272
Sarah Finch GS 344
Susie Leafe GS 416
Andrea Minichiello Williams GS 293
Jane Patterson GS 403
Kathy Playle GS 275
Alison Ruoff GS 350
Ruth Whitworth GS 277
Alison Wynne GS257

The petition referred to at the beginning of the letter can be found at the end of this article on the Reform website: Media Statement: Proper Provision Petition 2012: 2,200 Anglican women say.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 7:18pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

"2) The amendments have revealed how unwilling to compromise some proponents of women bishops can be."

The "Don't Make Our Enemies Happy" argument, is a non-argument.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 7:45pm BST

Ah, that it should come to this - the Battle of the Petitions - "PROPER PROVISION" V "WATCH".
Is this in any way a seemly development when it comes to settling the future of the sacred ministry once committed by Our Blessed Lord to St. Peter the Apostle?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 8:14pm BST

JCF, the "don't make our enemies happy argument" was one started by WATCH and GRAS and their supporters, so blame them and not those women who have signed the most recent letter to Synod members.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 10:09pm BST

Not quite sure where to start with this really. It starts with some massaging of the facts:

"The House of Bishops have listened to General Synod, who in February voted to ask the House of Bishops to make amendments as long as they were insubstantial."

As far as I recall, the General Synod initially voted to ask for NO amendments to be made and then later softened that to ask that no substantial amendments be made. At no point did the General Synod actively ASK the House of Bishops to amend the Measure. Classic spin.

"innovation" - nice dig there.

"The amendments have revealed how unwilling to compromise some proponents of women bishops can be."

Check. Next.

"The suggestion that we are not fellow-Christians and that the women in our congregations are unsafe is personally hurtful."

As (presumably, I am not a woman) is being told that you *are* not a priest because of your sex.

"to remove even that (inadequate) provision"

I don't understand, are Proper Provision for or against the amended Measure or not? If the provision is inadequate then they should want it to go back to the House of Bishops for stronger provisions surely.

"An adjournment will be expensive and may achieve very little"

Very possibly, but if the Measure is voted down and another five years are taken for this or a very similar Measure to get back to the floor of General Synod (in a different make-up) that would be even more expensive.

"It has been the constant desire of the majority of General Synod both to consecrate women as bishops and to provide for those who seek male clergy and bishops."

The unamended Measure did just that - it provided male clergy and bishops for those who wanted them - so why did Proper Provision ask for it to be amended?

"Let’s use the time we have in July to try and convince one another that this Measure could work and if we can’t do that, then so be it."

Ah, the true colours are shown.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 10:29pm BST

Are all these conservative evangelicals?

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 11:17pm BST

"The House of Bishops have listened to the concerns of this substantial minority"

If the Bishops see their role as simply to secure a majority in the General Synod as it is currently constituted, then of course trying to placate a 'substantial majority' within it who don't want women to be Bishops may seem to be the best thing to do.

The WATCH petition - which asks the House of Bishops "to withdraw amended Clause 5(1)c and allow General Synod to vote on draft legislation that is as close as possible to that approved by the dioceses". 4,437 people have signed to this point. The reasons they give for this are not so short sighted or so narrowly political. It's worth having a read of the concerns that they are expressing about the future of our church if we attempt to pass discriminatory legislation.

And in terms of majorities and minorities, the Church Times - in a leading article whose length reflected a strenuous attempt to give a balanced and fair reflection of the full range of views on this matter - had this to say:

"It is worth, finally, looking once more at numbers. The amount of synodical time given to those who object to women bishops has inevitably inflated their signifi­cance. There are 363 parishes that have sought alterna­tive episcopal oversight in the C of E: three per cent of the total. Another three per cent have passed Resolution A; a further one per cent Resolution B. Some dioceses con­tain only one or two such parishes. Even when com­bined with a few conservative Evangelical par­ishes, they cannot detract from the overwhelming sup­port for women bishops that we see in the Church at large. On their own, they cannot secure any sort of con­tinuing provision. They cannot threaten; they cannot cajole. They are reliant on whatever provisions the major­ity wishes to give them. Dr Williams warned last week against "majoritarian tyranny". The reason why a one-clause approach has been rejected in the past is that most believe that women bishops can be introduced with confidence while still accommodating dissenting views."

'Majoritarian tyranny' is a highly emotive term to describe the synodical system. The synodical does involve voting - after a due process of consultation - and voting doesn't work unless there is a majority on one side or the other. Is it really 'tyranny' on the part of the majority to expect their views to be given as much weight as the minority?

Posted by: Pam Smith on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 at 11:55pm BST

It would appear that Proper Provision does consider the amendments as substantial.

The logic is indeed flawed, including the notion that criticising aspects of people's theological beliefs as being non-Gospel is tantamount to accusing them of not being Christians. Perhaps that says more about Proper Provision's attitude to those it disagrees with than about supporters of greater inclusion.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 12:07am BST

"The suggestion that we are not fellow-Christians and that the women in our congregations are unsafe is personally hurtful."

Neither suggestion is present in the passages quoted.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 1:00am BST

Solomon offers to split the baby and WATCH says "no" and "Proper Provision" says "Yes, do." There will be no happiness in creating "separate but equal" wings of the Church of England. I think the PP senses the opportunity to punt this down the road for another five years and they are trying to add fuel to that fire.

And David (I call no man father but my Father in heaven) what in the world does being "seemly" have to do with anything? When was Jesus ever "seemly"? If I recall correctly he was rather scandalous, allowing loose women to wash his feet with tears and eating dinner with tax collectors -- a most unseemly display by Our Blessed Lord, no?

Posted by: Brian on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 1:10am BST

Benedict, the "They Started It" argument, is a non-argument.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 5:23am BST

Yes they are all conservative evangelicals.. they do not believe in apostolic succession,sacerdotalism, baptismal regeneration and the Eucharistic sacrifice. In their churches leavened bread is used, and in many cases non alchoholic fruit juice. The bread and wine are routinely thrown out after communion, which is infrequently celeberated, the main service being family worship or morning prayer. They never pray for the dead or to the Saints. They are the Church of England before the Oxford movement.

Posted by: Robert ian williams on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 6:14am BST

Generally Christians don't pray to saints. I ask saints to pray for me; rather different.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 7:39am BST

There is no argument here of substance which was not considered in the diocesan debates.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 8:32am BST

JCF, but it is ok for you to use non arguments?!

Posted by: Benedict on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 8:51am BST

from the letter, "The House of Bishops have listened:
To the laity and clergy in the Dioceses, of whom 23% rejected the unamended Measure and 3% abstained."

But we don't know whether those who voted against or abstained did so because they felt the measure was already severely compromised, and couldn't in conscience vote for it (which is possibly more likely in the abstentions) or whether they felt the measure did not give enough provision.
Anyway 26% leaves 74% in favour which is an overwhelming majority. Listening to those who have voted in favour and their reasons is also part of the process.

Posted by: Priscilla White on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 9:30am BST

They are conservative evangelicals, they take discipleship seriously, tithe, love their neighbours (a conservative evangelical church cared for me practically and spiritually while I was pregnant and my military husband away from home), pray and are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I'm a member of WATCH I disagree with their position on this matter. I hope the amendment is not in the whatever measure is finally passed because I think the long term legacy will be toxic for church, community and not least the kingdom of God.

I couldn't remain or flourish in a conservative evangelical church not least because I could not obediently answer God's call on my life in that context, but I remain grateful for what spiritual nourishment I did find in that wing of the church and hope they will be willing to remain, even if things do not go their way. They are a valued part of our Church family.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 10:40am BST

"The suggestion that we are not fellow-Christians and that the women in our congregations are unsafe is personally hurtful."

Neither suggestion is present in the passages quoted.

I agree.
I too hope they will be willing to remain but this is still an enormously silly letter.

Posted by: Suem on Thursday, 5 July 2012 at 11:35am BST

"JCF, but it is ok for you to use non arguments?!"

I didn't see JCF arguing - JCF simply tells you. You may not accept the correctness of JCF's statement, but there's really nothing to argue about.

The truth is, most of the conservative arguments really . . . aren't. That's fine, you see, as long as you realize it, but, trying to rationalize it as humane, or kind, or tolerant . . . no.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 6 July 2012 at 4:35am BST

Mark Brunson, I have to say there is a touch of arrogance in your post: cf "The truth is, most of the conservative arguments really . . . .aren't". This is exactly the problem with dogmatic liberals like yourself, that any truth can only be a truth, so long as it comes from the liberal stable. If you wish to engage in healthy debate and engage with conservative arguments, I would suggest you avoid such sweeping and erroneous statements.

Posted by: Benedict on Friday, 6 July 2012 at 7:48pm BST
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