Monday, 10 December 2012

House of Laity meeting confirmed

Updated Monday afternoon to include full text of email to members of the House of Laity

The date of the meeting of the House of Laity to debate a motion of no confidence in its chair, Dr Philip Giddings, has now been confirmed as 18 January 2013. Members of the House were sent this email this morning:

Dear Members of the House of Laity

An extraordinary meeting of the House has been called to debate a motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House. Sufficient of you indicated your support under the provisions of Standing Order 2(c) of the House to require the meeting to take place.

Given the nature of the motion that will be before the House, the Standing Committee has determined that the meeting should take place as soon as possible and has consequently called the meeting for Friday 18 January 2013. The meeting will take place from 1.30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall in Church House, Westminster.

Tea and coffee will be available free of charge in the Bishop Partridge Hall. Cold snacks will also be available for a charge.

If members wish to claim expenses incurred in attending the meeting, they will need to agree this with their diocese. Those members whose expenses are met centrally will need to agree reimbursement with the Synod Office as usual.

The Standing Committee has agreed that there will be only one item on the agenda - namely, the motion of no confidence - and that no other business will be in order.

I shall circulate an agenda and supporting papers this week.

With all good wishes

Nick

Nicholas Hills
Administrative Secretary
Central Secretariat
The Archbishops’ Council
Church House
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3AZ

Dr Giddings’ local paper, the Reading Post, has published this article by Linda Fort: Top church of England figure faces no confidence vote.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 12:07pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Will they be calling on the House of Clergy to pass a motion of no confidence in Christine Hardman as well? It's the only logical thing to do.

http://www.peter-ould.net/2012/12/03/hypocrisy-at-its-worst/

Peter (a belated supporter of passing the motion in November) Ould

Posted by: Peter Ould on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 12:42pm GMT

Does a vote of No Confidence require a simple or a two thirds majority?

Posted by: Gill Reynolds on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 12:57pm GMT

It would seem that the vindictive House of Laity is preparing to add another martyr to the calendar of saints for its Chairman's failure to "get with the programme"

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 1:09pm GMT

As much as I feel Synod is in a mess, and as much as I disagree with Philip Giddings' views, I'm unclear why he, more than anyone else, involved in the debate and the process leading up to it should be subject to a vote of no confidence.

Is anyone able to clarify?

Otherwise it just looks as if he's being made a scapegoat for the fact that the whole process which has got us to this point has been ineffective.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 1:26pm GMT

Dr Giddings could resign as Chair without, of course, losing his right to speak and vote as a full member of the House of Laity. But it is hard to see why he has not resigned when his position as Chair is surely untenable even if he can scrape a majority against the vote of no confidence. He needs the confidence of the whole House and a significant minority has demonstrated by convening this unprecedented vote that he cannot claim that. A debate will be damaging, time consuming and expensive and what good can possibly come of fighting to retain his position? Indeed, the whole logic of the minority position on women bishops is that it is not enough to win a majority.

Posted by: badman on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 1:37pm GMT

@Peter - I guess that's down to the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury to make the motion! Different people putting it after all.

Posted by: Tom McLean on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 2:28pm GMT

We are now seeing the true colours of some proponents, and they assured us that we could trust them?! I think not. Despicable behaviour from so-called Christians. And here here to Peter Ould's point. Will the confidence motion extend to Christine Hardman for her lack of neutrality?! I think not. The truth is out.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 2:59pm GMT

Tom,

Not at all! If the House of Laity feels so strongly that Chairs of Houses shouldn't take a stance on these issues, why are they not calling on the House of Clergy to pass a vote of no confidence in Christine Hardman? After all, the issue is Chairs of Houses not remaining neutral.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 4:20pm GMT

The comments on this story made by local people in Reading-see report-offer no comfort to Dr Giddings, who is seen as sexist at best and completely out of touch. His attitudes are a stumbling block to his ministry in his own area. A message for the Church here.

Posted by: Helen lewis on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 5:54pm GMT

Mixed feelings about the whole issue. I'm a supporter in principle of women bishops, but the post-vote backlash has been so severe as to confirm opponents' arguments - a provision hinging on the word 'Respect' would clearly have little force, and would simply damage the C of E's reputation in different ways.

To have credibility the face of any new Measure needs much more concrete and much less flannel.

Posted by: Peter on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 6:03pm GMT

I don't really buy into the chorus of 'Ooooh, look how awful the pro women bishops side are!' I'm afraid.

From what I've heard from various Dioceses, it's at least arguable that some of those opposed to women becoming bishops have adopted a range of strategies, many of which have been mentioned elsewhere on this site, to hold it up which could be termed 'underhand'. In fact strategies for restricting the ministry of ordained women have gone far beyond what is allowable in the Act of Synod to create 'no go' areas for female clergy without the consent of their parishioners.

This does not lead me to label everyone who is opposed to the ordination of women as underhand, it just makes me realise that women have been far more discriminated against than people would realised if they were looking at the 'official' position.

I'm not happy about individuals being attacked but I don't think stereotyping everyone on either side helps either.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 6:38pm GMT

"Despicable behaviour from so-called Christians."

A bit extreme, I feel. I have no part to play in all of this other than being a retired CofE vicar no longer living in England, but if I were the Chair of a House of Synod (no, thanks!) I would expect to have to take account of a wider range of issues than my own personal preferences. I would need to maintain the trust and confidence of a majority of the members whose election of me has put me in a privileged position. I would need to acknowledge that an overwhelming majority of diocesan synods voted in favour and that declared mind of the church should weigh heavily. I would need to recognise that the CofE is the established church of the land and therefore the values established in law of the society in which the church has such a privileged place should also play a part. And as an officer of Synod I should take great care if I disagree with the declaration of Synod that there is no theological objection to women having priestly orders (which have always been understood to include episcopacy). If I am not willing to do that, I should certainly consider whether there is a conflict between my own personal belief held with integrity and my role as Chair. To argue publicly in the formal debate and vote against the motion may well satisfy my personal integrity, but it compromises the wider role I have to perform as Chair. It really is no surprise that Dr Giddings' position has been called into question by some, but it remains to be seen if he still has the support of the majority. I do not see that the other Chairs are in the same place.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 6:57pm GMT

Somebody help an Ignorant Yank here: is the concept "supporting in principle women bishops" to be filed w/ "supporting those suffering from same-sex attraction": i.e., how to disguise turned-nose *contempt* in the language of "support"?

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 8:54pm GMT

Given the role of Dr. Phillip Giddings in 'the Reading affair',might this not perhaps be considered to be a form of poetic licence ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 9:51pm GMT

So Roger, you will be calling publicly for the resignation of Christine Hardman, the Chair of the House of Clergy then?

Posted by: Peter Ould on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 10:11pm GMT

Roger, Philip is in favour of women bishops, as with women's ordination for which he voted in favour. In no way does a vote in this debate signify that someone disagrees "with the declaration of synod that there is no theological objection to women wearing priestly orders". Surely it is about time we stopped saying that?!
This is pure spite and scapegoating. It is a disgrace that this angry vindictive move has got as far as it has. It is shameful. If we want the chairs of the houses not to have a vote, let's make them non-voting. I find it incredible that the chair of the laity is removed for exercising his democratic responsibillity within standing orders, while the chairs to the clergy and the bishops did the same and no action is taken. Witch hunt. Nothing less. A shocking witness. See how these Christians love one another.

Posted by: Geoff T on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 10:28pm GMT

"as an officer of Synod I should take great care if I disagree with the declaration of Synod that there is no theological objection to women having priestly orders"

But Roger, Dr Giddings DOES agree with it! Your post shows no awareness that he is in fact in favour of women bishops in principle. As a result your post simply doesn't make sense. Sorry!

Posted by: Dan on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 11:21pm GMT

I think that the point Roger was making is a fair one - that the Chairs of houses in Synod have a particular role to represent the views of the House which elected them(They are not expected to be to be neutral, as they are not chairing the debates in full synod) Clearly enough members of the House of Laity think that Dr Giddings did not use his position and right to be heard in a way which did represent the views of the House of laity and houses of laity across the country. The fact that he used his privileged position to speak as soon as he requested this by speaking immediately after the archbishop designate had
promised to make and continue to make provision for those who could not accept women bishops, and saying he (PG) did not trust this promise might have played a part in the current position...?

Posted by: RosalindR on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 11:51pm GMT

As one of the Group of Six, Dr. Giddings has quite a lot of power to determine how the Synod conducts its business, and indeed how the Church of England conducts its business more generally.

For example, it was the Group of Six that determined that the bishops' changes to the Measure did not require recirculation to the dioceses. We all recall how that determination was received.

The Group of Six will also have some role in determining how the question of women bishops will come before Synod again in this quinquennium.

Given the functions of the Group of Six, if members of the House of Laity are wondering whether Dr. Giddings really represents majority opinion, then this debate is entirely appropriate.

His post is not honorary. It is not his as any sort of courtesy.

One trusts that the proponents of the motion of no confidence will state their reasons. I look forward to hearing them.

Accountability and democracy might be shocking in the Synod context. But generally speaking, these principles are not despicable. Rather, they deserve respect and adherence.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 4:03am GMT

Might the action of members of the House of Laity be down to a sudden realisation about Dr Giddings? Having read his sermons, marked his position on many issues, and seen the ecclesiastical company he keeps - I have always wondered how a majority of the House of Laity in the General Synod ever thought him a suitable candidate to Chair their House or take a seat at the Archbishops' Council. This may be their wake up call and the only means available to them of correcting their previous action. I wonder . . .

Posted by: Commentator on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:35am GMT

"Does a vote of No Confidence require a simple or a two thirds majority?

Posted by: Gill Reynolds on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 12:57pm GMT"

Has anyone answered this yet? Who knows the answer? Dr Giddings?!

Posted by: Sister Mary on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 7:18am GMT

Oh it is very easy: the reason Philip has to resign and Christine doesn't is because he is male and she is female. He has to exercise the male leadership he is so keen on.....

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 7:49am GMT

A deplorably uncharitable witch hunt against a man of conscience and honour. What a heavy burden for him to bear, especially at this season. Let us look forward to his public vindication in due course.

Posted by: Nigel Aston on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 8:12am GMT

"The Standing Committee (surely, as Chairman of the House of Laity, Dr. Giddings is a member of this committee?) has agreed that there will be only one item on the agenda - namely the motion of no confidence and that no other business will be in order."
It would seem to me that the Standing Committee has little confidence in its No Confidence motion being passed. For if it were to succeed then surely - a second item be in order - namely - the election of a new Chairman of the House of Laity - or the making of arrangements thereof for such an election to take place?
If this egregious measure were to be passed does that mean that Dr. Giddings be deprived instantly of his place on the Archbishops' Council and also of his position as one of the Group of Six? I think we should be told.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 8:31am GMT

This action seems vindictive at best and unfitting of us who call ourselves Christians. When someone as considered as Philip Giddings feels the need to make a stand against such a tide we should be asking ourselves why, not rushing to oust him for fear of adverse public opinion. The true Christian church has and will always face public criticism and we should be willing to stand firm on biblical principles and not throw away that unique gift for the sake of populism.

Posted by: Jefferson Lynch on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 8:44am GMT

Jefferson Lynch's comment makes me think that Dr Giles Fraser may have been right when he said in the Press that those fundamentalist Evangelicals who oppose the things rejoice at criticism. It shows that they are true protestants and worthy of the God whom they serve.
'Populism' may contain within in it the seeds of truth and justice. Strange how the word usage changes from 'democracy' to 'populism' according to yhe contributor's personal opinion of the action.

Posted by: commentator on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 9:52am GMT

"What a heavy burden for him to bear, especially at this season."

As though discrimination in the CofE does not create heavy personal burdens for others, especially at Christmastide.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 10:13am GMT

I can see no good reason why Dr Giddings is facing this motion, nor that any good will come of it for anyone whatever the outcome. It seems particularly unjust that he is being singled out for a perceived lack of neutrality when it seems to me that - if chairs of houses out to be netural (a view with which I don't agree) - precisely the same charge could be laid against one of the Chairmen of the House of Bishops, and his sucessor, and one of those who chairs the House of Clergy. If we are to expect those who chair the houses of Synod to be neutral, we should say so, not invent a "rule" and apply it (a) retrospectively and (b) unevenly.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 12:05pm GMT

I've been looking at the Standing Orders of the House of Laity and of General Synod. The latter apply when there is nothing to the contrary in the House's own SOs.

Nowhere is there a reference to a motion of no confidence in an officer of the House. I think that this has two implications.

1) A simple majority is all that is required to pass the motion.
2) If the motion is passed this does not remove the officer from his post. I think that the post can only become vacant if the post holder chooses to resign.

In any case, if the post of chair of the House does become vacant, a postal ballot must be held to elect a new chair. It is not possible to have an election at a meeting of the House.

But I am not a lawyer, and I may have misinterpreted the SOs. I expect that more definitive advice will be included in the supporting papers that Nicholas Hill will be circulating to members.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 12:26pm GMT

Is a transcript of Dr Giddings's speech available yet? As he was not chairing the debate, he was surely entitled to express his personal view and say how he intended to vote. What may be more problematic is if he purported to represent any wider views, or, as chairman, to influence how others should vote. H of L members, therefore, must be provided with a full transcript before the meeting on 18th January.

The motion of no confidence raises the question of whether similar votes should be proposed in those dioceses where their GS members voted against final approval of the Measure, despite the vote in their diocesan synod on the Article 8 reference being in favour of the Measure. Such a motion might call on those GS members who voted against the Measure to resign, thus forcing by-elections. They could stand again, when it would be seen whether they continued to command support if contesting their seats against other candidates supportive of the Measure. [The six dioceses where the votes of the GS lay members were most out of kilter with the votes in the houses of laity of their diocesan synods are Chelmsford, Guildford, Oxford, Ripon & Leeds, Rochester and Winchester.]

That said, however, it was surely unwise and premature for a meeting of the House of Laity to be called to discuss a motion of no confidence in the chairman before knowing what fresh legislative proposals may emerge from this week's meeting of the House of Bishops.

Posted by: David Lamming on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:18pm GMT

"So Roger, you will be calling publicly for the resignation of Christine Hardman, the Chair of the House of Clergy then?"

I hesitate to respond further because - as I said in my earlier post - I no longer have a locus in the CofE. However, I do want to point out that I did not call for anyone to resign. My purpose was simply to point out that a Chair of any organisation, in this case of GS, has to have a wider frame of reference than their own personal belief/preference. If that personal position conflicts with the view of not only the majority of the Chair's electorate but also of the wider organisation and - in this case - the majority of the population in whose name the CofE purports to speak, then there is going to be a conflict of interest. Please note that I do not and did not say that a contrary position held with integrity cannot be articulated or believed by the Chair; I am a firm supporter of freedom of speech. But there will inevitably be consequences of such a position which the Chair should accept and questions will be raised as to whether the Chair continues to hold the support of the majority of members. I accept the comments that Dr Giddings in principle supports women in the episcopate, but that does not substantially affect the points that I am making. Indeed, the majority may re-affirm their confidence in the Chair and his hand will then be strengthened.
And to the more excitable contibutors I would say that to accuse those who take a different view from them, and who want to advance that view or use perfectly legitimate organisational procedures, as being in some way 2nd class Christians (if they are indeed Christians at all) is itself hardly a Christian attitude.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:36pm GMT

"That said, however, it was surely unwise and premature for a meeting of the House of Laity to be called to discuss a motion of no confidence in the chairman before knowing what fresh legislative proposals may emerge from this week's meeting of the House of Bishops."

No surprise--none did.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 14 December 2012 at 2:26am GMT
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