Tuesday, 18 June 2013

House of Bishops - senior women clergy representatives

I reported here on the rules that had been made for the election of senior women representatives to attend meetings of the House of Bishops. The rules contained a few errors

  • Chelmsford was accidentally included in two regional electoral colleges
  • The first regional electors did not come into office until after the first elections

and these have now been corrected.

The amended rules (dated 14 June 2013) can be downloaded from here. I have amended my webpage version to show both the original text, and the amendments made to it.

The date by which the first elections must be completed remains 1 October 2013, so the first representatives will be able to attend the next regular meeting of the House of Bishops, which is in December.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 4:19pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Quite a novelty for the Church of England to have a system by which people are elected and then end up sitting in the House of Bishops as a consequence.

One wonders whether it might catch on for the real bishops who sit in the House of Bishops...

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 4:47pm BST

Why is it taking so long to elect women to attend the House of Bishops at this most crucial time when they should be having a key input into discussions now? This was agreed some time ago. Two General Synods will have passed by the time these elections take place. The Bishops need to have and hear the women's voice. These rules should have been pushed through as a matter of urgency.

Posted by: sally Barnes on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 5:11pm BST

How slow can you go? And why?
It's pathetic.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 9:05pm BST

One pertinent question this year is whether the House of Bishops will meet as part of the September meeting of the College of Bishops, particularly if there are decisions to be made relating to the planned November General Synod. If it were to do so, it would be helpful for the 8 women to have been elected by mid September.

Posted by: RosalindR on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 10:06pm BST

To quote, I believe, someone who posted here:

Like a mighty tortoise moves the Church of God.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 1:27am BST

I suppose one should not be too critical of the way in which Mother C.of E. Gets things done, but really!

Promises, promises! When, exactly, will the ministry of women be taken seriously? It seems that we mjght have to wait for the Rapture before things get moving on this important issue.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 12:36pm BST

The Church of England has due process. It seems to me that the majority simply wish to ride roughshod over this, simply to drive through its own wants! Cf, previous comments on this thread.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 4:53pm BST

> The Church of England has due process. It seems to me that the majority simply wish to ride roughshod over this, simply to drive through its own wants! Cf, previous comments on this thread.

It seems illogical to set a two-thirds threshold for a vote but then to seek to overturn the result when a two-thirds majority is not achieved. Wouldn't it be more honest either to accept the result of the November 2013 vote, which was taken in accordance with due process, or to change the way General Synod works and allow it to pass legislation by simple majorities?

Posted by: Veuster on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 7:00pm BST

"Like a mighty tortoise moves the Church of God."
We would do well to remember though that the tortoise eventually managed to beat the hare to the finishing line...

Posted by: James Betteridge on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 8:42pm BST

RE Benedict's comment; one wonders whether God's Holy Spirit ever has to wait for the C.of E's 'due process'? The answer to that question must SURELY be (in the UK) yes

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 9:13pm BST

Father Ron, you seem to speak with an authority that most of the traditionalists I know would dare not claim. How can you be so sure that the Holy Spirit is being stifled by the processes of the CofE? Is it not even remotely possible that Synod's decision in November was guided by the Holy Spirit? I imiagine you would have said it was if the decision was six votes the other way.

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 10:28pm BST

"We would do well to remember though that the tortoise eventually managed to beat the hare to the finishing line..."

CofE > rabbits.

Is that really a comforting thought?

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 11:32pm BST

Three cheers for Steven in his response to Father Smith. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit guides and governs his church, then why can it indeed not be possible that November's vote was the will of God? Six, sixteen or sixty votes, it really makes no difference.

Posted by: Benedict on Thursday, 20 June 2013 at 12:24am BST

So according to this theology, everything that the Church does is of the Spirit?

The Crusades? The Spanish Inquisition? The Salem witch trials?

Enlighten us, please.

The Church can do no wrong?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 20 June 2013 at 11:53am BST

This is an item discussing the women clergy who will attend House of Bishops meetings. Why are some contributor's bent on making it into an opportunity to shout at one another about the outcome of last November's synod vote?

Suggesting that a process is long and convoluted is not the same as wishing to 'ride roughshod' over that process. And whilst appeals to tradition might have some weight when discussing the ordination of women, I find it hard to see how appealing to ancient authority is remotely apposite when discussing the standing orders of the House of Bishops!

Posted by: Hannah on Thursday, 20 June 2013 at 3:34pm BST

A question for Hannah. Why, then, in the immediate aftermath of the November vote, were there calls upon Parliament to intervene, and a concerted quest to oust the chairman of the House of Laity, as well as demands for the system to be changed? If that is not riding roughshod over due process, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Benedict on Friday, 21 June 2013 at 9:03pm BST

it was widely felt that the November vote brought about a result that did not reflect the mood of the whole church as expressed by 42 out of 44 dioceses.
There is therefore now going to be a conversation in General Synod about whether the system should be changed.

To consider whether a voting system is still robust enough or whether it needs to be changed is also part of due process.

It may well be that Synod decides that the system does not have to be changed.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 21 June 2013 at 10:07pm BST

But Parliament didn't intervene; the motion of no confidence against Dr Giddings followed the rules of Synod, and the system hasn't been changed. Do get back to the point of the thread, as Hannah requested, Benedict.

Posted by: Helen on Friday, 21 June 2013 at 10:42pm BST

Erika, sorry to drag this out but could you please tell me what method the church employed to seek out the 'mood of the WHOLE church'? Was it through the Deanery/Diocesan synods?
Our PCC never discussed it, and nobody has ever asked for my views in an official capacity, nor of the congregation of which I am a part.
If we are really talking about the mood of the WHOLE church should not every one of us have been asked for our view?
How can you say 'WHOLE church' when you acknowledge that 2 dioceses were not in favour of the November legislation? Are the other two dioceses not part of the church?
There must be thousands of people (who do not serve on any committee) who were not consulted in this process.
Furthermore, for what it's worth, I consider the WHOLE church to be far more than the CofE or the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 21 June 2013 at 11:42pm BST

the church works through its polity. That may be defective (I would agree, which is why there are now proposals to change some of it), but it is the system by which it makes its discernments and decisions.
And for the sake of this conversation the whole church is the group of churches that is united under the heading of the Church of England and bound by its processes.
There may be a mythical wider church but that is a spiritual entity and I suspect each one of us defines it differently. I suspect that for you, it includes largely the Catholic churches, whereas for me it includes every single person who feels they belong to the Body of Christ. We cannot take account of that church when we try to come to decisions binding for the CoE alone.

The polity of the CoE, like any other political body, does not require a 100% majority to come to a conclusion that is then adopted in the name of the church. 42 out of 44 dioceses is evidence that the church as a whole really wants women as Bishops. And those 42 have expressed their wish through the political processes available to them.

Everyone can stand for the PCC, Deanery, Diocesan and General Synod are open to anyone who is voted on to them. So it’s not a closed process. And like with every democratic process, those elected then speak for those who elected them. Only that one of the charges is that the vote did precisely not reflect what the majority of people in the pews wanted.
So the question being discussed now is, rightly, whether the system should be changed.

I would agree with you that this issue should have been discussed by the PCCs and that their view should have a formal weight. Our PCC was asked by the Diocese to discuss it but there was no feeding back process and our views were not taken into account. It could be possible to devise a different system. Although maybe not one of asking every single PCC to vote – that would turn the CoE from a slow tortoise into a comatose animal and no decision would ever be made. It would conceivably be quicker and more effective to give a weighted vote to everyone on the Electoral Roll.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 22 June 2013 at 7:15am BST

Erika, thank you for explaining the process to me.

Posted by: Steven on Saturday, 22 June 2013 at 9:44am BST
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