Saturday, 20 July 2013

The London Plan

From the Diocese of London website:


The ‘London Plan’ is a declaration made by the Bishop of London, all the Area Bishops and the Bishop of Fulham. It relates to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 and the Code of Practice 1994.

The London Plan sets out how certain parts of the Bishop of London’s authority - such as to ordain and license clergy - may be delegated to the other bishops of the Diocese of London.

Crucially it allows parochial church councils to petition the Bishop of London to allow pastoral care for that parish to be exercised by a bishop other than the Area Bishop, usually the Bishop of Fulham.

The plan is available for download: The London Plan.

This is a revised version of the Plan and is dated 1 July 2013.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 11:54am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

What a wonderful plan.

This will give those who say, the Church of England is out of touch, or lacking in vision something about which to think.

I await its results with excitement.

(It gives "I have a Plan" a whole new meaning).

Posted by: Laurence on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 5:25pm BST

This is hardly a good model for the wider Church. It is a scheme that has long given the Bishop of Fulham extensive access into three dioceses and their inner leadership sanctums. It is closely associated with Forward in Faith as if that pressure group were part of the formal legal structure of the Church. It has also created yet another 'Flying Bishop' and parishes under his charge, often tiny and priest dominated, have been able to escape reorganisational pressures. In practice such parishes are only loosely associated with the the Diocese of London.

If the eventual advent of women bishops and associated legislation gets rid of such an anomaly ... then three cheers.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 7:29pm BST

It would seem that H.E. The Bishop of London, is preempting whatever decision may be made by General Synod on the important matter of the division of those in the Church of England who will refuse to acknowledge the ministry of a woman bishop - by the implication that he himself, a bishop in the Church of England, himself, does not consider women fit to undertake such a ministry. What does this say about the sort of episcopal collegiality that will continue to be evidenced in that Church?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 7:42pm BST

Seems like a decent and respectful way to agree to disagree.

Posted by: Jamie Wood on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 8:22pm BST

I don't understand the meaning of Father Smith's posting.

In the circumstances of needing to find a workable compromise, the London Plan seems sensible to me, although it would be helpful to understand the numbers (parishes, priests and people) involved. Surely every diocese is going to have to make arrangements that best fit its profile. Why should London wait before getting on with it? I got the impression that Bishop Broadbent's comments were well received at the General Synod in York. Anyway, the process will have to be dynamic; for one thing, the deed is going to have to be reworked every time a bishop moves on.

Posted by: GR on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 11:10pm BST

I hate to point it out but within the diocese of London, Fulham is not a flying bishop. He is legally a suffragan of London as are the Area Bishops of Edmonton, Kensington, Willesden and Stepney. It actually makes far more ecclesiological sense than the PEV's, as the diocesan retains the power and delegates all episcopal functions in designated areas to the suffragans under his jurisdiction.

Posted by: frdougal on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 12:39am BST

Father Ron Smith has finally got it! Episcopal collegiality is not possible if a traditionalist Bishop finds himself in a House of Bishops that counts female bishops among its members. How can it be, if the orders of his colleagues are somehow viewed as irregular. The London Plan has worked extremely well, so well done to the Bishops there for affirming that with this new proclamatiin.

Posted by: Benedict on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 7:16am BST

I'm curious to know

a) what has changed in this iteration, and

b) what, if anything, Londoners have learned from the experience, in particular, how parishes reporting to the Bishop of Fulham participate fully in the mission and strategic direction of the wider diocese.

Is there anyone left in the Church of England who objects to the ordination of women as deacons? Or has this ministry been 100% 'received'?

I note that the plan doesn't place any restrictions on who could be appointed as Bishop of Fulham.

Posted by: Peter Sherlock on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 8:18am BST

This is not new. It has been in existence for a number of years and has, by and large, worked well. The reason for re-doing it now is that there is a new Bishop of Fulham who needs the backing of such an arrangement to do what he is there to do.

Posted by: Wilf on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 9:14am BST

Forward in Faith have a hand in C of E and the Church of Rome (so many PEVs in Ordinariate) - very impressive !

Those in favour of women's ministry we lag so far behind....

Posted by: Laurence on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 12:43pm BST

frdougal 'Fulham is not a flying bishop' - this is pure semantics, like if you'll forgive the analogy, the difference between a civil partnership and a marriage.

Posted by: Observer on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 2:22pm BST

If the Bishop of Fulham is a suffrgan of London,rather than a PEV, what happens if the next Bishop of London is a woman? And what happens to PEV's if the next Archbishop of Canterbury and / or York is a woman?

As I think I have mentioned before, if Justin Welby could be promoted to the top so rapidly, there is no reason to discount these possibilities.

Posted by: peter kettle on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 2:32pm BST

I notice it mentions a 'period of reception', thereby acknowledging the possibility that the ordination of women may still not yet be 'received'.

As far as I'm concerned, a policy which uses that concept as part if its rationale is doing nothing to support the ordained ministry of women. It may work well as a way of maintaining the status quo but it gets us no further.

Does the document explain what support is available for people and churches in Fulham and Edmonton who don't want a Bishop who is against the ordination of women?

Posted by: Pam Smith on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 3:09pm BST

Peter Sherlock wrote
"Is there anyone left in the Church of England who objects to the ordination of women as deacons? Or has this ministry been 100% 'received'?"

Crockford 2008-9 records some 4 dozen Decaonesses. The reasons they were not admitted to the diaconate will be varied, but I know of three who did not do so because they accepted the traditional restriction of Holy Orders to men.

Laurence wrote:
"Forward in Faith have a hand in C of E and the Church of Rome (so many PEVs in Ordinariate)"
As far as I know, no members of F-in-F, let alone
any PEVs, are "in the Ordinariate"
There are of course, a number of EX-PEVs, and EX- FiF clergy and laity in the Ordinariate.
Kind regards,

Posted by: John on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 4:38pm BST

Granted that the Bishop of London - or, at least, the present one retains the right to delegate episcopal authority to whomever he chooses, but will that be the case for a Woman diocesan Bishop, in her own diocese? That, really, was the point of my posting.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 8:01pm BST

I never saw in writing the predecessor of this plan, but I had extensive experience of its working whilst I was a member of a Res C parish in Rochester diocese. I am surprised, but pleased, to find from a quick scan that this document makes no mention whatever of any diocese except London, and I wonder if its predecessor was the same in this respect. If so, I wonder why its provisions have been followed with such zeal for so long in Rochester and Southwark dioceses.
I recall +London stating, after the shameful departure of the previous +Fulham, that although he would in due course appoint a successor, he would require him to play a much greater role within the diocese of London. Perhaps this new plan gives effect to that statement, and +Rochester and +Southwark will need to make other arrangements for Res C parishes in their sees?

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 11:24pm BST

"I notice it mentions a 'period of reception', thereby acknowledging the possibility that the ordination of women may still not yet be 'received'"

Did I misunderstand this? The CoE Women in the Episcopate document from May this year says:
- Once legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the
Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of
ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and will hold
that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and
lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and
canonical obedience;

- Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to
acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the

If that were to be adopted in 2015 it would no longer be possible for London to refer to a period of reception.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 9:22am BST

after the shameful departure of the the previous +Fulham.
Why shameful? Surely we have a right to make decisions about our journey of faith? John Broadhurst may have been controversial. No doubt few TA contributers shed tears at his departure.Two ex bispops of Fulham and one ex bishop of London have gone over to Rome, and in the latter case there were letters to the newspapers demanding his knighthood be rescinded!
Loosen up Malcolm and let the Spirit lead where it will. As for Southwark and Rochester, it was their respective Bishops who 'bought in' to the London plan, it will be up to their successors, I suppose, if they wish to continue.

Posted by: ian on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 12:12pm BST

Surely it would still be possible to refer to the period of reception because the third of the five principles recently outlined in the General Synod is that the CofE understands it's own clear decision in the context of the teaching of both the Western and Eastern Churches and some provinces of the Anglican Communion that only men shall be ordained bishop. This is an oblique reference to the on-going period of reception in the Universal Church.

Posted by: Geo Nokes on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 1:29pm BST

I've been told by some people that the ordination of women has now been received and by others that it hasn't. However it is clearly stated in the London Plan that it is still in process.

This document states on Page 4.2 that 'the Bishops by this deed declare':

'In the continuing and dynamic process of Reception, which should be as open a process as possible, the integrity of different beliefs and positions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate will continue to be recognised and respected throughout the Diocese and the practical arrangements which follow give effect to this recognition and respect'.

Now I may have missed it, but I don't see any explicit arrangements to recognise and respect the views of those who actively support the ordination of women but who are in a parish or Diocese which doesn't. And the 'different beliefs and positions' which might necessitate such recognition and respect are not spelt out - so, at least in theory, they could range from theological conviction to plain old misognyny.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 2:02pm BST

"Does the document explain what support is available for people and churches in Fulham and Edmonton who don't want a Bishop who is against the ordination of women?"

What an excellent point.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 4:17pm BST

A few quick responses:

1. The point about putting it out on the internet is so that people can see the working. The previous versions have never been made public before. I wanted our ways of working to be transparent. It also helps people understand what an agreement not based on legislation could look like (in that it could function without the Measure and Act of Synod).

2. When the WB legislation goes through, it will be amended (I wrote that into the Plan) and will I imagine reflect (for example)the 5 principles in the House of Bishops paper. And yes, stuff like reception will need to be changed.

3. It can easily function when there is a bishop who is a woman - as you'll note, it incorporates the idea of dual oaths, and is pretty generous in terms of jurisdiction. There will have to be some compromises on both sides, but both those opposed and our women priests in London have signed up to it thus far.

4. At present, the Bishop of London ordains all deacons and the priests are done by the Area Bishops and the Suffragan. That works. What would happen with a Diocesan who wanted to ordain priests is an interesting question.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 4:48pm BST

Ian asks 'Why shameful?'
Not because Mgr Broadhurst followed his conscience and went back to the denomination of his birth - I have nothing but respect for individuals who find it necessary to follow their conscience.
Shameful because, before doing so, he launched (at the annual meeting of FiF in 2010) into an intemperate public excoriation of the C of E which had nurtured and employed him for most of his life, comparing its leaders to Nazis! And then, displaying the monumental insensitivity for which he was notorious amongst supporters and opponents alike, continued to function as a bishop of that church for several more weeks, until someone had the decency to silence him. That's why!

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 5:58pm BST

'At present, the Bishop of London ordains all deacons and the priests are done by the Area Bishops and the Suffragan. That works.'

Pete as someone that leads ordination retreats most years across a range of dioceses I can tell you how often I find myself listening to a woman deacon in tears of pain and anger that the next day her diocesan bishop will not be laying hands on her at that most holy moment - but to whom she is expected to pledge her loyalty and under whose oversight she is nevertheless expected to flourish and be fruitful. 'It works'. Maybe. But it also hurts - deeply.

Posted by: David on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 6:01pm BST

@David - only because the CofE catholics have embraced this warped obsession with mono-episcopacy. If you share episcopacy, there's no issue. Our clergy relate to their Area Bishop - not to the Diocesan. So there's a symmetry in getting priested by the bishop you relate to. A bishop is a bishop is a bishop. And we need to get over the monarchical nonsense.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 8:08am BST

I agree with you Pete but it has not just been Catholic Bishops that have done this.

Posted by: David on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 10:12am BST

"CofE catholics have embraced this warped obsession with mono-episcopacy. If you share episcopacy, there's no issue. Our clergy relate to their Area Bishop - not to the Diocesan. So there's a symmetry in getting priested by the bishop you relate to. A bishop is a bishop is a bishop. And we need to get over the monarchical nonsense! - Bp. Pete Broadbent -

From this outburst, it is clear that Bishop Pete Broadbent does not embrace catholic collegiality in the traditional sense. When he excoriates those catholic members of the Church of Enjgland who have been taught to give especial respect to the diocesan Ordinary, he is showing his intended departure from even Anglican Catholic tradition, in which the C.of E. has long flourished.

True catholic collegiality requires all bishops of the catholic tradition to be cognisant of the mutual respect one ought to have of each other. As Bishop Pete says: A bishop is a bishop, but not all bishops have equal authority. Diocesan bishops have a soecific role in their diocese, which is one of authority over all clergy in their diocese - and that includes their suffragan bishops, whether female or male.

The real problem with any future legislation that would not allow a woman diocesan bishop the due canonical respect of all her laity and clergy, would be that there remains a real division in Church Order - something important for catholics.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 12:59pm BST

This is all so strained. The simple solution is also the only one that says powerfully that women are created equally in the image of God, equally loved by God, and called to serve in all roles for healing and reconciliation in the world.

If CoE is a private club, working out how to have women in the sandbox with the men, then I guess this strained process is reasonable.

If the CoE wants to be a prophetic and healing voice in the world, then somehow this isn't quite right.

I appreciate that this is working out a pastoral approach that doesn't enshrine discrimination in law, but it doesn't quite support women in their ministries, and therefore it doesn't project the Good News to women every where.

What's the story here? What is the narrative of CoE? Love, compassion, and reconciliation? Love poured out freely for all? Or is the story "if you aren't our sort, we have a way around it..."

Is it the story of the private club or the story of a prophetic voice?

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 5:25pm BST

Will a "Period of Reception" (which has never been formally rescinded with regard to the priesting of women) also pertain to women in the episcopate?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 9:20pm BST

Your last sentence hits the nail on the head, as so often, Cynthia.

Posted by: Helen on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 9:26pm BST

I agree with you and I wish we could just welcome women at all levels of ministry.
But I also see the other side of it. For me, when I first came to England, the CoE was an astonishing church. It was one that succeeded in keeping 3 completely different strands of churchmanship under one umbrella and that had found a way of making this work at a practical level. The best representation of the Body of Christ I had ever come across. A hint that unity without uniformity could be possible.

It is precisely because it is not a private club that this church is striving so hard to keep everyone under on roof, however different their theology.

The practical outworkings of this are a nightmare right now and women pay the price. This has to stop.
But it helps to recognise that the tension arises precisely because the CoE is trying to be there for everyone and not a club restricted to those who agree with the majority.
It would help if we could at least acknowledge the integrity of that goal.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 9:49pm BST

Father David,
if you scroll up to my previous post you will see the wording from the CoE Women in the Episcopate document from May this year.

The period of reception will be formally over.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 8:36am BST

The Bishop of London is now 66 and +Edmonton will be soon. It will be interesting to see who their successors will be. +Londin's successor is likely to be someone who has ordained women ( which might upset the relationship between him and the most traditional...he presumably wont be welcome to celebrate in some anglo-catholic churches as he is at present....and Maundy Thursday??)It would seem odd for a bishop who has been ordaining priests to stop doing so on his elevation to London surely....or will that be a condition of acceptance ( problematic in itself?)In Edmonton Area the women deacons are ordained priest by all sorts of bishops( other Area bishops/episcopally ordained cathedral canons/retired bishops/charismatic bishops where appropriate and bishops from neighbouring dioceses)This works ( there are few women priests in Edmonton)after a fashion but it surely leads to pain ( who lays on hands etc).It will be interesting to see what the future brings for the London Plan.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 8:41am BST

If a 'period of reception' actually means what I have always assumed it meant when ++Carey first said it - 'this will take some time to adjust too' - then it naturally applies to women as bishops. (so where did the capital letter in 'Reception' come from? It gives an observation a quasi formal status that was surely never agreed or intended). But nor does it need any fixed time. It will take the time it takes. Perhaps the only measure will be when we cease to have women bishops and have bishops some of whom happen to be women.

Posted by: David on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 12:21pm BST

Erika, you probably know that TEC incorporates a crazy wide range of stances and churchmanship. You hear about the schismatics of the most rigid of traditionalists (many coming back now), but our church is broad and diverse.

I'm thinking how this happens and the big difference comes down to the fact that we elect our own bishops and call our own rectors. There is episcopal oversight, but it is rare to get a veto (thus +Gene Robinson passed muster). Thus parishes and dioceses tend to get clergy who more or less "fit" their profile, political leanings, etc.

CoE is more hierarchical, forcing it to enshrine more policy, procedures, exclusions, and whatnot. It is more vulnerable to vocal minorities. It seems disconnected from the broader laity (who generally support equal marriage, for example).

It forces CoE to make a choice between creating a "church within a church," undermining it's credibility on justice issues, or forcing unity on all, however just that may be. It will take more creativity to work something out in CoE that doesn't undermine women and yet accommodates to some extent the anti women crowd.

TEC's process of elections allows greater breadth. Wiggle room. Space. In that space, the Spirit does her work.

I wonder if CoE can find enough wiggle room and space to invite the Spirit to move?

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 11:59pm BST

from a purely theological point of view our evangelicals have fewer insurmountable difficulties than our Anglo-Catholics.
They believe that women can be priests they just believe that they ought not to be priests. So they could, if pushed, cope with the system you describe. They would end up with a Bishop they thoroughly disapproved of but it would not be impossible for them to cope with that.

But how do your Anglo-Catholics who believe that female ordination is an intrinsic impossibility cope with having women bishops? How do they live with male priests ordained by women bishops? How do they accept the sacraments from a bishop they do not believe to be ordained?

You know that to me those objections are a theological nonsense not to be encouraged. But I have to accept that this is a view that is still perfectly acceptable within the CoE and that, in trying to retain the character of this church, we are trying to find a way of keeping all those traditionalists on board, however misguided we believe them to be.

I don't understand how your system of electing bishops has succeeded in keeping this group of Anglo-Catholics on board. Do you still have deep diversity in all other directions but excluding traditional Anglo-Catholics?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:16am BST

"But how do your Anglo-Catholics who believe that female ordination is an intrinsic impossibility cope with having women bishops? How do they live with male priests ordained by women bishops? How do they accept the sacraments from a bishop they do not believe to be ordained?"

Unlike England, as far as I can tell, we have liberal AC churches. I'm AC and attend an AC parish that has had two female rectors for a combined 24 years or so.

I'm not a scholar, but I live with one! In the Middle Ages the RC's came up with a doctrine that the sacrament was valid even if the priest was a schmuck. It is not much of a stretch to believe that the sacraments are valid when administered by a female priest, especially when you are absolutely convinced of her call and you are the beneficiary of her ministry.

We do have AC parishes that resemble the UK's and are anti WO. The really big and well known ones are still with us. Some have had to deal with female bishops. Some of those female bishops handled it very diplomatically, some like bulls in china shops, but they are still with us. They get to elect their own and feel secure and confident in their parishes. Several of them now have female deacons, I don't know how that happened or how they've been received - they're always smiling in the pictures!

We have entire regions that are, or lean, AC. As the US was settled, churches tended to reflect the churchmanship of the times. So the upper midwest, Great Lakes area, was settled during the Oxford Movement which influenced their churches. Conversely, Virginia was settled during a very "low Protestant" time, so Virginia has churches named Bruton, Wicomico, and Aquia Harbor. Our dioceses also include the Diocese of Haiti and some Latin American ones. Haiti is AC, I don't know about the others.

As far as I can tell, the schismatics were more politically conservative than theologically. Note that most did not go to the RC church, they aligned with renegade "Anglican" organizations. Haiti is rather patriarchal, but they receive female priests and our presiding bishop just fine.

I think that having a strong enough voice helps. It's easier to live with diversity and with policies you don't like if you get a say in how your parish is impacted. Perhaps there's an element of inevitability too. After all, our General Convention is huge and this body voted for liberation of women and gays. We did so mindfully, thoughtfully, and after decades of reflection and listening.

Essentially, that's how I think the AC's have managed when the overall church overwhelmingly supports women's ordained ministry.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 4:12pm BST

we also have liberal Anglo-Catholics, they're not the ones who are causing us problems.

And while it is true that the validity of the sacraments does not depend on the morals or actions etc. of a priest, it does rather depend on the priest BEING a priest.
Traditional Anglo-Catholics have no problem with many of our current bishops whose theology they disagree with, precisely because of that. The whole system within the CoE where all groups of churchmanship are united under one Diocesan is precisely testament to that.

You say that you had and have Anglo-Catholics like we do and that they are still with you.
I agree that many of the may merely be politically conservative. Often, the two go hand in hand.
But if I take their theology at face value - and I want to do that because if I expect them to accept my liberal theology without trying to over-interpret my beliefs, then I have to repay the if I take it at face value, then I would dearly love to know what helped your traditional Anglo-Catholics to remain in TEC.

Could you, personally, accept a bishop who was not ordained?
That is what we're asking of our traditional Anglo-Catholics.
If yours have found a theologically sound way of dealing with this problem I would really really like to hear about it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 10:05pm BST

Erika: Perhaps the best answer in terms of how it plays out in the US is here:

There were to begin with far fewer traditional Anglo-Catholics and most left to continuing Anglican denominations a long time ago, so the "problem" such as it is, is relatively insignificant in the US and Canada. Small as the number of Resolution C parishes might be, I think it's a much greater proportion of traditional parishes than you'd find in either the US or Canada.

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 4:00pm BST

"Could you, personally, accept a bishop who was not ordained?
That is what we're asking of our traditional Anglo-Catholics.
If yours have found a theologically sound way of dealing with this problem I would really really like to hear about it."

In some situations, female bishops have graciously allowed male bishops to do the visitations at their AC churches. In other situations, especially early on, the female bishop insisted on making the visit, very confrontational.

When they call their rectors, they likely know who ordained them. The AC parishes can keep their male line priests going for a long time, perhaps indefinitely. We have over 100 dioceses, so imagine how many diocesan and suffragan bishops there are.

It seems like intense feelings about WO and WB's has waned to virtually nothing. Which will be the case with CoE unless you keep feeding it.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 7:41pm BST

Clive cited the example of one of the less diplomatic visits. There are many examples of female bishops sending male bishops as a pastoral response. Hence, this is certainly an example, but not a "best example." And it's from 1996.

I note that St. Paul's K Street is still in TEC. I've worshipped there, I have friends who go there, and have sung in the choir, etc. They seem just fine today.

Even though I see that visit as the "bull in the china shop" version, I note that there were 2 other Eucharists that morning where people could do Mass, there is no doctrine that says that female bishop visits leave behind cooties that impact future sacraments, and about half of the congregation welcomed the visit.

Is Clive saying that the half who welcomed the visit should not had the opportunity?

This is actually a big question for CoE, because dioceses and parishes generally are not monolithically against or for. A "traditionalist" bishop in 42 of the dioceses clearly would not be the cup of tea of the majority. Even in those 2 conservative dioceses, that leaves vast numbers of pro WO and WB people out of luck.

I suspect the AC's can easily have male line priests, and likely visits by male bishops. If they want bishops who exclusively ordain males, that seems problematic and is not supported by any doctrine (except the cootie doctrine, which most of us disregard starting at around age 13).

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 9:14pm BST

I chose that example partly because it was readily found and also because it kind of encapsulates all the issues. Yes it was undiplomatic but also reflected the hard reality that the bishop was a woman and no amount of traditionalist wishing would change that. I also worshipped there for 6 months in 1992 - I was in Washington at the time my own church approved women priests so it was a foretaste of things to come.

I liked that Fr. Martin was able to recognize and represent both views within his parish, but it does highlight that in the end people get hurt on both sides and that in the absence of a structural solution things are, for traditionalists, inevitably messy. For myself having moved to Canada, I went to Rome, because there was no place for me in the Anglican Church of Canada. I still have Anglican friends including ordained women, and there is still respect between us.

It remains my hope and prayer that as many CofE ACs as possible will recognize the seismic shift beneath their feet and take advantage of the Ordinariate option. I genuinely don't see another solution.

Posted by: Clive on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 2:27am BST

I think the problem we have here is that examples like Clive's are possible.
They should not be.

I think underlying our differences is a different view of those who do not share our theology. If they are seen as a problem to be appeased while secretly despised for being so misogynist then we believe our own view to be superior and see ourselves as bestowing favours to the minority view.

But if we recognise that we are all equal members of the same church, all with the same right to being able to continue our worship there, then we see this more like a joint effort to find a genuine solution.
A set up whereby women bishops can but do not have to make provisions for traditionalists is not acceptable. Not to them but not to many mainstream people either.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 8:02am BST

"A set up whereby women bishops can but do not have to make provisions for traditionalists is not acceptable. Not to them but not to many mainstream people either."

I see no problem with a pastoral solution. The problem with a statutory exclusion is that it a powerful message of inequality. There is a really big difference. How to be pastoral and supportive of all female clergy is the question.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 7:21pm BST

There seems to be a general view that the bishop was wrong . Yet the church was crowded, and on the priest's own admission, there was a substantial (nearly half?) minority who welcomed the bishop. The priest should surely have taken that into account. His greeting was ungracious to the point of rudeness, and while one might have hoped for a more emollient response, the bishop can hardly be blamed for just nodding back. Unfortunately some priests can demonstrate a rather autocratic attitude towards their own congregations, and it may be the bishop 's duty to challenge that.

Posted by: Helen on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 9:39pm BST

Helen, I think, with respect, you are wrong. Fr. Richard C Martin actually did a phenomenal job in holding together an Anglo-Catholic congregation that was divided on WO and his greeting to the bishop reflected that. He recognized both groups within the congregation, welcomed her on behalf of the pro side but also noted that the visit, by its nature, inherently upset the balance he had worked so very hard to maintain. I frankly cannot see how he could have said anything better to accomodate both groups in his own congregation, his own integrity, and the bishop.

Posted by: Clive on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 2:32am BST

the problem with a purely pastoral solution is that your version of it is completely dependent on the bishop wanting to be pastoral.

Clive's example shows that your pastoral provisions are not always successful.
Helen's comment shows that their success is very much open to individual interpretation - and therefore a recipe for continuous unrest.

What we are hoping for for the CoE are pastoral provisions not enshrined in law, that are nevertheless stronger and more binding than what TEC has offered.

That's pragmatic - because otherwise the Measure will not succeed.
And it is morally correct too, in a church that has, indeed, promised people to accommodate their views and has already gone to great lengths to do so.
And when you cite the 42 out of 44 Dioceses that voted in favour of women bishops, please don't forget that they all voted for a package that included considerable provision.
Very few people are proposing a system like the one you have, very few would vote for it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 6:49am BST

Clive's example was from 1996. A female bishop from California was recently in England talking about a very different experience.
Nonetheless, even in the 1996 example, half the parishioners WANTED the visit. Why do the conservatives get all the sympathy?

Seeing as CoE isn't on the front-end of this moral issue, it is in the luxurious position of learning from those of us who were on the front end.

Finally, the culture is different. And I don't mean US vs. UK. A female bishop in the 90's would have come of age in the 60's and 70's when justice was a real fight. One that apparently we can't appreciate, now it seems more like a parlour game.

Discrimination against women is immoral because it does great harm to women and girls. The amount of energy that has gone into indulging "proper provision" without reference to the suffering the church has caused, is breathtaking.

As I said elsewhere, pastoral provision at the parish level minimizes the suffering, because people can pick their parish.

Believe me, in places like Africa, women know that the church is part of the system that oppresses them. In our cultures, unequal pay and opportunities puts an especial financial burden on women and their families, disproportionally impacting the poor, of course. Sexual violence, depression. These are the FRUITS of the churches message that women are unequal to men, even in God's eyes.

Jesus said we can tell the real prophets from the false ones by their fruits. Discrimination has ugly fruits, liberation has awesome fruits. Many of God's prophets were highly flawed, including Jane Dixon, but I would pick her legacy over the discriminators. Giving offense to a handful is better than promoting policies that result in death, assault, economic hardship, and myriads sorts of oppression.

Everyone keeps forgetting this in all the political machinations.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 2:44pm BST

I really cannot agree with either Clive or Erika here. Holding a congregation together by , inter alia, not allowing the bishop to visit, even when her visit is supported by half the congregation, is not satisfactory. And because pastoral provisions are not always successful does not mean that they are not the best option available. Unrest may well happen: why should that be a bad thing? I don't see that Jesus was a terribly restful person to have around, so why should members of the church expect to be wrapped in a permanent comfort blanket? I doubt whether most people voting in the dioceses were interested in the minutiae of what provision was available; they were voting for women bishops above all.

Posted by: Helen on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 10:58pm BST

what I mind about Clive's example is that it is arbitrary. That there is no process, shall we say, by which this question could have been sorted out before it upset a lot of people.

And that is exactly what our traditionalists are worried about.
By the same token, the developments in the CoE since the vote to ordain women has been one that no-one had really anticipated. Anglo-Catholic parishes have created virtual enclosures within the CoE, supported structurally by Flying Bishops who have virtually developed a Third Province in all but name.

I would like to see a system of provisions that allows flexibility, that is not discriminatory, but that allows neither side to move on an go against the spirit of the agreement in the future.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:46am BST

I think that Helen's response illustrates why a purely pastoral approach will not work in England. She seems to think that a woman bishop must be free to celebrate in a traditionalist parish regardless of the makeup of the congregation.

Sure, you can say that the traditionalists can have their own separate Mass that day, or just not go. Or they could go somewhere else. But in the end that actually boils down to no provisions at all except for the individual conscience. If the bishop can do as she pleases without regard for the majority will of traditionalist parishes, where's the provision? Can / should such a bishop send a female priest into the parish at will as well?

One could equally well argue that there's nothing to stop those who want to from attending a nearby parish when a woman bishop visits, if the WB is not welcome at their own.

In my experience in the CofE before I left for Canada, this is often how things worked themselves out on the ground in a town with six parish churches of very different character. Group events were the best way of ensuring that those from one parish who felt they were missing out on something because of the stance on WO, or any other issue, could still benefit from it without having to change parish. Not everyone from every parish came to every event. The evangelicals came to Evensong in my AC parish but left before Benediction. It's a question of conscience and respecting each other. But everyone was welcome to Evensong and Benediction, including the women clergy from other parishes.

But if you're going to say, as Helen seems to be saying, that all parishes must be forced to receive the sacramental ministry of women, then that isn't respectful and it certainly is no form of provision. Traditionalists do well to fear people like Helen, hence the reluctance to accept the "just trust us" of a purely pastoral solution.

Posted by: Clive on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 4:10pm BST

Before you get too frightened Clive, let me assure you that I don't work for the CoE! And your first sentence is a distortion of the point I made about the particular incident you cited. But you still haven't addressed my fundamental point: in a parish where a substantial minority (nearly half?) approve women bishops, is it right for the priest unilaterally to exclude the diocesan?
Actually I think a national appeals / mediation procedure is a good idea. But I also think that priests and PCCS should be sensitive to the make up of their own parishes. I know of one Resolutions parish, for example, which, as soon as their male priest left, voted to abandon the resolutions and become properly integrated into the diocese. That parish hadn't changed overnight.

Posted by: Helen on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 6:32pm BST

Clive, one of the prominent measures includes a grievance procedure. I suspect that that will give a blueprint of what would "feel pastoral" to folks like FiF. I can't tell yet, it is an intriguing development.

I think that Desmond Tutu (who is Anglo Catholic) has it right. But the degree of love and acceptance displayed by Jesus and embodied by servants such as Tutu is something that we can't all emulate. I can't. I wonder if we can get the big message to be that love and exclusion, even as people are helped with their fears and concerns? I pray for that result.

I note that you left for Rome, yes? It is good to have multiple paths. Sadly, women and LGBT persons have not had a loving, affirming Christian path until modern times. God has called us. It is ungenerous to deny folks the opportunity to answer that call, and the call is coming via the Anglicans. I can't explain the phenomenon. I only know the teaching and example of Jesus. I also know that cultures with more gender equality are healthier than those with less. I've concluded that that speaks to God's Creation, and that God him/herself has created this balance and longs for our healing as brothers and sisters equally loved, and equally treated.

It is good to have multiple paths. But it is awesome to have a path that lifts up every human being, not just half.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 9:41pm BST

I take the point re unilateral decisions by priests - in St. Paul's case I believe it was also a vestry decision, but even so that, or a PCC decision does raise the same issue. However at some point when there is a division of opinion people, and parishes, have to come down on one side of the line or the other. There isn't an easy answer except that of trying to work as closely as possible with other parishes in the area to ensure that all share as much as they can in being fellow Anglicans. As I say, in my old English market town, even in the heat and light of 1992-1994 it worked well. Perhaps times have moved on and the CofE is beyond that now, I don't know.

Cynthia I agree with you on multiple paths; nor am I an "impossiblist". For me the issue was a break in the church as a whole, for Anglicans to change the orders of bishop and priest in isolation from Rome and the Orthodox. If Rome decided to ordain women tomorrow I would accept that. My problem was uncertainty about sacraments celebrated by women, not denial. Flying bishops enabled me to stay on the Anglican path. The situation in the US and Canada did not. And that is what is being grappled with in England, where there are greater numbers of traditional Anglicans making it much more of an issue.

Posted by: Clive on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 1:25pm BST

I hear you Clive. And I appreciate your honesty. You say that if Rome changed, you would accept WO and WB's. This means that your allegiance is with Rome and you have the integrity to take that path.

I suspect that many of us are influenced by the Reformation. I am gobsmacked at the RC doctrines on birth control, for example, and so that leads me to stay on this side of the Reformation.

I was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church and loved it very much. But I did not get a sense of rigorous theological reflection or ongoing revelation.

If one believes that revelation is ongoing, and that the Spirit speaks through the many, then Rome is perhaps not one's best option.

I believe the Spirit is moving through the Anglicans because we aren't so fossilized. There is a way to incorporate the ancient wisdom with modern revelation. Of course, in the States, much will be filtered via MLK and Civil Rights. The church in general was on both sides of that (TEC had a martyr). When one sees something as dynamic as liberation in that movement and the fall of apartheid (with Desmond Tutu), the Spirit is like a hurricane!

You've been honest Clive and I wish you well on your path. I will say however, that there is an RC doctrine that says that the character of the priest doesn't negate the sacrament, and so I'm puzzled that traditional Anglican AC's would think the sacrament valid from a priest who was a pedophile, murderer, etc., but not one who ordains women. I'm not seeing the consistency amongst Anglicans.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 6:13pm BST

Cynthia, I appreciate your kind words and I suspect we have more in common than our stance on WO might, by itself, suggest. And isn't that always the way?

I think that the Spirit moves, but that He moved more slowly in Rome perhaps. But in truth I think Anglo-Catholicism was but a step on my path from atheism to Christianity. It was the incense, the candles, the icons that hooked me as a non-believer, and the Catholicism I learned later. I had no clue what any of it was about until I walked into my AC parish in England and that only to fulfil the bureaucratic requirement to get married in that building.

However I do see the Spirit at work with our new Pope and I feel sure that better times are ahead for the Church of Rome. For now I feel comfortable walking in step with this great, global, uniform group - I travel a lot.

I read all your comments and to be honest, it would be easy to write them off as left wing feminist rhetoric at times. And yet here we are, I think, still in a position where more unites us than divides us in the complete picture of our faith. And therein lies both the lesson and challenge for the Church of England.

Posted by: Clive on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 11:55pm BST
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