Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Women in the episcopate - electronic voting results


Electronic voting results for this month’s General Synod debate on the women bishops legislation have now been published. These take the form of pdf files, arranged by houses (in two cases), by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.

I list below the four items voted on electronically, and the voting figures in each case. At the end I link to my consolidated version of the four votes arranged by synod number.

Item 39 (The Revd Paul Benfield amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priest or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to make statutory provision for opponents. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 39 ForAgainstabstain

Item 42 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to include in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 42 ForAgainstabstain

Item 46 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest -in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

This amendment was defeated on a division of the whole Synod (200 in favour, 210 against and 15 recorded abstentions). But I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 46 ForAgainstabstain

The final vote was on the substantive motion: Item 16 (as amended by items 45 and 47). The two successful amendments were each carried on a show of hands. They added the references to a grievance procedure, and to the use of facilitated conversations.

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

This was carried on a division of the whole Synod (319 in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions). Again I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 16ForAgainstabstain

Spreadsheet of votes [Updated Friday night to correct totals for House of Bishops]

For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies. For this purpose an “absentee” is someone who did not record an electronic vote (for/against/abstention). There are various reasons for being an absentee.

Update 1: There is also this webpage version of my spreadsheet.

Update 2: For convenience I have extracted below the voting records for the members of the Steering Committee.

surname house item 39item 42item 46item 16
Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 7:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Thank you for this information. Does the fact that there is no appetite expressed by General Synod for any amendment that would enshrine in canon law any 'special provisions' for opponents of Women Bishops mean that the Measure could fail at the final hurdle? If this is the case, then all of the careful work done by those who seek to recognise the unhindered episcopal ministry of women in the Church of England could have been in vain.

What does this say about the unequal power of the Laity in General Synod; to turn down the expressed will of the Church at large, that has been so clearly evidenced in other meetings of the Church on this important issue?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 8:40pm BST

Why is it that synod number 50 is "not used"? Thank you.

Posted by: C Skelton on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 9:01pm BST

Ignorant Yank here eagerly awaits knowledgeable interpretation! :-)

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 9:19pm BST

Some more detail extracted from the individual voting records. The 15 General Synod Members just named as the Steering Committee to prepare women bishops' legislation, voted this way in the final vote on the substantive motion:
11 For, 4 Against.
By House they voted,
Bishops: 2 For, 1 Against
Clergy: 6 For, 2 Against
Laity: 4 For, 1 Against

Posted by: Andrew Coe on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 9:33pm BST

Two thirds majority in each house if my maths is correct.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 9:45pm BST

The Steering Committee to prepare the legislation therefore consists of 15 people, of whom 5 voted against the final motion on women bishops on 8 July and 10 voted yes. Of the 5 who voted no, 2 are Anglo Catholics and 3 are conservative evangelicals.

Revd Canon Jane Charman - voted yes to the women bishops motion on 8 July
Revd Canon Robert Cotton - voted yes
Dr Paula Gooder - voted yes
Ven Christine Hardman - voted yes
Dr Jamie Harrison - voted yes
Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair) - voted yes (Bishop of Rochester)
Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett - voted yes
Canon Margaret Swinson - voted yes
Rt Revd Trevor Willmott - voted yes (Bishop of Dover)
Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter - voted yes

Revd Paul Benfield - voted no (Anglo-Catholic)
Dr Philip Giddings - voted no (Anglican Mainstream)
Mrs Susannah Leafe - voted no (Reform)
Revd Preb Roderick Thomas - voted no (Reform)
Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner - voted no (Bishop of Chichester, Anglo Catholic)

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 10:03pm BST

Question: Why is synod number 50 not used?

Answer: The Forces Synodical Council is entitled to seven members of General Synod. It is allowed to (but is not required to) choose the bishop to the forces as one of the seven. I assume that number 50 was reserved for this bishop. But in the current Synod the Council has not chosen to take up this seventh place.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 10:05pm BST

In view of some of the comments above, I have extracted the voting records of the 15 members of the Steering Committee and added them to the end of the article.

There are some errors in the comments above about the voting on the final motion (item 16):
1) The clergy members voted 5 for, 2 against.
2) Philip Giddings voted in favour.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 10:42pm BST

I have queried my apparent "for" vote on item 39 with Synod Office. Am sure I voted against. (Wouldn't make sense otherwise anyway with the rest of my voting.)

Posted by: Dagmar Winter on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 11:06pm BST

What effect (if any) do abstentions have in calculating the 2/3 majorities?

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 11:27pm BST

Malcolm: Abstentions are ignored in calculating 2/3 majorities. So, to give a hypothetical example, 20 votes in favour and 10 against with 400 abstentions is a 2/3 majority.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 11:46pm BST

The point about this Steering Committee is that it is unique. Normally to be appointed to a Steering Committee you have to be in favour of the Measure. This lot have been chosen in order to represent all shades of opinion and to go away into a darkened room with facilitated discussion until they come out with an agreed way forward. David Porter, who brokered the Ulster Good Friday Agreement, is in charge of the process. Our prayers are that WATCH and Reform and FiF will be easier than Sinn Fein and the DUP.

My only concern is that the cast list doesn't reflect the middle ground CofE who are not part of campaigning groups. But if we're going to get a solution, this Steering Committee is where we start.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 7:46am BST

To +Pete's point, if the assorted blocks within the CofE prove more incalcitrant than Sinn Fein and the DUP, then we really do have bigger problems to worry about.

Posted by: Stuart, Devon on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 10:24am BST

Looking at who did what is interesting. Something that happened in the last round at this stage was that a large number of opponents simply did not vote thus giving larger majorities in favour at the early stages of legislation than at the final stage. This time most of the usual suspects (including the highly unrepresentative anti groups in the lay reps of the dioceses of Chelmsford and Winchester) did vote and did vote against. There were some notable voters who were opposed last time who voted for in the last vote this time.

However, this was only a vote to go forward to the next stage. The next General Synod elections remain absolutely crucial.

Posted by: Wilf on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 1:39pm BST

Yes...pace +Pete's comment: the "polo mint" church perhaps ......with the hole in the middle.The "traditions" do seem to have moved apart over the last 40+. If you saw catholic /evangelical and liberal as three over-lapping circles you could once shade in a substantial overlap in all sorts of ways, but less so now.Though have the bulk of the laity shifted? As I potter around east Kent taking services in retirement it seems most laity are what Alec Vidler dubbed "Un-hyphonated Anglicans"

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 1:52pm BST

"David Porter, who brokered the Ulster Good Friday Agreement, is in charge of the process. Our prayers are that WATCH and Reform and FiF will be easier than Sinn Fein and the DUP.

My only concern is that the cast list doesn't reflect the middle ground CofE who are not part of campaigning groups. But if we're going to get a solution, this Steering Committee is where we start."

I think this is about the most productive and sensible approach that has yet been tried since 1992, and wish it every chance of success. Of course, you'll have noted that the middle ground SDLP and UUP were the casualties of the process you reference. I'm not sure what the role of the middle ground would usefully be in this, other than to be pulled this way and t'other. Probably better at this stage to negotiate both "wings" inwards to the centre - you'd have thought the "middle ground" would buy into anything managing to be acceptable to WATCH, FiF and Reform simultaneously. Or, at least, one would hope so.

Posted by: primroseleague on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 2:11pm BST

It was the 'middle ground' that realised they had been sleeping when they should have been awake and were hopelessly out-manoeuvred by FiF/Reform at the synod last November. I have many friends who had been quietly supportive of women bishops but not really felt the need to say so or bang any drums for it. They then felt angry and motivated for the first time. Bishop's too had never before been so outspokenly supportive of women in ordained ministry. It was always thought to be insensitive to the non-accepting minority to do so. My hope is that something changed then in the 'middle ground' and it needs to be translated in responsible action when the voting for the next synod starts at local level. The middle needs to inhabit the foreground.

Posted by: David on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 5:16pm BST

I'm wondering why WATCH are represented as being extreme? They are the only group mentioned here who are strongly supportive of women in the episcopate, which is in fact the majority position of most deaneries & dioceses within the Church of England and certainly representative of a substantial number of people within the pews. They also supported the legislation containing provision in the original form it was presented to the Dioceses who voted upon it. There are also a substantial number of other groups strongly in favour of women in the episcopate - Inclusive Church, Modern Church, Affirming Catholicism, Fulcrum... So perhaps that makes WATCH a little more middle ground than they are commonly portrayed. And as far as I am aware there is no formal representative from the WATCH National Committee within the Steering Committee (which does include both the new chair & retired chair of Reform ). This is not at all a criticism of the make - up of the committee as clearly a breadth of opinion is necessary. I am, however, bewildered as to why Pete Broadbent thinks that some kind of deal is being brokered between FiF, reform and WATCH as the campaign groups per se aren't being invited into the 'darkened room' at all? Comparisons with Northern Ireland are really a little melodramatic not to mention unhelpful if we are being encouraged to see the best in each other, but I'll capitulate the point if anyone starts kneecapping during negotiations.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 11:24pm BST

Lindsay Southern

I think you're right, although I suspect that the characterisation of WATCH as extremists is because they're so vocally FOR WO. I think it might be more helpful to class all these groups as "vocal" rather than extreme to be honest. I know the other groups you mentioned are similar to Watch in view, but if you're a journalist wanting rentaquote then you go to them - in much the same way as you might go to Reform et al for the opposing view.

I also agree the comparisons with NI are hyperbole but only just - the lesson of most negotiations like this; whether it be NI, Bosnia, Rhodesia 1979-80, or even the meeting of creditors of a failed company, is that the deal will get hammered out between the most vocal parties and everyone else can lump it. If you're right that Watch is the middle ground, then actually that's good because the deal will between the middle and the trads, rather than between two extremes over everyone else's heads.

Posted by: primroseleague on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 9:02am BST

What makes people think that WATCH and Modern Church are extreme is the fact that they continually either criticise or campaign against the appointment of traditionalist bishops within the CofE when they know full well that it is only the on-going presence of traditionalist bishops that enable traditionalist catholics to remain in the CofE with a good conscience. If they could find it within themselves to be a little more supportive about the appointment of traditionalist bishops, and there are plenty of traditionalist clergy who could be appointed on merit alone,then perhaps people might be less inclined to label them extreme.

Posted by: Geonokes on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 9:50am BST

Two observations:

1. Recent research (not to mention the views of our genuinely elected representatives in Parliament) rather suggests that insofar as there is any "middle ground" it is the position espoused by WATCH. Indeed it could even be that the "middle ground" position is the sort of thing that Parliament (which after all represents everybody) would do if it could: a simple "single clause measure".

2. The ABC has made his position very clear on this one. Would he dare say to Synod: "We will work very hard together on this to support those who don't agree, both before and after the measure is passed, but in the end I can't actually carry on in this post if you don't support me." [I don't think that is a threat-- rather a simple statement of fact.]

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 3:42pm BST

"I'm wondering why WATCH are represented as being extreme? They are the only group mentioned here who are strongly supportive of women in the episcopate, which is in fact the majority position of most deaneries & dioceses within the Church of England ..."

Because that is a standard tactic that works a lot of the time. Every proposal of a move forward by women is always opposed as extreme by the "traditionalists." Ever hear the word "FemiNazi?" In the US, that has been ascribed to feminists who want, wait for it, equal pay for equal work, non discrimination in the workplace, and general equality under the law. Equality for women has been demonized as "radical" and threatening. It is typical behaviour of fundamentalists in most religions and extreme political conservatives.

Sadly, it often works. And that's how FiF is going to try to bludgeon statutory provisions out of CoE. They are not going to get hung up on concepts like "what would Jesus do?"

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 5:32pm BST

I don't think that you'll find that I used the word "extreme" in anything I wrote about this. There is of course a sharp polarity in Synod. Option 1 (or probably Option 1.75) has now become the preferred position. But the point is that there are large numbers of members of Synod who are not part of any of the various organised groupings (of which there are something like 7 or 8) and who need to feel that they too own the process.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 6:34pm BST

Re Spreadsheet of votes House of Bishops - both spreadsheet and web-page. The totals at the end are wrong: the "countif" range doesn't start at the beginning of the list.

Posted by: nick clarke on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 10:15pm BST

Thank you Nick Clarke - You are quite right. I have corrected the totals.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 11:15pm BST

Geonokes what are we to do when your 'traditionalist bishops' keep going over to Rome ?

You want us to supply more and more for the Ordinariate ?

Posted by: Laurence on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 12:16am BST

"I don't think that you'll find that I used the word "extreme" in anything I wrote about this."

No Pete, but you said that "the middle ground is missing." Given that 42 of 44 dioceses wanted WB's would mean that WATCH basically represents about 95 percent of the mind of the church. To me, it looks like WATCH is absolutely rock solid, vast majority, middle ground. I'm sure that that statement is the result of narrowly focusing on Synod; however, it sounds dishonest to the broader church to pretend otherwise. The focus has to be larger than Synod.

There needs to be some pastoral provision for the human weakness that can't accept WO at this time. (Yes, WO, not just WB, because it is prominently on FiF's website that they oppose WO).

The laity of Synod are out-of-sync with the mind of the church, and this is a problem. The Steering Committee seems to over represent the minority and under represent the real mind of the church. Nonetheless, my hopes are that they arrive at a Holy and Spirit filled plan.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 5:20am BST

The key group in all of this is actually the 13 members of the house of laity who abstained in the final vote. If they support the legislation it passes, if they vote against it, it fails.

High as my regard is for David Porter, it is simply mad to suggest, as Pete Broadbent does, that he brokered the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement, or indeed that he had any role in doing so. He will be very amused at the suggestion. Nonetheless, he does have an excellent background in mediation and conflict resolution in Northern Ireland and brings a superb skillset to the table.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 10:22am BST

+Pete, no you didn't use the word 'extreme' - and I didn't say that you did - I wondered why in general WATCH are often portrayed in that way.

You did however state that the steering committee did not represent the middle ground who are not part of campaigning groups thus inferring that WATCH does not include any of that middle ground. Furthermore your comments implied that WATCH (together with others) might be as difficult to negotiate with as Sinn Fein and DUP - I wonder how people who did not know WATCH or FiF or REFORM would read that sentence? My guess is that they would draw conclusions of extremism.

Primroseleague suggests this is 'hyperbole - but only just'. My husband served in Northern Ireland, was on the scene after the Enniskillen bombings and was held hostage while serving as a peacekeeper in Bosnia. As a member of WATCH I find the inferences to be a little more than hyperbole. I find them pretty offensive and disingenuous

By all means disagree with WATCH's desire for women to be enabled to fulfill their callings to all forms of ministry whether lay, ordained or episcopal on the same terms as men have done for centuries, (even as I write it I can quite see how ridiculous and unreasonably demanding WATCH are being and why that would not interest the 'middle ground' at all) but linking the behaviour of WB campaigning groups (pro or anti) to situations where people have been terrorised & massacred?

Could we have a reality check please?

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 8:50pm BST

OK, sorry Gerry - hyperbole for the sake of making a point.
@Cynthia - what you're not getting is that it's not the *position* of WATCH or FiF or anybody else that matters in getting this sorted; it's making sure that the *process* by which we sort it is owned by everyone in Synod. There are many people in Synod who are pro WB, but who don't want to be aligned with any of the pressure groups. If you prefer "non aligned" to "middle ground", then so be it. For many on Synod, they're not part of WATCH, Aff Cath, FiF, Reform, 1990 Group, EGGS, OSG, Catholic Group... you name it. And for them it's a matter of principle that they aren't. So they will not want any of the groups telling them how to vote - but their support for the process and for the agreed legislation is absolutely crucial.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 11:14pm BST

I hear you Pete. And I sympathize that the workings of Synod are complex, and that they are indeed the process.

I am concerned that the broader church needs to be kept in mind. It would also be good to hear the Good News in all this. The theology of exclusion is horrifically painful, and has done great damage. It would also be so nice to hear healing words.

It puzzles me that I'm not hearing more theology, except from Miranda Threlfall-Holmes. It seems to me that there is rich territory for solutions, or at least clarity, in that work. Otherwise all is based on varying opinion, some of which is not any doctrine, liberal or "traditional."

It seems like 42 of 44 dioceses is pretty powerful, regardless of the make up of Synod. And I bet I'm not the only one who yearns for dialogue that has a stronger moral center, that has compassion for the harm done by discrimination, as well as compassion for the minority.

I can't see any problems that can't be solved with pastoral, rather than legal solutions that would treat women unequally.

The AC's can have male line priests without upsetting the apple cart. One expects that 50 percent of bishops will generally be male. There is no doctrine supporting the idea that male bishops who ordain women have cooties that invalidate the sacrament!

There isn't a solution for the Evangelicals who are into "male headship." There just isn't. The Queen is the head of the church. Done. Nothing to negotiate there. But that's not even a majority position amongst Evangelicals, I hear.

There is a reason no other province with WB's has special provisions. We are all created in the image of God with all the dignity that comes with it. Or some of us aren't - a devastating message.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 3:55am BST

And that's the problem with a process that assumes the task is to get WATCH, FinF and REFORM to agree / broker a deal a la Good Friday Agreement. This is not the task and it is not like the GFA.

As long as we have people speaking in these terms, we are set up to struggle if not to fail.

Posted by: Charles Read on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 4:32am BST

Part of the problem is of course that dioceses in the CoE don't choose their own bishop. If they did, the conservative areas wouldn't be fighting quite so hard for their own way. Since bishops are chosen for them, without provision they fear being forced into having female bishops. Considering the recent outcry against and the stepping down of a chosen bishop-elect in the CoE, they fear what the conservatives in TEC are already saying. The current conservative bishops are the last the church will see.

Posted by: Chris H on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 4:03pm BST

What makes you think any diocese in the UK would elect a conservative bishop Chris? Philip North stepped down because of representations from the diocese.

Posted by: Helen on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 6:21pm BST

"Part of the problem is of course that dioceses in the CoE don't choose their own bishop. If they did, the conservative areas wouldn't be fighting quite so hard for their own way."

Chris H. I'm not sure this is the problem. 42 of 44 dioceses voted for WB's. The majority of CoE church membership is pro WB and also pro LGBT marriage equality. So if CoE had elections for bishops, as we do in TEC, it is highly likely that these elections would be the end of conservative bishops, except perhaps in those 2 dioceses.

The conservatives in CoE are in trouble either way, elections or appointments. The democracy of TEC made it pretty clear that the larger church was done with discrimination, but the same democracy that elevated +Gene Robinson does let somewhat conservative dioceses choose somewhat conservative bishops.

Believe it or not, I pray for a kind way to help them (CoE conservatives), but without sending the inequality message/doctrine to women and girls the world over.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 9:19pm BST

Three points, sort of related:

Dioceses do not elect their own bishops, but there are diocesan representatives on the committee which interviews and appoints bishops. Perhaps the point is really that - with one or two possible exceptions - we don't have 'liberal' or 'conservative', or 'catholic' or 'evangelical' dioceses; we have the Church of England, and expressions of its broad spectrum in most dioceses, though with varying prevailing traditions in any given place.

The 'problem' with ConEvo bishops in the C of E, as was raised in questions at Synod last month, is that whenever a man from that part of the church is appointed as a bishop, other ConEvos decide he is somehow not a 'proper' ConEvo, so on that logic obviously there are no ConEvo bishops.

I would be very interested to know, Cynthia, how you substantiate your claim that the 'majority of CofE church membership [however you determine that!] is pro-LGBT marriage equality'? I am pro marriage equality, but I simply have no idea whether most of the CofE is or not; in the bits I inhabit, I suspect the majority is not.

Posted by: Hannah on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 2:39pm BST

I'm not Cynthia, but the best polling data available on the question Hannah asks comes from Linda Woodhead. The answer then was Yes, but only by a small margin.
or a better formatted version is at

More links at

Of course, the trend is positive and may have already increased the margin.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 3:12pm BST

Thanks Simon, that's helpful (and encouraging!).

Posted by: Hannah on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 4:20pm BST

Thanks Simon. Hannah, I was saying that based on the polling that Simon had previously posted on TA.

My anecdotal experience in CoE is of acceptance in the cities. In rural areas we tend to be more cautious and closeted. I can't extrapolate that to the larger CoE, thus I was encouraged by the information provided on TA.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 5:17pm BST
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