Thursday, 12 September 2013

Church in Wales votes in favour of women bishops

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales this afternoon voted in favour of the consecration of women as bishops. Here is the official press release.

Church votes to ordain women as bishops

A Bill to enable women to be consecrated as bishops was passed by members of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales meeting at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter today.

The Bill was amended, following a lengthy and passionate debate, to become a one-stage vote to enable the consecration of women as bishops, with a “code of practice” to be written by the Bishops for those who in conscience could not accept the authority of women bishops. The amendment had been tabled by the Archdeacon of Llandaff, Peggy Jackson, and Revd Canon Jenny Wigley.

The Bill was proposed by the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, and seconded by the Bishop of Bangor, Andy John.

Addressing members, the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, said, “Thank you for the way in which the debate has been conducted and I hope you will trust us as Bishops to prepare a code of practice.”

House of Laity – 57 yes 14 no 2 absentions
House of Clergy – 37 yes, 10 no
House of Bishops – unanimous.

A two thirds majority was required in each house.


ACNS reports Wales says ‘yes’ to women bishops.

One year from today, women priests can become bishops in the Church in Wales.

The historic decision to allow women bishops was made at today’s meeting of the Church’s Governing Body in Lampeter, Ceredigion.

The Bill that came before today’s meeting was a modified version of the one that was narrowly voted down in 2008.

The modification proposed that, were the Church to vote ‘yes’ to women bishops, a second Bill dealing with provision for those opposed to women bishops would be considered before any women were elected to the episcopate.

This would have delayed the election of women bishops in the Province for several years.

The Bill was amended, following a lengthy and passionate debate, to become a one-stage vote to enable the consecration of women as bishops, with a “code of practice” to be written by the bishops for those who in conscience could not accept the authority of women bishops. The amendment had been tabled by the Archdeacon of Llandaff, Peggy Jackson, and Revd Canon Jenny Wigley.

Wales now joins the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland, both of which allow women bishops, though which have not appointed any to date.

The members of the Governing Body meeting spent several hours in debate. Around 3pm it looked as if they were going to vote on whether to pass the amended bill. However, the group voted instead to continue the debate.

People around the world were able to follow the highlights of the debate on the Social Media microblogging site Twitter using #govbody. Comments came from people inside and outside the meeting in English and also in Welsh.

When the Church finally voted on the amended bill at 4.50pm, the following votes were cast:

Laity - For 57 Against 14 Abstentions 2.
Clergy - For 37 Against 10 Abstentions 0.
Bishops - Unanimously For.

To date there have been 33 women bishops in the Anglican Communion. Twenty-four are either in post or are bishop-elect.

The latest election of a woman to the episcopate is Helen-Ann Hartley, an English priest who will become a bishop the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia in early 2014.

With today’s decision, Wales joins Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, North India, Philippines, Scotland, Sudan and Uganda as Provinces that permit women bishops but have not yet appointed any.

Those Provinces or ‘extra provincial’ churches or diocese with women bishops include Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia; Australia; Canada; Southern Africa; United States and Cuba (an extra-provincial diocese).

Press reports

BBC Church in Wales backs women bishops
Gavin Drake in the Church Times Church in Wales votes for women bishops
Wales Online Church in Wales votes to ordain women as bishops
Steven Morris in The Guardian Female bishops voted in by Church in Wales
John Bingham in The Telegraph Women bishops given go-ahead in Wales

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Categorised as: Church in Wales

Wonderful news.Well done Peggy Jackson and colleague

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 5:33pm BST

The best possible outcome, and voting well above the required super-majorities: Bishops 100%, Clergy 78%, Laity 80%. That’s a healthy shift of opinion since 2008.

Posted by: William Raines on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 5:52pm BST

Hooray. Three down,one to go!

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 6:02pm BST

Yes, very good ! Well done.

Maybe England can now get on and introduce a similar or even the same legislation.

Then get on with it !

Posted by: Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 6:09pm BST

Congratulations to the Governing Body for recognising the logic of the theology in the ordination of women to the priesthood and their refusal to enshrine discrimination and doubts about the validity of women's ordained ministry. And to Archbishop Barry for his patient persistence in winning enough support for this long-desired change. I'm afraid it leaves the CofE looking even more isolated this evening.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 6:23pm BST

Church of England take note!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 7:02pm BST

Well done Governing Body, Peggy Jackson and Jenny Wigley. So we see a single clause measure to bring about women bishops, with a code of practice, has clarity, simplicity and power and could well gain sufficient support to be decisive.

Allowing women to speak for themselves and decide for themselves how to present the form of legislation and the case for it works.

The tide is turning - is this 'reception' ? A new form of ministry has been tried, tested and seen by a majority of the church to be good.

Posted by: Janet Henderson on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 9:07pm BST

I am delighted to hear this.

Now I hope that we will quickly see a woman elected. Unlike Scotland, where women can theoretically be bishops, but we have still to see any women succeed in an election to a diocese.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 10:51pm BST

Thank you Thank Thank you Jenny Wigley, Peggy Jackson and Governing Body, thank you for voting for a single clause measure, & for ecclesiological & theological integrity & for giving us here in England a pure & hopeful shaft of light.

Posted by: Lindsay on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 10:53pm BST

Don't forget the Governing Body was purposefully reduced in numbers and the number of women members increased. Women membership is now proportionate to their numbers unlike England.
With no strong evangelical presence in Wales,there was no real blockage, as the Anglo-Catholics are in melt down. No one made the point that none of the latter resigned when their provincial bishop was retired and not replaced.

So there we have it, a largely high church conservative denomination with asa of 120,000, fifty years ago has turned into a liberal protestant denomination with 30,000 attendance.

Posted by: Robert Ian Willaims on Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 11:03pm BST

How have other denominations fared during the same period in Wales?
The votes for women as bishops was by a wide margin; can the larger number of women in the governing body account for that?

Posted by: Richard on Friday, 13 September 2013 at 12:49am BST

What was especially good about the debate, was that, at a point where a vote might have been prejudiced, the decision was made to keep on talking - with the result that the more equitable decision appears to have been made by a majority of the Synod.

Let's hope this will convey the right sort of message to the would-be equivocators in the Church of England's upcoming General Synod in September!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 13 September 2013 at 12:50am BST

Well done Wales!

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Friday, 13 September 2013 at 2:39am BST

Richard,The other denominations,all now mainly liberal are all in serious meltdown. All over Wales, many chapels are now houses or warehouses.

Even the Catholic Church is dependant on immigration,virtually vocationless and importing priests from India, Poland and Nigeria.

Conservative evangelicals are doing quite well. The largest Church in Wales parish ( ASA) of nearly 500 is in Aberystwth. Its rector spoke at the Governing body about male headship.

The conservative evangelicals also have a thriving parish in Cardiff, but are virtually absent from the north. Evangelical presence became limited after patronage was ended in 1920, and for 60 years Wales was virtually high church monochrome.

Posted by: robert ian Willaims on Friday, 13 September 2013 at 8:40am BST

The report of the Church in Wales makes interesting reading and can be found here

The ski slope on page 4 should make the whole church think as if trends continue it just won't exist in not many years. What then for some priests and bishops? How will they be paid?

Posted by: Joseph Golightly on Friday, 13 September 2013 at 8:50am BST

Could I add, that whilst I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is right in its understanding of women's ministry, I felt more of a degree of sympathy with the women rather than the so called traditionalists. If they had any real integrity, they could not exist in a church which had become heretical in their understanding.

How could a small body of 30,000 active people support a two track ministry...and which B did not recognise A?

Indeed men ordained by women would not be accepted by B.. it makes no sense.

When will some one say the truth ..its not about theology its all about money and endowments.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 8:54am BST

Does anyone have any views on the numbers who are likely to move to the Ordinariate as a result of this decision? I understand that at present, there is just one fully formed Ordinariate group in Wales, and about another three exploratory groups.

Posted by: Paul waddington on Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 12:45pm BST

Paul, to answer your questions about the Ordinariate in Wales....

A retired Anglican vicar who lived in Presteigne , Wales ( which by a fluke of history is a geographical Welsh parish in the Church of England!) joined.However previous to his move he served in the tiny sect calling its self the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Another cleric , a German serving in the Church in Wales joined with six of his parishioners in South Wales.The Swansea and Cardiff groups on the Ordinariate web site do not exist in reality.

Two lay persons joined in North Wales and overall the Ordinariate in Scotland and Wales is a damp squib. In England it has attracted one in thousand of active Anglicans.

Meanwhile the Church in Wales has received two former Catholic priests into its ministry. The Catholic Church in wales is at rock bottom, due to poor pastoral leadership. Vocations are very few and priests are imported from abroad. There are Church closures everywhere and congregations are only replenished by immigration. The wonderful school system built up over the years is simply not producing good Catholics, and still employing the flawed catechetics of the 1960s.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 2:21pm BST

Robert, or perhaps it's "tradition", as in "I was born and Anglican and I'll die an Anglican even if Richard Dawkins is ABC." Or perhaps they choose to be "the remnant" of "true believers" trying to get the rest to see sense. I don't see why liberals expect traditionalists to assume the best of them while they assume the worst of traditionalists.

As for it all being about money, one could just as easily make the opposite case. If liberals who want gay and women clergy, gay marriage, or don't believe the creeds or the BCP had any integrity, they would have left earlier and joined the Quakers or started their own denomination with lots of women and gay clergy instead of infiltrating and tearing the church apart. Obviously the only reason the liberals stayed was because of the money and power.

Posted by: Chris H. on Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 3:19pm BST

"Obviously the only reason the liberals stayed was because of the money and power."
I am a bit gobsmacked, Chris H. Do you really believe this?
I am a liberal and I certainly do not stay in the church for either the money or the power. I stay in it because I believe that the Christian message is an important one for the people I serve,helping and equipping them to deal with the reality of their lives.
I am also aware, from looking at the breadth of Christian opinion over the centuries, that there is nothing narrow about that message. Liberal Christianity is not a new invention. The inclusive message it proclaims can be traced through the Church's history right back to Jesus. That inclusiveness is reflected in the writings of some of our greatest English Christians, including people like Julian of Norwich and Thomas Traherne as well as the many unsung Christians who have worked in their parishes for the good of others regardless of the faith (or lack of faith)of those they have sought to serve.

Can you really, possibly, believe these things about liberals? Who told you this? On what do you base it?

Posted by: Anne2 on Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 7:35pm BST


The comment was a "turnabout is fair play" on a comment further up the list by Robert Ian Williams saying that the only reason traditionalists stay in the church is "..its not about theology its all about money and endowments."

If liberals really believe that traditionalists are nothing but greedy liars after the money then there's no reason conservatives can't say the same about liberals, and yes, I know some conservatives who do believe this of liberals. And I can't help but observe they have a point about some liberals. Why would people who laugh at the idea of the resurrection or miracles, cross their fingers at the creeds etc. stay? Or some of the commenters here who've said, "It doesn't matter whether you call me a Christian or an atheist. What I believe doesn't change." They want gay equality and marriage and "justice"; "Christianity" is just another way to get what the want. Or those who call traditionalists "cultists", etc. Why do they stay? Why not start a new religion/denomination instead? Perhaps because their new religion would be small and powerless and taking over an established one gives one power?

Do I believe all liberals are like this? No. Do I know liberals who are more Humanists than Christians but who call themselves Christians? Yes. Some have been my priests in the past, but there's no good trying to do anything about it. TEC is so "inclusive" that unless one is a Pagan/Episcopal or Muslim/Episcopal priest, nobody will stop it and they only stop those when the secular press gets a hold of it and the general public starts laughing.

Posted by: Chris H on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 12:29am BST

Most unfortunate, Chris H., that you can't see that liberals believe as we do on very strong theological grounds. The radical life of Jesus, healing, teaching, and hanging out with women in a culture where that was taboo, and women being the first witnesses to the Resurrection. So much biblical writing on how to treat the widow, the orphan, and the outcast. And that bit about women and men being created in the image of God.

I understand that traditionalists take certain parts of the Bible quite literally. But liberals are also taking our cues from the life and teaching of Jesus. Ultimately, it depends on how you weight Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Liberals are stronger on Scripture and Reason - conservatives on Tradition.

On gay marriage, liberals can easily point to the multiple wives of the OT and the churches acceptance of divorce - a topic Jesus actually did speak about (unlike gay marriage).

The Bible is from a pre-scientific age. It isn't unreasonable to think that our relationship with God grows as we come to understand more about God's Creation.

Of course, it is more convenient, if utterly dishonest, to think that we liberals are sucking up the money and power... I could use a little of that liberal money right now! Could you point me the way?

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 12:46am BST

"If liberals really believe that traditionalists are nothing but greedy liars after the money then..."

But you're doing your "turnabout is fair play" contra Robert Ian Williams, Chris H, an obedient-to-the-Pope-in-all-things Roman Catholic. Ergo, everything else you say above does NOT follow. To put it politely.

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 9:09am BST

Your description of your fellow Christians as "infiltrators" says it all Chris.

Posted by: Helen on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 9:12am BST

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the vote on women bishops in the Church in Wales is that the House of Bishops voted unanimously in favour. This presently could not be repeated in the Church of England where we still have a few orthodox Traditionalist bishops, even though they are vastly outnumbered by their more liberal brothers. Hence the introduction of this innovative novelty this side of Offa's Dyke would be more problematic in that it would further rupture the already fragile collegiality of the English House of Bishops and further impair communion among our chief pastors.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 5:28pm BST

Lets keep things in perspective.. How many clergy converted after the Welsh flying bishop was grounded. None. They've coped quite well for five years.

However if they were men of genuine theological conviction and integrity..they would worry that many laity in Welsh parishes are now robbed of the sacraments, because the Church has ordained women and gone into heresy. No such thing..they are happy to stay where thay are, and inhabit a ghetto world, with their stipends, perks and accomodation intact.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 6:42pm BST

Excellent news!

Posted by: james on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 7:11pm BST

One last comment off topic. Sorry, Simon. I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

The original point I was trying to make was about not assuming ALL traditionalists are evil greedy power seekers. I also made the point in my comment that I personally do not think ALL liberals are Humanists masquerading, but some are. From the responses, I guess the writers agree with Robert.

Helen, I do know at least two Humanist priests and the only reason I can see for them to stay is for the pension or to influence/control the "fools" who actually believe. Our rural parish is poor and has trouble finding/keeping a priest. Our bishop won't hire a conservative, so the ones we get are usually out to "broaden and improve" our faith by making us liberals, probably at the bishop's request. Then they leave when they don't win the parish over. Infiltrate might not be the best word, but take over is the goal.

Cynthia, since you never use modifiers such as "some", I take it you agree that all conservatives are greedy and all liberals the epitome of true Christianity? Since the "cultist" remark was of your making, I assumed no less, but the goal of the post was trying to get people to moderate their tone by turning the extreme back at them. I really do think there are real liberal Christians, I just don't think all of them are, just as I don't think all "conservatives" are either.

If there is ever to be peace in this fight, then liberals are going to have to learn to police their own and say he/she is going to far, and conservatives are going to have to do the same.

Apologies again, Simon. No more, at least on this thread. God's will be done in Wales and the rest of His church.

Posted by: Chris H. on Monday, 16 September 2013 at 1:18am BST

It's not a question about being uncharitable, but being realistic.Yes God is the judge of all interior motives, but I believe the point I make is a cogent one. How is it the so called traditionalists have coped without a flying bishop for five years?

If they believe that women's ordination is a serious heresy, why do they continue to wish to stay in the same Church? The only conclusion I can draw is that the real reasons are less than noble and certainly not in line with my understanding of the Gospel.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 16 September 2013 at 9:48am BST

"Cynthia, since you never use modifiers such as "some", I take it you agree that all conservatives are greedy and all liberals the epitome of true Christianity?"

You are making a "straw man' out of me. I didn't get involved in the "greed" discussion, except to joke that I would like some liberal money. I am not ascribing motives for why clergy stay in or leave the CoE. I'm sure it's very complicated and personal.

My topic was theological, and you have not addressed it. You painted liberals as not being rooted in Scripture or theology. I pointed out the very strong liberal roots in Scripture, theology, and Reason.

No, I don't use moderated language in the face of clear injustice, nor in the face of being painted wrongly, such as "liberals are going with culture, not Jesus." In the first case there is MLK's Letter from the Birmingham (Alabama) Jail. In the second case, I think liberals need to be crystal clear that our beliefs are firmly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What I believe about traditionalists is more nuanced than I let on. The inability to accept ALL people at the Table is a human failing. While compassion is called for, what degree of accommodation is appropriate for those whose positions hurt others? The injustice against women has taken place on a massive scale and had horrific consequences through the ages. I prefer to see that as a human failing than to see it as "God's Plan."

All are welcome. All. That has implications at every level of our being, individually, communally, globally. Americans and Ugandans, gay and straight, male and female, rich and poor, resourced and under resourced.

Wales has moved in a terrific direction.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 16 September 2013 at 5:23pm BST

How nice it must be to be able to see into men's souls Chris.

Posted by: Helen on Monday, 16 September 2013 at 8:22pm BST

"Our bishop won't hire a conservative, so the ones we get are usually out to "broaden and improve" our faith by making us liberals, probably at the bishop's request. Then they leave when they don't win the parish over."

Worst of all, they've resolutely REFUSED to answer your query as to whether they've stopped beating their spouses! I see your duty as Grand Inquisitor, ChrisH, is neverending. But I'm sure you agree ("police their own"), qua G&S, "A Policeman's Lot Is Not A Happy One."

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 at 5:19am BST

Cynthia, liberal theology is so varied, you'll have to be more specific if you want an agreement on it. Ask 10 liberals what they believe, get 10 different answers. "New Testament characters ....are as real as Harry Potter." is a position held by a very well known liberal bishop, based on Reason? SOME liberal theology is right; some is out near Pluto. You posted awhile back that anyone who didn't believe in female priests was a "cultist". What nuance is there in that? Cultist=non-Christian. Why can't you "let on"? I don't understand why my saying what I do after talking to specific people makes me a reader of souls, when you judge most of the world's Christians like that without a quibble from liberals. That is what I'm talking about.

Helen and JCF, did I miss you at the parish meetings? Were you spying on my parents' or my meetings with my priest? Sometimes you don't have to read souls; sometimes people say it.

Posted by: Chris H. on Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 1:20pm BST

Of course Chris: didn't you notice that fly on the wall? But do refresh my memory; what exactly did "people say" (and what did you infer)?

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 6:32pm BST
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