Wednesday, 20 November 2013

General Synod - Wednesday

This page will be updated during the day

General Synod has started its debate on the latest proposals to allow women to be bishops on Wednesday. I linked to all the papers here.

Order paper for the morning’s business

Sam Jones has previewed the debate for The Guardian Women bishops debate resumes at Church of England synod.

Speech by the Bishop of Rochester introducing the debate: Bishop of Rochester introduces Women Bishops debate

At the end of the debate Synod passed the motion before it:

That this Synod, welcoming the package of proposals in GS 1924 and the statement of principles endorsed by the House of Bishops at paragraph 12 of GS 1886, invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consultation in February a draft declaration and proposals for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure which build on the agreement reached by the Steering Committee as a result of its facilitated discussions.

There were 378 votes in favour and 8 against. 25 members recorded an abstention.

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod - Wednesday AM

After lunch Synod voted to revise the draft measure and canon in full Synod, rather than in a revision committee.

The CofE issued this press release: Synod votes to approve next steps for women bishops.

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this statement: Female bishops: Archbishop Justin’s statement

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Wednesday PM

Press reports and comment on the morning debate

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England approves female bishops plan
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England votes overwhelmingly for women bishops
Liz Dodds The Tablet Revitalised CofE Synod clears major hurdle in passing women bishops legislation
BBC News Church of England synod vote ‘paves way’ for female bishops
Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Church Times Synod endorses new women-bishops package
Adam Withnall The Independent Breakthrough? Church of England moves step closer to women bishops as General Synod backs new proposals
Andrew Brown The Guardian Synod’s vote for female bishops allows resistance to flourish another day
Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: Today I’m proud to be a member of the Church of England

There is also this in The Telegraph by John Bingham Church’s General Synod - what is it for?


Church Society issued this press release on Tuesday: Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops. This is copied below the fold. We have previously published comments from Affirming Catholicism, Forward in Faith, and Catholic Group, FiF and WATCH

Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops

Church Society is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the evangelical and reformed foundations of our Anglican faith within the Church of England. We remain convinced that the best way forward on the issue of women bishops is one where those who are not persuaded from scripture of the necessity of the proposed changes continue to be able to flourish in the Church. We are therefore delighted that the new legislative proposals before General Synod this week do acknowledge that this view is “within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion” and that for those who hold to the classic and historic view, “the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures.”

There are various issues that need to be ironed out in the new proposed legislation for this to be a truly credible and reliable statement, and for the gospel to flourish within the Church of England. Some helpful, positive steps have been taken, not least in developing a mandatory grievance procedure, though significant worries remain for those who are not content to acknowledge the spiritual oversight of women bishops in good conscience. Many also find it difficult to believe that their ministry is valued or encouraged when, unfortunately, there are currently no serving evangelical bishops who hold to the classic and historic teaching on this subject. We are also concerned that any new bishops should be orthodox and faithful to our Anglican formularies such as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, which officially and legally function as our doctrinal foundation and guide in ministry, and that trustworthiness here should be given a higher priority in selection criteria. Just as Her Majesty the Queen promised 60 years at her coronation to maintain and defend “the true profession of the gospel… the Protestant Reformed religion”, so also, we believe, should all our bishops.

We are committed to praying for the current process and for those (including many members of Church Society) who have been involved in the synodical debates on this issue for many years now. Our earnest prayer is that a way may be found for us to go forward together with integrity and transparency, for the sake of our witness to the truth of the gospel and the good of our nation. If it is true that the Church of England is in danger of dying out within a generation, then it is urgent that we do not lose, hinder, or discourage the evangelistic dynamism of conservative evangelical clergy or children’s and youth workers, who do so much to reach the peoples of Britain for Christ.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

From all accounts, the leadership of Bishop James Langstaff has enabled the prospect of Women Bishops in the Church of England to jump the first hurdle towards its goal - that of equality of women and men in the ministry of the Church of England. Let's hope that those who still have doubts about this will have their scruples washed away in the realisation that God actually does empower women for ministry.
Deo gratias!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 at 10:21pm GMT

I, being of the Anglo-Catholic persuasion - which would appear to be almost poles apart from the originators of this post - likewise applaud the principled traditional Anglo-Catholics, who have graciously allowed this motion to go forward in General Synod, by either their positive vote or their withholding of a negative vote on the motion.

My prayer is that, in the fullness of time, all Anglicans will come to understand Paul's dictum that "In Christ, their is neither female nor male" - even in the realm of ministry and leadership in the Body of Christ.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 at 10:36pm GMT

Now thank we all* our God!

* Not blind optimism, but Christian Hope. :-)

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 1:28am GMT

Are those evangelicals really so devious? I don't actually think so. I would agree with Andrew Brown's point about the potential wipe-out of conservative evangelicals in General Synod if they block women bishops again, but I hope that many who have decided not to block the legislation this time are doing it out of grace.

However, as one who supports full acceptance of Gay and Lesbian people in the life of the Church, a vote against women bishops might, ironically, help. Most ordinary Anglicans would be so angry that those they elect would be far more likely to be accepting of diversity. On the other hand, it would be a painful disaster, so I would not want it to happen, whatever the good unintended consequences.

Instead, we must hope and pray that the spirit of care and mutual respect, that appears to have developed, continues as new controversial subjects are addressed.

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 3:48am GMT

Lost in all this is the emasculation of report of the Elections Review Group, deleting the provision for an electoral college and retaining only a couple of provisions relating to on-line voting.

Now, the proposal that elections to GS should be by an electoral college is no better than the arrangements we currently have, why can the Church not trust its members, that is those on the electoral roll, with the right and privilege of voting directly for its representatives on GS. I can't believe that in this age of mass indifference to the church anyone thinks that Electoral Rolls will be so packed with non church goers that the mind of the Church will not be expressed.

Synod seems to have failed to grasp the issues that the current system is broken and discredited, that it doesn't represent the laity in any way and is in the maw of the ideologically committed. The only possible way forward is one person one vote for lay members with proper openness, hustings and clear information about all the candidates along with a declaration of their membership of party groups. Nothing else will do. Anything else continues the infantalisation of the laity which is so convenient for the activists.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 3:41pm GMT

An oft quoted in word in this debate seems to be the word "flourish". The only possible way in which those who hold fast to Catholic faith and doctrine can possibly hope to flourish within the modern CofE is if the wider Church continues to provide and willingly consecrate Traditionalist bishops. Otherwise the future looks pretty bleak indeed.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 4:35pm GMT

Father David, if your faith depends on the ministry of male-only bishops within the Church of England, rather than the 'Real Presence' of Christ in the Eucharist, I wonder where your treasure lies. The gender of a clergy-person can surely have very little effect upon the authenticity of the Incarnate Word.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 12:10am GMT

"The only possible way in which those who hold fast to Catholic faith and doctrine can possibly hope to flourish within the modern CofE is if the wider Church continues to provide and willingly consecrate Traditionalist bishops. Otherwise the future looks pretty bleak indeed." - what utter rubish

Posted by: Confused sussex on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 12:20am GMT

"The only possible way in which those who hold fast to Catholic faith and doctrine can possibly hope to flourish within the modern CofE is if the wider Church continues to provide and willingly consecrate Traditionalist bishops."

"Catholic". "Traditionalist". One of these words is not like (well, not coterminous with) the other. God is working God's purpose out, so the flourishing of Catholic faith and doctrine isn't really in doubt.

Further consecration of Traditionalist (i.e., non-female/anti-WO) bishops? Hmmm. Let's see how the current batch takes episcopal counsel together w/ their soon-coming sister bishops. That may tell us a lot.

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 6:09am GMT

@Father David, for many years (prior to her translation to NZ) the traditional Anglo-Catholic stalwart of the Canadian house of bishops was +Victoria Matthews, also a devotee of the Via de Compostella. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 6:41am GMT

Like Richard Ashby, I was dismayed by the outcome of the elections review group debate. Philip French had 3 sensible amendments down, all of which were lost with hardly any support, whereas Gerald O'Brien's wrecking amendment was passed (and he a member of the business committee which brought the proposals forward - no collegiality there!). The debate was started in July and left uncompleted then through lack of time. Had it completed in July, there might well have been a different outcome. There was still a raw sense of anger then at what had transpired last November, and a sense that change was needed. But now, peace having broken out (at least superficially) over women bishops, the feeling seemed to have changed to 'we're fine as we are'. Wrong again!
Philip Giddings need never have worried that his fellow ConEvos would be wiped out at the next elections if they voted against the women bishops package. Some chance! They so dominate deanery synods, and are so much more biddable than we 'woolly liberals', that I greatly doubt that the composition of the next HoL will be noticeably different from the present one.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 11:09am GMT
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