Saturday, 8 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes

As I reported here the current legislation on Women in the Episcopate was sent to dioceses promptly after last month’s meeting of General Synod. The first diocesan synod votes were held a week ago, and so far nine dioceses have voted; all were in favour of the legislation.

I have compiled a table of the voting figures here which I will update as further votes take place.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 March 2014 at 5:07pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

I note that your table records that four bishops voted in favour in the Chelmsford diocese. I wonder how can this be seeing as Colchester is currently vacant so doesn't that just leave three bishops - Chelmsford, Barking and Bradwell? Who is the Fourth Man?

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 8 March 2014 at 6:05pm GMT

From the votes so far, I calculate that the percentage in favour of the new legislative proposals is 88% in the Houses of Clergy (331 for, 37 against and 8 abstentions) and 86.1% in the Houses of Laity (340 for, 39 against and 16 abstentions.) Both figures are significantly higher than the percentage approving the previous draft Measure - the one that failed by a narrow margin to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Laity of the General Synod at final approval stage in November 2012. While not counting chickens, this augurs well for the vote on final approval at York in July.

The fast-tracking of the Article 8 reference stage is controversial, albeit the motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iii) was passed by a very large majority (358 for to 39 against) at the General Synod in February. It would be interesting to know (i) how many diocesan synods have had to suspend their own standing orders in order to be able to respond to the reference by the deadline of 22 May; (ii) how many dioceses have arranged an extra meeting to consider the reference, and (iii) how many diocesan synods have referred the proposals to their deanery synods for discussion before voting on the reference.

With 25 out of the 44 dioceses holding their synod meetings in March and with Chichester and London (the two who voted against last time) not meeting till May, the necessary simple majority to enable the legislation to proceed to final approval could well be secured by the end of this month.

Posted by: David Lamming on Saturday, 8 March 2014 at 8:41pm GMT

Probably the Team Rector of Barking, who used to be Bishop of Botswana. Bishops other than those occupying sees in the Diocese can be part of the House of Bishops of the Diocese.

Posted by: Wilf on Saturday, 8 March 2014 at 8:51pm GMT

"86.1% in the Houses of Laity "

Which is interesting, as it shows just what an outlier the vote at the previous Synod was. It's tempting, I suspect, to rely on the process being used now to quietly sweep aside the embarrassment caused last year ("well, we've fixed that") but the unrepresentative nature of the house of laity remains. By its nature it's going to be older, whiter, more middle-class and more conservative (and paradoxically extreme) than the congregations at large. That Minichiello Williams is a member, for example, is an example of the electoral process slewing away from the mainstream.

That's a timebomb when the inevitable occasion comes for a vote on same-sex marriage issues; an irreconcilable claque within the house of laity can block any progress, representing essentially no-one but themselves. The problem's precisely that faced by trade unions, whose conferences are usually lightyears to the left of the membership (contrary to the votes at conference, the majority of members of the NAS/UWT or the UCU are not swuppies). The mechanism by which delegates are elected is dominated by those that turn up, who are inevitably more radical and more organised.

The lesson should be that the house of laity needs to represent the laity, via some sort of one member, one vote mechanism, rather than being appointed via a succession of smoke-filled room meetings. Both Labour and the Tories managed to deal with a lot of their problems by moving partially or completely to a OMOV system rather than card votes; the Tories more effectively, actually, as they've completely neutralised their headbangers. It's time the CofE did similarly. Anglican Mainstream, Christian Concern and so on are classic entryists, behaving just like Militant in the 1980s.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 9 March 2014 at 10:18am GMT

I've made some enquiries, and I can confirm that the fourth Chelmsford bishop is Trevor Mwamba, the former Bishop of Botswana. He is now a team rector in Barking and an assistant bishop in the diocese.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Sunday, 9 March 2014 at 11:51am GMT

The information that +Trevor Mwamba is now an assistant bishop in Chelmsford diocese is interesting. Readers of this blog may be interested to read his perceptive analysis of the state of the church in Africa on issues of human sexuality, given as the keynote address to the conference of the Ecclesiastical Law Society at Liverpool in January 2007: "Out of Africa: an appraisal of the current position of the African church concerning homosexuality and same sex unions in the Anglican Communion and its future." (The conference theme was the Windsor Report.)

Posted by: David Lamming on Sunday, 9 March 2014 at 9:16pm GMT

Do we know which Wakefield bishop voted against?

Posted by: Dan BD on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 2:50pm GMT

Yes, the Bishop of Pontefract, Tony Robinson, who is a traditional catholic, and has always been opposed. So no surprise there.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 3:32pm GMT
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