Saturday, 5 April 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 5

Two more diocesan synods have voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation: Blackburn on Thursday and Southwell & Nottingham today. In each case the vote was in favour. 27 diocesan synods have now voted in favour and none against.

The next vote is in Worcester on 30 April.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 6:16pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

So, Pontefract no longer stands alone like Horatius at the Pons Siblicios over the River Tiber defending Rome from the invading army of Lars Porsena. He has now been joined by the Bishop of Burnley. I note that the diocese of Blackburn is the only one to date where the number of clergy voting against the innovation has reached double figures.

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 6:47pm BST

Nevertheless, as the Blackburn web site makes clear, the voting last time was only "narrowly" in favour, and the bishops were 3-1 against, so there's been a big shift---even though the house of clergy didn't quite get to a two thirds majority.

Posted by: Turbulent priest on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 9:34pm BST

Fr David may be interested to note, however, that the percentage of the house of bishops of Blackburn diocesan synod achieved a 2/3 majority in favour this time as opposed to only 25% in favour last time round. The clergy went from 51% in favour to 78% and the laity from 52% to 78%.

It's a good job that the bishops' votes don't actually count for these diocesan synod motions as it seems that no bishop voted in the Southwell and Nottingham synod.

Posted by: Will Adam on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 9:42pm BST

I think you mean Blackburn's clergy went from 51% to 62% in favour.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 12:19am BST

No bishops voted at the Southwell & Nottingham synod since none were there. The diocesan see is vacant and the suffragan bishop is on sick leave.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 1:00am BST

Dear Turbulent, what has happened to the fourth bishop in the Blackburn diocese if you say that last time the House of Bishops voted 3 to 1 Against? There were only 3 voting this time - Blackburn, Burnley and Lancaster.
Looks like the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham can function perfectly well without bishops and as the pool is currently running very dry, why not extend the episcopal interregnums when dioceses become vacant, thus saving the Church a Bob or two, or should that be a million or two when considering the enormous burden of expenses that the episcopate lay upon the national Church?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 4:19am BST

It seems to me that bishops are retiring too early. Dr Kemp of Chichester was still in harness around 90 years of age. Never before in history have there been so many men extant who have sat on the highest throne in Christendom at Durham cathedral. Now that Paul Butler has been installed he has no less than five predecessors still with us - John Habgood, David Jenkins, Michael Turnbull, Tom Wright and Justin Welby. Two became Archbishops and one went off to be a Professor at St. Andrews but now three out of the five are retired and must be costing the CofE Pensions Board an absolute fortune!
With the prospect of 40% of the stipendiary clergy retiring in the next decade is it not time to review the rule that clergy must seek compulsory retirement at 70 years of age?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 9:38am BST

"No bishops voted at the Southwell & Nottingham synod since none were there. The diocesan see is vacant and the suffragan bishop is on sick leave." Peter Owen

But that hasn't prevented him from sending out personally-signed snotty letters from his sick bed to the gay clergy in the diocese.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 10:12am BST

Not seeking to be pedantic, BUT...! In the interests of promoting correct grammar on this blog:

Peter Owen @ 1.00 am: "No bishops voted at Southwell & Nottingham synod since none WAS there"

Father David @ 9.38 am: "Now that Paul Butler has been installed he has no FEWER than five predecessors still with us..."

Posted by: David Lamming on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 1:26pm BST

Re Southwell & Nottingham. I thought that a diocesan synod cannot legally meet without the House of Bishops present. In Bradford over the past 30 years or so, when the Diocesan (only bishop in Diocese ) was sick, a neighboring bishop has been appointed as Commissary and attended, twice at very short notice, to enable business to be transacted.

Posted by: Malcolm on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 2:33pm BST

Apologies - Blackburn clergy 62% in favour this time, making it the only clergy vote so far this time not to have achieved a 2/3 majority in a diocesan synod. The next lowest is Sheffield at 75%.

Posted by: Will Adam on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 3:36pm BST

Malcolm wrote, "I thought that a diocesan synod cannot legally meet without the House of Bishops present."

I'm open to correction but I think that Rule 34 of the Church Representation Rules covers the procedures of Diocesan Synods and I find nothing in it that corroborates Malcolm's belief. It could, of course, be that the Standing Orders of the Bradford diocesan synod required a member of the House of Bishops to be present.

Posted by: RPNewark on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 8:40pm BST

Isn't David Lamming confusing his singular and his plural? If there was only one bishop not there it should be WAS, as there were two bishops not there it is surely WERE?
Is Malcolm therefore suggesting that the Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Synod vote is totally null and utterly void because no bishop was there?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 9:07pm BST

On grammar: David Lamming is correct.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 10:40pm BST

In answer to recent comments:

1. "none" = "not one", so "none was there" is correct.

2. An "article 8 reference" matter is deemed to be approved for the purposes of that article if the votes of the houses of clergy and laity are in favour: CRR rule 34(1)(h). Therefore, unless the SOs of the Southwell & Nottingham Diocesan Synod require that the bishop is present for a meeting to be validly held, the absence of a bishop has no effect on the validity of the vote on the article 8 reference. Indeed, the effect of rule 34(1)(h) is that a matter referred to the diocesan synod by General Synod will be deemed to have been approved even if the bishop(s) vote(s) against provided that there is a simple majority in favour (and it could be a majority of just one) in the houses of both clergy and laity.

What may be of significance is the Standing Order relating to the quorum. Thus, the SOs of St Eds & Ips diocesan synod provide:

"28 One third of the members of each House shall form a quorum of the Synod which shall be necessary for the consideration of all business except the adjournment of the Synod under Standing Order 54 or of a debate under Standing Order 55 [which relates to motions to adjourn].

29. If a quorum is not present, the Chairman shall adjourn the Synod until such time as he shall determine."

If Southwell & Nottingham have similar SOs, it must be arguable that the proceedings at yesterday's meeting, and thus the votes on the article 8 reference, were null and void. It would be interesting to know what, if any, advice was sought and/or given on this by the Diocesan Registrar. Happily, since all other diocesan synods have voted in favour of the new proposals, with the necessary majority already achieved, the issue is, in reality, academic.

Posted by: David Lamming on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 11:02pm BST

In defence of my use of "none were" I offer this.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 11:46pm BST

Perhaps Mr. Lamming could kindly remind us - how many angels dance upon the head of a pin?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 7 April 2014 at 3:53am BST

In my defence of the use of "no less than" - I used the phrase to shew my surprise at such a large number of Dunelms who are still part of the Church Militant.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 7 April 2014 at 4:21am BST

Isn't it the normal procedure and practice of synodical governance that when a massive change is envisaged as to how we order the Church, for the legislation to be handed down to the Deaneries for discussion and voting?
I well remember discussing and voting against Rowan's Covenant at Deanery level but have not had an opportunity at the Deanery Synod to discuss and cast a vote on the present significantly altered legislation with regard to our understanding of something as important as the Apostolic Succession. After all this current proposal is significantly different with regard to the provision being offered to those who in all conscience cannot accept the proposed innovation but Deanery Synod members are not being afforded the opportunity to discuss the amended proposals which makes me wonder, not for the first time, what is the point of Deanery Synods? I wonder if the Bishop of Willesden could kindly enlighten us as to what Synodical Standing Orders have to say about this and why such an important issue as this hasn't been handed down to Deanery level?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 6:11am BST

Deaneries could have chosen to debate the issue in order to inform their diocesan debates. Our Deanery Synod (Devizes) is one of the few deaneries in our diocese which has an "ABC" parish, so we decided to bring our next Synod forward so that we could debate this important issue before the deadline for Diocesan Synod votes. We meet this week. I expect that the proposal will be carried with large marjorities in both houses.

Posted by: paul richardson on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 10:01am BST

The question of whether to invite Deanery Synod debate and approval is in each case a decision for the relevant Diocesan Synod. The General Synod cannot mandate reference down to the deaneries.

In this particular case, most deaneries will have discussed the issues two years ago, and members have the opportunity to contact their diocesan synod representatives and make their views known. In the deanery I represent, the rural dean specifically invited such comment -- and I received a good number of responses from deanery synod members, every one of which was in support of the currently proposed legislation.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 11:55am BST

Similarly, in the deanery of which I am a member, we changed the date of our (already booked) February meeting so that it would come after the General Synod, and devoted that meeting to a discussion of the new legislation. Following which we took a vote on it (overwhelmingly in favour).

We had also discussed the previous legislation in a deanery synod two years ago.

At our diocesan synod, which followed soon after, the debate on the legislation took longer than originally planned, and those opposing it there appeared to be mostly on the conservative evangelical side. But it was overwhelmingly approved.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 12:16pm BST

Those interested in the matter of grammar where the pronoun "none" is used would enjoy reading the article about this word in Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd edition) edited by Professor Burchfield, the editor of the OED. Those not so interested may ignore the matter.

Posted by: Stephen Johnston on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 3:23pm BST

Indeed, this whole matter was discussed a number of years ago and received overwhelming support from the dioceses, having also been discussed at all the Deanery Synods. You will also recall that at the decisive meeting of the General Synod it failed to get the requisite majority in all three Houses, as it was thought to include insufficient provision for those who, for strong theological reasons, could not accept this unscriptural innovation. The Measure was then significantly altered. My concern is that the altered Measure has not undergone the full scrutiny it deserves in that it has not been afforded the opportunity to be discussed and voted upon by members of all Deanery Synods who, after all have the onerous responsibility of electing representatives to sit on the General Synod. It seems that "What is Truth" within the Church of England is increasingly decided by democratic vote, therefore surely all levels of synodical government should have been given an opportunity to scrutinise and vote upon the significantly altered Measure prior to final approval by the General Synod. As the old proverb has it "Act in haste, repent at leisure"

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 3:46pm BST

@Father David: Reference to Deaneries is discretionary. Even in London (which may still not give the legislation a yes vote), there was no appetite to refer it to the deaneries. Although we are discussing specific legislation, all debates tend to focus on the principle, and we all know where we stand and have rehearsed that debate ad nauseam. Deaneries have done it to death. So have Diocesan Synods. The question is now (1) will the GS House of Laity give it 2/3 majority and (2) can we make it work? My answer to (2) is yes, and we're planning that for London. My answer to (1) is that I hope so.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 9:50pm BST

My answer to Peter Broadbent's question (1) has two parts.

First, the tally of diocesan lay votes, so far, is 1143 to 87. Accepting that some very conservative dioceses have not yet been heard from, at this point the yes votes are 92 percent.

Second, for the anti-WO party in General Synod to block this legislation would be a strategic own goal of the first magnitude. Two things would then happen: Parliament would take the matter more firmly in hand, and liberals would finally wise up and campaign more conspicuously in the next General Synod elections.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 12:56am BST
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