Friday, 20 June 2014

Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon

Updated twice

One of the papers issued to General Synod members today is A note from the Archbishops (GS Misc 1079). This looks at a number of matters to do with next month’s final vote by General Synod on the admission of women to the episcopate.

One item of particular interest is the statement in paragraphs 10-11 that the archbishops are “consulting with others” to ensure that a “bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship” is appointed “within a matter of months”. One way for this to happen is for such a person to be appointed to one of the currently vacant suffragan sees.

The paper also discusses the arrangements to be made at consecrations once the episcopate is open to both men and women, in particular when a new bishop has “concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration”. In short there will be no formal arrangements and each case will be dealt with on an individual basis.

The full text of GS 1079 is copied below the fold.


Forward in Faith has issued the press release: The Consecration of Bishops.

Glyn Paflin writes in the Church Times Headship and consecrations: Primates prepare ground for Synod vote.

GS Misc 1079
Women in the Episcopate
A note from the Archbishops

1. A year ago it was with some trepidation that the Synod was preparing to meet for the first time since the end of the unsuccessful legislative process the previous November. Now the situation looks very different. The facilitated conversations last July, the work of the Steering Committee last autumn, the imaginative decision for the revision process of the legislation to be committed to the whole Synod, and the large majorities in the November and February Group of Sessions, have created a new sense of hope and expectation.

2. Since February all 43 dioceses that were able to consider the draft legislation have given their approval. In diocesan houses of clergy 90% of those who cast a vote supported the legislation and in the houses of laity 92% did so.

3. In May, the House of Bishops made The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076), in the form welcomed by the Synod in February. The Declaration notes the significance of opening all orders of ministry equally to women and men and the opportunities this presents for building up the Body of Christ and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.

4. The House amended its standing orders to provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless a draft of the proposed amendment has first been approved by two-thirds majorities achieved in each House of the Synod. It also agreed the guidance note (GS Misc 1077) promised under paragraph 22 of the Declaration.

5. In May we also consulted the House about two issues on which particular responsibilities fall to us by virtue of the offices that we hold. These concern the outworking of paragraph 30 of the Declaration in relation to consecration arrangements and the presence in the College of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship.

6. On the first, we recognise that, once the episcopate is open equally to all irrespective of gender, there will be some bishops who will be unable in conscience to participate in the laying on of hands at some services. There will also be new bishops who, because of the theological convictions held by them and those to whom they will minister, will have concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration.

7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services should be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.

8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.

9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration and to maintain the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.

10. On the second issue touched on in paragraph 30, it is evident that to date the normal processes for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops have not delivered the aspiration to appoint a bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship. It is also unclear whether the processes are capable of doing so within a reasonable timescale. [1]

11. We are therefore now consulting others with a view to ensuring that the aspiration is met within a matter of months. We recognise that, as stated in paragraph 30, such an appointment “is important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust”.

12. In the light of the decisions already taken and these clarifications now offered we believe that the circumstances now exist for the Synod to approach the final stages of the legislative process in July in a spirit of generosity and hope. As each member weighs his or her own responsibility in relation to the final approval debate we need each to consider how we can contribute to the well-being and unity of the Church, and the fruitfulness of our response to God’s call.

13. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

+Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracensis
June 2014

[1] GS 1650 - Talent And Calling; Recommendation 8 of the Report (in 4.4.1) reads:
We recommend that bishops should be asked to indicate which (if any) of those currently on the List from their dioceses are from a conservative evangelical background. Bishops should be asked positively to look for clergy from this constituency who might either be qualified for inclusion on the Preferment List or might be developed in such a way that they might be qualified later on.
The Report’s recommendations were debated and endorsed at the July 2007 Group of Sessions. The voting was AYES: 297; NOES: 1. Those responsible were invited to give effect to the recommendations and the Archbishops’ Council was asked to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation. GS1680, which reported back to Synod in February 2008, did not address this particular recommendation.

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"... it is evident that to date the normal processes for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops have not delivered the aspiration to appoint a bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship. It is also unclear whether the processes are capable of doing so within a reasonable timescale."

Well, it sounds like they already have: I'd call "never" a reasonable timescale ...

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 3:44pm BST

So . . . which diocese is going to be "volunteered" for the burden of hosting a bishop who does not believe in ordaining women?

If the CNC representatives from the diocese do not want such a bishop, then one hopes that such a bishop will not be imposed on them against their wishes.

And could someone please explain why it is important that someone holding the "conservative evangelical view on headship" be made a bishop?

Sounds to me like discrimination in favor of a theological viewpoint that cannot succeed on its own merits.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 4:50pm BST

Well, one could argue that Martin Warner was 'imposed' on Chichester against the wishes, if not of the CNC representatives of the Diocese, at least against the view of most probably the majority of the people in the pew. Surely if the church is to make any progress in its 'mission' to the contemporary world in which it finds itself, it has to eschew the promotion to positions of authority those who hold such antideluvian views.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 6:38pm BST

I was given to understand that the appointment of Bishops followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Is this no longer the case or has it been determined that the person of the Trinity in question has their heart set on a ConEvo bishop and, if so, hasn't the Holy Spirit made apparent who this man should be and to which See he should be appointed?

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 7:13pm BST

Interesting that the FinF statement says that they 'naturally' agree that the Archbishops role in ordinations will be valid - since they had asked for the archbishops not to participate in traditionalist consecrations because they've both ordained women.

Posted by: Miranda on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 7:18pm BST

I would have thought that this kind of a bishop should be one of the "flying" ones, and not foisted on some poor unsuspecting diocese.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 7:34pm BST

Jeremy: They don't seem to be imagining that happening at CNC; that'll be why they only mention suffragans, who are appointed, so they can be imposed on unsuspecting parishes with no consultation or input whatsoever. Oh goodie.

Geoff: Hear, hear. One wonders why it is that no CNC has chosen one(!)

Posted by: Dan BD on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 7:48pm BST

Equality and representation should be a two way street. Fascinating that those so preoccupied with "justice" are so quick to agree with injustice against those they disagree with. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Posted by: Rob Holman on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 8:08pm BST

The reference to suffragans was mine, not the archbishops.

A new PEV suffragan see could not be created and filled in the timescale of "a matter of months".

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 9:22pm BST

Suffragans are not just 'appointed' any more. There is a process which is documented in a couple of files linked at the right hand side of

The diocesan bishop must appoint an advisory group, largely from the Bishop's Council; this group will work on the role and person specification, assist in shortlisting, interview and evaluate the candidates. The decision is ultimately that of the Bishop, but it would be hard for him to entirely ignore the process so recently set up.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 10:06pm BST

Rob Holman seems to be reading a completely different thread.
If there were justice in these matters then bishops would be elected by the congregants because they thought she (or even he) would be a good leader, teacher and pastor for the community.
If, in this just and equitable situation, a person was chosen who also happens to be a conservative evangelical, then that would be a right and good thing for all.

What I, and I guess many here, feel is that giving a preference to someone, or parachuting some man into a job mainly because he happens to hold conservative evangelical views seems odd, unfair and definitely hypocritical if we say that the Holy Spirit guides our choices as Jo states above.

Further, on earlier threads there has been considerable discussion on how poor is the potential pool generally and the small minority groups suffer even more as they are already tiny and can only have men. It is awful to appointment a token person from groups such as Reform, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and as many Conservative Evangelicals are actively planning a parallel church with allegiances outside these shores, well, I think it a dreadful mistake.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 11:48pm BST

'I was given to understand that the appointment of Bishops followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Is this no longer the case...?'
Yes and no - unless you believe that the Holy Spirit only chooses men for this job?

Posted by: David Runcorn on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 7:32am BST

@Simon Kershaw I think you'll find that, like most of the advisory processes in the CofE, it is followed most rigorously by the bishops most committed to defensive bureaucracy and "procedure". Such processes don't always produce the best candidates, and there are certainly some appointments where a more intuitive appointment procedure is adopted...

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 10:05am BST

I am truly saddened by the mean spirited response found in some of the comments voiced here in response to the Archbishops' proposals. I am an evangelical in favour of women bishops, but I acknowledge that the many devoted conservative evangelicals among us are entitled to their view and should have their fair representation on the episcopate. I work in a parish where both views are represented and we work perfectly well together with Christian respect.

Posted by: Michael Tanner on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 10:30am BST

What is the historical, ecclesiological, or theological reasoning behind "there should be bishops from every corner"? Surely when there is a vacancy we try to discern which individual is called to that role? Surely the bishop is the bishop, no matter who likes it or not? Bishops are not MPs. Not in the Church of England.

Posted by: Dan BD on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 3:57pm BST

Once again, I am at a loss to understand what in this thread saddens Michael Tanner and stuns Rob Holman .....

I believe in the indisolubility of marriage, it was once held by many if not most Christians, I do not want a bishop who reflects my position ..... I can think of many other things .......

I have made my case, I do not think it lacks charity nor do I hold other peoples views in low contempt. Party spirit is anathema to our faith, we should not use bishops to validate it nor use the episcopate as an award scheme.

I still haven't got over the shock that the Bishop of Bath and Wells came near to having to answer his own door to the hoi polloi ....... It's beyond belief to any who love The Lord!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 7:57pm BST

My view is that the Church is richer if the consciences of Christians with diverse theological views and traditions are respected.

I should hope that this principle of unity in diversity would manifest itself in diversity at the episcopal level too.

Just as I feel a democracy would be weak, if only one party got elected to Parliament, and minority opinions and needs were dominated and marginalised... the same way, in a situation where there is a clear and substantial evangelical component in the Church of England, that component deserves representation at the episcopal (and all other) levels.

I say this, even though I diverge from some evangelical assumptions.

It works both ways. Liberal Christians (and others) who believe in good conscience in lesbian and gay marriage also deserve respect and representation.

The 'Covenant' style of trying to domineer dogma is the last thing we need, and I agree with others here, who call for generosity of spirit, and respect of divergent conscience.

Diversity is a strength, imposed uniformity a weakness. Grace can bridge the gap and provoke love and creative syntheses.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 8:49pm BST

" I acknowledge that the many devoted conservative evangelicals among us are entitled to their view and should have their fair representation on the episcopate."

There are an endless number of issues that divide people. In the case of the churches that would include equal marriage, ordination of women, inclination towards ecumenical liaison with Rome, any number of things. Should there be a quota for bishops holding each opposing position on these? Where does it end?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 8:56pm BST

Lovely tolerant 'liberal' comments on this thread.....

Posted by: Peter K+ on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 9:35pm BST

I think this is a good and necessary development - even though I think they (Con Evos) are in this respect wrong. That's the nettle we all should grasp.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 11:30pm BST


Lord, have I thanked You lately I'm an Episcopalian? TBTG!!!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 22 June 2014 at 3:05am BST

Tolerance of all but the intolerant is a fundamental liberal idea. So long as conservative evangelicals continue to be intolerant towards the ministry (not to mention the legal rights) of female and gay people I will continue to be intolerant towards them. Tolerance does not extend to tolerating injustice.

Posted by: Jo on Sunday, 22 June 2014 at 10:30am BST

However even the Episcopal Church makes mistakes. look how the presiding bishop bent over backwards for Bishop Lawrence and now he is costing the Church millions in South Carolina.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Sunday, 22 June 2014 at 1:45pm BST

An interesting development to see that the Primates are to ensure that arrangements be made for "the presence in the College of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship." A token Headship bishop among the ranks.
It would seem from the above statement that the Wallace Benn Apostolic Succession is to be continued within the Established Church. I wonder upon whom the mantle of Elijah will fall?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 22 June 2014 at 7:59pm BST

I am puzzled by the FiF statement. On the one hand, it appears to be a restatement of the non-collegiality principle (which some refer to as 'taint'), which supports the existence of the PEVs, but in a new context. However, am I right in thinking all previous PEVs have been consecrated by the Archbishops (even when those Abps ordain women)? Yet this appears to be a bid to exclude male bishops who co-consecrate women bishops from consecrations of PEVS. Or maybe it is only male-bishops who have been thus co-consecrated. So very difficult to split the hairs in the right place!

Posted by: Neil Patterson on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 1:47pm BST

If conservative evangelicals believe the hierarchy's biased against them, why aren't they campaigning for elected bishops, instead of affirmative action? Could it be that they know most clergy and laity would be no more receptive to their brand?

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 3:19pm BST

"it is evident that to date the normal processes for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops have not delivered the aspiration to appoint a bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship." Gee, let me get this right: let's publicly overhaul the rules to accommodate the ultraconservatives, but get married to your loved one and experience the full force of yet unwritten canons. How depressing.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Monday, 7 July 2014 at 5:24pm BST

The deeply unhappy problem about appointing a pro-headship bishop to a diocese is the same as appointing a traditional Anglo-Catholic: at a stroke, all the women priests in that diocese now have a diocesan bishop who in his heart believes none of them have any business being there, and are all play-acting at being priests. However good a job they are doing, however holy they are and whatever their churchmanship, this bishop cannot accept their calling.

He may deal with them very politely and graciously and be the epitome of professionalism, but he does not truly accept them and would rather they were not there. If this doesn’t amount to betrayal, it’s hard to say what does.

If there must be a conservative evangelical bishop, he should be a PEV, and not forced upon any diocese, the great majority of which will be horrified to have him.

Posted by: Mary Evans on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 at 7:38pm BST
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