Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Women bishops - further reactions to Monday's vote

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops: I’m glad we waited until now, says Archbishop of York

The Telegraph editorial The Church of England has found unity on its own terms

The Telegraph letters Women bishops will meet opposition within the C of E laity

The Guardian letters Female bishops a birthday present for Emmeline Pankhurst

John Spence’s speech to Synod (on YouTube)

Transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech to Synod

GRAS (the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) have sent us a press release which is copied below the fold.

Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod

Press briefing for immediate release 14th July 2014

20 years after General Synod legislated to enable women to be priests in the Church of England it has today voted by a clear majority a legislative package enabling women to be bishops. The intention is to complete the process in November. The 1993 legislation included an Act of Synod that many in the church criticised because it appeared to be rushed through to ameliorate those who were opposed to the ordination of women as priests, but who had not expected the legislation to be passed.

The Act made extra provision for those who opposed women’s ordination, and legislated for discrimination in the church. It enabled parishes to vote not to have a bishop who supported women priests, with the implication that a bishop’s hands would be tainted by ordaining a woman. It ensured that no role in the Church of England would be closed to those who opposed women’s ordination, even roles which involved working closely with, or being responsible for, significant numbers of women clergy.

Chair of GRAS - Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod - Ruth McCurry said “We are overjoyed that we have finally seen the last of this Act. But we haven’t seen the end of discrimination against women in the Church of England. There is lots of work still to be done before women and men can truly flourish alongside each other in the church.”


GRAS - The Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod and the promotion of Women as Bishops - was founded with the primary objective of campaigning to eradicate the 1993 Act of Synod.

Under the new legislation some of the provisions contained in the defunct Act of Synod are reborn in the Bishops’ Declaration, which sets out much of the detail of how the new women bishops Measure will be put into practice. Although its legal status is different, this Declaration will still restrict how women - and those who support them - will be able to minister in the church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 10:22am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

How interesting that one of the letters in the Telegraph asks, "How is it if the Holy Spirit made HIS mind up in 2012 "he" now appears to have changed it this week". In my Church many of the Nigerian women commented after the failed vote in 2012 that it was the working of the Holy Spirit because the legislation was so discriminatory(something they know a great deal about) and that something far better will come along next time. Which it has. Also I thought the Holy Spirit was usually referred to as SHE - Sophia, Wisdom - for example.

Posted by: sally Barnes on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:25am BST

John Spence's speech is the only sermon that will be used in my churches this sunday.

Does anyone have a transcript?

Posted by: andrew Dotchin on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:46am BST

To Ruth McCurry I would say we have all had to compromise on this one, some more than others. The organisation she chairs should now be kicked into the long grass! There is no further need for it, after the Church of England has reached a degree of compromise and consensus.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 1:26pm BST

I was very torn about the last vote - because it seemed to be a question of 'accept inequality for female bishops or nothing'. I think. like many ordained women, the distress I felt after that vote was not so much about the motion falling as the awful tone of the debate when speaker after speaker stood up to assert their belief that women couldn't be ordained at any level. It felt as if the debate on a particular piece of enabling legislation had been allowed to become an attack on my existence as an ordained person - I say "my" because it felt so personal, and I know it did to many other people as well.

After the event, I did feel that it would have been a mis-step to pass yet more laws which legitimised the unequal treatment of women. Maybe this was a case of "God hardening Pharaoh's heart" to propel Synod into what was clearly a painful and costly reconsideration not just of the issue in hand but of the way the decision had been made?

Posted by: Pam Smith on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 1:37pm BST

Sally, the Holy Spirit is 'usually' referred to as she only on Thinking Anglicans. The church globally, historically and cross-denominationally has always followed Jesus' lead in John 14 and 16 by calling the Spirit he. The fact wisdom and spirit are both feminine nouns in Greek and Hebrew doesn't make the thing described a she. After all, the German word for girl is a neuter noun!

Posted by: NJ on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 7:19pm BST

I avoid the whole gender problem by simply never using pronouns when discussing the Holy Spirit.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 10:09pm BST

"The church globally, historically and cross-denominationally has always followed Jesus' lead in John 14 and 16 by calling the Spirit he."

Sure that's actually what Jesus said? After translations of translations of notes from remembered conversations? Messianic Jews don't understand it that way. Aramaic doesn't understand it that way. Your still trying to make God male, in the image of Man, huh? If God has only male principal, then He would be barren.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 8:14am BST

The simple fact is, you no longer have the argument on your side, Church!

"Always and everywhere" may've been fine when first pronounced, but we know, now, that "always and everywhere" can be "always and everywhere wrong and bigoted." We *know* this. So, if you want to advance traditionalist arguments, you've got to do better. The massive abuses of traditionalist religion for centuries means that it only has credibility for those who profit from it, in some way. The weak, angry cry of "following the secular culture!" is rendered foolish by the realities of the church having been wrong again and again and again and again, and trying to dismiss past wrong-doing as inapplicable by ridiculous and self-parodying feats of mental gymnastics with the label "theology" slapped on it.

Traditionalists have to do better, or simply accept the label of mere prejudice. The whole church has to do better and stop worrying about its internal dynamic, because it's failing from navel-gazing. At this point, cries for "doing the theology" are laughable, a clear sign that the "church" wants to make itself special, apart from humanity, better, faster, blah, blah, blah - which is the surest way to be nothing by trying to become greater than the Master. Worse, it shows a desperate attempt to appease (and keep their numbers, physically and financially) a group of people who, whatever their claims or even their reality, are not viewed by most as good people of conviction but as fearful, hateful, and selfish.

There's the realities of the modern church for you. We aren't special, anymore. Praise God for that!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 8:26am BST

"Sally, the Holy Spirit is 'usually' referred to as she only on Thinking Anglicans."

Not true. There's a lot of reference to the Holy Spirit as she in TEC. I believe I heard it elsewhere too, like on Iona. I'm wondering about the NZ Prayer Book?

It isn't just Thinking Anglicans. In the US, when we're reciting the Creed, you will hear plenty of people replace "he" with "she." It is a grassroots movement of conscience.

There is a fair amount of feminine imagery for God in the OT and it is well worth including.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 10:15am BST

No the Church has not universally used male pronouns for the Holy Spirit - the East Syrian tradition used female pronouns etc for some time in antiquity.

Posted by: Charles Read on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 11:12am BST

Mark Brunson's tirade of abuse is most unhelpful. I am still trying to work out what he is actually saying?

Posted by: Benedict on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 5:26pm BST

"rushed through to *ameliorate* those who were opposed"??

In what way, precisely, would the Act of Synod be imagined to *improve* opponents to women's ordination?

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 7:43pm BST

Whether or not one wishes to use a feminine pronoun for the God the Holy Spirit, it is important to note that Sophia, Wisdom, is not a name for the God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, but rather for the Second, God the Son. Hebrew Hokmah and Greek Sophia are both involved in the conceptual package of Logos, and the great church of Haghia Sophia was dedicated to Christ as the Incarnate Holy Wisdom of God: its patronal festival was December 25.

Posted by: 4 May 1535 on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 10:54am BST
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