Saturday, 27 January 2018

Blackburn motion on Welcoming Transgender revisited

We reported on this last July, but the subsequent rebuild of the Church of England website has broken all the links that we made at the time. So here’s a recap.

The Blackburn diocesan motion reads:

That this Synod, recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

The motion was supported by GS 2071A Welcoming Transgender People, A note from The Revd Chris Newlands.

There was also GS 2071B - Welcoming Transgender People, A note from The Secretary General,which includes a discussion of some theological considerations, and reviews the existing liturgical provisions which might be relevant.

OneBodyOneFaith has published an article by Christina Beardsley Welcoming and affirming transgender people: reflections and resources for the Blackburn Motion,which comments on some of the opposition to this motion, and links to a number of resources that reflect modern scientific thinking on this topic.

There was an amendment proposed by Dr Nick Land (York) moved as an amendment:

Leave out everything after “That this Synod:” and insert ̶
“(a) recognise the dignity of all people as made in the image of God and so affirm our commitment to welcome unconditionally in all our churches people who experience (or who have experienced) gender dysphoria;
(b) acknowledge different understandings around gender dysphoria and the field of gender identity more widely;
(c) consider that the preparation of liturgies to mark gender transition raises substantial theological and pastoral issues that the Church of England has not yet considered; and
(d) ask the House of Bishops to consider the theological, pastoral and other issues that gender transition raises for the Church and to report back to General Synod by the end of this quinquennium.”

The amendment was defeated in all three houses of Synod.

bishops: 11 for, 19 against, 2 recorded abstentions
clergy: 64 for, 103 against, 4 recorded abstentions
laity: 75 for, 108 against, 3 recorded abstentions

The Blackburn motion (as originally worded) was passed following a vote by houses.

bishops: 30 for, 2 against, 2 recorded abstentions
clergy: 127 for, 28 against, 16 recorded abstentions
laity: 127 for, 48 against, 8 recorded abstentions

Official press release: Welcoming Transgender People

The audio recording of the Sunday afternoon session is over here.

The video recording of the session is here.

The transcript of the entire July 2017 group of sessions is here.

The detailed voting record for the amendment is here.

The detailed voting record for the motion is here.

The full details of how each bishop voted are below the fold.

Voting by bishops:

Amendment:

Bishops in favour
Pete Broadbent 46
Christopher Cocksworth 14
Tim Dakin 5
Julian Henderson 8
Robert Innes 17
Alistair Magowan 48
James Newcome 10
John Sentamu 2
David Urquhart 7
Andrew Watson 20
Paul Williams 40

Bishops against
Donald Allister 31
Nicholas Baines 22
Jonathan Baker 45
Paul Bayes 26
Stephen Cottrell 11
Christopher Foster 32
Richard Frith 21
Jonathan Gibbs 51
Christine Hardman 28
John Inge 42
Michael Ipgrave 24
Alan Smith 34
Martyn Snow 23
Nigel Stock 44
Tim Thornton 41
Rachel Treweek 19
David Walker 27
Glyn Webster 53
Trevor Willmott 43

Bishops recorded abstentions
Martin Warner 13
Justin Welby 1

Motion:

Bishops in favour
Donald Allister 31
Nicholas Baines 22
Paul Bayes 26
Christopher Chessun 39
Christopher Cocksworth 14
Stephen Cottrell 11
Tim Dakin 5
Christopher Foster 32
Richard Frith 21
Jonathan Gibbs 51
Christine Hardman 28
John Inge 42
Robert Innes 17
Michael Ipgrave 24
Christopher Lowson 25
James Newcome 10
Martin Seeley 35
John Sentamu 2
Alan Smith 34
Martyn Snow 23
Nigel Stock 44
Tim Thornton 41
Rachel Treweek 19
David Urquhart 7
David Walker 27
Martin Warner 13
Glyn Webster 53
Justin Welby 1
Paul Williams 40
Trevor Willmott 43

Bishops against
Jonathan Baker 45
Pete Broadbent 46

Bishops recorded abstentions
Julian Henderson 8
Alistair Magowan 48

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 27 January 2018 at 2:34pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

What is worrying is how many bishops voted for the amendment. I am left wondering, does my church and her bishops see me as a woman or a delusional man? Worse, those who see me as a delusional man, in advancing arguments from Scripture, effectively are trying to tell me that is how God sees me.

Personally I am now secure enough to deal with that, but as a teenager and young adult coming to terms with gender dysphoria I wasn't. It's easy to see this as an academic affair and forget the extreme harm that might be done to very vulnerable people.


Posted by: Kate on Monday, 29 January 2018 at 8:54am GMT

Nevertheless even the bishops voted overwhelmingly in favour of the substantive motion once the amendment had fallen. The whole thing is a fudge, because of the two possible interpretations of the motion. If I am carrying a heavy package in both hands and ask you "Could I possibly ask you to consider opening the door for me?" then either that is essentially a polite way of saying "Open the door"; or it could be argued that if you reply "I've thought about it and have decided to slam it in your face instead" then you have actually done as I asked.

The press reporting of all this of course took the motion to be a "polite instruction" and therefore concluded that the Bishops had blocked the requested liturgy. Not an unreasonable assumption, given that the General Synod, not the House of Bishops, is the legal authority over liturgy. Those proposing liturgy in future would do well to ensure that when they word motions, they careful consider every possible stretch of the imagination in the way they are interpreted. Much Anglican liturgy is deliberately worded so that it has multiple possible interpretations, but that doesn't really work for legislation, where politeness should give way to clarity.

Bishop Broadbent didn't support the motion in the first place and has explained his reasoning on this blog. However, it's slightly surprising that someone with an excellent degree in English from an ancient university wouldn't be more attuned to the nuances of language.


Posted by: TP on Monday, 29 January 2018 at 7:22pm GMT

I just despair of the Church of England. The way it doles out hurt and rejection to its vulnerable believers has never ceased to amaze me over more than 30 years. If this is the 'new culture of welcome' I dread to think what a culture of 'provisional membership' might look like. If you are straight, white and a dutiful member of a heterosexual nuclear family then you might just feel unconditionally loved. As for the rest of us.....

Posted by: Canon Dr M on Monday, 29 January 2018 at 9:02pm GMT

Interesting - the (Anglo) Catholic group in Synod is completely split on this issue.

Posted by: William on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 1:11pm GMT

William,
as a Synod hand of too many years to count and with experience of all the nuances and changes of women in the episcopate legislation, can I caution against reading too much into one set of voting figures. It all depends on how you view a particular motion and whether or not you read any matter of principle into it at any one time.
It may even be that different people thought different issues were at play in the same motion. For example, some may have voted the way they did on whether or not a new liturgy was needed or not, rather than an issue of welcome. As Sentamu said, there were two things in play, not everybody came up with the same answer.

Graeme Buttery

Posted by: Graeme Buttery on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 1:46pm GMT

TP; "the General Synod, not the House of Bishops, is the legal authority over liturgy". Whilst it is the General Synod that has to approve (by 2/3 majorities in all three Houses) liturgical material that is an alternative to anything in the BCP, there are two caveats to that. The first is that the right to introduce such liturgical material, and the form in which it is presented for final approval are both entirely up to the House of Bishops, not anyone else. And secondly, this only applies to authorized alternative material. There is another category of material that is not alternative to BCP services: no approval is required for this and the practice has arisen of the House of Bishops "commending" material that they think that those who make such choices might want to use. (This originated, I think, in 1986 when Lent, Holy Week, Easter was published and commended.)

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 1:49pm GMT

I agree that there is ambiguity in the main Blackburn motion I don't see any ambiguity at all in b) and c) of the alternative motion. That motion is saying that it is acceptable to see me as a delusional man. I am comfortable that some bishops voted against the main motion - I don't like it, but that was their right. But I am very, very shocked that any bishop would vote for the alternative motion. I feel hurt, angry and betrayed.

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 9:50pm GMT

"I am comfortable that some bishops voted against the main motion - I don't like it, but that was their right. But I am very, very shocked that any bishop would vote for the alternative motion. I feel hurt, angry and betrayed." - Kate -

Dear Kate, perhaps your anger may be misplaced here - in view of the fact that you do not see clerical ordination as requisite for leadership in the Church. These bishops, in your view surely, have no more authority than yourself to proclaim anything about your personal situation, vis-a-vis gender/sexuality. Your Lay colleagues would be equally culpable (in your view) if they were to act as the bishops have done.

The bishops of the Church, in actuality, do have a special reason for promoting justice and fairness in the Church - towards those they have been ordained to nurture - in their special role.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 6:03am GMT

OneBodyOneFaith have written a letter to the Archbishops

http://www.onebodyonefaith.org.uk/news/archbishops-trans-issues/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 2:32pm GMT
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