Friday, 25 July 2014

Women bishops measure - changes by the laity

The legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England failed at final approval in 2012 because it did not achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. A different measure was passed in 2014, primarily because of laity who voted against in 2012, but in favour in 2014.

I have published the detailed voting results on final approval of the 2012 measure here and of the 2014 measure here.

From these spreadsheets I have calculated that of the laity who voted against the 2012 measure:

45 voted against in 2014
20 voted in favour in 2014
4 abstained in 2014
2 were absent in 2014
3 were no longer members of Synod in 2014

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and in favour of the 2014 measure were:

Glynn Harrison (Bristol)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Keith Malcouronne (Guildford)
Adrian Vincent (Guildford)
Anne Bloor (Leicester)
Christopher Corbet (Lichfield)
Debra Walker (Liverpool)
Philip Rice (London)
John Barber (Manchester)
Peter Capon (Manchester)
Philip Giddings (Oxford)
John Beal (Ripon & Leeds/West Yorks & the Dales)
Thomas Sutcliffe (Southwark)
Mary Judkins (Wakefield/West Yorks & the Dales)
John Davies (Winchester)
Priscilla Hungerford (Winchester)
David Robilliard (Winchester)
Jennifer Barton (Worcester)
Martin Dales (York)

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and abstained in 2014 were:

Peter Collard (Derby)
Ann Turner (Europe)
Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
Victoria Russell (Oxford)

Nobody who voted for the 2012 measure voted against or abstained in 2014.

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Women Bishops - detailed voting results

The detailed results for the electronic votes at this months’ meeting of General Synod are now available.

The two relating to the ordination and consecration of women are:

Item 503 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Ordination and Consecration of Women) Measure
Item 504 - Draft Amending Canon No.33

These are pdf files arranged by house, by vote (for, against, abstain) and then by name. I have rearranged them by house and then by synod number, so that members from the same diocese are grouped together. I have also added the names of the absentees. These results are in this spreadsheet.

A very small number of lay and clergy members voted differently for the measure and the canon.

Clergy
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.

Laity
2 voted against the measure and for the canon.
3 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
1 voted for the measure but was absent for the vote on the canon.

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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.

GRAS
Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod

PRESS RELEASE
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.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:

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.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

General Synod - Tuesday's business

General Synod completed its York meeting this morning.

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business

audio recording

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Women bishops - more reports and reactions to Monday's vote

Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Women bishops legislation wins Synod’s final approval

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops in months after Synod vote

Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: delaying this historic vote was a blessing in disguise

The Telegraph Celebration as Church of England General Synod approves women bishops

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today There will be women bishops… General Synod passes legislation

Ruth Gledhill The Guardian Joy and relief at display of unity for vote on ordination of female bishops

Claer Barrett and Mark Odell Financial Times Church of England synod votes for women bishops

Matthew Engel Financial Times Victory for women bishops but no triumphalism

Andrew Brown The Guardian Jubilation as Church of England’s synod votes to allow female bishops

Andreas Whittam Smith The Independent Women bishops: Church of England still divided but now prepared to trust each other

Stephen Castle The New York Times Church of England Votes to Allow Women as Bishops

Video: Archbishop Welby talks to BBC Newsnight about the vote to allow female bishops

Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK Good news at last, but the women bishops vote was ultimately never about women bishops

Fulcrum Statement on Synod Vote for Women Bishops

Colin Coward for Changing Attitude Women bishops – finally

WATCH issued a press release which is copied below the fold.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued this statement: Women Bishops - Church of England.

Women and the Church
PRESS RELEASE
14 July 2014

“there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)

Today we are overjoyed that the General Synod has finally passed the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. This marks a new beginning for the church that can now begin to be fully affirming of both the women and men in it.

Much of the tone and mood of the debate today was notably different to that of November 2012 and WATCH gives thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly, supported wholeheartedly and prayed deeply for this wonderful day. Thanks be to God!

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said
What a historic day. Relief and then joy and then excitement. Yes to women at last.

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Church of England to have women bishops

Press release from the Church of England

Church of England to have women bishops
14th July 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today given its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

The voting results were as follows:

House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152 No 45 Abstentions 5

This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.

The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.“

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, said:
“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.

To those who ask “what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be “get over it” but rather “we will not let go until you have blessed us.”

We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: “Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.”

The legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.

Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).

Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.

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General Synod - votes on women bishops

All portions of the legislative package to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England were approved by General Synod this afternoon.

1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B)

On the motion

That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 recorded abstentions
Laity 152 in favour, 45 against, 5 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B)

On the motion

That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

3) The motion

That the petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) be adopted

was carried on a show of hands.

4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A)

The motion

That the draft Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be approved

was carried on a show of hands.

5) The motion

That the Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be solemnly affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod

was carried on a show of hands

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General Synod - Monday's business

to be updated during the day

order paper for the morning
order paper for the afternoon and evening

official summary of the morning’s business
afternoon’s business
evening’s business

audio
morning
afternoon
evening

The day’s business started with a debate on the Armed Forces Covenant. The following motion was cared by 393 votes in favour to two against, with three recorded abstentions.

That this Synod, believing that the commitment of those that serve in the Armed Forces demands a reciprocal obligation from the Nation to ensure that they and their families are not disadvantaged:

(a) ask dioceses to reflection the Armed Forces Covenant and to consider signing Community Covenants, where not already signed, and Corporate Covenants setting out how they can both meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families located in their own diocesan area;

(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council to sign a Corporate Armed Forces Covenant setting out how it will provide pastoral and spiritual support for the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families; and

(c) ask the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod in the next Quinquennium on the implementation of the recommendations set out in The Church and the Armed Forces Covenant (GS 1960).

The debates on the legislation to allow women to be bishops started at 11.15 am. There is a package of four items, which are being separately debated.

1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B) – Draft Measure for Final Approval

2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B) – Draft Amending Canon for Final Approval

3) Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) – Draft Petition for Adoption

4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A) - Draft Act of Synod for Final Approval and Affirmation and Proclamation as an Act of Synod

The first two of these (the measure and the canon) require two-thirds majorities in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity) to receive final approval. Motions for the closure of these first two debates are not allowed, so they will continue for as long as there are members wanting to speak. However the chair of the debate (today it will be the Archbishop of York) may at his discretion reduce the speech limit, and chairs have been know to reduce it to almost nothing to encourage people to stop talking.

The other items require no special majority.

At the beginning of the first debate the Archbishop reminded members of this standing order.

17. Breach of Order
The Chairman shall call a member to order for failure to address the Chair, irrelevance, tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of arguments already well rehearsed by other members, unbecoming language, disregard of the authority of the Chairman, or any other breach of order, and may direct him to stop speaking.

Claire Phipps of The Guardian is reporting live on the debate: Church of England General Synod votes on female bishops.

The Synod adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 2.30 pm.

This business was concluded shortly before 5.00 pm with all items passed with the necessary majorities. Details of the votes here.

Synod was then adjourned until 5.15 pm.

The remainder of the day’s business is included in the official summaries above.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

General Synod - Sunday's business

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business
afternoon
evening

audio of
afternoon session
evening session

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General Synod - Sunday press

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops could be appointed by Christmas
Churches will use Magna Carta anniversary to ‘reassert Britain’s Christian heritage’

BBC Women bishops: Archbishop Welby ‘hopeful’ on vote

Press Association (in the Mail Online) Baptism Services May Omit ‘Devil’

Peter Stanford The Telegraph Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

General Synod - Saturday's business

to be updated during the day

Order papers
morning
afternoon and evening

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon
evening

Much of the morning’s business was taken up with the composition of and electorate for the universities constituency in General Synod. A proposal to abolish it was defeated in a vote by houses. The voting figures, which are not given in the summary, were

House of Bishops voted: 5 for, 17 against
House of Clergy voted: 53 for, 69 against
House of Laity voted: 67 for, 65 against
The numbers of abstentions were not stated.

A substantial change was made when Synod voted to extend the constituency to include theological education institutions as well as universities. Again there was a vote by houses.

House of Bishops voted: 12 for, 10 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy voted: 71 for, 64 against, 3 abstentions
House of Laity voted: 76 for, 61 against, 2 abstentions

The theological education institutes to be included are those “recognised by the House of Bishops as an institution for training candidates for ordination as ministers of the Church of England”.

These, and other non-contentious changes to the universities constituency, are subject to final approval, which is scheduled for debate on Tuesday.

Jim Wallis gave this presentation on The Uncommon Good in the afternoon, and this interview afterwards.

audio of
morning session
afternoon session - Jim Wallis speech
remainder of afternoon session
evening session

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Friday, 11 July 2014

General Synod - Friday's business

to be updated during the day

The first day’s business is listed in Order paper 1.

Despite some initial confusion during the debate on the report of the reference to the dioceses of the women bishops legislation, Sue Booys, the chair of the Business Committee, confirmed that two-thirds majorities in each house will be required for final approval of both the draft measure and the amending canon when they are debated on Monday.

It was also made clear that abstentions (whether recorded or not) do not count in the calculation of the size of any majority.

The final drafting of the draft measure and amending canon were agreed; the only drafting amendments were to some of the numbering in the canon.

The final versions of these, to be debated on Monday, are here: draft measure and draft amending canon.

Official summary of the day’s business:
Friday afternoon
Friday evening

Audio of day 1

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General Synod

Updated Friday afternoon, Saturday morning

The Church of England General Synod meets in York from this afternoon until Tuesday.

Some pre-synod press:

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod: women bishops campaigners praying for a breakthrough
The Church of England General Synod - a rough guide
Women bishops: what are the issues?

Press Association General Synod Vote on Women Bishops [on the Mail Online website]

Ruth Gledhill Chrisitian Today General Synod: Will women bishops happen this time?

Savi Hensman Ekklesia Church, worldly values, the ‘common good’ and war

You can follow the proceedings at this Live video stream.

The Agenda and papers are here.

Update

Church Times leader The vote on Monday

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England edges towards historic breakthrough on women bishops

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Women bishops - is there a plan C?

Andrew Brown reports in The Guardian: Church of England women bishops: archbishops will overrule synod.

The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church’s governing body, the General Synod.

The synod is poised to vote again on the vexed plan next week but senior sources have told the Guardian that should the move be blocked again, there are now options being considered to force the change on the church.

Options under consideration include an immediate dissolution of the synod so that fresh elections could produce a sufficient majority by November, or even a move by the bishops in the House of Lords to introduce the legislation without synodical approval…

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Women bishops vote is one week away

Updated

We previously reported on this topic on 20 June: Women in the Episcopate Legislation and Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon.

Last week the Church Times reported that Swing voters say they will now back women bishops.

THE pivotal votes of a small num­ber of members of the General Synod who helped to defeat the women-bishops Measure in Novem­ber 2012 have swung to the Yes camp.

The earlier Measure was lost by six votes in the House of Laity. Instrumental to the defeat were a handful of members who, despite being in favour of the consecration of women as bishops, voted against the Measure, prompted by a concern that it did not offer enough provision for those who were opposed on principle.

Five of these members told the Church Times this week that they now planned to vote in favour…

Update

Today, Forward in Faith has published this press release: The July 2014 Sessions of the General Synod

The Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, Canon Simon Killwick, has issued the following statement:

“Following the failure of the previous legislation in November 2012, the Catholic Group immediately called for round-table talks to agree on a new package which could be fast-tracked through the Synod. These talks have been amazingly fruitful in that they have generated a new package which provides a way forward for everyone in the Church of England and the package is being fast-tracked through the Synod with the added bonus in the creation of a much more positive atmosphere of trust, generosity and mutual respect. We look forward to this new atmosphere pervading the debates at the forthcoming Synod and beyond, so that we can all move forward as one.”

Please pray for the members of the General Synod, which meets in York from Friday 10 July to Tuesday 15 July:
www.praynovena.org.uk

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Saturday, 28 June 2014

The CofE, Ethical Investment - and Wonga

Yesterday’s second distribution of General Synod papers included the annual report of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group. Also published was this press release.

Ethical Investment Advisory Group - ethical investment restrictions tightened
27 June 2014

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has tightened its recommendations regarding investment restrictions. From this month none of the EIAG’s investment exclusions have a revenue threshold higher than 10%, a reduction on the previous 25% threshold.

The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.

In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.

The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the “Wonga controversy.” As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.

The annual review makes it clear that these new restrictions would not have prevented the exposure to Wonga which was in a pooled fund and which could not have been screened in the same way as direct holdings are.

Edward Mason, EIAG Secretary, said: “Exposure to restricted investments, like Wonga, can occur in pooled funds and the EIAG accepts this.” Commenting on the EIAG’s intention to propose a new pooled funds policy to the national investing bodies, he said: “The policy will specify controls on the use of pooled funds but will not bar their use.”

The EIAG will publish the new policy on pooled funds later once the investing bodies have agreed it. The annual review explains that pooled funds are often the only way to access certain asset classes and investment strategies - including venture capital which, along with increasing financial returns for investors, also serves society.

Writing in the report’s foreword, EIAG Chair James Featherby explains that the Commissioners’ indirect investment in Wonga highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio.

“In our view Christian ethical investment is, instead, about fulfilling responsibilities to beneficiaries and trying to make a positive difference in society. The Church’s national investing bodies seek to do the latter through engagement with companies, partnerships with other investors, and participation in public policy initiatives. In this way they aspire to be part of the Church’s witness to the world.”

Press reports include:

Ben Quinn The Guardian Wonga: Church of England advised by ethics review to keep its stake

Alex Blackburne Blue & Green Tomorrow Church of England reduces exposure to ‘sin stocks’ after ethical investment review

Christian Today Wonga controversy leads to changes in Church of England’s investment policies

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Friday, 27 June 2014

Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

The House of Bishops’ plans for Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission in the Church of England were issued today in a paper (GS Misc 1083) circulated to General Synod papers. I have made a webpage version available here.

These conversations are what the Pilling Report called “facilitated conversations”. They will start in the College of Bishops in September, then move to groups of dioceses and end with two days of conversations in General Synod in July 2016. The paper gives full details of who will be involved and how they will be supported.

The Church of England has issued this press release.

Next steps in shared conversation process published
27 June 2014

The Church of England has today published the next steps in its process for shared conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

A short paper from the Bishop of Sheffield outlines the next steps for the Church following the publication of the Pilling report in November 2013 which recommended that the church’s internal dialogue on human sexuality might be best addressed through a process of conversations across the Church.

The outlines of the process were approved by the House of Bishops at its meeting in May and are published today.

The document has been sent to members of the Church’s General Synod ahead of its meeting in York from 11 -15 July.

The document can be found online here.

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Friday, 20 June 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

The detailed agenda for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England was released today, along with this press release summarizing its contents.

Agenda for July 2014 General Synod
20 June 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 11th July until 1.00 pm on Tuesday 15 July.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The Agenda is constructed around a sequence of legislative business on Women in the Episcopate. This will begin on the afternoon of Friday 11 July with the Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference to the dioceses. This will be followed by the Final Drafting Stage for the Measure and Amending Canon. The House of Bishops will meet on the morning of Saturday 12 July for its consideration of the draft legislation under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. The Agenda allows alternative scenarios for the afternoon of Sunday 13 July to enable the Convocations and the House of Laity to debate the draft legislation if they claim a reference under Article 7. If these stages are completed, the Synod will take the Final Approval stage during the morning of Monday 14 July.

On the afternoon of Friday 11 July, the Synod will be debating the First Consideration of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which give effect to proposals in developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries and approved by the Synod in February. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

On the afternoon of Saturday 12 July, the General Synod will be addressed by the US writer and theologian the Revd Jim Wallis on the subject of ‘The (Un)Common Good’. Jim Wallis is the President and Founder of Sojourners magazine and the author ‘On God’s Side.’ This will be followed by group work by Synod members on the same theme, culminating in a debate later that afternoon on a motion from the Mission and Public Affairs Council.

On Sunday 13th July there will be a presentation by the President and CEO Designate of the newly-established Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. The aim of the CMCU is to provide a mutual ethical vehicle for tax efficient savings and affordable loans for clergy and staff of church charities. It is hoped that the establishment of the CMCU will help to support and strengthen the credit union movement and provide a viable, ethical alternative to mainstream banking for people irrespective of their financial status. Also on Sunday 13th July the Synod will be debating the draft new Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in accessible language which have been drawn up by the Liturgical Commission and which have been passed by the House of Bishops to the Synod for First Consideration.

On the morning of Monday 14 July there will be a presentation followed by a debate on a motion promoted by the Mission and Public Affairs Council on The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant. The motion invites many community bodies, including local authorities, churches and others to join the initiative which offers pastoral care for members of the Armed Forces Community. The opening presentation will be from the new Bishop to the Armed Forces, the Rt Reverend Nigel Stock.

There will be a debate on the commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on a motion moved on behalf of the Guildford Diocesan Synod. A motion on the Spare Room Subsidy from the Diocese of Bradford (now part of the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) is listed as contingency business. A Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Christopher Hobbs on Canon B 8 (vesture), postponed from the previous Group of Sessions is scheduled for the evening of Saturday 12th July.

This group of sessions has a substantial legislative programme in addition to the items already mentioned, including legislation on synodical elections, ecclesiastical property, the faculty jurisdiction and pensions.

The full agenda can be viewed here.

Synod papers can be found here

I have also these articles.

Online General Synod papers
Women in the Episcopate Legislation

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Women in the Episcopate Legislation

Updated Friday night A notice paper has been issued with an important correction to paragraph 21 below. Two-thirds majorities in all three houses are needed for the Amending Canon (and not simple majorities as originally stated). The original version of paragraph 21 is struck through below and followed by the corrected version.

The Women in the Episcopate Legislation will return to General Synod for final approval next month. This extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1949) explains the procedure.

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

16. The Women in the Episcopate legislative process will be taken in several tranches throughout the Group of Sessions. On Friday afternoon [11 July] there will be a ‘take note’ debate on the report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 reference to the dioceses.

17. If the Synod approves the ‘take note’ motion, then the Final Drafting Stage will be taken immediately afterwards on Friday afternoon on the basis of a report from the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee’s report, which identifies its proposed amendments, will be the subject of a ‘take note’ debate.

18. If the ‘take note’ motion on the Steering Committee’s report is carried at the Final Drafting Stage, then the draft Measure and Amending Canon will stand referred to the House of Bishops under Article 7 of the Synod’s constitution, together with the draft Act of Synod (which stood referred to the House following its Preliminary Consideration by the Synod in February). It is intended that the House should meet to deal with the reference at a special meeting on the morning of Saturday 12 July. If the House of Bishops approves the draft Measure and Amending Canon and draft Act of Synod, they can return to the Synod for Final Approval Stage.

19. Prior to the Final Approval stage, the Convocations and the House of Laity may claim a reference under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. Therefore the Business Committee has made provision on Sunday 13 July from 2.30 until 3.50 pm for the Convocations and the House of Laity debate the draft legislation if they have claimed a reference. Alternative Business is provided in the event that no Article 7 Reference is claimed.

20. In order to allow for these possible stages of the legislative process, the Business Committee has scheduled the Final Approval Stage for the morning of Monday 14 July. As this is Article 7 and Article 8 business, the Chair for the debate will be one of the Presidents. He is required to declare on behalf of the Presidents, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity that the requirements of Articles 7 and 8 of the Constitution have been complied with.

21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of the draft Measure. The Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod require no special majority but in practice the motions for their Final Approval would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.

21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.

22. If the Synod gives Final Approval for the draft Amending Canon, the Synod will also be asked to approve a petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence to promulge and execute the Amending Canon and formally affirm and proclaim the Act of Synod (though it will not come into force until, following the receipt of the Royal Assent and Licence, the Canon is promulged). Only a simple majority is required for its approval.

Canons can only be promulged at a meeting of General Synod. If the Measure receives final approval in July it has to go the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament and then to each of the two Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent. The Queen then has to give her Assent and Licence to the Amending Canon. Whether this can be completed before the next available date for a meeting of General Synod (17 November 2014) is a matter for Parliament and the Palace.

At the same meeting as Synod promulges the Amending Canon it will be asked to approve “Regulations prescribing a procedure for the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements for which the House of Bishops’ declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests makes provision.” At that point it will become possible for a woman to be consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England.

These are the relevant papers for July.

GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]

GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops

GENERAL SYNOD

JULY GROUP OF SESSIONS 2014

FIFTH NOTICE PAPER

CORRIGENDUM

ITEM 504
REPORT OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE (GS 1949)
(MOTION FOR THE FINAL APPROVAL OF AMENDING CANON NO. 33)

Paragraph 21 of this Report should read:

“Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.”

The requirement for a special majority in the case of Amending Canon No. 33 arises from the fact that section 11 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each House for the Final Approval of any Canon which repeals any provision of any Canon promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure: that provision will be engaged by Amending Canon No. 33 since paragraph 3 of the Canon will ‘revoke’ (ie repeal) Canon C 4B (which was promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure).

I apologise to members of the Synod that the text of the Business Committee’s Report was incorrect in this important respect.

WILLIAM FITTALL
Secretary General

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Online General Synod papers

Updated Friday 27 June The second set of synod papers was circulated today and I have added links below. A full set of papers can be downloaded as a zip file.

Most papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod were put online today. There is a list in agenda order here, and I have rearranged it into numerical order below with a note of the day(s) on which item is scheduled for debate. I will add links to further papers as they become available.

GS 1877D Amending Canon No 31 [Saturday]

GS 1902-5Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]
GS 1902A Draft Amending Canon 32 [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1902C Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1903A Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1904A Clergy Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1905A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) No 2 Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]

GS 1919A Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1919Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1921A Draft Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure
GS 1921Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]

GS 1936A Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendment) Measure for Revision and for Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval [Saturday]

GS 1940A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution No 1 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1940Y Report

GS 1944A and GS 1944B Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Saturday]
GS 1945A and GS 1945B Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta.
A translation of the Magna Carta is available by clicking here [Monday]

GS 1946 Declaration regarding the National Front [Saturday]
GS 1947 Declaration regarding the British National Party [Saturday]
GS 1946-7X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1948 Agenda
GS 1949 Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1950 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1951 Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference [Friday]

GS 1952 Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Friday]
GS 1953 Draft Amending Canon No 34 [Friday]
GS 1952-3X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1954 49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Saturday]

GS 1955 Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order [Saturday]
GS 1955X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1956 The Common Good [Saturday]

GS 1957 Archbishops’ Council Annual Report [Sunday]

GS 1958 Additional Texts for Holy Baptism [Sunday]

GS 1959 The Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015 [Sunday]

GS 1960 The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants [Monday]

GS 1961 Audit Committee’s Annual Report [Monday]

GS 1962 Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1962X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1963 Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1963X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964 Draft Amending Canon No 35
GS 1964X Explanatory Memorandum [Tuesday]
GS 1965A and GS 1965B Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy [contingency business]

In addition the following GS Misc papers have been issued.

GS Misc 1070 Ethical Investment Annual Review
GS Misc 1072 Appointment of Synod Senior Staff
GS Misc 1073 Charm Rental Scheme
GS Misc 1074 Members of Committees
GS Misc 1075 Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1078 Mutual Credit Union
GS Misc 1079 A note from the Archbishops
GS Misc 1081 Clergy Disicpline Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1082 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1083 Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

There are other papers listed below the fold.

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2 (re-issued)
Notice Paper 3
Notice Paper 4
Notice Paper 5

Prayer Card

Church Community Fund Annual Report

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church

Update Tuesday afternoon More press reports added

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy, as this press release explains.

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church
03 June 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy.

The formal declarations by the House of Bishops mean that a complaint of misconduct can be made under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against any cleric of the Church of England who is a member of, or promotes or expresses or solicits support for, the BNP or NF.

The declarations will be laid before the General Synod of the Church at its July meeting in York and will come into force at 5.30pm on 11 July 2014 unless 25 members of the General Synod give notice that they wish a declaration to be debated. If such notice is given, the expectation is that the declaration would be debated at the Synod’s July group of sessions in York, and it could not come into force unless approved by the Synod.

The declarations state that on May 19 2014 the House of Bishops resolved to declare that the constitution, polices, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front and the British National Party are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races.

Once a declaration comes into force support for the political party concerned by clergy of the Church of England would be unbecoming or inappropriate conduct. The declarations from the House of Bishops, which were made under section 8(4) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, implement in relation to the clergy of the Church of England, a policy of the General Synod agreed in February 2009 following a Private Member’s Motion from Vasantha Gnanadoss: “That this Synod, noting that in 2004 the Association of Chief Police Officers adopted a policy whereby “no member of the Police Service, whether police officer or police staff, may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality” and “this specifically includes the British National Party”, request the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy for the Church of England, to apply to clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to represent or speak on behalf of the Church.”

ENDS

Notes

  • An explanatory note explaining the background to the declarations (GS 1946-7X) can be found on the Church of England website, together with the declarations:
GS 1946 National Front declaration
GS 1947 British National Party declaration
  • The Church’s teaching in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races is set out in the 2010 House of Bishops’ theological statement Affirming our Common Humanity.
  • In making a declaration of incompatibility the House of Bishops took account of the constitutions of both parties and published statements on their behalf, including, for example, the BNP’s manifesto for the last General Election (“Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity”) which is published on the BNP website.

John Bingham reports for The Telegraph that Church of England bans clergy from ‘un-Christian’ BNP and National Front.

Matthew Taylor writes in The Guardian that Church of England bans clergy from joining BNP or National Front.

Pink News BNP furious after Church of England bans clergy from having party membership

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

Updated Monday 2 June The business on Saturday afternoon has been slightly amended, and a revised edition of the timetable issued.

The outline agenda for the July meeting of the Church of England General Synod is now available, and is copied below.

Friday 11 July

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Formal business
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
Not later than 4.15 pm
Approval of appointments
Legislative Business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation:
    * Report on Article 8 Reference to the Dioceses
    * Final Drafting Stage
    Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and associated Amending Canon – First Consideration

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 12 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee (deemed business)
Legislative Business
    Amending Canon No 31 – Enactment
    C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
    Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Revision Stage
    Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
    Adjourned debate on Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution – Final Approval
    Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order
    C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
    Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
    Cof E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Revision Stage

2.30 pm – 3.15 pm
The Church’s Response to Poverty: Presentation
‘The (Un)Common Good’: Presentation by the Revd Jim Wallis, Author of ‘On God’s Side’

(3.30 pm - 4.45 pm Group Work: The Common Good)

5.05 pm – 6.30 pm
The Common Good: Presentation and Debate

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Private Member’s Motion: Canon B 8

Sunday 13 July

EITHER
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are not required)
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

OR
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are required)
4.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Financial Business
    Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Monday 14 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants: Presentation and Debate
Not later than 11.15 am
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval (Ctd…)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
CHARM: Presentation
Audit Committee Annual Report

Tuesday 15 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Legislative Business
    Any remaining legislative business from Saturday followed by:
    Draft Amending Canon giving effect to the Southwell and Nottingham DSM on the administration of Holy Communion – First Consideration
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013 (if not taken on the Sunday due to the Article 7 reference)
Not later than 12.30 pm
Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy

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Friday, 23 May 2014

Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops

Now that the dioceses have finished on voting on the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops, the Church of England has issued this press release.

Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops
23 May 2014

The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday. In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.

The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.

Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’

For the motion to be carried the houses of clergy and laity had to each vote, by a simple majority, in favour.

The table attached records the votes in favour and against, and any recorded abstentions in each house. The draft legislation will now go before General Synod in July for a Final Approval vote.

The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation for Women in the Episcopate said:
“The dioceses have now expressed their view very clearly and the matter now comes back to General Synod in July. I pray that the Synod will continue to approach this decision in a prayerful and generous way as we move towards voting on the proposal that women may be bishops in the Church of England.”

The table of Diocesan Synod results can be found here.

*Due to logistical constraints the Diocese in Europe was unable to convene a meeting in the three month period allowed for this Article 8 reference.

The table linked above showed a few very small differences from mine. On the assumption that Church House have the correct figures, I have amended mine to match.

WATCH has issued this press release.

A clean sweep this time: 100% of Dioceses support Women Bishops legislation
Posted on May 23, 2014

Women and the Church (WATCH) is delighted and hugely encouraged by the overwhelming support given by 100% of diocesan synods for the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. Such a resounding endorsement, including from the dioceses of London and Chichester which voted against last time, gives us significant hope and encouragement for the final vote at General Synod in July.

Chair of WATCH, Hilary Cotton said, ‘This is really, really good news in the lead-up to the Final Approval vote. In most dioceses over 90% of votes were cast in favour: surely General Synod cannot turn their backs on this again?’

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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - final diocesan synod votes

The final three diocesan synod votes on the legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England took place this week: Chester and Rochester yesterday and Manchester tonight. All three voted in favour.

Apart from Europe, which was unable to arrange a synod meeting before the deadline of midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014, all the dioceses have voted in favour of the draft legislation, which will return to General Synod in July for the debate and vote on final approval.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

House of Bishops meeting

The House of Bishops met yesterday and today and has issued this summary of its proceedings.

House of Bishops Statement
20 May 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met at Bishopthorpe Palace in York on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May 2014.

In a wide ranging agenda the House discussed issues including: the progress of legislation on women in the episcopate, the meeting of the General Synod in July, additional liturgical materials for baptism, closer working with the Methodist church, shared conversations on enabling wider debate of the Pilling report and the place of Bishops in public debate.

On the progression of legislation enabling Women in the Episcopate, the House approved the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which sets out arrangements for those parishes who on theological grounds are unable to accept the ministry of women priests or bishops. The House also voted to amend their standing orders so to ensure the Declaration cannot be amended without the majority of two-thirds of each house of the General Synod. The House agreed guidance notes for Bishops and Parishes on the Declaration that will be issued prior to General Synod.

The House of Bishops supported exploring with political parties the possibility of amending existing arrangements for the selection of Lords Spiritual in order that the first women diocesan Bishops will be able to become members of the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords more quickly than would otherwise be the case under current arrangements.

In their consideration of the business to be discussed at the July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, the House noted proposals for a debate on safeguarding legislation being introduced in Synod on Friday afternoon. The House also noted the desire for a debate on the ‘Common Good’ and the Church of England’s contribution to developing, nurturing and participating in the flourishing of all the people of England.

The House of Bishops received a report from the Liturgical commission on the use of additional texts for use in services of Baptism following the piloting of new materials in parishes. The House heard that the feedback form the parishes to the use of the texts had been largely positive and welcoming. Following a debate and minor amendments to the text the House voted for the new texts to progress to being debated by General Synod.

The House discussed a draft report and note from the Council for Christian Unity on closer working with the Methodist Church and a report from the Joint Implementation Committee which is provisionally due to be presented for discussion by the Methodist conference and the General Synod. The House agreed that the paper should be debated at the next synod after July.

The House also discussed the next steps in the process for conversations around Human Sexuality. In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ - members of one church in both unity and diversity. The House agreed to a proposed process and timescale for the conversations with regional discussions taking place over the next two years. The House also authorised its Standing Committee to sign off the final arrangements and materials.

The House concluded its meeting with a discussion of the place of the Church of England and its Bishops in public debate. The House heard presentations which emphasised the need for the Church develop its confidence arising from its well-developed and sustained levels of service to communities across the country. The House also heard of the importance of sustaining the place of Bishops and faith based organisations in the public square at a time when confidence in the wider political process was being eroded and the place of faith based values was being challenged. The House heard how the work of Bishops and the wider church in its provision of foodbanks, partnerships with civic society, chairing economic and policy reviews, living wage and credit union work demonstrated the role of the Church of England at both a delivery and strategic level in areas of civic engagement, community cohesion and social justice.

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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.

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 4

Five more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich, Portsmouth.

So far I have heard that four (Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln and Portsmouth) have voted in favour by large majorities (in Hereford’s case unanimously), making a total of 24 in favour and none against.

All five voted in favour, making a total of 25 in favour and none against.

So a majority of the 44 diocesan synods have now voted in favour, and the legislation will definitely return to General Synod for final approval in July.

The next votes are in Blackburn (3 April), Southwell & Nottingham (5 April) and Worcester (30 April).

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 3

Seven more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Bath & Wells, Birmingham, Bradford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Oxford and Peterborough.

We await the results from Bath & Wells, but the motion was approved by large majorities in the other dioceses.
We await precise voting figures from Lichfield, but t The motion was approved in all seven synods.

So far 20 dioceses have voted in favour and none against. At least 23 dioceses must vote in favour if the draft legislation is to return to General Synod in July.

The next diocesan synod votes will be on 29 March in Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich and Portsmouth. If approved by those synods it will have passed the threshold of more than half the dioceses, guaranteeing its return to the General Synod.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 2

Updated Saturday evening

Four more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Carlisle, Ely, St Albans, Winchester.

At the time of writing I have not seen the result from Carlisle, but the other three all voted in favour by substantial majorities.

All today’s results are now available; all four dioceses voted in favour by substantial majorities. So far 13 dioceses have voted in favour and none against. At least 23 dioceses must vote in favour if the draft legislation is to return to General Synod in July.

The next diocesan synod votes will be on 22 March in Bath & Wells, Birmingham, Bradford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Oxford and Peterborough.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here. I have added running totals of the voting figures to the bottom of this table.

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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.

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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Women Bishops: electronic voting results

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available as pdf files. As all were votes of the whole synod they are arranged by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically by name.

For convenience I have put the results relevant to women bishops into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies.

There were two votes:

  • Item 515: That Clauses 1-6 stand part of the Canon
    Many Synod members would have viewed this as a vote on the principle of allowing women to be bishops.
    This was carried with 304 votes in favour and 33 against. 45 abstentions were recorded.
  • Item 10: a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii)
    This motion was to allow the reference to the dioceses to be completed in less time than usual so that final approval can be taken at the July 2014 Synod.
    This was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against. 9 abstentions were recorded.

From the voting lists I have counted the votes in each house.

item 515 ForAgainstAbstention
Bishops
32
0
2
Clergy
145
10
16
Laity
127
23
27

 

item 10 ForAgainstAbstention
Bishops
32
0
0
Clergy
175
8
2
Laity
151
31
7

At final approval a two-thirds majority will be required in each house for the Women in the Episcopate legislation to be carried.

Here is the full set of electronic voting results:

Tuesday 11 February

Item 515 - Draft Amending Canon No.33 (clauses 1-6)
Item 10 - Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iii)
Item 519B - The Church Representation Rules Amendment Resolution

Wednesday 12 February

Item 13 - Southwark Diocesan Synod Motion Environmental Issues
Item 27 - Girl Guides’ Promise

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Women bishops reference to dioceses

Update Wednesday afternoon The links are now all correct.

The papers sent to dioceses for the Article 8 reference regarding women bishops are now available online. This is copied below.

Women bishops reference to dioceses

The Article 8 process regarding women bishops is outlined and explained in a note from the Business Committee of the General Synod. Click here.

The Business Committee has also circulated four other documents: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 1932) which includes the texts of the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (in Annex A) and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations (in Annex B); a background note on the new package of proposals (A8(14)1); the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (A8(14)2); the draft Amending Canon No. 33 (A8(14)3); and an Explanatory Memorandum relating to the draft legislation (A8(14)4).

The General Synod voted on Tuesday 11 February to suspend Standing Order 90 until the end of the Group of Sessions to be held in November 2014. This enables a shortening of the deadline for Diocesan Synods to vote on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. Reporting forms, recording the votes of Diocesan Synods, should be returned to the Clerk to the Synod to arrive by midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014.

A background note produced by the Business Committee in 2010 on the history of the legislative proposals can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

A8(WE)BACKGROUND

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Friday, 14 February 2014

General Synod: Questions on Pilling Report

The Bishop of Sheffield replied to three questions taken together.

Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q12 With regard to the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of (i) a process for facilitated conversations on the subject of sexuality, involving profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture, and (ii) additional materials to support and enable them, will the Chair of the House of Bishops give assurances that the design will ensure that:
• the process will not be a “one way street” intended at the outset to lead to a change in the church‟s teaching or pastoral practice concerning sexuality or marriage;
• the primary purpose of the conversations will be to enable participants‟ views to be clearly articulated, heard and understood, rather than to change participants‟ views;
• the conversations will be professionally facilitated in a way which does not steer them to any particular conclusion;
• the conversations will not be premised on the proposition that scripture is not clear about these matters; and
• participants who believe that scripture clearly teaches that having sexual relationships, otherwise than within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman, is not consistent with Christian discipleship will be free fully to articulate and explain that view?

Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q13 Why, in light of the Statement on the Pilling Report by the College of Bishops (issued 27 January 2014) which emphasises upholding the Church of England‟s commitment to biblical orthodoxy on God‟s purpose for sexual expression (within marriage between one man and one woman), is a two-year process of facilitated conversation taking place, if such a process is not intended to change the orthodoxy?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q14 Given the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of a process for facilitated conversation on sexuality, can the Chair of the House of Bishops give an assurance that the process and additional materials will focus first on scripture and its perspicuity, so that experience and culture are responded to in the light of a clear understanding of Scripture?

The Bishop of Sheffield replied:

The Church Times’ headline - ‘Pilling report-Bishops accept recommendations’ - would have been less inaccurate if it had said ‘accept recommendation [singular] for facilitated conversations.’

There is no predetermined outcome to these conversations nor is there any intention on the part of bishops collectively to steer them to a particular conclusion. In our statement of 27 January the one aspiration we articulated was for ‘good disagreement that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ’.

The statement made clear that the Church of England’s ‘pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation’ and that ‘no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged’. It also stresses that our task, in taking counsel together, is ‘to read and reflect upon the Scriptures and to continue to discern together the mind of Christ.’

What is the point of all this reflection and conversation, some ask, if Scripture is clear and the truth unchanging and unchangeable? The answer is that the substantial shift in attitudes in society to same sex relationships inevitably raises significant questions for the Church of England. In every generation the Church is called to proclaim the faith afresh, not refashioning it but nevertheless wrestling with the interpretation and application of Scripture as the Spirit who inspired it continues to lead us into all truth.

Mr Scowen asked a supplementary question:
May I take it therefore that the answer to each of the five points of my question is Yes?

Answer: i think I would refer Mr Scowen to the answer I have already given, if I may. I think it is fair to say that there was some wrestling in the College of Bishops meeting about whether we should use the term ‘facilitated conversations” for the process which we had in mind, and which we agreed to take forward. Partly because it was pointed out within the conversation, that the only experience we have had corporately of facilitated conversation, is of a process which is designed to lead to a particular outcome, and set of conclusions. A counterargument was that the term is one used by the Pilling process and the Pilling report, it’s not… and we couldn’t easily think of a better substitute for it. But we did want to find a way to communicate clearly that no two sets of facilitated conversations are exactly the same, and that this set is not designed to reach a premeditated, already determined conclusion.

There was a further supplementary question (or was it two?) asked by Professor Richard Burridge about the involvement of Scripture scholars in the process.

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Church Commissioners Questions

Sir Tony Baldry answered Church Commissioners questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday). He prefaced his first answer with remarks on the progress made at General Synod towards allowing women to be consecrated as bishops.

Church Property (Community Use)

1. Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): What plans the commissioners have to make their buildings and other church property available for wider community use. [902578]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): With your permission, Mr Speaker, before I answer this first question, it may be convenient to the House if I make a short comment on the progress made by the General Synod this week on the Church of England being able to consecrate women as bishops. On Tuesday, the General Synod completed the revision process for a new draft measure to enable women to become bishops. The Synod also agreed to shorten the consultation period with the diocese to consider this new measure, so the measure is now likely to come for final approval at the July meeting of the General Synod. If the measure is approved then, I would hope that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be able to give it early consideration and that both Houses would then separately consider it so that, if it is approved, the Synod might then be able to promulge the canon in November. That would mean that it would be possible for the first woman to be nominated as a bishop in the Church of England this year.

Turning to my hon. Friend’s question, the Church of England has changed legislation to make it much easier for church buildings to be used for a wide range of community and cultural uses. The Church of England encourages all parish churches to be open where possible for as long as possible.

Laura Sandys: Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the congregation of volunteers at St Peter’s church in Broadstairs? He very kindly visited an award-winning tourism project called the St Peter’s village tour. Will he encourage other churches to use their facilities in order to open up to the community and develop tourism propositions?

Sir Tony Baldry: I much enjoyed my visit to my hon. Friend’s constituency. She is absolutely right. The church of St Peter’s in Broadstairs is an excellent example of a church that is a hub of the community, hosting local clubs and services to the elderly, as well as toddlers groups and young people’s clubs, and, as my hon. Friend says, organising popular tours of the village for visitors to Broadstairs. May I also draw the House’s attention to Holy Trinity Margate, which is another fantastic example of a church delivering almost 24/7 social action?

Flood Relief Fund

2. Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): If the Church Commissioners will consider creating a Church of England relief fund for flood victims to which the public could contribute.

Sir Tony Baldry: Last Friday the Bishop of Taunton wrote to all parishes in the Bath and Wells diocese, giving details of how parishioners could both provide and access much-needed financial and practical support. On the wider question of a relief fund for flood victims, I think my hon. Friend was present on Monday when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told me that a number of charities were offering help for flood victims and promised that the Government would do more to signpost those voluntary organisations to help people in distress.

Mr Speaker: I think we have time for the questions; it is hoped that we have time for the answers.

Miss McIntosh: When we had severe flooding in 2000, the then Archbishop of York, Lord Hope, created a Church of England relief fund, through which we were very humbled to receive not just national donations, but donations from Mozambique, which is a very poor country, but it wished to show solidarity. I hope my right hon. Friend will use his good offices to create such a fund through the Church of England, to which both national and international donors will be able to contribute, if they wish to do so.

Sir Tony Baldry: Every parish in flood-affected areas is, where possible and practical, giving help to those affected by the floods, including making churches available for people who have been evacuated, providing drop-in centres, visiting housebound people and delivering food parcels. On the question of an overall fund, there is a feeling that there are already a number of national funds available to help flood victims and that the Church setting up a further fund may confuse rather than help.

Credit Unions

3. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): What guidance the Church Commissioners are providing to church congregations on supporting local credit unions.

Sir Tony Baldry: Substantial material on the Church of England’s website is publicly and readily available to church congregations to download to assist them in supporting local credit unions. The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to all clergy to encourage them and their parish churches to support the new resources, working with their local credit union and continuing to assist those in need.

Andrew Selous: The Dunstable deanery wants to set up a credit union, and the Money Matters credit union—I save with it myself—is working with Leighton-Linslade town council to set up a credit union in Leighton Buzzard. Churches can help there too. Do the Church Commissioners agree that we need more saving as well as more affordable lending?

Sir Tony Baldry: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Ever since the Archbishop of Canterbury indicated that the Church hopes over time to help compete payday lenders out of business, there has been considerable interest from parish churches right across the country about helping to support credit unions in their local areas and dioceses.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Will the Second Church Estates Commissioner take on board the fact that although many of us support credit unions, if we are to move with the times it is crowdfunding and crowdsourcing that are appropriate to local communities and congregations? That is being pioneered in some areas, so will he consider it?

Sir Tony Baldry: As the last debate on this subject in the House demonstrated, there are a number of responsible ways to help people in difficulties to access credit, other than recourse to payday lenders.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): Not just church congregations but individual members can use credit unions. Now that the law has been changed, organisations can set up community accounts. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that churches ought to look at investing their own funds in credit unions?

Sir Tony Baldry: Yes. Indeed, many churches are already doing so. I can send the hon. Lady details of a number of diocesan-led initiatives that are doing exactly that.

Bishop of Bath and Wells: Residence

6. Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): What recent discussions the Church Commissioners have had on further consultation on the decision to relocate the residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): At the invitation of my hon. Friend, I visited Wells on 25 January to attend a public meeting and listen to the views of local people. I promised that I would report those views to the governors of the Church Commissioners, which I shall do at their next meeting later this month. She also presented a petition at General Synod earlier this week. A number of questions on this matter were also asked and answered at General Synod.

Tessa Munt: Bearing in mind that there is unity between churchgoers and those who are not churchgoers, I will quote from a letter that I received last night, which said of the Church of England:

“It is most depressing to see it damaged by its own corporate actions… There are times when I look into the internal workings of the Church of England and despair.”

People understand that the investment arm can make a return on the latest asset of the Church Commissioners, the Old Rectory at Croscombe, by renting it out on the ordinary market. However, may I make a plea for a graceful and sensitive response to the thousands who have registered their disagreement with allowing the new bishop to move in, and for there to be real consultation?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend has made her views on this matter very clear. I have promised that I will report those views to the governors of the Church Commissioners later this month. I am sure that they will reflect carefully on all the representations that have been made on this matter.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Lady has not merely asked a question, but offered the House a treatise. Some might even judge it to have constituted a sermon.

Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Visits

8. Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): What reports he has received on the recent visits to South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have both been overseas in the past month. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visit to South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were part of his programme of visits to all parts of the Anglican communion. He saw at first hand the devastating impact of conflict and the huge difficulties that are faced by the Church and the wider population in areas of conflict and instability, as well as the key role that is played by the Church and the urgent need for far-reaching efforts towards reconciliation.

Fiona Bruce: The persecution of Christians and those of other faiths is increasing in the regions that have been visited by both archbishops. What work is the Church of England doing with churches on the ground to promote peace and stability in those areas?

Sir Tony Baldry: It is difficult, in the time that is allowed, to encapsulate the seriousness of this issue. The churches are keen to help rebuild their countries by strengthening communities through reconciliation, healing and the overcoming of fear. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, reconciliation requires people to face reality and to tell the truth about the suffering that has been experienced and the harm that has been done. He said:

“When there is enough confidence to meet each other, then honest talking is possible.”

He also stressed the importance of caring for those who have suffered. In each of those war-torn and conflict-stricken countries, one hopes and intends that the Church will be present, helping to bring reconciliation.

Mr Speaker: I hope that we all feel uplifted by the voice of Sir Tony. I feel sure that we do.

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General Synod - Church Times reports

Today’s Church Times has these two reports.

Dioceses given three months to vote on women bishops

Oil-less future looms for Synod

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

General Synod: Pilling Report

The audio recording of the final session on Wednesday dealing with the Pilling report is now available here.

The official report of the session says:

HUMAN SEXUALITY: REPORT FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS’ WORKING GROUP (GS 1929) AND NEXT STEPS

Sir Joseph Pilling made a presentation to the Synod on the report from the House of Bishops’ Working Group (GS 1929).

The Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, then spoke to the Synod about the process on the basis of the report.

Synod then asked questions to the process, which were answered by Bishop Steven Croft and Sir Joseph Pilling.

Earlier, on Monday, a number of other Questions relating to the report were answered by Bishop Steven Croft.

Answers given will be transcribed from the Monday afternoon audio recording soon.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

General Synod - Wednesday - press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph
Welby tells Church refusing gay blessings will be viewed like racism
[The headline on this article was changed after publication to “Justin Welby says ‘Church viewed liked racists over homosexuality’”.]
Girl Guides offers concession to Christians in row over dropping God from pledge

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK The Church and the Environment

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England vows to fight ‘great demon’ of climate change

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Climate change is ‘great demon of our day’

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Church Society calls for 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops

Church Society issued a press release this afternoon. In it the director of Church Society calls for the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

News Release from Church Society
12 February 2014

Lee Gatiss looks to Archbishop for credible action after positive words

‘I welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s Presidential Address to General Synod this morning, particularly his important reminder to us all that ‘where God is involved, there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing.’ He is absolutely right that if the Church of England is to live out its commitment to see conservative evangelicals flourish ‘there is going to have to be a massive cultural change’ that some may find threatening. I deeply sympathise with him when he confesses that this may be a hard course to steer, but am heartened when he says ‘Yet I know it is right that we set such a course and hold to it through thick and thin.’

After this candid speech, we are looking to him, in a positive and hopeful way, to make the claim that he wants evangelicals like us to flourish in the Church truly credible. He could do that in two ways: first, by engaging conservatives in real dialogue, listening in detail to our concerns; and second, encouraging and ensuring the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

A commitment in this area would convince us, including many young evangelicals exploring vocations, of the sincerity of the House of Bishops’ claim that they wish to provide for our flourishing. It would be a welcome game-changer in creating trust from our constituency. In an episcopal system, to which we are happily committed, this would be a very persuasive sign that we have a future.’

Lee Gatiss
Director, Church Society.

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General Synod - Wednesday

Order paper for the day

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod - Wednesday AM

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Wednesday PM

Press release on the environmental issues debate: General Synod re-affirms the Church of England’s commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change

Press release on the girl guides promise debate: Synod approves motion to support girl guides promise action

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WATCH and Forward in Faith respond to yesterday's votes on women bishops

WATCH press release

Women and the Church (WATCH)

Press Release Tuesday 11 February 2014 2.00pm

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

WATCH is very pleased that the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England is now proceeding. We look forward to having the first woman bishop being nominated by the end of the year.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said, “There was a real sense of wanting to move forward today”.

Forward in Faith statement

The Act of Synod and the House of Bishops’ Declaration
Feb 12, 2014

As part of the package of proposals regarding the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 is to be replaced by a House of Bishops’ Declaration and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (to be established by Regulations made under a new Canon).

Yesterday the General Synod welcomed the draft Declaration and Regulations and included the text of the new Canon in the legislation that will now be referred to the diocesan synods for approval. It also voted in favour, at the preliminary stage, of the draft Act of Synod that will eventually rescind the existing Act of Synod. We note that this will only come into force when the new Canon is promulged, thus ensuring continuity.

We welcome the fact that the new House of Bishops’ Declaration refers to the Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough by name. It notes that they will remain in existence as one of the means by which episcopal ministry is provided to parishes that pass resolutions under the Declaration.

We welcome the following statement by the House of Bishops in paragraph 23 of its most recent report (GS 1932):

‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation.’

We welcome the fact that, once the new Declaration has been finalized, the House of Bishops will only be able to amend it if the amendment has been approved by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod. This gives us assurance as we approach the new era that the legislation will initiate.

The Act of Synod has served the Church of England well. We are confident that the Declaration will enable us to flourish within its life and structures for generations to come.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker
Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Lay Vice-Chairman

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Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation

Press release following this morning’s General Synod debate on Safeguarding

Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation
12 February 2014

Synod voted today that proposals for draft legislation to enable the Church of England to deal more effectively with safeguarding issues be brought forward.

General Synod last July voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements following on from the Chichester Commissaries’ interim and final reports.

The proposals take into account not just the recommendations of the Commissaries but also other submissions made in the course of the Archbishops’ Council’s consultation. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014.

The proposed draft legislation outlined in full detail here will:

Tighten up procedures around temporary permissions to officiate in a local parish

Prevent clergy robing during a service when prohibited or disbarred

Give bishops power, where appropriate, to direct clergy to undergo a risk assessment (this is currently voluntary)

Prevent anyone who is on a barred list from serving as a churchwarden or as a member of a PCC, district council or synod

Prevent anyone with certain convictions in relation to children from serving as a member of a PCC, district council or synod.

Give bishops the power to suspend people from these posts and bodies if arrested on suspicion of committing certain offences against children.

Introduce similar provision covering lay workers and Readers.

Remove the 12 month Clergy Discipline Measure limitation period for bringing a complaint about sexual misconduct committed against children or vulnerable adults.

Extend the bishop’s power of suspension.

Three additional suggestions for reform include:

(i) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ current safeguarding policies

(ii) The imposition of a duty on all diocesan bishops to appoint a diocesan safeguarding advisor

(iii) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to undergo safeguarding training when required to do so by the bishop.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, Joint Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee said: “This is just one step towards the Church making itself a safer place for all while acknowledging that effects of abuse on survivors can be lifelong. We are determined to improve our procedures and policies. We recognise that simply changing these does not transform our DNA but is an important start. We can never be complacent and we continue to urge any victims or those with information about church-related abuse to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.”

Notes

July 2013 Synod safeguarding debate

May 2013 Response to Final Report of Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation

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Archbishop's Presidential Address to the General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to General Synod this morning. The text is available here: Archbishop’s Presidential Address to the General Synod preceded by this remark “In his presidential address to Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the need for ‘massive cultural change’ within the Church of England so that people can flourish together despite deeply held differences on issues such as sexuality and women bishops”.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

General Synod: Questions about ACNA

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q. Has an assessment been made of any implications of the appointment of the Revd Tory Baucum as one of Canterbury Cathedral’s Six Preachers from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA (with which the Church of England is not currently in communion)?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A. Careful thought and assessment has certainly been given to the appointment of Dr Tory Baucum from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA and also the relationship with The Episcopal Church of course with which the Church of England is in communion, and for that matter with the relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada who feel implicated in this, and also by a number of other churches around the Communion, particularly in the group known as the Global South. An invitation to be a Six Preacher is a personal appointment of the Archbishop and has no implications in itself as to ecclesial relationships. However this particular appointment is of a person who has a distinguished ministry in reconciliation, which he exercises carefully in his context. There was consultation with a number of people and the appointment has been enthusiastically welcomed by the local bishop of The Episcopal Church, bishop, Shannon Johnston, the Bishop of Virginia.

Supplementary question from Canon Goddard:

… Could you just say what steps have been taken to ensure that this appointment is not taken to mean that clergy ordained in this country by overseas bishops, without the permission of the diocesan, are nevertheless recognised in the Church of England.

A. Thank you. I’m straying slightly onto thin ice here. It is true that permission would need to be given under the 1967 Measure, which is presumably what you are thinking about, in order for Tory to preach here. But it will not be breaking new ground, because Tory having been ordained in The Episcopal Church, the permission can be given under Section 1 of the Measure. That is, on the basis that he has been ordained by a bishop of a church in communion with the Church of England. It will not therefore be based upon the recognition and acceptance of the orders conferred by the ACNA.

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Women bishops - press reports

BBC Women bishops: Church backs plan to fast-track scheme

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops plan fast-tracked after warning change ‘urgently needed’

Madeleine Davies and Tim Wyatt Church Times Women-bishops package makes brisk progress

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Church of England paves way for first women bishops

Penny Marshall ITV News Church of England moves closer to a vote on women bishops - but it’s not over yet

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this helpful summary: Women in the episcopate – further progress.

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General Synod - Tuesday afternoon

Here is the official summary of this afternoon’s business: General Synod - Tuesday PM and the order paper.

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General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate

Updated Wednesday morning
The paragraph italicised (by me) below originally referred the voting figures to the wrong item. It has now been amended by Church House.

Press release from the Church of England following today’s debates.

General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate
11 February 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today voted to pave the way for the legislative process to enable Women to become Bishops to be completed this year.

In a series of interrelated legislative and procedural items the Synod held four debates dealing with differing aspects relating to women in the episcopate.

The first synod discussion related to the House of Bishops draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure regulations - GS 1932.

Both the proposed declaration and accompanying regulations were drawn up by the House of Bishops at the invitation of the last meeting of the Synod.

The debate was opened by the Rt. Revd. James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, Chair of the Steering Committee, who moved “That this Synod welcomes the draft House of Bishop’s Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedures Regulations as set out in GS 1932”
The motion was passed by the Synod.

The second debate dealt with the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure - GS 1925A - and Draft Amending Canon No.33 - GS 1926A. At its meeting in November the General Synod voted to dispense with a Revision Committee Stage for the new legislation so that the Synod could conduct the Revision Stage in Full Synod.

After debate the revision stage for both the measure and the canon were completed without any amendments being made.

The Synod then gave preliminary consideration to the draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 - GS 1934.

The measure was accepted by Synod; and the amending Canon no.33 was passed by Synod by 304 votes to 33 with 45 abstentions.

The final debate on women in the episcopate in this session took the form of a procedural motion suspending Standing Order 90(b) (iii) so that the reference of the draft Measure and draft Canon to the Dioceses under Article 8 of the Synod’s Constitution can be concluded within 3 months rather than the 6 months stipulated under the standing order.

After debate the motion, requiring a 75% majority of the whole Synod, was approved by 358 votes to 39 with 9 abstentions.

The legislation now goes to the dioceses for approval. Provided a majority approve it by the 22 May deadline the General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate in July, less than 20 months after the failure of the earlier legislation to secure the necessary two-thirds majorities in November 2012. If passed the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.

An audio interview with the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, about the latest approval of legislation towards seeing Women in the Episcopate is available here.

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General Synod - Women in the Episcopate debates

Today (Tuesday) General Synod is holding a series of debates on the legislation on Women in the Episcopate. This article will be updated as the debates proceed.

The order paper for all the debates is here and includes the text of all motions before Synod.

First debate

Synod debated and passed this motion:

That this Synod welcome the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations as set out in GS 1932

Second debate

This was the revision stage of the draft Measure (GS 1925A) and Canon (GS 1926A). The draft measure was considered clause by clause.

Clause 1 is the clause that allows women to be bishops. After a short debate Synod voted to include it in the measure.

The amendment to Clause 2 was withdrawn, and Synod voted to include the clause in the measure.

The insertion of the proposed new Clause 3 was defeated.

Synod then quickly proceeded to accept the remainder of the draft measure. this completed revision (without amendment) of the draft measure GS1925A.

Third debate

After a very short debate a division of the whole synod was called on the draft amending canon. There were 304 votes in favour of the canon, 33 against and 45 recorded abstentions.

Fourth debate

The final part of the package is the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This requires another Act of Synod. Synod voted in favour of this new Act (which will require final approval at a later Synod).

At this point Synod broke (a little early) for lunch.

The official summary of the morning’s business is here: General Synod - Tuesday AM.

Fifth debate

The draft measure must be referred to dioceses (and a majority of them must vote in favour) before the legislation can proceed to final approval. Synod’s standing orders require dioceses to be given a minimum of six months to respond. But Synod was asked after lunch to agree to a suspension of the relevant standing order so that dioceses could be required to respond in time for final approval to be taken in July 2014.

The suspension of the standing order was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against, with 9 recorded abstentions. Motions of this sort require a 75% majority, which was comfortably met.

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General Synod - Tuesday morning press reports

BBC Women bishops law: Church asked to back fast-track scheme

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England admits selling Wonga stake will take a ‘little while’.

Reshma Rumsey ITV News Church of England Synod to vote on women Bishops

BBC Hundreds sign petition against Bath and Wells bishop move

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Monday, 10 February 2014

General Synod - Monday

General Synod opened its February group of sessions at 2.00 pm today. This page will be updated with notes on the business transacted.

There is a live video stream here.

The last item of business today is Questions (and answers). The questions themselves have been published here.

There was an Ethical Investment Advisory Group presentation to Synod.

Synod debated gender-based violence and passed this motion.

That this Synod, believing that all people are made in the image of God and that all forms of violence based on gender represent an abuse and violation of that image:
(a) affirm work already undertaken in dioceses, deaneries, parishes and Church of England schools in raising awareness and caring for survivors of gender-based violence in all our diverse communities;
(b) support measures to bring perpetrators to account and provide support for changed lifestyles;
(c) encourage boys and men to stand against gender-based violence; and
(d) commend Anglican Consultative Council Resolution 15:7 on preventing and eliminating gender-based violence to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and urge them to seek practical approaches to its implementation.

A press release was promptly released after the debate: Synod approves motion to affirm work in combating Gender-based violence.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod - Monday PM.

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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Pre-Synod press roundup

Updated Monday morning

The General Synod meets in London for three days, starting tomorrow (Monday). Here are some online news and comment articles about items on the agenda.

Church Times
Paul Handley Poll: lack of trust in Synod
Angela Tilby The Synod must get real on gay sex
Gavin Drake Churches urged to tackle domestic violence

These three refer to a diocesan synod motion on environmental issues.
Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK The Church of England mustn’t waste this opportunity to address the ravages of climate change
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Fracking and the Church of England
Independent Catholic News A ‘Beyond-Lightbulbs-Moment: CoE Synod to debate environment

John Bingham The Telegraph Final hurdle for women bishops to overcome

Kate Cooper blogs on Girl Guides and Female Bishops – The Plot Thickens.

Stephen Lynas blogs QUESTION: “Why do we never get an answer?”

There are links to the papers for the women in the episcopate legislation here, and to the agenda and other papers here.

Update

Tina Rowe Western Daily Press Petition to save role of Wells’ Bishop’s Palace goes to General Synod

Alice Collins Christian Today Women bishops legislation dominates Church of England General Synod

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Friday, 17 January 2014

General Synod agenda - early press reports

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England could appoint first female bishop ‘by Christmas’

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could name first woman bishops ‘by Christmas’

Liz Dodd The Tablet Women bishops could be appointed by Christmas if Church of England Synod can clear final hurdles

Madeleine Davies Church Times Women bishops possible in 2014, says Fittall

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General Synod Agenda

The usual pre-Synod press release, summarising the agenda, was issued this morning.

Agenda for February 2014 Synod
17 January 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.00 pm on Monday 10th February until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12th February.

The agenda for the meeting is published today. The main item of business will be the Revision Stage for the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. In an unusual move, this will be taken on the floor of the Synod without there having been a prior Revision Committee. There will also be three other debates as part of the women bishops process: on the Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure agreed by the House of Bishops in December; to initiate the process to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod; and to suspend part of the Standing Orders in order to accelerate the process for referring the legislation to the dioceses. These debates will take up much of Tuesday 11th February.

There will also be debates on Gender-Based Violence, the Girl Guides’ Promise, the environment and fossil fuels and the use of vesture in Church services. The Group of Sessions will conclude with a presentation on the report from the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. A Diocesan Synod Motion from the Guildford Diocesan Synod on the Magna Carta is listed as Contingency Business.

On the Monday afternoon there will be a presentation on Ethical Investment by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The EIAG will give an overview of the Church of England’s approach to ethical investment, in particular the work it has done on reflecting the Church’s position on alcohol more faithfully and supporting purposeful investment in business. It will summarise the issues that the EIAG is currently working on, including the use of pooled funds in ethical investment and an ethical investment approach to climate change.

This will be followed by a further policy-focused debate, this time on Gender-Based Violence. The debate will be preceded by a short presentation by Mandy Marshall and Peter Grant who are co-directors of Restored Relationships, an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.

Each session will be followed by a Question and Answer session with Synod members. The debate on Gender-Based Violence will be followed by a brief period of worship.

The sequence of business of Tuesday 19th November in relation Women in the Episcopate will be as follows. First, the Synod will debate a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. Secondly, there will be the Revision Stage on the floor of the Synod of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. Thirdly, Synod will give initial consideration to a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Finally, there will be a motion to suspend part of Standing Order 90 to reduce the normal minimum length of time for an Article 8 Reference to the dioceses from six months to three months to allow a faster passage of the final stages of the Women in the Episcopate legislation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address on the morning of Wednesday 12th February.

This will be followed by a debate on a package of proposals for legislative change in relation to safeguarding and related disciplinary matters, which has been developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries. This includes making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on relevant persons to have regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014 but given the importance and range of the proposals this report gives Synod the opportunity to consider the package in February before the legislation is prepared.

Later that morning, there will be a debate on a motion from the Southwark Diocesan Synod on Environmental Issues. This will build further on the work being carried out by the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The Diocesan Synod Motion calls for the establishment of a General Synod Working Group on the Environment to look into this further.

Two Private Members’ Motions will be debated on Wednesday afternoon. The first, tabled by Mrs Alison Ruoff (London Diocese), references the recent changes to the Girl Guides’ Promise. The second, to be moved by the Reverend Christopher Hobbs, calls on the General Synod to amend Canon B 8 so that the wearing of the forms of vesture referred to in that Canon ‘becomes optional rather than mandatory’.

Finally, there will be a presentation from Sir Joseph Pilling on the recent Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Human Sexuality which was published on 28 November. There will be an opportunity for questions on the process and next steps on the Pilling Report.

Click here for General Synod February Agenda and Papers

My usual list of online papers is here (women in the episcopate) and here (other items).

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February General Synod - online papers

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from Monday 10 February to Wednesday 12 February, and papers are now available online. I have already listed those relevant to Women in the Episcopate in an earlier posting and here are the remainder.

GS 1930 - Agenda

GS 1931 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1933 - Gender-Based Violence: Report by the MPA Council [Monday]

GS 1935 - Draft Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1936 - Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendement) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1936x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1937 - Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1937x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1938 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1939 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1938-9x - Explanatory Memorandum [item 506]

GS 1940 - The Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1940x - Explanatory Memorandum [item 505]

GS 1941 - Safeguarding [Wednesday]

GS 1942A & GS 1942B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Environmental Issues [Wednesday]

GS 1943A & GS 1943B - Private Member’s Motion: Girl Guides’ Promise [Wednesday]

GS 1944A & GS 1944B - Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Wednesday]

GS 1945A & GS 1945B - Private Member’s Motion: Magna Carta cContingency business]

Other Papers issued to members

GS Misc 1065 - Church Stipends Report 2013

GS Misc 1067 - Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2013

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper

HB(13)M4 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions December 2013

A zip file containing all the papers is also available.

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February General Synod - women in the episcopate

General Synod will be debating the latest proposals on women in the episcopate on Tuesday 11 February. The relevant papers have been released today.

The actual items of business can be found in the Agenda (GS 1930). In addition there are these papers.

GS 1932 - Draft Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and Draft Reolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations
GS 1925A - Draft Bishops and priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926A - Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1934 - Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993
GS Misc 1064 - House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests - Guidance Notes for Bishops and Parishes
GS Misc 1068 - Note by the Legal Advisers on clause 2

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931) has the usual comments on individual items of business, and those for Women in the Episcopate are copied below the fold.

Extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931)

Tuesday 19 November

Legislation on Women in the Episcopate

25. The main business of Tuesday 19th November will relate to Women in the Episcopate.

26. There will be four separate items of business. First the Synod will consider a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. The Synod had a first opportunity to consider drafts in November as part of the Steering Committee’s report but the House of Bishops had not at that stage discussed them in detail. This is the Synod’s opportunity to debate what the House has now agreed.

27. Secondly, the draft measure and amending canon will be considered on the Revision Stage. Because there was no Revision Committee Stage the normal 40 member rule for the consideration of amendments will not apply.

28. Thirdly, the Synod will be invited to consider, under the preliminary motion procedure, a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Since rescinding the Act of Synod constitutes Article 7 business, it will need to be considered by the House of Bishops before it comes for final approval at a subsequent group of sessions. It will also be open to the Convocations and the House of Laity to claim references.

29. Fourthly there will be a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii) so that the Article 8 reference of the draft measure and amending canon can be concluded in May, with a view to completing the remaining stages of the legislation at the July group of sessions. To pass, the motion will require a 75% majority. If the motion is not carried, the Business Committee will be required by SO 90 to allow at least six months for the reference, which means that the earliest date for its completion will be September.

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Baptism Service

Updated Sunday afternoon and evening, Monday morning The update includes a link to the experimental texts.

The Mail on Sunday published this article by Jonathan Petre today: Welby casts out ‘sin’ from christenings: Centuries-old rite rewritten in ‘language of EastEnders’ for modern congregation. The online version is dated yesterday, but was updated early today.

The Mail on Sunday also carries this editorial: Embarrassed Church’s sin of omission.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Church of England removes devil from christening service.

The Guardian carries this story from the Press Association: Church of England accused of dumbing down baptism service.

The Church of England issued this statement last night.

Statement on proposal to Synod on baptism service wording
04 January 2014

A Church of England spokesman said:
“The report in the Mail on Sunday (Jan 5) is misleading in a number of respects. The story claims that “the baptism ceremony had not been altered for more than 400 years until it was changed in 1980”. This is the third revision in 30 years.

The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use since Easter 1998. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.” Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptsim service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.

The Liverpool motion was passed by General Synod and as a consequence the liturgical commission has brought forward some additional materials for discussion by the General Synod at a future date where they will be subject to final approval by the Synod.

At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of the April. The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod.”

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK comments: Sin + sound bites = Sales?

Update

Miranda Prynne in The Telegraph Church of England accused of ‘dumbing down’ christening service

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England’s new baptism service condemned by former bishop

A booklet containing the full experimental additional texts for use in Holy Baptism is available for download: Christian Initiation: Additional Texts in Accessible Language. The booklet also contains guidance on their use, and a comparison with the current Common Worhsip texts. Clergy of the Church of England are reminded that under the provisions of Canon B 5A (Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods) these experimental texts may only be used in parishes authorized for this purpose by the archbishops.
[h/t Jeremy Fletcher]

Pete Broadbent doesn’t like the proposals: The experimental baptism rite - baptism lite.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia asks Is baptism being watered down?

Emily Gosden writes in The Telegraph: Sin? People think it’s about sex and cream cakes, says Archdeacon in baptism service row.

Christina Odone comments in The Telegraph: Don’t ditch the devil, he’s done great service to Christianity.

The Church Times report of the 2011 General Synod debate is available: More ‘accessible’ baptism prayers on the cards.

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Monday, 16 December 2013

February 2014 General Synod

General Synod will meet in London from 10 to 12 February 2014. The outline agenda was issued today, and is copied below.

One item requires some explanation - the proposal to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iiii). This appears to be a misprint for 90(b)(iii), which is the standing order requiring dioceses to be given at least six months to respond to a reference of Article 8 business (such as the legislation on Women in the Episcopate). If Synod agrees to suspend this standing order the reference to dioceses can be completed before the July 2014 meeting of Synod, thereby allowing final approval of the legislation to be taken then.

The texts of the private member’s motions and the diocesan synod motions are online.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2014 GROUP OF SESSIONS

Timetable

Monday 10 February

2 pm – 7.00 pm

2.00 pm Worship
Introductions, welcomes, progress of legislation
Report by the Business Committee
Dates of groups of sessions in 2016-2018
Presentation by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group
Gender-Based Violence: Report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council

Not later than 5.30 pm Questions

Tuesday 11 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion
10.45 am Women in the Episcopate: Consideration of the House of Bishops Declaration and draft disputes resolution procedure regulations

Legislative Business
Women in the Episcopate: Revision Stage for the draft Measure and Amending Canon

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
2.30 pm Women in the Episcopate: Continuation of Revision Stage for the draft Measure and Amending Canon

Preliminary consideration of the draft Act of Synod rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod

Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iiii)

Legislative Business
Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure
Church of England (Pensions) Amendment Measure
Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order
Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution

7.00-7.15 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 12 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Motion on proposed new legislation on Safeguarding

11.00 am Legislative Business
(Any uncompleted business from Tuesday)

Not later than 11.45 am Southwark DSM: Environmental Issues

2.30 pm – 5.30 pm

2.30 pm PMM: Alison Ruoff: Girl Guides’ Promise
PMM: Revd Christopher Hobbs: Canon B 8

Not later than 4.15 pm Pilling Report: Presentation and Next Steps (including Q&A)

Farewells

5.30 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business
Guildford DSM on the Magna Carta

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

House of Bishops agree next steps towards Women in the Episcopate

Today’s press release following this week’s meeting of the House of Bishops includes this paragraph.

As part of their discussion on Women in the Episcopate, the House heard from members of the steering committee on women bishops on suggestions for the next steps in the process. The House agreed the text of a draft declaration and regulations for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure for debate at General Synod in February 2014. The House also agreed to begin at the February Synod the process for rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod so that all the elements of the new package could be agreed by the synod in July 2014.

The full press release is copied below the fold.

Meeting of House of Bishops December 2013
10 December 2013

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for two days in York on December 9 and December 10. This meeting was the first at which 8 women regional representatives attended the meeting as participant observers with the same rights as Provincial Episcopal Visitors.

Over its meeting the House covered a wide range of business including discussion of women in the episcopate, the Pilling report, the approval of experimental liturgy for Baptism, changes to legislative approaches on Safeguarding and discussion of the Anglican-Methodist covenant.

As part of their discussion on Women in the Episcopate, the House heard from members of the steering committee on women bishops on suggestions for the next steps in the process. The House agreed the text of a draft declaration and regulations for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure for debate at General Synod in February 2014. The House also agreed to begin at the February Synod the process for rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod so that all the elements of the new package could be agreed by the synod in July 2014.

The House discussed and approved proposals for a new governance framework to enable the Church to develop a strategic vision for safeguarding. The House also approved proposed recommendations for legislative changes on safeguarding to be brought to General Synod.

Sir Joseph Pilling attended the House to introduce a discussion on ways to address the recently published report on Human Sexuality, a paper commissioned by the House of Bishops as a report to the House.

Following the mandate from the General Synod in 2011, the House also discussed and gave its support for the experimental use of new additional liturgy for the Baptism of infants and young children. The new texts will be made available for use in January 2014 until April 2014 and will be discussed again by the House during its meeting in May.

The House also received updates on a range of work being undertaken in areas of ministerial education, training and clergy discipline.

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Monday, 9 December 2013

Bishops Welcome Senior Women Clergy to their Meeting

The eight elected senior women clergy are attending their first meeting of the House of Bishops this week. The Church of England issued this press release to mark the occasion.

Bishops Welcome Participant Observers to First Meeting
09 December 2013

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today welcomed eight women as participant observers to its meetings. The welcome follows the election of the eight senior women clergy from regions across the country.

In February of this year the House decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The necessary change to the House’s Standing Orders was made in May.

Elections for the eight senior women clergy were held in autumn of this year and the following were elected:

  • East Midlands - Ven Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield
  • West Midlands - Revd Preb Dr Jane Tillier, Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral
  • East Anglia - Ven Annette Cooper, Archdeacon of Colchester
  • South and Central - Ven Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown
  • South East region - Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney
  • South West region - Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells
  • North East - Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
  • North West - The Rev Libby Lane, Dean of Women in Ministry, Chester Diocese

Having taken up their role on 1st December, the two day meeting of the House of Bishops in York on December 9-10 will be the first meeting at which the participant observers will attend.

Left to Right Back Row:
The Ven Rachel Treweek, The Ven Nicola Sullivan, The Ven Annette Cooper, The Ven Joanne Grenfell

Front row:
The Revd Libby Lane, The Revd Jane Tillier, The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, The Ven Christine Wilson

There is a larger version of the photograph here.

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Synod Voting on women bishops

The electronic voting results from last weeks meeting of General Synod are now available. They include the vote to proceed with the current proposals to allow women to be bishops (item 11) which was passed by 378 votes to 8 with 25 recorded abstentions.

I have further analysed the votes by house, and added those who were absent and the vacant places on Synod. For this purpose I have used the list of members that was given to members of the press last week.

  For Against Abstain Absent Vacant
Bishops 35 0 1 9 7
Clergy 177 2 5 15 3
Laity 166 6 19 16 5
totals 378 8 25 40 15

Within the category “Absent” it is impossible from the available data to distinguish those who were genuinely absent from Synod at the time of the vote from those who were present but failed to vote or record an abstention.

My raw data is available as a spreadsheet. For each house it lists all members (grouped by diocese etc) and shows how each one voted.

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Homophobic bullying in the Church of England

Questions about this were asked on Monday evening. This topic had also come up last July, and indeed the preceding November.

This time it went like this:

Question 57
Dr Rachel Jepson: Which resources does the Board of Education recommend to be used with both staff and students in all Church of England schools to address LGBT bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board does not generally recommend resources to schools except those produced by itself. In this case the Board is overseeing a project to produce materials for Church schools to help them to combat homophobic bullying within the framework of Christian values and belief. The project consultant is currently writing materials prior to their being piloted in schools over next term.

Dr Rachel Jepson: What is the timescale for the project to which you referred and who is the project consultant who is writing the materials and what is their relevant expertise, please?

Bishop of Oxford: We have gone to someone who has been deeply involved in producing material in a particular diocese, so we do know we’ve got someone of expertise there, she has that previous track record. Precisely what timescale is, and indeed the name of the person, has escaped me, but I’ll make sure that you know.

Mr Robin Hall: In his July presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury pledged to use - and I quote - the best advice we can find anywhere. As Stonewall is the leading charity committed to tackling homophobia, is the consultant working closely with Stonewall, to make the most of their experience and expertise?

Bishop of Oxford: Stonewall is indeed involved, as one of the consultants, and other organisations too, with a good track record in this field. We are committed to having the very best consultants and experience that we can get.

Question 58
Mr Robin Hall: Given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call in July for a “a commitment to stamp out” homophobic bullying in Church of England schools, what work has been undertaken to log or track the number of incidents of homophobic bullying in our schools?

Bishop of Oxford: There is no national collection of statistics regarding bullying in schools and the Board of Education doesn’t have the capacity at this time to engage in such a survey. The Board’s approach is rather to resource teachers and governors to create a strong anti-bullying culture with a specific focus on homophobic bullying.

Mr Robin Hall: As you know, schools are already obliged to report the number and type of bullying incidents each term, so this data I believe is readily available. If we don’t understand the scale of the problem, how will the Archbishop’s campaign to tackle homophobic bullying be targeted, and how will we know if it has been a success?

Bishop of Oxford: This will I hope come out of the work that’s being done by the group that’s looking into this, and if there is further action that the Board needs to take then obviously we’ll be ready to take it.

Mr John Ward: Would the Board take into account the useful debates in this place in February 2007, including the motion passed, proposed by The Reverend Mary Gilbert, which affirms that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church without reservation, and would the Board think that might be useful in its reflections on how we tackle homophobic bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board is indeed fully committed to there being no homophobic bullying in any of our church schools. This is a very clear commitment that we have made, and we are not going to renege on it.

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Women in the episcopate – next steps

David Pocklington has published an extremely useful article on the Law & Religion UK blog: Women in the episcopate – next steps. He writes, in the context of Wednesday’s vote, that “In the shadow of the vote, it is easy to forget exactly where one is in the legislative process of the new Measure and revised Canon”, and goes on to explain that Wednesday was just the first of several stages in this process.

He also writes about Women bishops in the House of Lords, and the Bishopric of Manchester Act 1847 and the Bishoprics Act 1878,

Do read it all.

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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Statements following Synod vote on women bishops

Updated

Catholic Group in General Synod

Statement from the Catholic Group in General Synod following the Debate on Women Bishops

The Catholic Group welcomes the new atmosphere of trust and reconciliation, together with the clear recognition that our theological convictions will continue to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching, and the commitment to provide appropriate bishops and priests for our parishes.

We urge all involved to take steps to build up further the atmosphere of trust, which is why many of us have voted for the new legislative process to continue.

Issued by Martin Dales on behalf of the Catholic Group.

WATCH

A year on; Synod November 2013 much more positive
Posted on November 20, 2013

The new Women in the Episcopate legislation passed in General Synod today with those in favour 378, those against, 8 and with 25 abstentions.

The Revd Charles Read a Vice Chair of WATCH said, “This is very good news for the full inclusion of women alongside men at all levels in our Church. We eagerly look forward to the consecration of several women as bishops as soon the legislation has completed its passage”.

WATCH was very encouraged by the tone of the debate and the result of the vote which was overwhelmingly positive. Although there is still some way to go before final legislation is passed, WATCH remains fully committed and engaged with the process which will finally enable women to become bishops.

The Revd Anne Stevens, a Vice Chair of WATCH commented, “What a difference a year makes. For the last 12 months people on all sides of the debate have worked closely together on the new provisions, and we saw the fruits of that in today’s very positive and good-humoured debate. I hope that that spirit of co-operation will continue to grow as the legislation goes through the approval process.”

There is also this statement released by Reform on Monday which is still relevant.

Pre-Synod Statement: Rod Thomas explains his thinking going in to the Nov. 2013 General Synod
Posted on 18 November 2013

The approach taken by the Legislative Steering Group was to tie its discussions fairly tightly to the terms of last July’s General Synod motion. This meant that some issues which have always been regarded as important by those arguing for better ‘provision’ were not covered (eg issues of jurisdiction). Nevertheless, within those confines, members of the Group were listening to each other carefully and seeking to respond positively. The end result was a balanced package of proposals which show more sensitivity to the needs of those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops than those in the previous draft Measure. However, key issues remain unresolved. These include the issue of jurisdiction, the rights of individuals, difficulties over enforcement, and the nature of the oath of canonical obedience. While we are prepared to see the proposals going forward for further Synodical consideration, as the most practicable way forward in our present circumstances, it is important to be clear that if major concerns remain at final approval, we will not support them. We will continue to engage positively in Synodical discussions in order to achieve an outcome that is fair to all.

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

General Synod - Wednesday

This page will be updated during the day

General Synod has started its debate on the latest proposals to allow women to be bishops on Wednesday. I linked to all the papers here.

Order paper for the morning’s business

Sam Jones has previewed the debate for The Guardian Women bishops debate resumes at Church of England synod.

Speech by the Bishop of Rochester introducing the debate: Bishop of Rochester introduces Women Bishops debate

At the end of the debate Synod passed the motion before it:

That this Synod, welcoming the package of proposals in GS 1924 and the statement of principles endorsed by the House of Bishops at paragraph 12 of GS 1886, invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consultation in February a draft declaration and proposals for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure which build on the agreement reached by the Steering Committee as a result of its facilitated discussions.

There were 378 votes in favour and 8 against. 25 members recorded an abstention.

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod - Wednesday AM

After lunch Synod voted to revise the draft measure and canon in full Synod, rather than in a revision committee.

The CofE issued this press release: Synod votes to approve next steps for women bishops.

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this statement: Female bishops: Archbishop Justin’s statement

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Wednesday PM

Press reports and comment on the morning debate

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England approves female bishops plan
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England votes overwhelmingly for women bishops
Liz Dodds The Tablet Revitalised CofE Synod clears major hurdle in passing women bishops legislation
BBC News Church of England synod vote ‘paves way’ for female bishops
Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Church Times Synod endorses new women-bishops package
Adam Withnall The Independent Breakthrough? Church of England moves step closer to women bishops as General Synod backs new proposals
Andrew Brown The Guardian Synod’s vote for female bishops allows resistance to flourish another day
Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: Today I’m proud to be a member of the Church of England

There is also this in The Telegraph by John Bingham Church’s General Synod - what is it for?

——————

Church Society issued this press release on Tuesday: Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops. This is copied below the fold. We have previously published comments from Affirming Catholicism, Forward in Faith, and Catholic Group, FiF and WATCH

Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops

Church Society is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the evangelical and reformed foundations of our Anglican faith within the Church of England. We remain convinced that the best way forward on the issue of women bishops is one where those who are not persuaded from scripture of the necessity of the proposed changes continue to be able to flourish in the Church. We are therefore delighted that the new legislative proposals before General Synod this week do acknowledge that this view is “within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion” and that for those who hold to the classic and historic view, “the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures.”

There are various issues that need to be ironed out in the new proposed legislation for this to be a truly credible and reliable statement, and for the gospel to flourish within the Church of England. Some helpful, positive steps have been taken, not least in developing a mandatory grievance procedure, though significant worries remain for those who are not content to acknowledge the spiritual oversight of women bishops in good conscience. Many also find it difficult to believe that their ministry is valued or encouraged when, unfortunately, there are currently no serving evangelical bishops who hold to the classic and historic teaching on this subject. We are also concerned that any new bishops should be orthodox and faithful to our Anglican formularies such as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, which officially and legally function as our doctrinal foundation and guide in ministry, and that trustworthiness here should be given a higher priority in selection criteria. Just as Her Majesty the Queen promised 60 years at her coronation to maintain and defend “the true profession of the gospel… the Protestant Reformed religion”, so also, we believe, should all our bishops.

We are committed to praying for the current process and for those (including many members of Church Society) who have been involved in the synodical debates on this issue for many years now. Our earnest prayer is that a way may be found for us to go forward together with integrity and transparency, for the sake of our witness to the truth of the gospel and the good of our nation. If it is true that the Church of England is in danger of dying out within a generation, then it is urgent that we do not lose, hinder, or discourage the evangelistic dynamism of conservative evangelical clergy or children’s and youth workers, who do so much to reach the peoples of Britain for Christ.

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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

General Synod - Tuesday

This page will be updated during the day

Overnight news and comment

Editorial in The Guardian Church of England: Mission impossible
Graeme Paton Telegraph Anglican schools ‘not dominated by middle-class pupils’
John McManus BBC News Church and Stonewall to target homophobic bullying
Nick Baines Approach to Synod

Order paper for Tuesday

Live video

Official summary of Tuesday morning’s business: General Synod - Tuesday AM

The contingency business (not in the order paper) was taken before lunch, and this motion was passed.

That this Synod call on the Archbishops’ Council to introduce legislation to enable dioceses of the Church of England to be named by reference either to a city or substantial town or to a geographical area

After lunch the Archbishop of York gave his presidential address.

This was followed by a debate on church schools. This was opened by the Bishop of Oxford with this speech.
Press release on this debate: Synod affirms CofE’s crucial involvement with schools

The final item of business was a motion from the diocese of London calling for a review of the workings of synod: Review on workings of synod rejected.

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Tuesday PM

Nick Baines comments on today’s business: Prophetic imagination.

There are these two report of the Archbishop of York’s address:

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England must end internal arguments, says archbishop of York
Gavin Drake Church Times Take action to help the ‘new poor’, says Sentamu

Audio recordings of the sessions are available here.

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Monday, 18 November 2013

General Synod - Questions about the Pilling report

Updated
The supplementary questions and answers have now been transcribed from the audio recording.

All the Questions can be read in this file.
Answers were given to all these (except some that were for Written Reply only) during the Monday evening session.

Several questions were asked about the Pilling report, to which the Archbishop of Canterbury made replies.

The Very Revd Andrew Nunn (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q39. When will the report of the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling be published?

Answer: Soon.

Dean of Southwark: And I appreciate the economy of that answer. But given that the report is potentially so important for the life and mission of the church, how soon?

Archbishop of Canterbury: I can confirm that the Pilling group has completed its work as you say in the… as we all know. Synod members may be reassured that “soon” means “not very long” or “fairly imminently”, but not “very soon”.

Mr Gerald O’Brien (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q40. Will the House of Bishops give Synod an assurance that when the Pilling Report is published, it will carry a suitably prominent statement to the effect that any proposals or recommendations the report contains are not the official position of the Church of England unless and until they are endorsed by a vote of the General Synod?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q41. Can the Synod be assured that, if the House of Bishops having considered the Pilling Report are minded to make any changes to the Church of England‟s position on human sexuality, it will ensure Synod is given an opportunity to debate these matters before any changes are brought into effect?

The Revd Jonathan Frais (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q42. Given General Synod’s resolution of 1987 saying that adultery, fornication and homosexual acts are to be met with “a call to repentance”, what steps will be taken to make clear that the Pilling Report, when it is published, has not replaced this stance unless and until the General Synod itself so resolves?

Answer to questions 40. 41, and 42:

I can confirm that the Pilling Report will be a document which will offer findings and recommendations from the members of the group for the Church of England to consider. It will not be a new policy statement from the Church of England. That will be made quite clear when the Report is published.

It is premature at this stage to speculate about any decision making process at the end of the period of discussion and reflection initiated by the report’s publication. Who has the authority nationally to determine any particular issue in the Church of England always depends on the nature of the decision. Clearly if there were any question of looking again at the motion passed by the Synod in 1987 that would be a matter for the Synod.

Mr John Ward: Given our useful discussions on Saturday in York last July, before any vote by the General Synod on Pilling, would the House encourage the Business Committee to find time for facilitated discussions on this subject?

Archbishop of Canterbury: Thank you Mr O’Brien [sic] that’s a very helpful suggestion, and I am sure the House will consider it.

WRITTEN REPLY
Mrs Penelope Allen (Lichfield) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q43. Is the House considering tasking the Liturgical Commission with the preparation of suitable liturgy for the blessing of civil partnerships in church?

Answer: No.

WRITTEN REPLY
Mrs Penelope Allen (Lichfield) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q44. What progress has been made by the group established by the House to advise it on human sexuality in producing its report and, when it is produced, is it intended that it should be the subject of debate at the same time as the private member’s motions on the Public Doctrine of Christian Marriage and Registration of Civil Partnerships?

Answer: The Pilling Group has now completed its work. Its report will be published soon. It will be for the House of Bishops and the Business Committee to consider how best the report might be handled synodically given the motions already awaiting debate. Both bodies meet next month.

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General Synod - Monday business

Order paper 1

Questions order paper

Archbishop Justin’s presentation to the General Synod

Press Release: Archbishops address Synod on first day of November sitting

After a debate on Intentional Evangelism this motion was passed.

That this Synod in the light of the priority of evangelism and making new disciples:
(a) support the formation of an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism with the terms of reference and timetable as set
out in GS 1917 and urge that its membership include:
(i) staff of Anglican home mission agencies with expertise in helping local churches engage in effective evangelism and disciple-making, and
(ii) those with a proven record in those disciplines at local level;
(b) call upon the Task Group to make its first priority a new call to prayer;
(c) commend to the Task Group an initial programme for its work around the seven disciplines of evangelisation as set
out in the same paper;
(d) call upon every diocesan and deanery synod and every PCC to spend the bulk of one meeting annually and some
part of every meeting focusing on sharing experiences and initiatives for making new disciples; and
(e) urge every local church in 2014 prayerfully to try at least one new way, appropriate to their local context, of seeking to make new disciples of Jesus Christ.

Press release on the debate on this motion: Synod approves motion to support an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism

Text of presentation: Women in the Episcopate Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod- Monday PM

Live video stream

For official twitter coverage of General Synod follow @CofEGenSyn.

All Synod papers are linked here.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pre-Synod press reports

Updated Monday morning

The press has been looking ahead to this week’s General Synod.

Madeleine Davies Church Times FiF backs women-bishops deal
John Bingham Telegraph Church of England discusses overhaul of ‘rude and unchristian’ Synod
Edward Malnick Telegraph Church of England on brink of women bishops resolution
Sam Jones The Guardian Female bishops could become reality as Church of England synod meets
The BBC Radio4 Sunday programme starts with an interview with Pat Storey, soon to become the first women bishop in the Church of Ireland. About 18 minutes in Anne Stevens of WATCH is interviewed; an opponent of women bishops was due to appear but “he got lost”.

There are also some blog posts.

YES 2 Women Bishops has published The new proposals explained and Looking ahead to the November General Synod session.
Pete Broadbent has blogged Twenty quick hits to change the CofE.
David Keen blogs The Church of England, the Gospel, and the Future: my prayer for General Synod.

And the CofE has published these Prayers for November General Synod.

Update

BBC Church of England synod due to debate women bishops

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Women in the Episcopate: Affirming Catholicism comments

Response to GS 1924: Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate

Affirming Catholicism welcomes the publication of the Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate (GS 1924) and the proposals to admit women to the episcopate of the Church of England. In particular, we applaud the use of a simple measure with associated guidelines for provisions for dissenting parishes, and dispute procedure. We especially value the recognition that provisions for alternative ministry will be overseen by the diocesan bishop, and that oaths of canonical obedience will continue to be made to the diocesan bishop.

The proposals have been admirably summarised by Will Adam (http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2013/10/28/women-bishops-what-you-see-and-what-you-dont/). They comprise:

1. The draft Measure – essentially a single-clause Measure – contains a principal clause making it legal for the Synod to legislate by canon to enable women to be ordained as bishops and priests. There is an additional clause stating beyond doubt that the office of bishop is not a “public office” under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 and there are a number of consequential amendments to other legislation.

2. The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 is repealed and along with it Resolutions A and B.

3. An amending Canon, which
a) adjusts the Canons of the Church of England to put those canons about the ordination and ministry of deacons, priests and bishops on the same footing for men and for women.

b) proposes a new Canon C 29 which places a new duty on the House of Bishops to make Regulations (to be approved by a two-thirds majority of each House of General Synod) for “the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements for which the House of Bishops’ declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests makes provision”. This assumes that the House of Bishops will have made such a declaration.

4. a draft declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests that the House of Bishops could make; and

5. a set of draft regulations for a system for resolving disputes, introducing an “Independent Reviewer” whose function is similar to that of an ombudsman.

The Report thus presents all (or nearly all) the different elements of the package for discussion by General Synod, allowing a much clearer sense to be gained of how this process will work. In particular, and centrally, the introduction of a process for dispute resolution is integral to the package. Affirming Catholicism also welcomes the use of small groups and facilitated conversations in the drafting of these proposals.

However, we continue to have some concerns:

a) The proposals imply that the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 will be rescinded (§41) but this is nowhere explicitly stated. The proposals affirm that “the sees [of the current PEVs] will continue to exist, and the post holders continue to remain in office,” but do not clarify the status of these sees.
Affirming Catholicism would welcome clarity on these points, and in particular about the status of the “sees”: are they to become effectively suffragans of Canterbury and York?

b) The provisions to be made for dissenting parishes to issue letters of request (or to rescind such a request) will be made at the request of a PCC passed (apparently: again, this is not stated explicitly) by simple majority at a meeting of which at least four weeks’ notice of the meeting has been given; either 2/3 of the PCC members must be present at this meeting, or the motion must be passed by a majority of all the PCC members (Annexe A, §§19-20). If two thirds of the PCC are present and the request is passed by a simple majority, then it can potentially be passed by one third of the PCC plus one person. This is contrary to the provision made in §54 that there will be “a resolution-making procedure so as to ascertain that the decision has the support of the majority of the PCC.
Affirming Catholicism continues to believe that a question of such import for a parish should be decided by a meeting of all those on the electoral roll, and that a two-thirds majority of those present and voting should be required. We note that a two-thirds majority in all three houses of General Synod will be required to change any of these proposals, and believe that it would be consistent to expect a similar level of agreement for the issuing of Letters of Request by PCCs.
Failing that, we would recommend that it can only be passed if two-thirds of the PCC are present and voting and with a two-thirds majority of those voting. This would at least ensure that a majority of the whole PCC is required.
We would also welcome the incorporation of a requirement that a motion to issue Letters of Request can only be put forward after a documented process of widespread consultation, either at the parish level or at least within the congregation, and that and after any decision, the formal Request must be publicised in the church, like faculty notices.

c) The provisions also introduce a commitment to the continuing “presence in the College of Bishops of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship” (§30), which is seen as “important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust.”
Although we recognise that the constitution of the College of Bishops needs to reflect something of the diversity of the Church of England, as recommended by the Pilling Report, we would not wish this to be operated along the lines of a quota system for the College of Bishops. This comes close to viewing individual Bishops as representatives of the views of particular groups rather than as a focus for unity in their Dioceses and the Church as a whole. It is important that those selecting bishops – which in the case of the diocesan appointments is the Crown Nomination Commission – are free to identify the best person for a particular situation and context. We note again the need to clarify the canonical position of the sees formerly designated for the PEVs.

d) For the purposes of the Equalities Act, the legislation has found it necessary to define a diocesan bishop as being not a public office, in that the appointment of bishops is not “on the recommendation of, or subject to the approval of, a member of the executive” (§21).
Affirming Catholicism views with considerable concern the suggestion that bishops do not hold a public office. Although we recognise that the report does note that “The definition of ‘public office’ is solely for the purpose of the Equality Act and has no implications for the public role of bishops more generally,” we believe that this is an unfortunate concession.

Affirming Catholicism would also observe that continuing relationships with the Methodist Church and other ecumenical partners are in some cases predicated on the expectation that the Church of England will admit women and men to leadership positions at all levels. It is not clear to us whether this legislation, with its explicit concessions to allow the Church of England to avoid the requirements of the Equalities Act, will be held by our ecumenical partners to fulfil that requirement.

A PDF version of this document is available here.

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Monday, 11 November 2013

Women in the Episcopate: Forward in Faith comments further

Forward in Faith has today issued the following statement:

Women in the Episcopate: Further Comment

The new draft legislation on Women in the Episcopate and the associated proposals in the Steering Committee’s report represent a very significant improvement on the former draft legislation which failed in November 2012. Key differences include the following.

  • Instead of exposing lay representatives to the risk of legal challenge when they veto candidates, the proposals would require the bishop to take responsibility for ensuring that appointments that conflict with PCC resolutions are not made.
  • The previous legislation would have left it to individuals to determine whether they had ‘cogent reasons’ for contravening the Code of Practice, and those decisions could only have been challenged by way of judicial review in the High Court (litigation which would have been costly for those concerned and damaging for the Church’s reputation). The new proposals would impose clear responsibilities; crucially, they make provision for the resolution of disputes through recourse to an Independent Reviewer with paid administrative support.
  • The previous legislation left the terms of the Code of Practice, and of the separate diocesan schemes that would have had to be drafted in each diocese, to be finalized after the Measure had received Royal Assent. Under the new proposals, the relevant documents will have been finalized before the legislation receives Final Approval.
  • Under the previous legislation, the Code of Practice could have been amended by simple majorities in each House of the Synod. Amendment of the new proposals will require two-thirds majorities in each House.

We also welcome the inclusion in the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration of the five ‘guiding principles’ in paragraph 5. These recognize our position as one of theological conviction which continues to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition and make a commitment to provision, both pastoral and sacramental, without limit of time.

Though these proposals are still far from what we have long said would be ideal, we believe that they may have the potential to provide workable arrangements for the future, which will ensure that our people, clergy and parishes have continued access to a ministry that will enable us to flourish within the structures of the Church of England and make our full contribution to its life and mission. They hold out the possibility of bringing to a conclusion a process that for too long has been a distraction from the Church’s mission. Much will depend on the continuance of the atmosphere of trust that has at last begun to be fostered by the process that produced these proposals.

We therefore encourage the General Synod to send the legislation for revision in full Synod, so that the process may continue as expeditiously as possible. We encourage our members to study the whole package carefully over the coming months: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1872454/gs%201924%20-%20report%20of%20the%20steering%20committee%20for%20the%20draft%20legislation%20on%20women%20in%20the%20episcopate.pdf
We set out below some matters that still need to be addressed.

As a matter of conscience, those who, with Forward in Faith, are opposed on theological grounds to ordaining women to the episcopate will not be able to vote at the final approval stage in favour of legislation whose purpose is to permit this. What attitude is taken to the possibility of principled abstention will depend on whether the proposals survive intact. Any weakening of the proposals would require them to be opposed vigorously.

On behalf of the Executive

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
Chairman
11 November 2013

Matters to be addressed

1. We agree with the Steering Committee’s comment in para. 28 of its report (GS 1924) that all the elements of an overall, balanced package need to be agreed before the Measure and Canon are brought to final approval. Para. 42 of the report envisages an agreed way of proceeding with regard to issues in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops (including the further and sharper issues that will arise in due course when there is a woman archbishop). It is in everyone’s interest that this agreed way of proceeding should have been identified before the legislation receives final approval.

2. A situation in which hundreds of parishes are obliged to pass new resolutions immediately after the new legislation comes into force would place a heavy burden not only on PCCs but also on the bishops who would need to respond to the resolutions. The package will therefore need to include provisions that ensure a seamless transition. These too will need to be known in advance of final approval.

3. Para. 40 of the draft House of Bishops Declaration says that the House will not proceed with proposals for changing it unless they command two-thirds majorities in all three Houses of the General Synod. However, this statement would merely be an undertaking on the part of the present members of the House. The new Canon C 29 would require two-thirds majorities for amendment of the House’s Regulations for the dispute resolution procedure. In order to provide a similar level of assurance, the Canon should similarly require two-thirds majorities in each House for proposals to amend the Declaration. This would then bind future members of the House of Bishops.

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Friday, 1 November 2013

Women bishops latest

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times: Women-bishops proposals: ombudsman in new package.

The Church Times also has this leader: No light task.

Andrew Grey writes for On Religion: Women Bishops in Wales: Just Conforming to Culture?

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes blogs: Women Bishops: Take Two…

Will Adam writes for Law & Religion UK Women bishops – what you see and what you don’t.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 1 November 2013 at 9:49am GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Women in the Episcopate: Catholic Group, FiF and WATCH respond to new proposals

Updated Tuesday

The Catholic Group in General Synod has also issued a statement:

STATEMENT FROM FATHER SIMON KILLWICK, CHAIRMAN OF THE CATHOLIC GROUP IN GENERAL SYNOD
on the report of the Steering Committee on Women in the Episcopate to General Synod for November 2013 Group of Sessions

“The Catholic Group recognises that a huge amount of work has gone into producing a comprehensive and detailed legislative package, work which has been costly in spiritual and emotional terms, as well as in time - we are deeply grateful to all the members of the Steering Committee for all that they have done for the Church.

“Naturally, such a complex package will need careful study and prayer by all, rather than instant responses, and we will comment further in due course. However, as important as the detail of the proposals themselves, will be the spirit in which they are received and taken forward - a spirit of reconciliation and trust, which we believe has been growing this year, by the grace of God; it is in that light that we shall study them.”

Forward in Faith has issued this response:

Women in the Episcopate: Initial Response to the Proposals

Forward in Faith thanks the members of the Steering Committee for their work.

The proposed combination of a House of Bishops’ Declaration with a Mandatory Disputes Resolution Procedure represents a new and different approach which deserves careful consideration.

In line with the resolution passed at our National Assembly, we shall be examining the proposals closely over the coming weeks to see how far they would ensure that our parishes and their clergy and people have continued access to a ministry that will make it possible for us to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. We shall also be attentive to the responses of others within the Church.

After discussion, prayer and reflection, we envisage commenting further during November, in the run-up to the General Synod debates.

Women and the Church has issued this response:

WATCH encouraged following publication of WiE Steering Group’s draft legislation

The Women in the Episcopate draft legislation put forward for General Synod next month by the Steering Group contains much to encourage those campaigning for the full inclusion of women at every level of the Church. WATCH’s thanks and prayers go to those on the Steering Group working hard to achieve this and who worked under the principles of simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality.

There is much in the report that is welcomed by WATCH. Firstly, that the legislation put forward is simple and General Synod’s desire to resolve the issue as quickly and as simply as possible has been reflected in the draft legislation. WATCH also supports the recommendation of the Group to legislate on this issue through a Bishops’ Declaration, not an Act of Synod, and the wholehearted endorsement of women’s ministry in the five guiding principles. It is particularly encouraging that every diocese will have a bishop, whether the diocesan or suffragan, who ordains women to the priesthood with emphasis on consultation between diocesan bishops and parishes and diocesan bishops and PEVs.

The appointment of an Independent Reviewer is a new proposal and one which allows a forum for all sides to raise issues and concerns. As a new development, it will be interesting to see how this is received by all groups involved.

WATCH has noted the proposed arrangements for those opposed to women holding leadership roles in the church. The church will rarely be unanimous about the appointment of particular people as bishops but it is important that the leadership of bishops is widely recognized and respected amongst those they are appointed to lead.

WATCH thanks those involved in the Steering Group for their hard work and commitment to this issue and remains committed to working towards the highest possible degree of communion.

Anne Stevens, a WATCH vice chair said, ‘It’s good to see draft legislation that is so clear and concise, and we look forward to a day of great national rejoicing when women are finally made bishops. We’re grateful to the Steering Committee for all their hard work on the Bishops’ Declaration, which offers people on all sides of the debate a new opportunity to move forward in a spirit of trust and openness to one another.’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 26 October 2013 at 6:07pm BST | Comments (72) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 October 2013

General Synod agenda - press reports on women bishops proposals

Updated Saturday

Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Trust but verify’ summarises new women-bishops package, says Fittall

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England could have female bishops by 2014, says committee

Edward Malnick The Telegraph Ombudsman could rule on Church of England disputes

Thomas Penny Bloomberg Church of England May Back Women Bishops as Soon as Next Year

Update

The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, chair of the Steering Committee was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning. You can listen to the programme here; the interview starts at 01:47:54.

Kevin Rawlinson The Guardian Church of England ombudsman could resolve disputes over women bishops

BBC Synod to consider women bishops ‘ombudsman’

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General Synod online papers

Updated Friday 1 November

General Synod meets next month from 18 to 20 November, and the papers are starting to appear online. Most became available today and others will appear on 1 November.

There is a zip file of all the papers issued today (25 October).

There is now a zip file of the papers issued on 1 November, and a zip file of all the papers.

This list is in numerical order, with links to the individual papers and a note of the day on which debate is scheduled. It will be updated as more papers become available.

GS 1866B - Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure [Monday]
GS 1877B - Draft Amending Canon No 31 [Monday]
GS 1866Z-1877Z - Report by the Steering Committee

GS 1906 - The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report from the Business Committee [Wednesday]

GS 1914A and GS 1914B - Diocesan Synod Motion: A Review of the workings of the General Synod [Tuesday]

GS 1915 - Agenda November 2013

GS 1916 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1917 - Intentional Evangelism [Monday]

GS 1918 - Draft Diocese of Leeds Resolution [Monday]

GS 1919 - Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1919x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1920 - The Church School of the Future [Tuesday]

GS 1921 - Draft Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1921x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1922 - Draft Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation 2013 [Tuesday]
GS 1922X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1923 - Forty Eighth Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1924 - Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate [Wednesday]
GS 1925 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Wednesday]
GS 1926 - Draft Amending Canon No.33 [Wednesday]
GS 1925-6x - Explanatory Memorandum [Wednesday]

GS 1927A and GS 1927B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Name of Dioceses [contingency business]

GS 1928A and GS 1928B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England - National Debate

Synod members have also been sent these other papers.

GS Misc 1061 - Women in the Episcopate: Guide to the papers
GS Misc 1062 - Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1063 - Credit Unions, The Financial Sector and the Church

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper
3rd Notice Paper

Standing Orders updates

Church Care Impact Review 2013

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Agenda for November 2013 General Synod

The agenda for next month’s meeting of General Synod was released this morning. It was accompanied by this press release.

NEWS from the Church of England
PR 157.13
25/10/2013
For Immediate Release

Agenda for November 2013 General Synod

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a three day meeting from 1.45 pm on Monday 18th November until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 20th November.

The agenda for the meeting is published today with the progression of legislation for enabling Women to become Bishops predominating. During its meeting Synod will consider the package of proposals drawn up by the Steering Committee for the draft legislation on women in the episcopate. There will also be debates on Evangelism and Church Schools.

Synod’s first debate on Monday will be on Intentional Evangelism, with the Archbishop of York proposing a motion reflecting the Church’s priority of evangelism and making of new disciples. The motion seeks to establish a new Task group on Evangelism with its first priority being a new call to prayer in June 2014.

On Monday evening the Bishop of Rochester will give a presentation of its proposals to admit women to the episcopate to aid discussion in small groups on the morning of Tuesday 19th November. This group work follows on from the generally well-received group work which took place at the July 2013 General Synod. There will then be two debates on Women in the Episcopate on Wednesday 20th November. In the morning there will be a debate on the Steering Committee’s Report which describes the package of proposals that the Committee has prepared in accordance with the mandate set by the Synod in July and includes the first draft of a House of Bishops declaration and a disputes resolution procedure. The Synod will be invited to welcome the proposals and the five guiding principles, already agreed by the House of Bishops, which underpin them.

Then before lunch Synod will move on to give first consideration to the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon prepared by the Committee. The Chair of the Steering Committee will move that the legislation should be committed for revision in full Synod without a prior Revision Committee Stage. The expectation is that the Revision Stage would be held in February.

On Monday afternoon, there will be a debate on Intentional Evangelism. The motion being debated supports the formation of an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism. The debate is co-sponsored by the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council.

On Tuesday afternoon there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. This will be followed by a debate on a report from the Board of Education on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Chadwick Report on ‘The Church School of the Future’. The Bishop of Oxford, as Chair of the National Society and the Board of Education will present the progress report and invite Synod to endorse the next phase of the implementation process.

Other items of business on the synod’s agenda include the system for elections to the House of Laity and a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from London Diocese on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod which will look at the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and ‘whether…the current synodical framework and representative structures are still fit for purpose.’

Contingency business takes the form of two related Diocesan Synod Motions from Bradford and Wakefield. The Bradford Diocesan Synod calls on the Archbishops’ council ‘to introduce legislation to enable dioceses of the Church of England to be named by reference either to a city or substantial town or to a geographical area.’ The Wakefield Diocesan Synod Motion on The Nature and Structure of the Church of England asks the House of Bishops to facilitate a debate about the organisational shape of the Church.

Finally, the Synod will be considering several other pieces of legislation in addition to that relating to women in the episcopate, including a draft Measure intended to take further the reform of the faculty jurisdiction which was begun in July.

ENDS

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

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Women in the Episcopate

The new proposals to allow women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England were published this morning. They will be debated at General Synod on Wednesday 20 November, and comprise these four papers:

GS 1924 - Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate
GS 1925 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926 - Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1925-6x - Explanatory Memorandum

A guide to these papers [GS Misc 1061] has also been published and is copied below.

GS Misc 1061
GENERAL SYNOD
Women in the episcopate- guide to the papers

1. In view of the significance of the material that it has produced and the fact that it is distributed across several documents the Steering Committee thought that Synod members might find it helpful to have a very short note on how they fit together.

2. The Steering Committee’s report is at GS 1924 and is the natural place to start. It gives an overview of the Committee’s work and of the package of proposals that it is recommending. It also explains the motion that the Steering Committee is bringing to the Synod in November and what the process would be thereafter.

3. Drafts of two elements of the package - the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Regulations establishing a disputes resolution procedure - are set out at Annexes A and B of the report. In addition there is some background material on the disputes resolution procedure at Annex C. The drafts of the Declaration and the Regulations are, at this stage, proposals to the House of Bishops, which will consider them in more detail in December and then bring them, together with a motion for debate, to the Synod in February.

4. The other two elements of the package are the draft Measure and Amending Canon. These can be found at GS 1925 and 1926 respectively, together with an Explanatory Memorandum from the Legal Office at GS 1925-6X.

5. These two items of legislation are being brought for first consideration in November. The Steering Committee, with the consent of the Business Committee, is proposing that they be committed for revision in full Synod. This would enable all four elements of the package to be considered at the same group of sessions in February.

William Fittall 23 October 2013
Secretary General

There is also Women in the Episcopate: A Statement from the Archbishops which is copied below the fold.

Women in the Episcopate: Statement from the Archbishops

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have welcomed the progress made by the Steering Committee charged with the preparation of draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. The Committee has met several times during September and October to prepare proposals for consideration at the November meeting of the General Synod.

The proposals of the committee are published today. In response the Archbishop of Canterbury and York have today issued a joint statement:

“It is significant that the 15 members of the Steering Committee chaired by Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester, who represent the widest possible range of opinion on the matter, have been able to reach substantial agreement on a package of proposals to put to General Synod in November. For this we thank God, and we pray in hope that this will help General Synod debate and decide on the necessary next steps to enable women to become bishops.

“We are also profoundly grateful to all the members of the Committee who have engaged with each other and with their shared task in such depth and with such care and prayer throughout the intense deliberations of the past few weeks. Our particular thanks also go to David Porter, Sandra Cobbin and Bill Marsh for their work in facilitating these meetings. We are also grateful for the help and support offered to the Committee by William Fittall, The Secretary General, Stephen Slack, Chief Legal Adviser, Alexander McGregor, Deputy Legal Adviser and Sir Anthony Hammond, Standing Counsel.

“In the light of this we warmly commend the proposals of the Steering Committee to members of General Synod and to all members of the Church of England for prayer, study and reflection. “May we be guided by God, and ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ (Ephesians 4.3)”

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis

Ends

Notes to Editors:

The proposals of the steering committee can be found here.

The Steering Committee was established by the General Synod in July 2013 following its debate on recommendations from the House of Bishops. See here for further information.

The Report from the House of Bishops “Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals” (GS1886) can be found here.

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Timetable for November session of General Synod

The timetable for the November group of sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is available for download, and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD: NOVEMBER 2013
Timetable
 
Monday 18 November
12 noon Meeting of the House of Laity
2 pm – 7 pm
1.45 pm Worship
  Formal business
  Briefing by the Archbishop of Canterbury
  Report by the Business Committee
  Quinquennium Goals Part II: Intentional Evangelism
  Legislative Business
   Miscellaneous Provisions Measure/Amending Canon No 31 – Final Drafting and Final Approval
   Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme: Resolution relating to Synodical representation
Not later than 5.20 pm Questions
Not later than 6.50 pm Presentation on Steering Committee report on women in the episcopate
[7.05–7.25 pm] Evening worship
 
Tuesday 19 November
9.15 am – 1 pm
9.15 am Group work on Women in the Episcopate (to include morning worship)
11.45 am Legislative Business:
   Any unfinished legislative business from Monday
   Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure (re the Faculty Jurisdiction) – First Consideration
2.30 pm – 7 pm
2.30 pm Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
  The Church School of the Future (Chadwick Report)
  Legislative business
  PCCs (Powers) Measure – First Consideration
   Amending Vacancy in See Committee Regulation (to give effect to Bradford DSM)
   Standing Orders Committee report
Not later than 5.45 pm London DSM: Review of the Workings of the General Synod
[7.05-7.25 pm] Evening worship
 
Wednesday 20 November
9.15 am – 1 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion
10.30 am Women in the episcopate: Motion on Steering Committee report
  Legislative business
   Women in the Episcopate Draft Measure and Amending Canon – First Consideration
2.30 – 5.30pm
2.30 pm Legislative Business
   Women in the Episcopate: Draft Measure and Amending Canon – First Consideration cont’d
  The Work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report by the Business Committee (resumed debate)
Not later than 5.15 pm Farewells
5.30 pm Prorogation
   
Contingency business: Bradford DSM: Name of Dioceses
  Wakefield DSM: Nature and Structure of the Church of England – National Debate
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Friday, 6 September 2013

First meeting of Women Bishops steering committee

Press release from the Church of England today.

First meeting of Women Bishops steering committee
06 September 2013

The first meeting of the women Bishops steering committee set up after the General Synod debate in July 2013 took place on 5th and 6th September in Coventry.

The committee considered a first draft of the Measure and amending canon as requested by Synod and also looked at the possible shape of a declaration from the House of Bishops and a mandatory grievance procedure. The discussions were serious, honest and constructive.

The committee is due to meet again on 11th and 12th of October 2013.

We listed the members of the steering committee here.

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Monday, 5 August 2013

Chair of the Business Committee

The Revd Canon Sue Booys has been elected Chair of the Business Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England, it was announced today. The detailed election results are here.

Canon Booys is team rector of the Dorchester Team of Churches in the diocese of Oxford.

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Thursday, 25 July 2013

WATCH responds to Steering Committee membership

Women and the Church (WATCH) issued this statement today.

Response to the announcement of the membership of the Steering Committee Appointments Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The prompt formation of the Steering Committee, demonstrating the Church of England’s determination to proceed with its commitment to opening the episcopate to women, is welcomed by WATCH.

We are glad to receive information on the committee’s makeup, particularly the inclusion of experienced, respected women, lay and ordained, in the discussions. We note the strong presence of those representing groups opposed to the episcopal ministry of women and requesting provision and hope that presence of the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation will enable the different groups to work together to produce constructive legislation.

We look forward to seeing legislation produced that will:

  • honour and uphold both the content and spirit of Option One, which received strong support from General Synod in July
  • reflect the House of Bishops unequivocal support for women within all three orders of ministry.
  • enable women to flourish in all ministries to which God calls them; lay, ordained and episcopal, on equality with men, reflecting the inclusive heart of Christian scripture and tradition.
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General Synod miscellaneous

The following are now available.

The official summary of the business transacted at the Synod: Business Done.

Electronic voting lists

I have already published details of the voting on women in the episcopate. Also available are the voting lists for the debates on Safeguarding and Welfare Reform. The vote on the Welfare Reform debate shows one vote against. I have confirmed that this was a mistake. The person concerned pressed the wrong button and was unable to correct this error before the voting period (one minute) came to an end.

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Women in the episcopate - electronic voting results

Updated

Electronic voting results for this month’s General Synod debate on the women bishops legislation have now been published. These take the form of pdf files, arranged by houses (in two cases), by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.

I list below the four items voted on electronically, and the voting figures in each case. At the end I link to my consolidated version of the four votes arranged by synod number.

Item 39 (The Revd Paul Benfield amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priest or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to make statutory provision for opponents. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 39 ForAgainstabstain
Bishops7340
Clergy481374
Laity751154

Item 42 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to include in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 42 ForAgainstabstain
Bishops10281
Clergy551288
Laity931004

Item 46 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest -in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

This amendment was defeated on a division of the whole Synod (200 in favour, 210 against and 15 recorded abstentions). But I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 46 ForAgainstabstain
Bishops15232
Clergy87984
Laity98899

The final vote was on the substantive motion: Item 16 (as amended by items 45 and 47). The two successful amendments were each carried on a show of hands. They added the references to a grievance procedure, and to the use of facilitated conversations.

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

This was carried on a division of the whole Synod (319 in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions). Again I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 16ForAgainstabstain
Bishops3721
Clergy154278
Laity1285513

Spreadsheet of votes [Updated Friday night to correct totals for House of Bishops]

For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies. For this purpose an “absentee” is someone who did not record an electronic vote (for/against/abstention). There are various reasons for being an absentee.

Update 1: There is also this webpage version of my spreadsheet.

Update 2: For convenience I have extracted below the voting records for the members of the Steering Committee.

surname house item 39item 42item 46item 16
BenfieldPaulclergy67ForForForAgainst
CharmanJaneclergy203AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
CottonRobertclergy125AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
GiddingsPhiliplaity367ForForForFor
GooderPaulalaity249AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
HardmanChristineclergy214AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
HarrisonJamielaity301AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
LangstaffJamesbishops34AgainstAgainstabstainFor
LeafeSusannahlaity416ForForForAgainst
MallettRosemarieclergy216AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
SwinsonMargaretlaity341AgainstAgainstForFor
ThomasRoderickclergy120ForForForAgainst
WarnerMartinbishops14ForForForAgainst
WillmottTrevorbishops45AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
WinterDagmarclergy168ForAgainstAgainstFor
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Monday, 22 July 2013

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The membership of the Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation for the Church of England General Synod has just been announced.

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation
22 July 2013

The Appointments Committee of General Synod has announced the membership of the Steering Committee to take charge of the preparation of draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. The Committee will meet a number of times in September and October to prepare the draft legislation for consideration at the November meeting of the Synod . The size and membership of the Committee will be reviewed by the Appointments Committee after this initial phase of work.

As outlined at this month’s Synod in York the size of the newly formed Steering Committee reflects the suggestion from the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, urging “facilitated discussions” to continue. Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s director of reconciliation, who guided the facilitated discussions at Synod, helped advise the appointments committee.

Steering Committee members
The Revd Paul Benfield
The Revd Canon Jane Charman
The Revd Canon Robert Cotton
Dr Philip Giddings
Dr Paula Gooder
The Ven Christine Hardman
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair)
Mrs Susannah Leafe
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Canon Margaret Swinson
The Revd Preb Roderick Thomas
The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner
The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott
The Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull (Consultant)

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Friday, 19 July 2013

Women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion

YES 2 Women Bishops has published this useful Infographic: women bishops in the Anglican Communion showing the status of women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion.

They have also published a summary of what General Synod did last week, Synod’s resolve, and these thoughts on where we are now.

So where does this all leave us? A few thoughts:

1. It seems premature for anyone to try to decide whether this form of legislation is acceptable or not. Whilst on the face of it, the proposal seems to be closer to what supporters of women bishops wanted and further from what opponents wanted, the reality of how this works will be in the Act of Synod or House of Bishops declaration which will set out the provisions for those opposed. There is a bit of a phoney war already underway with opponents of women bishops claiming that only provisions set out in the face of the legislation are adequate. In truth they already operate very happily under an Act of Synod which is detested by women clergy. This would imply that this form of provision is perfectly acceptable in other areas for those who cannot accept women bishops. It is perfectly possible, therefore, that any new Act of Synod provides precisely the provisions that opponents are looking for and is problematic for supporters of women bishops, so we really don’t yet know what the final package will look like. There is still a lot of work to do.

2. The synodical arithmetic has clearly not changed in any significant way - opponents remain opposed and supporters remain supportive. If it were put to another final vote today, requiring a two thirds majority in each house, it looks like it would still fail. For this reason, the legislative timetable is intriguing. In theory the final vote could come in the last sitting of the current synod, before elections are held and a new synod is formed. It seems implausible that a final vote will be held in the current synod session if it looks like the blocking minority remains opposed to the legislation in the run up to the final vote. Instead, the final vote will be shunted into the next Synod session when a new group have been elected, in the hope that the blocking minority is removed. Such a tactic is high risk, as there is no guarantee that this would be the outcome of synod elections. This means that unless some hearts and minds are won over in the next 12-18 months, synod elections will be dominated by this issue as each “side” seeks to get more of their number into general synod.

3. We’re back on our way. We must remain hopeful that Synod will succeed this time. The resolution passed last week is strong and positive, and so must we be. We must give thanks to those who have worked to make this happen, and resolve to pray and support them in the months and years ahead until we finally see the day when Christian women are able to fulfill their divine calling and serve as bishops.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Women Bishops: Catholic Group in General Synod responds

The Catholic Group in General Synod issued a statement last week after the General Synod debate on Women in the Episcopate. It is not yet available on the Group’s website, but we have been given this copy.

Statement from the Catholic Group in General Synod

We welcome the clear commitment of General Synod to make provision for all in the Church of England.

We are fully supportive of a new kind of legislative process involving facilitated conversations as outlined by the Bishop of Willesden and endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and most members of Synod.

It is clear, from the voting on a number of the amendments, that the amended Option 1 will need a considerable amount of further work in order to build a sufficient consensus for when it comes to the Synod for Final Approval in 2015.

Martin Dales on behalf of the Group

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Friday, 12 July 2013

General Synod summaries

The CofE has published two summaries of the recent Synod.

First is a two-sided A3 illustrated version: In Review.

Second is an A5 insert for parish magazines, without illustrations but with a slightly fuller text: In Focus.

Both of the above are pdf files ready for printing, but the text of the magazine insert is also available as an rtf file.

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General Synod - Friday roundup

Here are some reflections and comments on what happened at General Synod.

Nick Baines (Bishop of Bradford) Mixed feelings

Andrew Carey The ghastly Indabas return

Colin Coward A health report on the C of E following the York Synod

Steven Croft (Bishop of Sheffield) Three processes in one: today’s Synod debate on Bishops

Jeremy Fletcher General Synod July 2013 – Jeremy’s Report

Giles Fraser General Synod brings out the worst in the Church of England – and in me

Jody Stowell Women bishops: Building bridges to avoid repeating history

Chris Sugden Update to AAC from Canon Chris Sugden

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Starting again on women bishops

Lichfield Diocese’s reps reflect on General Synod

Church Times leader Has the Synod shifted at all?

There are also a few more press reports.

Today’s Church Times has revised versions of two reports published immediately after the Synod debates:
Ed Thornton, Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Glyn Paflin Synod makes a new start on women bishops in York
Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Synod approves new West Yorkshire diocese

The Living Church Synod Slogs through in York

Amaris Cole in The Church of England Newspaper Women bishops back on track

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Synod Questions about bullying in church schools

Question 65 Rachel Jepson to the Chair of the Board of Education

What progress has been made by the Board on developing recommended policies and staff-training materials relating to the bullying of LGBT people, and have any recommendations of the Board in those respects been implemented in any Church of England schools?

Answer from the Bishop of Oxford

The Board of Education/National Society, and indeed all Diocesan Boards of Education, are clear that any form of bullying is unacceptable in Church of England schools. If the Board became aware that existing tried and tested materials for both staff training and pupil activities were proving inadequate in developing relationships of respect and acceptance for all, the Board would take advice from the schools to determine appropriate action.

Question 66 Robin Hall

How many incidents of homophobic bullying were recorded in Church of England schools in the last school year (or the most recent school year for which statistics are available)?

Answer

No national or even diocesan figures are collected.

—-

Earlier in the day, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Presidential Address had said this:

…The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it. We all know that it is utterly horrifying. to hear, as we did this week, of gay people executed in Iran for being gay, or equivalents elsewhere. With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us, who are all without exception sinners. Again this requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth…

To put this context, in November 2012, Dr Jepson had asked a similar question. From the official record, here’s how the answers went:

37. Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham) asked the Chairman of the Board of Education: How does the Education Division intend to respond to the recommendations contained in the recent Stonewall report concerning the experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012, in which it is reported that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Britain’s schools, many of whom attend faith schools, experience homophobic bullying?

The Bishop of Oxford (Rt Revd John Pritchard), in reply: The Board of Education is quite clear that no form of bullying, for whatever reason, is acceptable in Church of England schools and that it would expect all staff and governors to be vigilant and decisive. Diocesan boards of education work closely with their schools developing their Christian ethos and will be equally determined to put the absolute value of all children and young people at the heart of the Christian ethos of their schools.

Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham): Will the Education Division ensure that every school, at both primary and secondary level, has in place an LGBT anti-bullying policy and will provide training for all staff members on these matters?

The Bishop of Oxford: The Education Division itself cannot do that, but it can advise diocesan boards to do it and we will certainly consider that possibility.

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Elections Review Group - General Synod debate

Last month I outlined the proposals from the Elections Review Group on the composition and electorate of the General Synod: part 1 and part 2. The Business Committee brought these to Synod for debate as the last items of business (apart from farewells) at Synod yesterday morning.

The proposals in part 1 were largely uncontroversial, and Synod agreed to send the draft legislation to a revision committee. But there was a lot of opposition to the proposal to abolish the university constituencies rather than reform them (and the way in which the review group had made its decision), and Synod passed this following motion, proposed by Professor Richard Burridge:

That this Synod request that the Steering Committee appointed under SO 49 to be in charge of the draft legislation arising from GS 1901 undertake full consultation with the University proctors regarding the proposals relating to the University constituencies in GS 1901, GS 1902 and GS 1904 and bring forward further proposals for consideration by the Revision Committee for the reform of those constituencies, based on accurate information.

Synod then moved onto part 2, of which the main part is the possibility of a change in the electorate for the House of Laity. Although the Business Committee supported replacing the lay members of deanery synods by an electoral college, they wanted to test the mind of Synod before producing any draft legislation. There is also a proposal to conduct elections online. But there was not time to complete the debate, and it was adjourned to a future group of sessions. Which group will be decided by the Business Committee.

The official summary of all Tuesday’s business is online, but strangely there is no mention of Professor Burridge’s motion.

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Women Bishops: Forward in Faith responds

press release from Forward in Faith

WOMEN BISHOPS: FORWARD IN FAITH RESPONDS TO JULY 2013 GENERAL SYNOD DEBATE

Forward in Faith thanks the many members of the Catholic Group in General Synod, together with other supporters, for their excellent contributions to yesterday’s debate.

Naturally, we are very disappointed that none of the amendments which would have ensured secure provision for those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests was passed. However, we are encouraged by the significant minorities, especially in the House of Laity, which did vote for such provision. We are confident that these votes, and the commitment which they represent on the part of many to a genuinely inclusive Church of England, in which all may flourish, will not be overlooked as the process moves forward. The alternative, which we would deeply regret, would be to pursue unsatisfactory legislation, lacking the necessary breadth of support, with the strong risk of ultimate defeat.

More detailed comments are set out below.

We welcome the commitment to continuing the facilitated conversations.

We welcome the widespread affirmation of the five points endorsed by the House of Bishops (GS 1886, para. 12), and trust that the draft legislation will embody and reflect all of them together.

We welcome the fact that 49% of the Synod voted for provisions to reduce the risk of legal challenge in the context of parochial appointments, and the resulting commitment to further work on this.

We strongly welcome the proposal, endorsed by many speakers (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) that the Steering Committee should be representative of a broad spectrum of opinion, and should draft legislation to which all can subscribe.

We also welcome the strong support of a very large minority of Synod members for legislation setting out rights and obligations that would create a clear and stable context for our future life together. We note the preference expressed by 40% of the House of Laity and over 30% of the Synod as a whole for provision to be made by Measure or by regulations under Canon.

In later votes even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25% of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting of legislation on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November’s failure.

We feel bound to reiterate that, while we are not trying to prevent women from becoming bishops in the Church of England, we cannot support any legislation which removes the existing rights of the laity to a ministry that they can receive in good conscience and which fails to offer the minority what the working group termed ‘a greater sense of security’ than the previous draft Measure.

We are unconvinced as to how a ‘mandatory grievance procedure’ binding on bishops can deliver this in respect of parochial appointments by lay patrons and incumbents. We question whether replacing Resolutions A and B with this is the right way of going about the rebuilding of trust.

We remain committed to playing our full part in identifying a consensus that will command the necessary breadth of support to enable those who wish to receive the ministry of female bishops to do so in the near future. We hope and pray that further facilitated conversations and a more broadly-based Steering Committee will achieve this.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe Vice-Chairman
9 July 2013

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General Synod - Tuesday morning round-up

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK looks at CofE General Synod, Legal Issues

Peter Dominiczak in The Telegraph Welby reignites row with Government over ‘benefits scroungers’

John Bingham in The Telegraph Future Church of England bishops to be quizzed on their sex lives

Steve Doughty in the Mail Online Sex quiz for Church of England vicars who want to be bishops: Candidates will be asked after concerns gay and divorced clergy are breaking rules

BBC Women bishops: Church of England synod votes for new law (includes a two-minute interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury)

Andreas Whittam Smith in The Independent Women bishops at last? Law debated by Church of England Synod

Reuters UK Divided Church of England renews pledge to ordain women bishops

Christian Today Church of England makes fresh start on women bishops

Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake in the Church Times Synod approves new West Yorkshire diocese

BBC General Synod approves Diocese of Leeds merger plans

Michael Black in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus Bradford Diocese to be axed after General Synod decision

Yorkshire Post Yorkshire ‘Super diocese’ given go-ahead as Synod agrees to shake-up

Brighouse Echo Super diocese for Calderdale churches

Andrew Jackson in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner Huddersfield to get own bishop under new Church of England ‘super-diocese’ proposals

Heather Saul in The Independent Church of England issues ‘unreserved’ apologies to victims of Chichester child abuse after investigation reveals extent of failures

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Monday, 8 July 2013

Women in the episcopate - press reports

Ed Thornton and Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake and Glyn Paflin in the Church Times Synod votes to explore Option One on women bishops

Sam Jones in The Guardian Justin Welby promises to press on with introduction of female bishops

Liz Dodd in The Tablet CofE progresses women bishops vote

BBC Women bishops: Church of England synod votes for new law

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Women in the episcopate - WATCH press release

WATCH has responded to today’s General Synod vote on women in the episcopate.

Synod affirms desire to have women bishops as a matter of urgency.

WATCH is pleased that the House of Bishops’ preferred option received overwhelming support from General Synod, which today re-affirmed its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency. The positive experience of the facilitated conversations was reflected in the tone of the debates. WATCH remains committed to full engagement with the ongoing process.

Vice-Chair, Charles Read commented, “This is an encouraging start to a process that will enable women to be bishops on equal terms as men.”

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Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield

Updated

The proposal to dissolve the three dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, and to replace them by a new diocese of Leeds (that may also be known as the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) was debated by General Synod this afternoon. The proposal was carried on a show of hands.

A second vote was carried to set up a transitional vacancy in see committee. The process to nominate the first Bishop of Leeds can now start. Meetings of the CNC have already been set: 12 November 2013 and 9/10 January 2014.

Update

The CofE has issued this press release.

Synod approves new Diocese of Leeds for West Yorkshire and The Dales
08 July 2013

The General Synod has, today, approved a draft reorganisation scheme that will see the creation of a new Diocese of Leeds, serving West Yorkshire and The Dales, and replacing the current Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield.

The new diocese will come into existence on a day to be set by the Archbishop of York after the scheme has been confirmed by Her Majesty the Queen through an Order in Council. Synod also approved a resolution establishing a Vacancy in See Committee for the new diocese so that the process for appointing the first Bishop of Leeds could begin.

Professor Michael Clarke, chair of the Dioceses Commission that prepared the scheme, welcomed the decision of the Synod. “Synod’s historic decision confirms the Commission’s judgement that the radical creation of a new diocese centred on Leeds offered the best way of meeting the mission challenges facing the Church in West Yorkshire.”

In addition to the Bishop of Leeds, the new diocese will be served by four area bishops of Bradford, Huddersfield, Ripon and Wakefield (the latter two being renamed Sees currently occupied by the Bishops of Knaresborough and Pontefract).

The Cathedrals of Bradford, Ripon, and Wakefield will be the cathedrals of the new diocese. There is provision for Leeds Minster to become a pro-cathedral in the future if the Bishop of Leeds so directs.

So as to be more in sync with civic boundaries existing archdeacon and deaneries will be reorganised under the scheme and a small number of parishes will transfer to neighbouring dioceses. Detailed arrangements about the workings of the new diocese are still to be worked out, as these will be for local decision.

The scheme was drawn up to enhance the ability of the Church to respond to the challenges of mission in the West Yorkshire region.

Notes

The detailed scheme can be read at http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1781735/gs%201898%20-%20draft%20reorganisation%20scheme.pdf.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York’s speech in the debate can be read at http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/2938/yorkshire-diocesan-reorganisation.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford’s speech can be read at http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/.

Diocese of Wakefield, http://www.wakefield.anglican.org/index.htm.

Diocese of Ripon & Leeds, http://www.riponleeds.anglican.org/.

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General Synod: Archbishop Justin on women bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in today’s debate on women in the episcopate. Here is a transcript of his remarks taken from his website.

General Synod: Archbishop Justin on women bishops
Monday 8th July 2013

Read the Archbishop’s remarks during today’s Synod debate in which members voted to restart the legislative process to allow women to become bishops

The following transcript has been edited for clarity in several places

As has been widely agreed this is not about whether but about how, so that women are ordained on exactly the same basis as men and all parts of the Church of England may be enabled to flourish.

But history and contemporary experience shows that detailed arrangements not only embed division, they are also unworkable and lead to frequent and prolonged litigation. My last twelve months’ experience with Parliamentary Banking Standards has shown this very adequately. If they do not lead to litigation they invite attempts, through clever reading, to ensure a desired outcome. And if they do not lead to gaming the system they invite a box-ticking approach that seeks to conform to the letter not to the spirit.

I therefore strongly support an approach that is between Options 1 and 2, including the Dover amendment, with the extra work needed as suggested by the Archbishop of York. I also strongly support Bishop Peter Broadbent’s scheme, although, as our last speaker so correctly said, we must recognise that while it is certainly the right thing to do it will require hard work and generosity to have any effect. As was just said there are neither magic processes any more than there are magic solutions that get us off the hook of needing a commitment to mutual flourishing.

The approach before us is a radical way forward. It provides the possibility of building trust, it gives us space for imagination, and it affirms an inclusive approach that is consistent with our previous resolutions – as I have said, the commitment to ordaining women as bishops on exactly the same basis as men, and the flourishing together of all parts of the church. The approach we have in this amended resolution sets a clear principle combined with a follow-through to the consensus building approach that we are developing.

I hope the Synod will take the opportunity of setting a clear general direction while leaving space for discussion and debate in various ways. I entirely agree that it is essential that the simple and clear five principles command wide support and ownership here and across the whole church, and have strong boundaries. They must be discussed, debated and agreed, be very robust, and closely followed and monitored. Essentially they are to be an electrified ring-fence. Thus the resolution, amended as we have agreed, combined with Bishop Peter Broadbent’s scheme, seems to me the best way forward.

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Restart of process to allow women to become bishops

Following the vote earlier this afternoon the CofE issued this press release.

General Synod votes to restart the legislative process to allow women to become bishops
08 July 2013

The General Synod has reaffirmed its commitment to women bishops and called, less than a year after the previous proposals were rejected, for new draft legislation to be introduced. It will be considered by the Synod in November 2013, with the aim of reaching the stage of Final Approval in July or November 2015.

This was the first time Synod members had met since November 2012, when the previous draft legislation narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority in the House of Laity, despite enjoying the support of 73% of the Synod’s members overall.

The Synod reached its decision at the end of this today’s debate, after its members had devoted much of Saturday to facilitated discussions on the options available. Introducing the debate, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, who chaired the Working Group set up by the House of Bishops to advise on new legislative proposals, said, “I believe that option one, together with a mandatory mediation process and including as it does a declaration or, possibly, Act of Synod deserves to be taken very seriously as a means to provide the basis for securing the necessary majorities in the lifetime of this Synod.”

The House of Bishops had recommended that draft legislation be prepared on that basis described as ‘option one’ in the report of the Working Group established by the House to consider possible ways forward. That involved:

- a measure and amending canon that made it lawful for women to become bishops;

- the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993; and

- arrangements for those who, as a matter of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests, set out either in a declaration from the House of Bishops or in a new Act of Synod. (The possible content of such arrangements is set out in paragraphs 52-62 of the annex to GS1886.)

Accepting the proposal made by the House, the General Synod passed the motion, by 319 votes to 84, in the following form:

‘That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;

(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;

(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;

(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and

(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.’

amendments 45 and 47 in Order Paper V having been carried by the Synod.

Notes

The Report from the House of Bishops “Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals” (GS1886) can be found here.

The report of the Working Group established by the House of Bishops is at the Annex of the Report.
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York from Friday 5 - Tuesday 9 July 2013.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met in York on May 20 - May 21 2013 in York. Following its meeting, it released two statements which can be found here.
The Working Group was established by the House of Bishops at its meeting in December 2012.
The Working Group issued a consultation document on February 8 following facilitated conversations. The document can be found here.
By the deadline on February 28, 376 responses to the document had been received. Of these, 10 were from campaign groups or other organisations, 3 from bishops. Of the rest, 154 were from members of the Synod and 209 from others.

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General Synod - Women in the Episcopate

General Synod debated Women in the Episcopate this morning. The motion as passed by Synod is at the end of this article.

The paper before Synod was GS 1886, and this included the various options referred to in the motion and amendments.

The original motion before the Synod, proposed by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich on behalf of the House of Bishops, was:

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886; and
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation.

[Option 1 comprises a measure and amending canon to make made it lawful for women to become bishops, and the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.]

Several amendments were moved. The first (proposed by the Revd Paul Benfield) was:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priests or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

This was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops7340
Clergy481374
Laity751154

Tom Sutcliffe proposed:

‘In paragraph (d) leave out “described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’” and insert “of coprovincial provision for alternative episcopal oversight to be administered by the two Archbishops jointly through the Archbishops’ Council along lines that continue the system of episcopal visitors currently in existence”;
And
Leave out “or draft declaration to be made by the House”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

Peter Collard proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “the basis described in” and insert “paragraphs 96-109 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option three’, but on the basis that (i) the only amendment made to the 1993 Measure is the removal of the ability of cathedrals to pass Resolutions A and B and (ii) the provision to be made in relation to episcopal ministry is contained in an Act of Synod based on the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod to accompany the draft legislation”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

Clive Mansell proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

[Option 2 includes in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure.]

This was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops10281
Clergy551288
Laity931004

The Revd Simon Cawdell proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “to prepare” and insert
“draft legislation which enables women to be admitted to the episcopate without reservation and which also enables those unable on theological grounds to accept their ministry to flourish within the Church of England as described in paragraph 12 of GS 1886;
(e) invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(f) request the Presidents to convene such facilitated groups as may assist the Steering Committee in its task throughout the process.”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

The Bishop of Dover proposed:

In paragraph (d) after “‘option one’” insert “with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate”.

This was carried on a show of hands.

At this point the Synod broke for lunch.

After lunch Clive Mansell moved:

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest-in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

The amendment was defeated, with 200 votes in favour and 210 against, with 15 recorded abstentions.

Keith Malcouronne proposed:

At the end insert as a new paragraph –
“(-) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.”.

This was carried on a show of hands.

Since two amendments were carried, the substantive motion became

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

The motion (as amended) was carried with 319 votes in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions.

———

Early on the Bishop of Willesden presented his ‘cunning’ plan. Jeremy Fletcher, on his blog, well summarised what he had to say.

Pete Broadbent has a ‘cunning plan’ (which he tried out on people last night). Have an enlarged Steering Committee – made up of pressure groups and those of no allegiance. It should have a ‘facilitated discussion’ and come up with something which the whole group can put its name to. No provision for a minority report. All or nothing. Forgo the use of a Revision Committee – that’s where it failed last time. Come straight to a Revision Stage in full Synod. That would make the moral authority of what comes to Synod much more powerful – all groupings would have had their say already. Warm and prolonged applause.

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General Synod - Welfare Reform

General Synod debated Welfare Reform last night. The CofE has isused a detailed press release.

Welfare Reform and the Church – Synod invites Government to re-open Big Society talks
07 July 2013

General Synod has this evening approved a motion calling for a “renewed settlement between the state, the churches and civil society”, and for “close attention to the impact of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable, and for support for those not in a position to support themselves”.

The motion was moved by Mission and Public Affairs Council chair Mr Philip Fletcher, who authored the report Welfare Reform and the Church (GS 1897).

In his speech, Mr Philip Fletcher said: “We don’t claim… that the whole responsibility for the welfare of our citizens should fall on the shoulders of the state - on the contrary, we would welcome a properly thought-through settlement between the state and the voluntary structures of society, including the Church, as a way of building up communities and promoting neighbourliness. As a Church, we not only seek those objectives all the time, we have responded practically to the hardships which the present austerity measures are imposing on people who have nowhere else to turn - effects which are likely to become more severe as those changes take full effect.”

Emphasising the Church’s involvement in social welfare provision for centuries, and the theological grounds for the Church’s support for a “welfare state”, Welfare Reform and the Church recognises that no structure for ensuring the welfare of all citizens is perfect and that reform is a continuing necessity. It notes that the balance between state and voluntary action has become distorted but comments that, contrary to the apparent direction of policy in the early days of the Coalition, “three years on we have seen very little of The Big Society in policy or practical terms”.

Unpacking the concepts of fairness, generosity and sustainability, the report also looks at public perceptions of welfare, pointing out that “the distinction between ‘strivers’ and ‘scroungers’ has entrenched harsh attitudes towards those whose benefits are being targeted for cuts”. It agrees that welfare dependency is a problem that “cannot be ignored” but argues that a “society which allows large numbers of its citizens to live in poverty is unlikely to be sustainable”.

The debate included contributions from the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds (the audio is available here).

The motion, including amendments from the Bishop of St Albans, the Bishop of Burnley and Mr Gavin Oldham (Oxford), was clearly carried following a divison of Synod (331 for, 1 against, 7 abstentions) and reads:

‘That this Synod, recognising that in times of austerity hard choices must be made between competing priorities, and acknowledging that reform of welfare systems is essential:

- affirm the need for a renewed settlement between the state, the churches and civil society in pursuit of social solidarity and the common good;

- invite the MPA Council to consider how the Church of England can better contribute to this new settlement, making recommendations to the General Synod by July 2014;

- encourage Her Majesty’s Government to found such reform on the principle of a bias towards the poor;

- call on politicians and pay close attention to the impact of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable, and call for support for those not in a position to support themselves and, in doing so, to consider whether the ring-fenced provision of universal benefits may be becoming the enemy of targeted benefits;

- decry the misleading characterisation of all welfare recipients as ‘scroungers’; and

- commend those across the churches who are working to support those most in need.’

There are several notes to the press release, and these are copied below the fold.

The Archbishop of York’s speech during the debate is online here.

Christian Today has reported the debate: Church condemns ‘scrounger’ rhetoric against poor.

Notes to the press release

1) The report Welfare Reform and the Church and its annexes are available here:
GS 1897
Annex 1
Annex 2
2) In March 2013, the Daily Telegraph carried a letter signed by 43 bishops drawing attention to the stresses and injustices brought about by the Government’s changes to the welfare system and calling for amendments to the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill then passing through Parliament.
3) Members of the Lords Spiritual have contributed strongly to the debates on welfare in the House of Lords.

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -3

Q 46 Joanna Monckton to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops

As the Church of England is “episcopally led and synodically governed”, why did the House of Bishops not consult with the House of Laity and the House of Clergy before declaring that priests in civil partnerships who live in accordance with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality could henceforth be considered for episcopal appointment, as reported in the statement issued on 4 January 2013?

Answer from the Bishop of Gloucester on behalf of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Sexuality

The House of Bishops issued its 2005 pastoral statement without prior consultation of the other two Houses and adopted a similar approach when clarifying one implication of it last December.

Q 47 Simon Butler

In the recent debates on same-sex marriage in the House of Lords, Lords Spiritual have spoken of the bishops’ historic and present support for the legislation enacting Civil Partnerships. In preparation for the forthcoming debate in Synod on Mr John Ward’s Private Member’s Motion on the registration of Civil Partnerships will the House of Bishops:

(a) take time to consider how best that support can be shown in the life of the church; and
(b) during the course of that forthcoming debate report to this Synod its conclusions?

Answer from the Bishop of Gloucester

In principle, yes, though that assumes that the Business Committee will be willing to give the House time to think through the implications of the same sex marriage legislation and consider the recommendations of the Pilling report before that private member’s motion is scheduled for debate.

Q 48 Judith Maltby

The House of Bishops’ Advice to the Clergy (GS 1449B, 2002) on the re-marriage of divorced persons states “While it would be unreasonable to expect that the couple should not even have known each other during the former marriage(s), was the relationship between the applicants - so far as you can tell from the information made available to you - a direct cause of the breakdown of the former marriage?” What is the position of the House of Bishops on the conduct of marriages in church in cases in which one or both of the couple has a former civil partner still living?

Answer from the Bishop of Gloucester

The House has given no specific consideration to this issue.

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General Synod - Safeguarding debate

General Synod debated safeguarding this afternoon, after which this press report was issued: Synod supports safeguarding apology and commitment to tighten procedures.

Synod supports safeguarding apology and commitment to tighten procedures
07 July 2013

General Synod voted today to acknowledge and apologise for past safeguarding wrongs. It also voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to tighten procedures which have been identified following the Chichester Commissaries interim and final safeguarding reports.

Opening the debate, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: “We cannot do anything other than own up to our failures. We were wrong. Our failures were sin just as much as the perpetrators sinned. By failing to listen or act appropriately we condemned survivors to live with the harm when we should have been assisting them into whatever measure of healing might be possible.”

The motion - that Synod accordingly acknowledges and apologises for past wrongs and seeks endorsement from the Synod for legislative and non-legislative progress to be made during the period of this Quinquennium - was debated.

An amendment moved by the Revd Preb Stephen Lynas was carried.

Following a division of the Synod, the motion, as amended, was overwhelmingly carried (360 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).

It had been brought to Synod following consideration by both the House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council so it could approve the next steps. (The proposed changes - including a consultation on certain legislative areas are outlined in Notes below).

In a follow up to the Commissaries’ reports the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote: “It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should receive an account of the actions that the House and the Council have put in hand, have an opportunity to comment on the next steps, and be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.

There are substantial notes attached to the press release, and they are copied below the fold.

The motion as passed reads:

‘That this Synod
(a) endorse the Archbishops’ statement in GS 1896 expressing on behalf of the Church of England an unreserved apology for the failure of its systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others; and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused;
(b) invite –
(i) the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to pursue as a matter of urgency the programme of work set out in GS 1896 to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements, ensuring that such arrangements are communicated effectively to those responsible for safeguarding in parishes; and
(ii) the Business Committee to schedule First Consideration of the necessary draft legislation as soon as the responses to the consultation document have been assessed, with a view to its securing Final Approval in the lifetime of this Synod; and
(c) invite the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod by February 2014 on what action is to be taken to secure the more effective delivery of the ‘Responding Well’ policy across the Church in the interests of survivors.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the deabte, and his speech is online here.

The debate was informed by this paper: GS 1896 Safeguarding Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports.

Some press reports have already appeared.

Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake and Ed Thornton in the Church Times Synod offers apology to abuse victims

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church’s sexual abuse victims reject synod apology amid calls for inquiry. “Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham tells colleagues church has ‘reabused victims’ and ‘sinned through its failure to act’.”

Christian Today Child abuse apology from Church of England

Notes attached to the press release

Possible legislative Changes

The House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council have agreed that given their importance and, in some respects, their sensitivity, the matters below should be the subject of a consultation over the course of the summer, with a view to the introduction of draft legislation as soon as possible, so that the necessary legislation receives Final Approval in the course of the current quinquennium. The Consultation can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1782983/gs%201896%20-safeguarding.pdf (p7)

  • Removal of the 12 month limitation period for the bringing of complaints under the CDM in sexual abuse cases
  • Extending the bishop’s power of suspension under the CDM
  • Amending canon law so that clergy can be required to undergo risk assessments
  • Preventing prohibited and suspended clergy from robing
  • Extending the circumstances in which churchwardens and PCC members can be suspended and/or disqualified from holding office
  • Amending Canon C 8 http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/churchlawlegis/canons/section-c.aspx.

Two further proposed changes to the legislative framework have already been approved at this group of sessions by Synod. The first of these is an amendment to the Code of Practice under the CDM to clarify when a complaint can be made under the Measure notwithstanding an acquittal in criminal proceedings. The second is an amendment to the Clergy Discipline Rules made under the CDM so that victims will be able to withhold their contact details from respondents when making complaints.

Non-Legislative Changes

These take the form of actions proposed by the commissaries where changes to practice but not legislative changes are needed.

  • Changes to the culture of the Church - Implementing cultural changes to any organisation is a complex task and does not happen quickly. However, this process can be facilitated by identifying areas where cultural change should happen. The proposal for an audit of diocesan safeguarding is intended to address both the more and less obvious areas where cultural change needs to happen.
  • Ensuring that existing and new safeguarding policies are properly implemented at diocesan level - Further work needs to be done to support safeguarding advisers in the effective roll-out of these policies.
  • Ensuring that every diocese has adequate safeguarding expertise with a professional adviser and an effective safeguarding group - There will be a need for national advisers to provide bishops with a checklist to carry out an immediate review of provision, including an assessment of diocesan websites and an audit of their current provision and future needs.
  • The roll-out of a national programme of safeguarding training - This will require the development of training material at national level and advice to dioceses on how to use this material, who should attend, and encouraging dioceses to commit to the necessary training.
  • Introduction of best practice guidance on responding to serious situations - This includes putting in place adequate resource at diocesan level to respond quickly to serious situations and developing guidance for dioceses on best practice in such situations. This will also require resource at national level to address situations which require national attention.
  • Development of guidance on safe working practices - this guidance is being worked on by the Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group.
  • Review of risk assessment processes - this will need to be developed and agreed at national level before it is rolled out at diocesan level, and will require additional national resource to ensure that risk assessment processes are consistent, robust, of a high standard and compliant with human rights requirements.
  • Improved policy and practices on responding well to survivors - This will require additional resource at national level to help dioceses respond better and to recruit and train Authorised Listeners.
  • Safeguarding standards for ministers from other denominations - This is dependent on the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 after which further guidance can be developed.
  • Further clarity on the issue of confidentiality, including with regard to the Confessional, where some additional guidance may be needed.

Chichester Commissaries reports and statements
http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5055/archbishops-chichester-visitation-final-report-published

Wider Non-Legislative Changes

These take the form of actions proposed by the commissaries where changes to practice but not legislative changes are needed. The general actions which are being proposed are as follows:

  • The undertaking of an audit of safeguarding provision in every diocese
  • The review of risk assessment procedures
  • The development of core material and expectations around attendance for safeguarding training.

Most of these actions will require increased national resources at least in the short term (and possibly in the long term as well) and the audit itself may show the need for many dioceses to increase their resourcing on safeguarding. The Synod is asked to note that the Archbishops’ Council has now allocated additional funds at national level for the national work. This will be in addition to any funding which will need to be found by the dioceses to support increased work on safeguarding.
The non-legislative actions can be broken down in more detail as follows:

  • Changes to the culture of the Church - Implementing cultural changes to any organisation is a complex task and does not happen quickly. However, this process can be facilitated by identifying areas where cultural change should happen. The proposal for an audit of diocesan safeguarding is intended to address both the more and less obvious areas where cultural change needs to happen.
  • Ensuring that existing and new safeguarding policies are properly implemented at diocesan level - Further work needs to be done to support safeguarding advisers in the effective roll-out of these policies.
  • Ensuring that every diocese has adequate safeguarding expertise with a professional adviser and an effective safeguarding group - There will be a need for national advisers to provide bishops with a checklist to carry out an immediate review of provision, including an assessment of diocesan websites and an audit of their current provision and future needs.
  • The roll-out of a national programme of safeguarding training - This will require the development of training material at national level and advice to dioceses on how to use this material, who should attend, and encouraging dioceses to commit to the necessary training.
  • Introduction of best practice guidance on responding to serious situations - This includes putting in place adequate resource at diocesan level to respond quickly to serious situations and developing guidance for dioceses on best practice in such situations. This will also require resource at national level to address situations which require national attention.
  • Development of guidance on safe working practices - this guidance is being worked on by the Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group.
  • Review of risk assessment processes - this will need to be developed and agreed at national level before it is rolled out at diocesan level, and will require additional national resource to ensure that risk assessment processes are consistent, robust, of a high standard and compliant with human rights requirements.
  • Improved policy and practices on responding well to survivors - This will require additional resource at national level to help dioceses respond better and to recruit and train Authorised Listeners.
  • Safeguarding standards for ministers from other denominations - This is dependent on the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 after which further guidance can be developed.
  • Further clarity on the issue of confidentiality, including with regard to the Confessional, where some additional guidance may be needed.
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General Synod - Sunday lunchtime roundup

John Bingham in The Telegraph The actress and the bishop: Church of England makes drama out its own crisis

BBC Church of England set to make child abuse apology

Claire Carter in The Telegraph Church to vote on making ‘unreserved apology’ to sexual abuse victims

Christian Today Church of England ‘has 20 years to reassert its position as national Church’

Martha Linden writes for The Independent Church of England issues formal apology for child sex abuse failures

Nick Baines looks back: Talking about women (bishops) and ahead: Welfare matters.

And here is the ofiicial summary of yesterday’s public business: General Synod considers progress on Challenges for the Quinquennium.

Sam Jones reports for The Guardian on an incident at this morning’s service in York Minister attended by Synod members: York Minster assault leads to arrest.
John Bingham of The Telegraph reports on the incident and on the service itself: Archbishop of York’s aide attacked ahead of Synod debate.
The BBC reports York Minster General Synod service disrupted by attack
Gavin Drake writes for the Church Times Two assaulted by intruder at Synod service

The Archbishop of York’s sermon in the Minster this morning is here.

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Saturday, 6 July 2013

Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -2

Q 55 (Rod Thomas) to ask the Secretary General

Why does this decision of the House of Bishops in December 2012 in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate necessitate the removal in GS Misc 1044 of all the relevant factors which can properly be taken into account by the CNC in considering episcopal appointments which previously appeared in paragraph 29 of GS Misc 992 (with the exception of the factor relating to the existence of a civil partnership)?

Answer from William Fittall

Paragraph 29 of the Legal Office note of December 2010 set out various factors that could in principle be taken into account given the terms of the Equality Act and the lack of clarity at that point over whether what was said in the 2005 pastoral statement about priests and deacons also applied to bishops. The clarity created by the December 2012 statement enabled the revised note to distinguish more sharply between the test relevant to assessing the suitability of a particular candidate - the new paragraph 29 - and the criterion for imposing a requirement about civil partnership in the circumstances of a particular appointment.

Q 56 (Giles Goddard)

Why are the practices of undertaking enquiries into candidates for the episcopate involved in marriage after divorce, and of seeking assurances from candidates to the episcopate in civil partnerships (as described in paragraphs 22 and 29 of GS Misc 1044 respectively) not routinely extended to all candidates, to avoid even the slightest appearance of discriminatory treatment?

Answer from William Fittall

The enquiries made in the event of a marriage after divorce or marriage to someone with a surviving spouse are akin to those made under the Canon C4 faculty procedure. They are essentially to enable the Archbishop of the province to determine that there are no issues from the breakdown of the previous marriage that might constitute an obstacle to episcopal appointment. In relation to civil partnership the test is of a different character namely whether someone’s conduct is and will remain consistent with the teaching of the Church of England. To avoid the appearance of discrimination that assurance is in fact now sought in relation to all candidates for episcopal appointment.

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Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -1

Although there were several Questions on this topic, none were reached in the course of Friday evening’s General Synod session. The prepared Answers were however made public and may be of interest to readers. So they will be published here in a series of posts over the next day or so, starting with this pair.

Q 44. (Clare Herbert) to Chair of House of Bishops

In the light of the high regard expressed for Civil Partnerships by both archbishops and other bishops recently, such as when the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the House of Lords “It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same-sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage” when will the Liturgical Commission be tasked by the House of Bishops to begin work on an authorized rite for the blessing of civil partnerships for the use of those clergy who wish to conduct such services?

and

Q 45 (David Brindley)

In view of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s view expressed in the House of Lords in a speech on 3 June that faithful same-sex relationships should be ‘recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage’, when will the House ask the Liturgical Commission to produce proposals for appropriate liturgical recognition of those relationships?

Answer from The Bishop of Gloucester

The House of Bishops concluded in December that it didn’t at that point want to revise its 2005 pastoral statement on civil partnerships, which, among other things, had affirmed that clergy ‘should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.’ That was because the Pilling report which the House is due to receive this December and the Same Sex Marriage Bill, which had only just been published then, were going to require us to do some more careful thinking before we said anything further.

The context in which we minister is changing very quickly not least with the real possibility that the number of people entering civil partnership will fall very sharply next year once same sex marriages become a legal possibility. The House will be considering the implications of all this very carefully but there is nothing further that I can usefully say at this stage.

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General Synod - Saturday morning press reports

Updates Saturday lunchtime

We published the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address to General Synod last night. Here are some press reports of the speech.

John Bingham in The Telegraph Welby calls for Church to join the sexual ‘revolution’

Sam Jones in The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury uses first address to warn of sexual revolution

BBC News Welby says CofE schools to fight homophobic bullying

Adam Jourdan of Reuters Anglican head says determined to push for women bishops

Steve Doughty in the Mail Online Church of England must accept gay rights, Archbishop Welby says in first speech to Synod

Christian Today Archbishop of Canterbury calls for restoration of trust over women bishops debate

And Bishop Nick Baines blogs: Revolution or Reformation?

The official summary of Friday’s business is here: General Synod – Friday pm and here: Clerk to the Synod and Prolocutor take their seats at General Synod.

Update
Colin Coward writes on the Changing Attitude blog Christianity in a time of revolution – Archbishop Justin’s presidential address.

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Friday, 5 July 2013

Archbishop Justin's Presidential Address

Updated Friday 8.30 pm The Archbishops’s address, as delivered is now available, and is copied below the fold, replacing the earlier version.
Updated Friday 9.00 pm to add link to Church Times article
Updated Saturday morning to add video link

Justin Welby delivered his first presidential to the Church of England General Synod this afternoon.

The full text is online here and here and is copied below the fold.

Gavin Drake writes for the Church Times that Church must accept there is sexual revolution, Welby tells Synod.

There is a video of the Archbishop’s address here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gave his first presidential address at General Synod in York this afternoon. Below is the complete text, checked against delivery

Before I begin I would like to thank all the staff at Lambeth and around the NCIs, and at Bishopthorpe and the Anglican Communion Office, who have been so effective and kind in dealing with the frightening and unsettling impact of a new Archbishop. Transitions are always very complex, and taking on a new Archbishop is as demanding as it gets. But there’s invariably been a warm welcome and extremely hard work, for which I am extremely grateful. Chief amongst those who have led the way through the process is Chris Smith, the Chief of Staff at Lambeth. After more than ten years of faithful service, working night and day and every weekend – he’s the biggest menace to my capacity to have a quiet evening in on a Saturday night because I get an email from him – after more than ten years of never stopping he is moving on to other things later this year. His contribution has been largely behind the scenes, but he has served the Church of England and the Anglican Communion – not only for a long time but with huge effect – and our debt to him is more than we can imagine. So on your behalf I would like to thank him.

As you know too from public announcements, Bishop Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has with great generosity and considerable sacrifice, I’d imagine, agreed to become the Bishop at Lambeth, in a new configuration for the role, working alongside the new Chief of Staff. I could not be more grateful to have such a wise and experienced person, who will enable my many weaknesses to be compensated for more than adequately.

One of the things about this job is you tend to carry a lot of baggage – physical, metaphorical; probably more than I know. We arrived yesterday, the car having broken down en route – there’s a nasty metaphor there. But we did arrive – and we found ourselves with a ton of baggage to carry from one end of what seemed to be a much bigger campus than last year, to the other. And it reminded me – as I was staggering along with what seemed to be enough robes to rival Wippell’s – that we come to this session of Synod with a certain amount of baggage; and it’s good to find ways of getting rid of it. A friend of ours – of my wife and mine, from our days when we lived in Paris – worked for many years for an American company but living in Paris. We went to stay with them about six of seven years ago – he’s now ordained; there’s no connection – and he was still laughing about an experience at Kennedy airport the day before. It was a February and the weather in New York had been very bad, and he’d arrived and everyone was in a grump and the flights were late. And when he got one from the front of the check-in, the person in front of him was incredibly rude to the poor check-in operator. And John, our friend, is always gracious and polite, and when he got to the front he said, ‘I’m embarrassed to be a passenger when people treat you like that. I don’t know how you were so patient.’ And she said, ‘Well, sir. I shouldn’t really tell you this. There’s sort of bad news and good news. The bad news is he’s sitting next to you on the flight to New York. But the good news is I’ve sent his luggage to Tokyo.’

There are a number of obvious applications to that, one of which is we could do with some people like that at the beginning of a Synod session – for the baggage to go somewhere else.

You don’t want a lot of baggage in a revolution. And we live in a time of revolutions. And the trouble with revolutions is once they start no-one knows where they will go. Of the most serious type, the physical type, the practical type… Bishop Angaelos, Head of the Coptic Church in the UK, whom I met in Egypt last week, and who is sitting with us today, knows exactly about revolutions. While we were in Egypt, we heard much talk of what would happen this week – and we’ve seen. And the grace and leadership of Christians in that country is something to behold.

But we live also in a time of many revolutions in this country. And as the Synod meets today, we are custodians of the gospel that transforms individuals, nations and societies. We are called by God to respond radically and imaginatively to new contexts – contexts that are set up by revolutions. I want to thank you, and to say what a privilege it is to share with you, in the ministry of shouldering the heavy burden of facing these changing contexts, and grappling with them in this Synod, now and over the years to come, and to thank you for your commitment in your work here you show to Jesus Christ and to His church. It is genuinely a privilege to be among you.

The revolutions are huge. The economic context and position of our country has changed, dramatically. With all parties committed to austerity for the foreseeable future, we have to recognise that the profound challenges of social need, food banks, credit injustice, gross differentiation of income – even in many areas of opportunity – pressure on all forms of state provision and spending: all these are here to stay. In and through the church we have the call and potentially the means to be the answer that God provides. As Pope Francis recalled so memorably, we are to be a poor church for the poor, however and wherever poverty is seen, materially or spiritually. That is a revolution. Being a poor church for the poor means both provision and also prophetic challenge in a country that is still able and has the resources to reduce inequality – especially inequality of opportunity and life expectancy. If you travel north from parts of Liverpool to Southport, you gain almost a year in life expectancy for every mile you travel. We are debating these questions in this Synod. But prophetic challenge needs reality as its foundation, or it is mere wishful thinking; and it needs provision as its companion, or it is merely shifting responsibility.

The social context is changing radically. There is a revolution. It may be, it was, that 59% of the population called themselves Christian at the last census, with 25% saying they had no faith. But the YouGov poll a couple of weeks back was the reverse, almost exactly, for those under 25. If we are not shaken by that, we are not listening.

The cultural and political ground is changing. There is a revolution. Anyone who listened, as I did, to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland. Predictable attitudes were no longer there. The opposition to the Bill, which included me and many other bishops, was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance in the House and participation in the debate, and majority, since 1945. There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy, but what I felt then and feel now is that some of what was said by those supporting the bill was uncomfortably close to the bone. Lord Alli said that 97% of gay teenagers in this country report homophobic bullying. In the USA suicide as a result of such bullying is the principle cause of death of gay adolescents. One cannot sit and listen to that sort of reality without being appalled. We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it.

The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it. We all know that it is utterly horrifying. to hear, as we did this week, of gay people executed in Iran for being gay, or equivalents elsewhere. With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us, who are all without exception sinners. Again this requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth.

The three Quinquennial Goals of growing the church, contributing to the common good and reimagining ministry, are utterly suited to a time of revolution. They express confidence in the gospel. They force us to look afresh at all our structures, to reimagine ministry, whether it be the ministry of General Synod, or the parish church, or a great cathedral, or anything between all of those three. For that reimagination to be more than surface deep, we need a renewal of prayer and the Religious Life. That is the most essential emphasis in what I am hoping to do in my time in this role. And if you forget everything else I say, which you may well do – probably will do – please remember that. There has never been a renewal of church life in western Christianity without a renewal of prayer and Religious Communities, in some form or another, often different. It has been said that we can only imagine what is already in our minds as a possibility; and it is in prayer, individually and together, that God puts into our minds new possibilities of what the Church can be.

The Quinquennial Goals challenge our natural tendency to be inward looking, calling on us to serve the common good. That covers many areas, and between us all, not singly, we are able to face the challenge. May Synod rise to that. But the second of my personal emphases, within that goal, is reconciliation, within the church but most of all fulfilling our particular Anglican charism to be reconcilers in the world, in our communities, in families, even, dare I say it, amongst ourselves. Even if we do sometimes conduct our arguments at high volume and in public, to be reconcilers means enabling diversity to be lived out in love, resisting hatred of the other, demonisation of our opponents.

The common good goes much further than that. Our unique presence across the country enables us to speak with authority both in parliament and here, and in every church and cathedral and synod and gathering place across the country. Our extraordinary presence across the world as Anglicans enables us to speak with intelligence from around the world. As Anglicans we are called to reconcile incredible differences of culture in over 150 countries. What an extraordinary heritage we have under God. So we seek to be renewed here and across the Communion, and to find the reconciling presence of God. This Synod meets in an era of revolution, but we have together the means and the courage to seize the opportunities that revolution brings.

The Quinquennial goals aim at spiritual and numerical growth in the church. That includes evangelism, the third of my emphases. The lead has been set by the Archbishop of York. Here again we need new imagination in evangelism through prayer, and a fierce determination not to let evangelism be squeezed off our agendas. At times I feel it’s rather like me when I have to write a difficult letter, or make an awkward phone call: even things like ironing my socks become more attractive. We treat evangelism too often in the same way. We will talk about anything, especially miscellaneous provisions measures after lunch on Sunday; and we struggle to fit in the call to be the good news in our times through Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed THE good news for our times. God is always good news; we are the ones who make ourselves irrelevant when we are not good news. And when we are good news, God’s people see growing churches.

Attitudes to hierarchy and authority have changed, and continue to change; there’s nothing new in that. And the more they do, the more we are perceived, often wrongly – but genuinely – to say one thing, about grace, community and inclusion, and do another.

And yet with all these revolutions, which raise such huge challenges to us in our lives as the Church, we see clearly that God is working a wonderful and marvelous revolution through the Church in the wind of the Spirit, blowing through our structures and ideas and imagination.
There is a new energy in ecumenism, not least shown by Pope Francis. There is a hunger for visible unity. Many churches across England are growing in depth and numbers. People are looking for answers in a time of hardship and when we show holy hospitality and the outflow of grace, we are full of people seeking us. There is every cause for hope. This Synod had a shock, depending on your view, good or bad, last November; but there is here assembled, in weakness or confidence, in all sorts of fear and lack of trust, people with the faith and wisdom who in grace will seek the way to the greater glory of God.

In some things we change course and recognise the new context. Revolutions change culture. In others we stand firm because truth is not set by culture, nor morals by fashion. But let us be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible. In times of revolution we too in the church, in the Church of England, must have a revolution which enables us to live for the greater glory of God in the freedom which is the gift of Christ. We need not fear. The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.

There have been many times where the Church of England felt that change was in the air or this was a moment of crisis. Because we are not an organisation, let alone a business, or even an institution, but in reality the people of God gathered by the Holy Spirit to walk together in a way that leads to the greater glory of God, there are bound to be many crises and turning points.

So let us not imagine for one moment that because we are in revolutionary times what we are going through currently is either more dangerous, more difficult or more complicated than anything faced by the generations before us. We are in the hands of God; the eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. We need not worry, but we must give all that we have and we are, for the uniquely great cause of the service of Jesus Christ.

So how we journey here is essential, and that is why during these next few days, certain things are being reimagined: not least what we do tomorrow. What is clear to all of us is that there exists, as we gather – and let’s be honest about it – a very significant absence of trust between different groups; and, it must be said – and the evidence of this is clear, though sad – an absence of trust towards the Bishops collectively.
One thing I am sure of is that trust is rebuilt and reconciliation happens when whatever we say, we do. For example, if, while doing what we believe is right for the full inclusion of women in the life of the church, we say that all are welcome whatever their views on that, all must be welcome in deed as well as in word. If we don’t mean it, please let us not say it. On the one hand there are horrendous accounts from women priests whose very humanity has sometimes seemed to be challenged. On the other side I recently heard a well-attested account of a meeting between a Diocesan Director of Ordinands and a candidate, who was told that if the DDO had known of the candidate’s views against the ordination of women earlier in the process he would never have been allowed to get as far as he did.

Both attitudes contradict the stated policy of the Church of England, of what we say, and are completely unacceptable. If the General Synod, if we decide, that we are not to be hospitable to some diversity of views, we need to say so bluntly and not mislead. If we say we will ordain women as priests and Bishops we must do so in exactly the same way as we ordain men. If we say that all are welcome even when they disagree, they must be welcome in spirit, in deed, as well as in word.

Lack of integrity and transparency poisons any hope of rebuilding trust, and rebuilding trust in the best of circumstances is going to be the work of years and even decades. There are no magic bullets.

So how we travel, and our capacity to differ without hating each other and to debate without dividing from each other, is crucial to the progress we make.

Integrity and transparency depend utterly on a corporate integrity and transparency before God, above all in our prayer and liturgy. I sometimes wonder if one of the drivers of our lack of trust is that we have lost from our experience and our expectation two of the great moods of liturgy: of lament and of celebration. The ability truly to lament, to rage at circumstances, at loss, at decline, at injustice, at our own sin or the problems we face, is one that enables us to find afresh the mercy and grace of God. Lament is a liturgical mood that builds our capacity to trust God in the face of change, and then we trust each other. Encountering the face of Jesus Christ in pain, grief or anger transforms us.

Equally the capacity to celebrate, to lift our hearts and voices in true and passionate praise and thanksgiving because the presence of God is known among, restores our perspective. Not only does it renew our faith and strengthen weary limbs in the long journey we are undertaking, but also the act of celebrating that which we share together cuts across our great barriers and difficulties. We celebrate because who can not be overwhelmed by the love of God?

Take for example the two Anglican Dioceses I saw a week ago in the Middle East, in Jerusalem and in Egypt. In the midst of terrible and confused situations, with unspeakable human suffering, tension and fear, they shine with brilliant light. And they are part of us. In each of them there is a profound commitment to the common good of the populations in which they live as a minority – populations of whatever faith and ethnicity. In each of them there are more schools, hospitals and clinics than there are churches. In each of them the Bishops have established confident and effective relationships with other churches, with Muslim leaders and with governments that enable them to speak frankly and truly and with great courage. And we need to remember that as what they do there affects us, lifts our hearts, shows us the grace and glory and power of God, even more so what we do here affects them and every other church in the Anglican Communion. We have great responsibilities.

We should do no less, be no less effective, no less bold than our brothers and sisters in Christ in those Dioceses; in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in places of persecution and suffering, of revolution, change and disruption. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love. AMEN.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 5 July 2013 at 6:46pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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General synod opens today

Updated Friday evening

The General Synod of the Church of England meets from this afternoon until Tuesday lunchtime. Thinking Anglicans will be there.

Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times that Group talks hold key to women-bishops outcome.

The BBC reports: Women bishops on agenda as General Synod meets in York.

Recent opinion includes:

George Pitcher writes in The Independent that Women bishops are the first big test for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. “Those of us in the Church of England not sweatily testing cheap deodorants on the floor of Synod in York this weekend pray Welby can finally resolve this matter.”

Simon Cawdell writes for Fulcrum about New Paths for Old Minefields.

Alan Wilson writes on his blog about Genuine Unity — How to focus it.

But women bishops is not the only item to be discussed as the agenda and papers make clear.

Update

Andrew Brown blogs about The synod’s big chance to destroy the Church of England over female bishops. “The Church of England could be killed by a legislative process apparently modelled on a cow’s digestive system.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 5 July 2013 at 9:21am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 1 July 2013

Forward in Faith Director calls for mutual generosity

Colin Podmore, the director of Forward in Faith, recently gave the commencement address at Nashotah House (a theological seminary in the USA). An abridged version is available under the title Living with Difference, specifically “over the ordination of women to the priesthood”.

Forward in Faith has today summarised the main content of the address, and Dr Podmore’s call for “costly compromise” over women bishops with this press release.

Forward in Faith Director calls for mutual generosity
Jul 1, 2013

The Director of Forward in Faith has called for new legislation on women bishops to reflect a spirit of mutual generosity like that which resulted in the 1993 settlement over the ordination of women to the priesthood.

In an article in The Living Church, Colin Podmore looks at how the 1993 settlement came about and what it contained. The Act of Synod, he points out, was not a unilateral concession but one half of a compromise, in which the House of Bishops took the lead. It reflected a spirit of Anglican generosity and was costly for both sides.

Dr Podmore writes, ‘Using our new Archbishop’s experience of reconciliation, we now need to identify a way forward whereby women bishops will be introduced not as a result of the majority defeating the minority, but instead as part of a no doubt costly compromise that, like the 1993 settlement, will enable us to live together with confidence and integrity.’

Read the article at http://livingchurch.org/living-difference-abridged.

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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Looking ahead to General Synod

Sam Jones previews next weekend’s meeting of General Synod in The week ahead: the Church of England’s General Synod and asks “Will it be another Anglican bunfight or will new archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hold the communion together?”

John Bingham writes in The Telegraph Church of England set to bury Synod homosexuality debate. “The Church of England is set to bury a potentially explosive debate on homosexuality at its General Synod later this week – amid claims bishops are privately considering sanctioning blessing services for gay couples.”
This refers to the Business Committee’s decision not to schedule any private members’ motions for debate this time. Their stated reason for this is in their report to Synod.

9. Two Private Members’ Motions have attracted more than 100 signatures (which is the required threshold for debate): Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams’s PMM on the Public Doctrine of Christian Marriage and Mr John Ward’s PMM on the Registration of Civil Partnerships. The Business Committee has taken the view that it would be helpful for the two PMMs to be debated at the same group of sessions and that the July group of sessions will not be the right moment for scheduling them given both the pressure on the agenda and the sensitive nature of the other matters to be resolved.

The text of the two PMMs, and others that have not (yet) reached 100 signatures, are here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 30 June 2013 at 8:11pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Friday, 28 June 2013

Church Growth

Next week’s meeting of General Synod won’t just be about women bishops. After dinner on Saturday Synod will have a take note debate on this report: GS 1895 Challenges for the Quinquennium. The Business Committee in their report (GS 1889) preview this.

Progress on Meeting Challenges for the Quinquennium

22. The take note debate will be an opportunity for the Synod to review progress on the three themes set at the start of the quinquennium. The Synod will have before it a report from the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council (GS 1895).

23. The debate will allow members to assess and critique the ways in which the three goals are being pursued, to contribute local insights and experiences which could help inform the work through the rest of the quinquennium, and to reflect in particular on the mission challenge facing the Church of England, which Synod debated in July 2011 and on which a separate paper – Making new Disciples – is being circulated (GS Misc 1054). There will be further debates on themes from the quinquennial report at future groups of sessions.

The three themes are:

contributing as the national Church to the common good;
facilitating the growth of the Church;
re-imagining the Church’s ministry.

David Keen writes about this on his blog General Synod: Sneaking in a radical growth strategy whilst everyone is looking at women bishops. He emphases that church growth must be the top priority, as this extract from GS 1895 makes clear.

The opportunities for contributing to the common good at a time of considerable social and economic distress are enormous. But the Church of England’s capacity will be less than it would wish unless it can also make progress in reversing the long term decline in numbers and increase in the age profile of its membership.

Keen also looks at the companion paper (GS Misc 1054 Making New Disciples: the Growth of the Church of England), which, he says, “makes the theological and practical case for prioritising church growth in the CofE”.

It’s not mentioned in the Synod papers, but my own diocese of Liverpool has had a growth agenda since 2009.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 28 June 2013 at 12:54pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Monday, 24 June 2013

Diocesan reorganisation in Yorkshire

The General Synod will be asked next month to approve a proposal, from the Dioceses Commission, to unite the existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield, to form a single new diocese, to be known formally as the Diocese of Leeds.

The draft legal document can be read: The Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme 201-, and the usual explanatory memorandum is here.

Standing orders do not allow the synod to now amend the scheme as drafted. It can either approve it as it stands, reject it outright, or pass a motion for reconsideration of specific points in the scheme by the Dioceses Commission. The latter course of action will cause a significant delay before it comes back to synod.

The situation is not entirely straightforward because one of the three dioceses involved, Wakefield, voted in its diocesan synod to reject the scheme by a decisive margin. The other two dioceses, plus Blackburn and Sheffield (each of which is marginally involved due to proposed transfers of a small number of parishes out of either Bradford - to Blackburn or Wakefield - to Sheffield) all voted very strongly in favour of the scheme. The Archbishop of York was therefore obliged to make a decision whether or not to bring the scheme to the General Synod, despite the Wakefield rejection.

He did make a decision to do so, as explained in GS Misc 1050.

To understand what this dispute is all about, on the one hand there is a series of documents published by the Dioceses Commission. On the other hand the Diocese of Wakefield has a special website that contains another series of documents. The latter was announced in a dramatic full page advertisement on page 27 of last week’s Church Times.

Dioceses Commission background documents:

GS Misc 1049A - Moving Towards a New Dioceses for West Yorkshire and the Dales
GS Misc 1049B - The New Diocese and the Mission of the Church
GS Misc 1049C - Yorkshire Scheme for Financial Estimates

Minutes of diocesan synod meetings:
Blackburn
Bradford;
Ripon & Leeds;
Wakefield

Diocese of Wakefield background documents:

The leaflet: Why Wakefield voted against the proposals from the Dioceses Commission

The Minutes of the Diocesan Synod on 2 March when Wakefield rejected the proposals by 76 votes to 40 (same file as published by the Dioceses Commission)

Dioceses Commission - An Alternative Vision

An Assessment of The Dioceses Commission’s “Estimate of the Financial Effect of the Proposals” by the Chairs of the Boards of Finance of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield

and there are several further papers linked on the Wakefield site.

Three further documents that are helpful in understanding the proposals:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 June 2013 at 8:43am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pete Broadbent and women bishops

Pete Broadbent writes on his blog today what he calls “A personal view on GS 1886”: Women Bishops – where are we now?. He is the Bishop of Willesden (in the diocese of London) and one of the elected suffragan bishops in the House of Bishops. He concludes:

Of the four options in the HoB paper, only Option 1 has any chance of success. I would urge opponents to adopt realpolitik on this matter. It really is no good any more to argue for provision enshrined in law. The game is up.

But do read it all.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 5:36pm BST | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Welfare Reform and the Church

On the evening of Sunday 7 July General Synod will debate this motion, to be proposed by Philip Fletcher, on behalf of the Mission and Public Affairs Council (MPA) of the Archbishops’ Council.

That this Synod, recognising that in times of austerity hard choices must be made between competing priorities, and acknowledging that reform of welfare systems is essential:
(a) affirm the need for a renewed settlement between the state, the churches and civil society in pursuit of social solidarity and the common good;
(b) call for close attention to the impact of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable, and for support for those not in a position to support themselves;
(c) decry the misleading characterisation of all welfare recipients as ‘scroungers’; and
(d) commend those across the churches who are working to support those most in need.

Synod members have been sent GS 1897 - Welfare Reform and the Church as background to the debate, along with two annexes prepared in partnership with the Church Urban Fund: Annex 1 It all adds up: the cumulative impact of welfare reform and Annex 2 Guide to welfare reforms 2010–2017.

The Business Committee’s report for this group of sessions (GS 1889) includes these paragraphs.

Welfare Reform and the Church

32. The Coalition Government’s goals of simplifying the welfare system and incentivising work have received broad support in principle across the Churches, but the practical measures and accompanying rhetoric of ‘strivers and scroungers’ have also caused disquiet. Clergy have daily experience of the problems parishioners face as a result of the impact of benefit changes and the vicarage doorstep is still a last resort for many who fall through the net. Benefit claimants are members of many church communities. In this context, both clergy and laity are alarmed at not only at the impact of changes on the vulnerable but also about the way in which such people are often characterised in political debate. The debate will give the Synod a chance to consider these pastoral concerns.

33. This short report from MPA (GS 1897) explores some of the theological and historical reasons for the Church’s interest in social welfare, seeks to place the debate within the context of the Synod’s earlier work on the financial crisis, and draws on the 2010 debate on The Big Society, to argue that serious welfare reform requires the rebalancing of responsibilities between the individual, the state and wider civil society, including new thinking about the proper role of the churches.

34. The aim is to help the Synod think more deeply and strategically about the Church’s potential and responsibilities without getting caught up in the party politics or simply engaging in hand-wringing. The short report is accompanied by two papers already produced by MPA in partnership with CUF – Annex 1 sets out welfare changes that are happening, and Annex 2 assesses their impact on claimants and their families.

John Bingham reports on this in The Telegraph today with Church of England faces fresh clash with ministers over welfare reform. It starts:

In a highly critical analysis of the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s overhaul of the benefits system, the established Church questions the “moral” case for such reforms in a time of austerity.

The poor and vulnerable, it claims, are bearing a “disproportionate share of the burden” from recession yet being “squeezed” ever tighter by the Government - while the rich are allowed to escape “largely unscathed”.

At the same time the Government has deliberately stoked up rhetoric characterising benefit claimants as “scroungers” and workers as “strivers” to gain “political capital”, it insists…

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 5:14pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 June 2013

Safeguarding: follow-up to Chichester

Next month General Synod will consider a range of actions to improve Safeguarding of children and of vulnerable adults, mostly in direct response to the reports issued in August 2012 and in April 2013 by the Commissaries who conducted a visitation of the Diocese of Chichester.

The motion to be debated on Sunday afternoon has several parts. Here’s the full text:

‘That this Synod

(a) endorse the Archbishops’ statement in GS 1896 expressing on behalf of the Church of England an unreserved apology for the failure of its systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others; and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused;

(b) invite –

(i) the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to pursue as a matter of urgency the programme of work set out in GS 1896 to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements; and

(ii) the Business Committee to schedule First Consideration of the necessary draft legislation as soon as the responses to the consultation document have been assessed, with a view to its securing Final Approval in the lifetime of this Synod; and

(c) invite the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod by February 2014 on what action is to be taken to secure the more effective delivery of the ‘Responding Well’ policy across the Church in the interests of survivors.’

The document for this is GS 1896 (A PDF version of this is contained in the zip file for the first distribution of papers). This is a 16 page document, and it contains more detail on each of the items mentioned below.

Part (a) is uncontroversial. In GS 1896 the archbishops write:

…It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should… be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused. The sexual and physical abuse that has been inflicted by these people on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame for years to come.

As the Commissaries rightly observed: “All contemporary safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church should be a response to what we learn and see in Jesus himself… In witness to this faith and to our sense of obligation to children who are brought to Jesus through the care of the Christian community, the Church should set for itself the highest standards of care available to our society today. If that is true especially in relation to children, it ought also to be true for the care we offer to some of the most vulnerable adults in the modern world.”

We cannot overestimate the importance of responding appropriately today. Sadly for many this comes far too late. History cannot be rewritten, but those who still suffer now as a result of abuse in the past deserve this at least, that we hear their voices and take action to ensure that today’s safeguarding policies and systems are as robust as they can be. This work is an essential and prior Gospel imperative, for any attempts we make to grow the church, to seek the common good, and to reimagine the Church’s ministry.

Part (b) seeks synod approval for a comprehensive programme to improve the church’s safeguarding systems. The extent of these actions clearly indicates that the existing systems are inadequate in numerous ways. Several will involve spending more money than now, both at central and at diocesan level.

One part of this is to make a series of changes that require legislation, and to do so as quickly as possible, which in this case means bringing the legislation to the Synod in February 2014 and for the entire approval process to be completed by July 2015.

Before discussing the details of the legislative proposals, it should be noted that there are many other non-legislative actions planned, some of which will take years, and which can be summarised briefly as follows:

  • Changes to the culture of the Church - Implementing cultural changes to any organisation is a complex task and does not happen quickly. However, this process can be facilitated by identifying areas where cultural change should happen. The proposal for an audit of diocesan safeguarding is intended to address both the more and less obvious areas where cultural change needs to happen.
  • Ensuring that existing and new safeguarding policies are properly implemented at diocesan level
  • Ensuring that every diocese has adequate safeguarding expertise with a professional adviser and an effective safeguarding group
  • The roll-out of a national programme of safeguarding training
  • Introduction of best practice guidance on responding to serious situations
  • Development of guidance on safe working practices
  • Review of risk assessment processes – this will need to be developed and agreed at national level before it is rolled out at diocesan level
  • Improved policy and practices on responding well to survivors
  • Safeguarding standards for ministers from other denominations – This is dependent on the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
  • Further clarity on the issue of confidentiality, including with regard to the Confessional, where some additional guidance may be needed

Returning to the legislative proposals, a consultation on these is to be launched immediately with all responses to be submitted by the end of September. There are six areas where modifications are proposed, which are summarised in GS 1896 as follows:

1: Amending the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) to remove the limitation period for a complaint alleging misconduct of a sexual nature involving a child- and possibly vulnerable adults as defined in GS Misc 837, so that a complaint may be made notwithstanding more than 12 months has lapsed since the misconduct occurred.

2: Amending the CDM so that the bishop has power to suspend a priest or deacon whenever a written application seeking permission to make a complaint out of time is submitted by a complainant to the President of Tribunals, provided the bishop forms the view that suspension is necessary pending the President’s decision.

3: Amending canon law to enable the bishop to direct that a priest or deacon must submit to a risk assessment to determine whether there is a significant risk that the cleric may commit in the future misconduct of a safeguarding nature; failure to comply with the direction without reasonable excuse would be misconduct under the CDM.

4: Amending canon law to prevent clergy from robing in church during the time of divine service when they are prohibited under the CDM from exercising any of the functions of their Orders and to prevent clergy with the cure of souls from allowing them so to robe. In addition the Council would be grateful for views on whether it should be unlawful for suspended clergy to robe during divine service.

5: Amending Canon C 8 so that

(i) only clergy with a bishop’s licence or permission may be invited by a priest with the cure of souls to officiate, and

(ii) clergy who have a cure of souls shall not allow clergy without a bishop’s licence or permission to robe or officiate within their own church or chapel.

6: Amending the Churchwardens Measure 2001 and the Church Representation Rules so that:

(i) a person who is on a barred list under the SVGA is disqualified from serving as churchwarden or as a member of a PCC, district council or synod;

(ii) any person convicted of an offence mentioned in section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 is disqualified from being a member of the PCC; and

(iii) a bishop has power, pending criminal proceedings, to suspend a churchwarden or member of a PCC who is arrested on suspicion of committing an offence mentioned in schedule 1 to the Children and Young Persons Act.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 June 2013 at 10:16pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Elections Review Group - part 2

The second part of the Business Committee’s response to the Election Review Group’s report is in GS 1906. The group’s report itself is in GS 1901.

This second part considers

  • changing the electorate for the House of Laity; and
  • introducing an online facility for nominations and voting in respect of elections to the General Synod.

Unlike the topics in the first part, where the Business Committee is bringing draft legislation to Synod, the committee is initiating a debate to seek Synod’s views on whether any changes should be made, and if so what form the legislation should take.

Electorate for the House of Laity

At present General (and diocesan) Synod lay members are elected by lay members of deanery synods. The Bridge Commission in 1997 proposed instead a specially elected electoral college, although it should be noted that as they proposed the abolition of deanery synods in their present form they had to propose some alternative electorate. But General Synod at the time rejected both these proposals.

In 2011 Synod passed a motion asking for alternatives to be considered.

As a result the Election Review Group looked at five options. Apart from the fourth option (which nobody in the group supported), the same electorate would also be used for elections to diocesan synods.

  1. present system - all elected lay members of deanery synods
  2. electoral college - members to be elected by parishes at their annual meetings
  3. all elected lay members of PCCs
  4. all lay members of diocesan synods
  5. universal suffrage - all members of parish electoral rolls

The Group’s report (in GS 1901) lists the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The Business Committee’s preference is for an electoral college (option 2 above) and the motion before Synod asks for legislative proposals to be brought forward. But if Synod prefers another option it can amend (and pass) the motion.

If any changes to the present system are agreed they could not come into effect in time to be used in the 2015 elections to General (and diocesan) Synod, and it is likely that they would be first used in 2018 for diocesan synods and in 2020 for General Synod.

Online elections

At present elections to General Synod are almost entirely paper based. Although nominations can be submitted by fax they must be confirmed by submitting the paper original within three days of the closing date. Voting is by paper ballot. The Business Committee had been advised that it is technically feasible to conduct the whole process online. Email nominations could be in place in time for 2015, but electronic voting would take longer to put in place, and could not be used until 2020. The motion from the Business Committee will ask Synod to endorse these proposals.

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Elections Review Group - part 1

The Business Committee of the General Synod set up an elections review group in 2011. This group has now reported and its proposals will be considered at next month’s meeting of Synod. There are two reports and this article deals with the first of these.

The papers sent to members are all available online. GS 1901 contains the full report of the Elections Review Group. The Business Committee has divided its response into two reports (GS 1901 and GS 1906). This post looks at only the first of these; there will be a later posting on GS 1906.

GS 1901 - The work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee
GS 1902 - Draft Amending Canon No.32
GS 1903 - Draft Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution
GS 1904 - Draft Clergy Representation (Amendment) Resolution
GS 1905 - Draft Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution
GS 1902-05x - Explanatory Memorandum

Amongst what the Business Committee considers to be non-controversial proposals are these two.

  • Suffragan bishops will be allowed to submit nomination papers by fax, as is currently allowed for laity and clergy. [For younger readers, fax is an obsolete technology for sending low resolution scans of documents over phone lines.]
  • Returning Officers will be required to post lists of candidates and election addresses online before voting papers are issued.

I will now look at the more controversial proposals, which all concern the membership of General Synod.

Allocation of seats between the two provinces

In 2010 the allocation was calculated on the basis of a 70:30 split between the Provinces of Canterbury and York, which resulted in a slight weighting in favour of York in both Houses. If there were no weighting the split would be 72:28 in both houses. Synod will be given the opportunity to remove the fixed 70:30 split.

Diocese of Europe

At present this diocese is treated as being too small to justify the normal minimum of three clergy and three lay seats in Synod, and has two of each. It now has more clergy and members of electoral rolls than some English dioceses, and Synod will be asked to give it the same minimum of three members in each house as all English dioceses.

The only other diocese with fewer than the normal minimum number of members is Sodor and Man, but the review group found no reason to change this.

Seats for Suffragan Bishops

There are currently four elected places for southern suffragans on Synod. It is proposed to increase this to five. The number of northern suffragans would remain at three. Although the main reason for the change is the desire to increase representation of minority views in the House of Bishops, there is another curious reason given. This is that if the proposals for reorganisation of dioceses in Yorkshire goes ahead, the number of diocesan bishops will be reduced by two, and the net effect would actually be a reduction in the size of the House of Bishops. To me this seems like a reason to increase the number of northern suffragans. [I should declare an interest here as I live in a northern diocese.]

Universities constituencies

There are currently six places for clergy who work in universities: one each from Oxford, Cambridge, London, other southern universities, Durham & Newcastle, other northern universities. There are a number of perceived difficulties with these places.

  • It is impossible to compile accurate lists of electors (who are also the eligible candidates for election) as this relies on the co-operation (which is not always forthcoming) of university administrators over whom the Church has no control. It is thought that these problems are so serious that the validity of the elections could be subject to legal challenge.
  • Some of the constituencies are very small.
  • Most importantly the object of these seats is to supply theological expertise to Synod, but there is no requirement for those elected to have any particular expertise. Places are not restricted to academic theologians. Most of the theologians hold the bishop’s licence and could offer their expertise by standing for election in their diocese instead.

The Business Committee therefore proposes to abolish the university places. However, Synod rejected the same proposal in 2004 and the Business Committee recognises that this might happen again. So there are alternative proposals to substantially reform the arrangements for these places. Details are in GS 1901.

Co-option of ethnic minority individuals

The review group considered a proposal to co-opt some ethnic minority individuals to Synod because of their under-representation amongst elected members. The proposal was rejected. The view was taken that more effort should be put into encouraging members of ethnic minorities to stand for election.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

House of Bishops - senior women clergy representatives

I reported here on the rules that had been made for the election of senior women representatives to attend meetings of the House of Bishops. The rules contained a few errors

  • Chelmsford was accidentally included in two regional electoral colleges
  • The first regional electors did not come into office until after the first elections

and these have now been corrected.

The amended rules (dated 14 June 2013) can be downloaded from here. I have amended my webpage version to show both the original text, and the amendments made to it.

The date by which the first elections must be completed remains 1 October 2013, so the first representatives will be able to attend the next regular meeting of the House of Bishops, which is in December.

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Friday, 14 June 2013

Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod

Updated Friday afternoon twice

The usual pre-synod press release has been issued by the Church of England today, and is copied below. It provides a summary of the business to be transacted.

I have listed the available online papers here.

Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod

The General Synod meets in York on 5th - 9th July for the first time since the rejection of the draft legislation on Women Bishops last November. A large period of time on the Saturday will be devoted to work on this issue with a debate on the Monday. The Friday afternoon will see the first Presidential Address by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, which will be an opportunity for him to outline the main challenges facing the Church of England over the coming period.

The meeting of Synod will also include debates on Safeguarding following the Chichester Commissaries’ reports and Welfare Reform and the Church. There will also be a vote on the Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme.

The agenda provides for the Synod to meet in private on the morning and afternoon of Saturday 6 July for reflection and facilitated discussion on the issue of Women Bishops. Some of this time will be spent in groups and some in plenary. The group work will take the form of 24 groups of 20 people with a trained facilitator, with Synod members from each House in the groups. On Monday morning there will be a debate on a motion from the House of Bishops which proposes that draft legislation be prepared and introduced at the November group of sessions on the basis of option one in the report from the working group. Synod members will have until 10am on Sunday to table amendments to the Motion.

On Sunday afternoon at 5pm there will be a debate on a Motion on Safeguarding as a follow-up to the reports of the Commissaries appointed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct a visitation into safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester. This will take the form of motion endorsing an apology by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for past errors within the Church of England and agreeing plans to take further legislative and non-legislative steps to improve the Church’s policies and practices on safeguarding. These include planned changes to the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) which will be consulted on over the summer and brought to the Synod in draft legislation in February 2014. In addition there are plans to carry out an audit of diocesan safeguarding resources and practices, and to do more work at national level on developing and implementing safeguarding policies and supporting dioceses with training and roll-out of these polices.

On Sunday evening there will be a debate on Welfare Reform and the Church. This will be an opportunity for Synod members to discuss how the Church is and should be responding to the changes to the welfare system being introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions and in particular how the impact on low income households is being felt at parish level.

Saturday evening will see a debate on Challenges for the Quinquennium. It is exactly half-way through the Synod’s current five-year term (Quinquennium) and this will be an opportunity for the Synod to take stock of how the goals set at the beginning of this period are being met and any further areas of work required. The main themes are:

Contributing as the national Church to the common good
Facilitating the growth of the Church
Re-imagining the Church’s ministry

The debate will be an opportunity for Synod members to add their own views on how the Church is responding to these overall themes and to prepare the way for more focused debates on each of them in future.

Legislative business will be taken on Saturday afternoon, Monday morning and afternoon and Tuesday morning. A key item, for the Monday afternoon, will be the proposed Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme which aims to bring together the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield and create a new Diocese of Leeds (also to be known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales). The Archbishop of York has authorised the Diocese Commission to lay the draft Scheme before the General Synod, even though the Diocese of Wakefield has not given its consent to the scheme.

Other items of legislative business arise from the work of the Elections Review Group, a sub-group of the Business Committee, relating to how members of the General Synod are elected. The Synod will also be debating a second report from the Elections Review Group on possible changes to the electorate of the House of Laity and the options for using online voting in future.

Contingency business takes the form of a Diocesan Synod Motion (DSM) from the Diocese of London on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod. This calls for the Business Committee to look at a number of areas including the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and whether the current synodical framework and structures are still fit for purpose. This DSM will be taken if there are any gaps in the Synod agenda.

ENDS

Notes

The General Synod will meet at York University from 4.15 on Friday 5 July until lunchtime on Tuesday 9 July.

Read the full Agenda.

Update
Madeleine Davies reports on this morning’s press briefing in the Church Times: Synod: ‘There will be arguments’ despite group talks.
Sam Jones writes for The Guardian: Church of England synod told not to delay over women bishops

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General synod - July 2013 - online papers

Updated Friday 21 June

Online copies of the papers for the July 2013 meeting of General Synod are now available online; they are listed below, with links and a note of the day they are scheduled for debate.

In addition three zip files of the papers are available.

all papers contained in the 1st circulation
all papers contained in the 2nd circulation
papers from both the 1st and 2nd circulation

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1889) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.

The Church of England’s own list of papers is presented in agenda order.

Papers for debate

GS 1866A - Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure
GS 1877A - Draft Amending Canon No.31
GS 1866Y-1877Y - Report by the Revision Committee [Sunday]

GS 1886 - Women in the Episcopate [Monday]

GS 1887 - Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2013
GS 1887x - Explanatory Memorandum [Sunday]

GS 1888 - Full Synod Agenda

GS 1889 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1890 - Appointment of the Clerk to the Synod [Friday]
GS 1891 - Appointment of the Chair of the Appointments Committee [Friday]
GS 1892 - Appointment of the Chair of the Finance Committee [Friday]
GS 1893 - Appointment of the Chair of the England Pensions Board [Friday]
GS 1894 - Appointment of the Auditors to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1895 - Progress on meeting challenges for the Quinquennium [Saturday]

GS 1896 - Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports [Sunday]

GS 1897 - Welfare Reform and the Church plus Annex 1 and Annex 2 [Sunday]

GS 1898 - Draft Scheme for Approval [The Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme] [Monday]
GS 1898x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1899 - Draft Resolution for Approval [Transitional Vacancy in See Committee for the Diocese of Leeds] [Monday]

GS 1900 - The Archbishops’ Council’s Draft Budget and Proposals for apportionment for 2014 [Monday]

GS 1901 - The work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1902 - Draft Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]
GS 1903 - Draft Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1904 - Draft Clergy Representation (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1905 - Draft Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1902-05x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1906 - The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1907 - Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2013
GS 1908 - Clergy Discipline Appeal (Ammendment) Rules 2013
GS1907-08x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1909 - Amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
GS 1909x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1912 - Scheme Amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995
GS 1912x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1913 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Monday]

Church Commissioners’ Annual Report [Monday]

Contingency Business

Diocesan Synod Motion: Review of the Workings of the General Synod
GS 1914A - A note from the Diocese of London
GS 1914B - A note from the Acting Clerk to the Synod

Other Papers

GS Misc 1044 - Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act

GS Misc 1048 - Simplification Group Report

GS Misc 1049A - Moving Towards a New Dioceses for West Yorkshire and the Dales
GS Misc 1049B - The New Diocese and the Mission of the Church
GS Misc 1049C - Yorkshire Scheme for Financial Estimates
GS Misc 1050 - Statement from the Archbishop of York
Annex 1 - Blackburn Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 2 - Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 3 - Draft Wakefield Diocean Synod notes
Annex 4 - Bradford Diocesan Synod notes

GS Misc 1051 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CD Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1052 - Clergy Discipline Amendment Rules as amended by CDA Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1053 - Code of Practice amended July 2013

GS Misc 1054 - Making New Disciples
GS Misc 1055 - Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report 2012
GS Misc 1056 - Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1057 - Mission Development Funding plus Annex 1 and Annex 2
GS Misc 1058 - Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1059 - Members of Committees

The Church and Community Fund Annual Review

House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper
3rd Notice Paper

Forecast of future General Synod business

This forecast should not be read as more than a broad indication of business that may come to the Synod in 2013 and 2014. Timings are therefore approximate and not a guarantee that they will be dealt with at the Synod session indicated.

One or more reports are usually taken at each group of sessions.

One or more Diocesan Synod Motions and one or more Private Members’ Motions are customarily included in the Agenda for each group of sessions (see Special Agendas III and IV).

Legislative business

November 2013

  • MPM / Amending Canon No 31– Final Drafting and Final Approval
  • Women in the Episcopate legislation – First Consideration
  • Measure making changes to the faculty jurisdiction – First Consideration
  • Measure amending the PCCs (Powers) Measure etc – First Consideration
  • Amending Vacancy in See Committee Regulation (to give effect to Bradford DSM)
  • Amendments to the Church Representation Rules proposed by the Simplification Group

February 2014

  • Amending Canon No. 32 and Amending Resolutions relating to GS elections etc – Revision Stage
  • Measure and Amending Canon in relation to the Chichester Visitation recommendations – First Consideration
  • Pensions (Amendment) Measure [to extend CC’s power to resort to capital for pensions liabilities] – First Consideration
  • Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order
  • Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order

July 2014

  • Women in the Episcopate legislation – Revision Stage
  • Amending Canon and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Final Drafting / Final Approval
  • Measure and Amending Canon in relation to the Chichester Visitation recommendations – Revision Stage
  • Measure making changes to the faculty jurisdiction – Revision Stage
  • Measure amending the PCCs (Powers) Measure etc – Revision Stage
  • Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Revision and Final Drafting/Final Approval
  • Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order
  • Usual fees orders

Liturgical business

  • Additional Texts for Holy Baptism

Reports

  • Quinquennium Goals – follow-up report on Evangelism and Church Growth
  • The Church School of the Future (Education Division)
  • Fresh Directions in Local Unity in Mission (Council for Christian Unity)
  • Re-imagining Ministry (Ministry Division)
  • Debate on the Economy (Mission and Public Affairs Council)
  • Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Joint Implementation Commission
  • Aspects of Rural Church Life (Mission and Public Affairs Council)
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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

WATCH responds to Bishops' proposals on women in the episcopate

WATCH have today issued their response to the bishops’ proposals in GS 1886.

First there is this press release.

Press Release
Tuesday 11 June 2013 12noon

WATCH (Women and the Church) Response to the House of Bishops’ report GS1886

Press Release Summary of WATCH’s response:

WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse. We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] is that the Church of England should now commit itself fully and unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House sit very uncomfortably with that if the [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.” We agree wholeheartedly with their conclusion that Option One offers the best way forward. WATCH’s full response can be found on the attached document. The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said: “It is very heartening to see the House of Bishops give such a strong lead to enable the Church to open all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The gifts of ordained women should be welcomed and celebrated by the Church and all the signs are that the Bishops are now committed to making that happen.”

And then there is this detailed response.

WATCH response to GS 1886 ‘Women in the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals’

WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women, without equivocation.

The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse.

(1) Following the meeting of the House of Bishops on 20-21 May, the report of the Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, together with a report by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on behalf of the House, was issued on 25th May. The WATCH committee has taken time to consider the implications of the report, before issuing this response.

(2) We wish to register our thanks to the House of Bishops and the Working Party for seeking an early resolution within the Church’s own processes to a situation which is undesirable and untenable for the Church of England, and which hinders our mission and credibility in society at large.

(3) Members of General Synod will devote a significant proportion of the July group of sessions to discussion of the matter, and we urge General Synod to support the motion as proposed in the report, following the House of Bishops’ guidance in seeking to frame legislation within the parameters of the Working Group’s ‘option one’.

(4) The Archbishops’ report displays a significant change in tone towards the prospect of having women in the episcopate, and we are greatly encouraged by the positive commitment to this now being demonstrated by the House of Bishops. This, we hope, may go some way to repairing the damage done by the outcome of the Synod vote in November, which is noted in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the report.

We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] is that the Church of England should now commit itself fully and unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House sit very uncomfortably with that if the [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.”

(5) The principles underlying the Working Party’s thinking (namely, simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality [Annex para. 32f]) seem to us broadly good ones, and we recognise the challenge inherent in moving from principle to legislation.

(6) We welcome particularly the Working Party’s recognition that support for women’s ministry is grounded in theological conviction (Annex paras 37 and 53), something which seems often to have been regarded as the preserve of opponents of the ordained ministry of women.

(7) In this vein, we welcome the commitment to avoiding ‘unacceptable theological or ecclesiological confusion for the whole Church of England’ (Annex para. 31) as we regard such confusion as detrimental to the health and mission of the whole Church of England.

For this reason, we are pleased to see noted as elements of the vision in Annex para. 24 (copied in the Archbishops’ report para. 12) that: • Once legislation has passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being equally open to all, without reference to gender, and will hold that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to the office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience; Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter. It seems to us very important that, as Annex para. 39 notes, ‘There should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests.’

(8) Should General Synod follow the House of Bishops’ leadership in commending Option One, the question will arise as to what should be the nature of the provision for those unable to accept the ordained ministry of women, a House of Bishops’ Declaration or an Act of Synod. It seems to us that there would be merits and drawbacks to each, and that (as for all parties) the detail of the content would be paramount.

(9) We were encouraged to see that there was little support in the House of Bishops for Options 3 and 4, and we would find ourselves unable to support Option 2. The strong support among laity and clergy alike at every synodical level for the previous draft legislation, together with the 2/3 majority achieved in Synod last July in favour of the adjournment of the debate to allow reconsideration of the first iteration of Clause 5(1)(c), convince us that there is no appetite in the Church at large for enshrining discrimination in statute. Even if such discriminatory provision could command the requisite majorities in any General Synod, it is clear that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be unable to recommend such a Measure in Parliament.

We are therefore convinced that the wisest course would be for Synod to follow the House of Bishops’ lead in eschewing any discrimination in law, and thus to allow the Church of England to resolve the matter via her own processes.

(10) Encouraged as we are by the positive tone of the Archbishops’ report, we nevertheless retain some concerns about assumptions. In particular, we again wish to highlight the use of ‘majority/minority’ as shorthand for ‘support/opposition’ to the ordination of women. It is clearly true that, in numerical terms, these are equivalent; however, as we have previously pointed out, ordained women constitute a cultural minority within the Church of England, particularly as regards senior and stipendiary posts. Moreover, we are concerned that such shorthand pays little regard to those – most especially lay people – in favour of women’s ministry in areas where the diocesan hierarchy is predominantly opposed. It seems to us that any pastoral care for ‘minorities’ must, on the basis of reciprocity, take this into serious account. In this connection, we note with concern the overwhelmingly clerical emphasis of the Working Party’s report.

(11) We are interested by the recurrent language of ‘mutual flourishing’. ‘Flourishing’ is, we note, a word with uncertain biblical and liturgical resonances, normally indicating (as in the Prayer Book and Common Worship burial and funeral orders!) impermanence and transience.

We wonder whether it might be more helpful and hopeful for all parties to consider the health of the whole Church, growing together: such growth together in Christ demands coherence of orders, necessitates proper regard for weaker and more vulnerable members (determined on bases other than simply numerical ones) and would enable us to be more credible and more effective for the society we all seek to serve.

WATCH National Committee 10th June 2013

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Friday, 7 June 2013

Women bishops latest

Madeleine Davies of the Church Times has a round-up of opinions in Traditionalists slam women-bishops plan (although it’s not just about the “traditionalists”).
We have already published the full texts of the responses from Reform, Affirming Catholicism, Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group in General Synod.

Other recent articles include:

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks Should bishops fly?

Chris Sugden writes for the American Anglican Council: Let’s be inclusive about this.

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House of Bishops - senior women clergy representatives

Update The rules for electing the regional representatives were amended on 14 June 2013. Full details are in my article here.

At its meeting of 7 February 2013 the House of Bishops decided that eight senior women clergy, elected regionally, will participate in all meetings of the House until such time as there are six female members of the House. The necessary changes to the House’s Standing Orders were made at its meeting in May 2013.

The rules for electing these Regional Representatives are online here as a Word document, and I have converted them into a webpage.

Also available is the official summary of decisions made by the House at its May meeting.

Further information about the House of Bishops is available here.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Reform responds to plans for women bishops

Reform have today issued their response to the bishops’ proposals in GS 1886 under the heading “Reform says Women Bishop Proposals may bar many evangelicals from parish ministry”. Here it is in full.

Reform says Women Bishop Proposals may bar many evangelicals from parish ministry

New proposals for introducing women bishops run counter to the Church’s desire to see those on both sides of the debate flourish in the Church of England, according to Reform, the evangelical Anglican campaigning network.

Speaking after a meeting of the Reform trustees, chairman Prebendary Rod Thomas said today (5th June) that the paper which will be considered by next month’s General Synod, contained some very encouraging sentiments, but these were not reflected in the substance of the proposals.

Preb. Rod Thomas welcomed the vision articulated in the paper for mutual flourishing; the re-iteration of the Lambeth1998 statement that both those in favour of women bishops and those who had theological objections to their introduction were loyal Anglicans; and the recognition that it would be wrong to make such meagre provision for opponents that they would see themselves as being treated on sufferance. He said that Reform members would also be likely to welcome the proposal that provision for opponents should be consistent across all dioceses and that there should be a clear process for dispute resolution.

However, by presenting a motion to next month’s General Synod that committed the future legislative process to the least generous of the options outlined in the paper, the legitimate concerns of many evangelicals were likely to be overlooked. In particular, the proposal for unqualified changes in both legislation and canon would leave many evangelicals in an impossible situation. Clergy who believe the Bible teaches male headship would be unable to take vows of canonical obedience to female bishops and this would effectively prevent them from undertaking much parish ministry.

Other concerns identified by Reform were:

  • The requirement for General Synod to vote on a way forward without having sight of the proposed provisions for those who were opposed on theological grounds to the Episcopal oversight of women;
  • The insecurity of the proposed methods for making provision (ie either an Act of Synod or a declaration by the House of Bishops) which can be changed at any stage in the future by a simple majority vote of the General Synod or House of Bishops; and
  • The proposed removal of the current legislative provisions by which parishes can request the appointment of male priests. This could leave them vulnerable to legal challenge under Equality legislation in the future.

Prebendary Rod Thomas, who took part in the facilitated discussions with the House of Bishops Working Group earlier this year, said that the Church’s synodical process left little room for substantive changes to the proposals. The majority, who favour the introduction of women bishops, are likely to vote the proposals through by simple majority until the time comes for a vote on final approval. Only then, when the majority required in each House of Synod is 2/3, will the views of the minority really count. ‘I have to hope that Synod agrees to amend the motion before it in July’, Preb Thomas said. ‘Failure to do so will make our efforts to find an agreed way forward very much more difficult to achieve.’

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Affirming Catholicism responds to plans for women bishops

Affirming Catholicism has today welcomed the bishops’ proposals in GS 1886. There is this brief press staement

The Board of Affirming Catholicism issues a strong welcome for the House of Bishops new legislative proposals to admit Women in the Episcopate of the Church of England (GS1886): simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality - and support for Option One.

and an accompanying paper setting out their views in detail. This is copied below.

Affirming Catholicism
Statement on the new Legislative Proposals to admit Women in the Episcopate of the Church of England (GS 1886)

Affirming Catholicism welcomes the publication of the new Legislative Proposals to admit Women in the Episcopate of the Church of England and the associated Report from the House of Bishops
(GS 1886).

We believe that the five elements of the underlying vision (laid out in § 24 of the proposals), as amended by the House of Bishops (presented at § 12 of their report), offer a very good basis for the drafting of new legislation:

  • Once legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and will hold that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
  • Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;
  • Since it will continue to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England will acknowledge that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;
  • Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests will continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England will remain committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and
  • Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.

Affirming Catholicism particularly welcomes the first and second of these general principles, which make it clear that there can be no ambiguity over the ordination or consecration of women. We also endorse the continued commitment to the minority within the Church of England who cannot recognise these ordinations, expressed in the fourth and fifth, and share the concern for the ecumenical context expressed in the third.

This vision is helpfully elaborated in §§ 32-43 which set out the underlying principles which must govern any legislation: simplicity, reciprocity, and mutuality.

The principle of simplicity affirms that “the existing, already complex, structures of the Church of England will not be changed” and in particular that “the position of each diocesan bishop as Ordinary will remain unaltered.” In consequence, “all licensed ministers will continue to owe canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop in all things lawful and honest and take an oath to acknowledge this duty” (§ 33).

In our view, this principle ensures the preservation of the Church of England’s catholic ecclesiology; it is vital that should underlie any proposals for legislation. We note the similarity of the oath “of canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop in all things lawful and honest” to the oath of allegiance sworn to the Queen (arguably a consecrated woman!) at ordination.

The principle of reciprocity affirms the willingness of all members of the Church of England, regardless of their views, to cooperate in mission and ministry (§ 35). It also recognises the importance of – where necessary – making special arrangements both for those who cannot receive the priestly or episcopal ministry of women, and for those who affirm that ministry.

We welcome the assertion that “once the Church of England has admitted women to the episcopate … there should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests” (§ 39) and the suggestion that “In dioceses where the diocesan bishop does not ordain women it will be particularly important that a bishop who is fully committed to the ordained ministry of women is given a role across the whole diocese for providing support for female clergy” (§ 40), noting however, that support for laity and male clergy who affirm the ordination of women may also be appropriate and necessary.

The principle of mutuality “will mean that the majority and the minority will be committed to making it possible for the other to flourish”; it articulates an ongoing commitment to the appointment of traditionalist clergy to senior posts, including as bishops (§§ 41, 43).

We applaud the recognition of the need for an on-going relationship between those who hold the majority and the minority opinions, which we believe to be vital to the mission of the Church of England.

Taken together, these principles reveal the Church of England’s strong commitment to holding all groups together under common episcopal authority whilst respecting their differences. This seems to us a very positive set of principles on which to proceed.

Affirming Catholicism also welcomes the suggestion that the legislation should “deliver new Canons C 2 and C 4 which deal with the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate without the need for separate canons which are gender specific” (§ 54) whilst offering provision for the minority which allows them to continue to flourish. The precise form of this provision will depend on the way forward agreed by General Synod.

The working party suggests four possible ways forward:

1. This, the simplest way forward, would involve: a measure and amending canon which would made it lawful for women to become bishops; the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, together with the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod; a formal declaration by the House of Bishops and/or by the making of a new Act of Synod making provision for those who do not recognise the sacramental ministry of women; and provision of monitoring body and a dispute resolution procedure to ensure fair treatment under these provisions. (§§ 79-88; HOB Report §§ 14, 28)

2. This would look like option 1, but would include a provision in the Measure to couple it with an Act of Synod agreed by the Synod before final approval of the Measure; it might also include a requirement requiring that neither the Act of Synod nor the Measure could not amended or repealed without two-thirds majorities in each House. (§§ 89-95)

3. This would put in place a House of Bishops’ declaration or Act of Synod in relation to episcopal ministry and would also retain some elements of the 1993 Measure in relation to priestly ministry. (§§ 96-109) The working party is uncertain of the wisdom of this way forward, and in the House of Bishops it found only limited support.

4. The final option is to include more detail in the measure, as in the draft measure which was defeated in November. (§§ 110-120) Neither the working group nor the House of Bishops favours this route.

The House of Bishops has indicated its preference for the first of these options. Affirming Catholicism strongly endorses that preference. We recognise that the details of the provisions for the minority through an associated Act of Synod and/or declaration by the House of Bishops, still need to be worked out, and these must be clear before General Synod is asked to proceed. While we note that in law there is little distinction between an Act of Synod or a Declaration by the Bishops, and that neither can create “enforceable rights and duties”, we would welcome the provision of a dispute resolution procedure overseen by a monitoring body; this, we believe, would guard against failure to comply and against divisive use, whilst fostering trust. Moreover, we believe that Option 1 will best preserve the catholic nature of the Church of England, by encouraging all groups to recognise each other and to work together in a spirit of trust and generosity.

Finally, Affirming Catholicism applauds the bishops’ sense of urgency. Much damage has been done by General Synod’s rejection of the draft legislation in November 2012 and it is important to find a way forward before more people leave the Church of England. For the well-being of the church, we would not wish to cede the initiative to Parliament.

Affirming Catholicism, June 2013

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Forward in Faith responds to plans for women bishops

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith have issued this statement on the House of Bishops report GS 1886 Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals. They do not like the bishops’ proposals.

WOMEN IN THE EPISCOPATE: NEW LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
STATEMENT FROM FORWARD IN FAITH

We are grateful for the work of the working group whose report is annexed to the House of Bishops report GS 1886 (‘Women in the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals’). We strongly welcome the House of Bishops’ endorsement of the group’s five-point vision (para. 12 of the House’s report).

However, we are puzzled by the conclusions that the House has apparently drawn from the working group’s report.

We continue to believe that a solution to address the new reality of women bishops will need to build on the existing framework which has enabled us to live together in the Church of England over the last twenty years. We agree with the view that there can be ‘no cheap trust’. Our future can only be based on a mutually trusting relationship. The proposal of legislation which sweeps away existing legal security damages trust.

In November, an attempt to push through a Measure with legal provisions which no representative of the minority recognized as remotely adequate failed – after much prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit. We are puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that its new proposals, which would involve no legally binding provision at all, are more likely to gain the necessary majorities.

As an organization whose members are overwhelmingly lay, the fact that the House of Bishops’ proposals would involve a significant shift of power in favour of incumbents and bishops is of particular concern to us. So too is the fact that the proposals would expose lay representatives, as well as incumbents and priests in charge, to the risk of incurring significant costs in defending themselves against legal challenges.

We still hope that the ‘new way forward’ promised in February will involve prayer, reconciliation, mutual respect and consensus. We welcome the facilitated conversations as a means of moving towards this end. We do not believe that the House of Bishops’ preferred option (Option 1) represents the mind of the whole Church of England.

We therefore hope that the General Synod will choose a way forward which builds on the existing arrangements rather one which destroys them. Such legislation would be far more likely to secure final approval in the shortest possible time.

Our comments and questions are set out in more detail in the document which accompanies this statement.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Vice-Chairman

4 June 2013

The comments and questions are below the fold.

GS 1886 – COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS FROM FORWARD IN FAITH

1. In commenting on the ‘Report from the House of Bishops’ on new legislative proposals, we begin by reiterating that we are not trying to prevent women from becoming bishops in the Church of England.

2. Rather, we are trying to ensure that new legislation will provide a firm basis for those who uphold the traditional understanding of the Church and its ministry and sacraments to continue to flourish within the Church of England. We cannot see that the House of Bishops’ proposal would achieve this.

3. The Secretary General’s note about ‘a new way forward’ (GS Misc 1042), circulated in February with the agreement of the House of Bishops, reported that the facilitated conversations revealed ‘strong support for giving the highest priority to finding a solution which will enable legislation to be approved by Synod on the fastest possible timetable’ (para. 9) – involving final approval by the present Synod. We are puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that its new proposals will achieve this.

4. The House of Bishops’ proposal would transfer power from the laity (who currently have the ability to pass the legally binding Resolutions A and B) to bishops, patrons, and incumbents or priests in charge, who would be free to take ‘discretionary decisions’ (GS 1886: Annex, para. 88) about appointments and ministry in parishes, ‘taking such account as they wished of any statements declarations or guidance that the House of Bishops might have made nationally’ (Annex, para. 83). As the great majority of Forward in Faith’s members are laypeople (including very large numbers of lay women), we note this with particular concern. We are also puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that this new proposal is more likely to commend itself to the House of Laity than the Measure which failed in November.

5. Reference is made to the legal right of representatives of the laity to veto parochial appointments. However, we note that if the Bishop suspends presentation to the living, as happens in a great many cases, parish representatives have no legal right to veto the appointment of a priest in charge.

6. We note with concern that, as the report admits, there would be a possibility of litigation against lay representatives exercising their veto on the presentation of an incumbent, in which case they would be ‘personally exposed to having to defend (at their own cost) their decision’ (Annex, para. 133). Again, we are puzzled as to why the House of Bishops apparently believes that this new proposal is more likely to commend itself to the House of Laity than the Measure which failed in November.

7. We further note with concern that an incumbent or priest in charge who declined to nominate a female curate ‘would be in a similar position’ (Annex, para. 134).

8. GS 1042 included four propositions from the working group which ‘commanded a wide measure of endorsement’ in the facilitated conversations (para. 17). The fourth of these (paras 28-9) was that any new package would need to fulfil two objectives:

  • to produce a shorter, simpler measure than the one that was defeated;
  • to provide, through the totality of the elements in the package, a greater sense of security for the minority as having an accepted and valued place in the Church of England while not involving the majority in any new element of compromise on matters of principle.

The House of Bishops’ new proposal is to repeal the 1993 Measure (including Resolutions A and B) without replacing them with any legal provision at all. This cannot fulfil the objective of providing ‘a greater sense of security for the minority’ than the Measure which failed in November.

9. While trust and grace are obviously important elements in the life of the Church, we agree with the Church Times in noting:

  • that ‘the Church never relies on grace alone: hence canon law’,
  • that the current lack of trust can be attributed to ‘a failure to embrace the spirit of the legislation of 1992-93, compounded by the movement to repeal it’, and
  • that, in short, there can be ‘no cheap trust’.

10. The 1993 settlement included elements that are difficult for female priests and their supporters. It also included elements that are difficult for us. That is the nature of compromise. Despite those elements of difficulty, we continue to believe that the 1993 settlement has essentially worked and that only a solution which builds on it rather than destroying it stands any chance of commending itself to a sufficiently broad range of members of the Church of England and of the General Synod.

11. In November 2012 a legislative process that had begun six years earlier (with the appointment of a legislative drafting group) ended in failure. At no stage in the process had there been any evidence that the legislation would command the support of the necessary two-thirds in the House of Laity. The fact that the legislative process was nevertheless pursued to its predictable conclusion has been hugely damaging for the Church of England’s credibility. To embark upon a fresh legislative process on the basis of proposals that would appear to stand even less chance of commanding the necessary breadth of support would be highly irresponsible.

12. We continue to be committed to playing our full part in working to identify a way forward that is based on consensus and will command the necessary breadth of support.

4 June 2013

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Monday, 3 June 2013

Catholic Group in General Synod responds to plans for women bishops

Updated Thursday 6 June

The Church Times is reporting: Traditionalists saddened by latest women-bishop proposals. The traditionalists referred to are the Catholic Group in General Synod.

THE House of Bishops preference for the provision of women bishops, “option one” (News, 31 May), has been severely criticised by the Catholic Group in General Synod as a “step backwards”.

In the first detailed traditionalist response, the group’s chairman, Canon Simon Killwick, says that they are “saddened” by the Bishops’ preference, accusing them of “closing down debate before it has started”.

The statement is not yet on the Group’s own website, but can be read at the end of the Church Times article.

Update

The Group has now sent us a copy of their statement and this is copied below the fold.

Statement on behalf of the Catholic Group in General Synod

ONE STEP FORWARD ~ ONE STEP BACK

We welcome the report of the Working Party set up by the House of Bishops (annexed to GS 1886) as a significant step forward towards legislation for women bishops in the Church of England.

The Church of England needs a settlement which will provide both for women bishops, and for those who are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops, on grounds of theological conviction – convictions which are supported by Holy Scripture, and the consensus of the wider Church. We recognise in the five propositions in the report, taken together, the possible basis for a settlement - with the exception of the reference to canonical obedience.

What is needed now is the building of a sufficiently large consensus behind legislative proposals that they are capable of comfortably receiving the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three Houses of the Synod.

We are saddened by the selection of option one (the simplest possible legislation) by the House of Bishops at this early stage. This feels like a step backwards in the process, closing down debate before it has started, and rendering facilitated conversations between Synod members pointless. Option one will not help to achieve a consensus; it will not create legislation capable of achieving the required majorities. It would tear up the current settlement over women priests, and replace it with arrangements which no one would be obliged to follow. The effects would be felt most by the laity, who would not only lose their existing legal rights, but could also be open to legal challenge under the Equality Act. Option one would unbalance the five propositions, giving most weight to the first two, and less weight to the other three.

The option preferred by the bishops relies simply on trust to provide for those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops and priests. We regulate other areas of church life in great detail by law – measures, canons and regulations – and we see no justification for abandoning that approach in relation to one of the most controversial areas of our church life. Were option one to be accepted, we would be in the strange situation that who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist would be governed by grace and trust, while who administers Holy Communion would be determined by regulations made under canon.

We believe that the way forward lies in holding together all of the five propositions, without giving any of them more prominence than the others. The retention of Resolutions A and B from the current settlement would provide the essential underpinning for any future arrangements to honour the last three propositions; the arrangements need to be secure, and not dependent on the discretionary decisions of individual bishops, clergy, PCCs, patrons and parish representatives. Further consideration still needs to be given to issues concerning the jurisdiction of diocesan bishops, and oaths of canonical obedience – consideration which had the support of majorities of the General Synod and the Revision Committee at different times in the past.

We will continue to reflect and pray, and consult with others, before deciding what amendments to propose to the Synod in July, in order to move the process forwards and build consensus.

Canon Simon Killwick
(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod)

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Sunday, 26 May 2013

reports on the new proposals for women bishops

Revised Tuesday lunchtime

Andrew Brown has analysed the proposals for the Guardian in Church of England leaders propose female bishops by 2015.

The bishops of the Church of England have published a plan to consecrate female bishops by 2015, after the defeat of legislation last autumn. It would end 20 years of bitter struggle with a clear decision in favour of progress.

The proposals, published on Friday and backed by both archbishops, offer a nearly complete victory for the female clergy and their supporters outraged by the failure of the earlier legislation…

Tom Heneghan Reuters Church of England unveils plan for women bishops in 2015

Jonathan Petre in the Mail on Sunday reports that Church leaders may ask Queen to dissolve Synod if it continues to oppose creation of women bishops.

Senior bishops have raised the prospect of asking the Queen to dissolve the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’, the General Synod, if it continues to oppose the creation of women bishops.

The unprecedented proposal was made in a confidential meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury last week and reflects Church leaders’ frustration with the Synod for narrowly defeating legislation in November to allow women priests to become bishops…

Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin wrote in the Church Times House of Bishops sets out next steps on women in the episcopate.

…Speaking on Friday, Bishop Stock said that “we have a choice of proceeding by grace or by law. As you go down the options, more law goes into it. It seems wise to start with maximum grace and see where that gets us; that’s where the House of Bishops would like to start.”

Bishop Stock said that small-group facilitated discussions among Synod members would take place on the Saturday of the Synod’s meeting, and warned of the danger of returning to “a zero-sum game”. “We’re hoping people will not start to take positions and sides too soon. . . This is a real attempt to see how we can begin to honour each other rather than be suspicious of each other.”

He went on: “People now really do want to look at a more positive way of being together rather than being in separate silos where you have no real contact with each other. There are various signals about that, and a new way of working.”

It would be “entirely open to anybody to produce an amendment” in the Monday debate, but “the Bishops thought this is where we ought to start.”

The first response from the Conservative Evangelical wing was published by Cranmer’s Curate on Sunday and then, after one modification, taken down. It has now appeared here: CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops and part of the article is copied below the fold.

CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops

By Julian Mann
Special to virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
May 27, 2013

The latest legislative proposal for a single clause women bishops’ measure reflects the clear choice of the Church of England hierarchy to follow the world and not the Word by imposing a uniform, secular model of leadership on parishes.

The liberal establishment is desperate to get this legislation through the General Synod as soon as possible because it is terrified of the backlash from the metropolitan elite in Westminister if the Church of England repeats its failure to embrace political correctness. The failure of the General Synod to pass the women bishops’ measure in November led to outrage in the British Parliament.

Members of Parliament cheer-led by the Prime Minister - who has admitted that his faith fluctuates like the signal from his local radio station in the Chiltern hills - fell over themselves to denounce the Church of England for failing to ‘get up with the programme’. One newspaper columnist acidly observed that people who could not care less about the Church of England suddenly started developing ‘bilious opinions’ about women bishops.

There was even talk of banning ecclesiastical bottoms from the ermine benches of the House of Lords because they were so out of touch with societal opinion.

More sinisterly, homosexualist parliamentarians were quick to realise that acceptance of women bishops was an essential precursor to the capitulation of the Church of England to their agenda.

Campaign group for the traditional integrity, Proper Provision, has just issued a statement explaining in stark terms what the single clause option announced last week would mean for conservative evangelicals.

This breath of realism in advance of the July Synod meeting shows the real spiritual and moral battle ground on which conservative evangelicals are to pray and to take action and to make sacrifices so that the local churches we love can remain faithful to the revealed, apostolic Word of the Lord Jesus Christ and not be neutered by the world.

Statement by “Proper Provision” (see here for their 2012 statement) originally from here but now reproduced at the link given above:

The House of Bishops have decided that “the moment has come for demonstrating how the Church of England can manifest its commitment to remaining a broad church without having to rely on legislation to do so”.

They are therefore recommending to General Synod that we move forward with “Option 1” (of the four offered by the Working Party).

In short this is the “Single Clause” option - with a non-legally binding declaration from the House of Bishops/ an Act of Synod (not available in July) which would set out recommendations for arrangements for those whose theological conviction does not enable them to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.

We must however remember that NONE of the options provided jurisdictional provision (despite the Working Party recognising that this is what we had said was required).

All four options REQUIRE Conservative Evangelical Ministers to:

  • Swear the oath of Canonical Obedience to their Diocesan (male or female)
  • Accept that they hold a “dissenting” view because “the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter”
  • Play a “full part” in the lives of the Dioceses and Deaneries in order to ensure that the “majority” flourish.

This option also has the potential to put our PCCs, incumbents and patrons at risk of being challenged under the Equality Act if there is a disagreement over the appointment of a male incumbent/nomination of a female curate in the future. The document makes clear that this will be at their own cost.

It would clearly be a disaster if a measure of this nature were passed but we must pray that people recognise the clarity of the decision the Church is making - we may be saying “yes” to women bishops but we are also saying “no’ to those who hold the dissenting view.

Despite all the talk about mutual flourishing and loyal anglicans this option will have the effect of reducing the breadth of churchmanship in the Church of England and unchurching large numbers of clergy and laity.

  • Conservative Evangelical ministers will either have to lie (when taking their canonical oath to a woman) or leave.
  • Conservative Evangelical laity will have to risk court action if they appoint the man of their choice.
  • All Conservative Evangelicals will have to live as oxymorons - loyal dissenters.

Please pray for all those who will be making decisions about how to move forward on this issue.

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Friday, 24 May 2013

New proposals to enable women to become bishops

The Church of England has published this press release: New legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops published. The full text is copied below.

The proposals are contained in this document (PDF): Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals (GS 1886).
The report of the Working Group established by the House of Bishops is at the Annex of the document.

New legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops published

24 May 2013

The Church of England has published, today, new legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops which will be debated by the General Synod in July.

This will be the first occasion that Synod members have met since November 2012, when the previous legislation narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority in all three Houses, despite a 73% majority overall.

The proposals from the House of Bishops accompany the publication of a report of a Working Group which it had established in December. The Working Group’s report sets out four possible options for the shape of the new legislation. Of these the House of Bishops has recommended “the simplest possible legislation” (option one) which reads:

“A measure and amending canon that made it lawful for women to become bishops; and

“The repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.”

In addition, option one involves arrangements for those who, as a matter of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests being set out either in a declaration from the House of Bishops or in a new Act of Synod.

The short report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House sets out the text of a motion which invites the Synod to reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency, require the legislative process to begin in November so that it can be concluded in 2015 and specify that the legislation should be in the simplest possible form.

The Business Committee of the General Synod met earlier this week and has scheduled the debate for the morning of Monday, 8 July in York. In addition, Synod members will spend a substantial amount of time in York on the Saturday in facilitated conversations, in which the various options can be explored further.

The Chair of the Working Group, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said on behalf of the Group:

“The mandate given to the Working Group in December reflected the House of Bishops’ view that new proposals would need both greater simplicity and a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference that ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans’.

“This mandate did not simply reflect the House of Bishops’ assessment of what was achievable, it also reflected its view of what was desirable - namely that the Church of England should retain its defining characteristic of being a broad Church, capable of accommodating a wide range of theological conviction.”

Bishop Nigel continued:

“Given this range of views it is essential to be clear on whether the Church of England is still willing to leave space for those who dissent from its decision. We have approached our task on the basis that the Church of England is so willing.

“To expect unanimity on where the limits of diversity should be drawn may be unrealistic, given the variety of strongly held views which exist and are maintained with integrity. Nevertheless it is necessary to see whether there might be an approach which could command a sufficiently wide measure of assent to enable progress to be made.

“We are perhaps at a moment when the only way forward is one which makes it difficult for anyone to claim outright victory.”

Concluding his statement, Bishop Nigel said:

“The Synod, guided by the recommendation that the House of Bishops has now made, needs in July to come to a clear decision about the proposals and options laid before it and give a mandate for the introduction of a draft measure and amending canon in November.

“That decision-making process will be greatly assisted by all Synod members having first the opportunity in York for facilitated listening and engagement of the kind that the group has found so helpful in producing this report. To that end, we are grateful to the Business Committee for making space for this to take place on the Saturday of our July meeting.”

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General Synod July timetable published

The timetable  for the July group of General Synod sessions at York has been published.  The business items are listed below. * against a time means “not later than”.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2013  Timetable

Friday 5 July
[1-2.30 pm House of Laity]

4.15 pm – 6.15 pm
4.15 pm Opening worship
Formal business
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
*5.25 pm Approval of appointments
*5.45 pm Presidential Address

8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Questions

Saturday 6 July
9.30-1pm Reflection, discussion and worship in small groups

2.30 pm Further group discussion followed by private plenary session

8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Progress on meeting the Challenges for the Quinquennium

Sunday 7 July
10.00 am Holy Communion in York Minster

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative Business
2.30 pm Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Miscellaneous Provisions Measure/Amending Canon No. 31 – Revision Stage
*5.00pm Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports

8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Welfare Reform and the Church

Monday 8 July
9.30 am – 1 pm
9.30 am Morning Worship
Women in the Episcopate: Report from the House of Bishops
Legislative Business Any items of legislative business from Special Agenda I proposed to be dealt with under the Procedure for Deeming will be debated at this point if a debate is required. If debate is not required on any of these items, the First Report by the Business Committee on the Work of the Elections Review Group will be taken.

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
2.30 pm Legislative Business Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation
Financial Business Archbishops’ Council budget

8.30 pm – 10 pm
8.30 pm Farewell to the Bishop of Exeter
Church Commissioners Annual Report
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report

Tuesday 9 July
9.30 am – 1 pm
9.30 am Morning Worship
Legislative Business: Any unfinished business
The Work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee (if not taken on Monday)
Legislative Business Amending Canon and Amending Rules giving effect to the proposals contained in the First Report by the Business Committee on the Work of the Elections Review Group
The Work of the Elections Review Group: Possible changes to electorate for House of Laity and online voting: Second Report by the Business Committee
*12.30pm Farewell to the Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe, Hereford and Liverpool

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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Diocesan reorganisation referred to General Synod

Updated Thursday afternoon and evening

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has announced that the Dioceses Commission Draft Reorganisation Scheme for the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield will be put to General Synod. Because the Diocese of Wakefield voted against it, the scheme could only be sent to General Synod with the authorization of the Archbishop.

The full statement from the Archbishop is here. This includes the text of the paper which will be sent to General Synod members to explain his decision to authorise the Dioceses Commission to lay the draft scheme before the General Synod.

The Church of England communications office has released this Statement from Dioceses Commission.

Of the three dioceses, only Bradford has so far published anything on its website: Diocesan reorganisation referred to General Synod.

Our earlier reports on this proposal and how it has developed are here, here, here, here, here. here, here, here and here.

Update

The Diocese of Ripon and Leeds has now responded: Welcome for Archbishop’s decision on Diocesan Reorganisation.
And so has Wakefield: Archbishop of York decides to take super diocese proposal to General Synod.

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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Synod voting

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has been looking at the requirement that some votes at General Synod require a two-thirds majority. She argues that this requirement should be applied earlier in the synodical process, and not left to the very end as at present. Read her argument here: Synod voting and 2/3 majorities: A discussion paper.

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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Another woman dean

The Prime Minister’s office has announced that the next Dean of Guildford is to be the Revd Canon Dianna Gwilliams. The official press release is here, and is copied below the fold.

Canon Gwilliams will be the fifth woman to become a cathedral dean in the Church of England.

The diocese of Guildford has this announcement.

Canon Gwilliams is currently working in the diocese of Southwark, which has its own announcement here.

Press Release from the Prime Minister’s Office

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Dianna Lynn Gwilliams, to be appointed to be Dean of Guildford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Dianna Lynn Gwilliams, MA, Vicar of St Barnabas, Dulwich and Foundation Chaplain of Alleyn’s Foundation, Dulwich in the Diocese of Southwark, and Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit in Guildford, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Victor Andrew Stock, OAM, AKC, FRSA, on 31 July 2012.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Dianna Gwillliams (aged 55) studied Physics and Chemistry at the University of California for her BA, and then moved to London in 1978 to continue her work as a Sound Engineer. She trained for ordination with the Southwark Ordination Course and was ordained deacon in 1992 and priest in 1994. She served her first curacy in Peckham, southeast London, at Copleston Centre Church (a Local Ecumenical Partnership) and second curacy at St Barnabas, Dulwich, before applying for, and being appointed Vicar of St Barnabas and Foundation Chaplain of Edward Alleyn’s Foundation in 1999. She gained an MA Youth Ministry and Theological Education from King’s College, London in 2001.

In addition to these responsibilities Dianna has also served as Area Dean of Dulwich from 2005 to 2012, Diocesan Dean of Women’s Ministry from 2009 to 2012 and has just completed 12 months as Acting Archdeacon of Southwark. Since 2006 she has been an Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

CofE marriage report: last November's Questions in Synod

At the General Synod meeting last November, some Questions were asked about the report that has recently been published.

The full transcript of Questions and Answers is available here, but the section relating to the report (pages 43-44) is copied in full below the line.

Readers may wish to ask themselves whether the report that has now been published fits the description given in the answer:

…The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since.

The full text of the 1999 document mentioned above can be found here: Marriage: A Teaching Document (PDF).

18. Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Is it the case that the Faith and Order Commission has been invited by the House of Bishops to undertake work in relation to the Church’s teaching on marriage and, if so, who will be conducting that work on the Commission’s behalf?

19. Miss Rachel Beck (Lincoln) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Given the concern expressed at the last group of sessions that the full diversity of beliefs on the issue of same-sex marriage that exist within the Church were not fully represented in the response submitted to HM Government’s consultation on the issue of same-sex marriage, can the House ensure that in any request for work in this area to the Faith and Order Commission it would be encouraged to look at the subject in all its fullness, a fullness which includes debating the possibility of blessing same-sex marriage?

The Archbishop of York (Dr John Sentamu), replied as Chairman of the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee:
With permission, Chair, I will answer these Questions together.

At a meeting of the House of Bishops Standing Committee earlier this year the Bishop of Coventry, as chair of the Faith and Order Commission, asked whether the Committee wished the Commission to undertake any further work on the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since. The work is now well advanced.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark): At best, this sounds like a missed opportunity, given the amount of recent work on these matters, which deserves more serious –

The Chairman: You are making a speech, not asking a question.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark): I am coming to the question – which deserves more serious consideration than is possible in a short document. Who is advising the Commission and when will the report be published?

The Archbishop of York: That document has been asked for by the Standing Committee of the House. It will then go to the House of Bishops to decide how, when, where and what will be published after consultation with the House. That is the process.

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

General Synod - Reports of Proceedings

We overlooked the verbatim Report of Proceedings of last November’s General Synod when it was published, but it is available for download: Report of Proceedings November 2012.

Reports back to February 2007 are available from this page and in most cases audio files are also available.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Update on progress on women bishops legislation

The Church of England issued this update this afternoon.

Update on progress on women bishops legislation
26 March 2013

The consultation document on women bishops issued on 8 February generated 376 responses by the closing date of 28 February. Of these, 10 were from organisations and three from bishops. Of the remaining 363 submissions, 154 were from General Synod members and 209 from others.

The working group has met twice in March and has further meetings scheduled for April and May. It remains on track to report to the House of Bishops before the meeting of the House on 20/21 May, when the House will be deciding what proposals to bring to the Synod in July. At its April meeting the group is having further facilitated conversations with those who joined it for the earlier discussions at the beginning of February.

Notes

The consultation document on women bishops was issued as below
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2013/02/consultation-document-issued-by-working-group-on-women-bishops-legislation.aspx

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Women Bishops Consultation - response by Rod Thomas

Another response to the consultation is available on the REFORM website, written by Rod Thomas.

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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Women Bishops Consultation - response by Hilary Cotton

Here is another submission to the consultation by an individual, Hilary Cotton. (PDF)

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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Women Bishops Consultation - WATCH responds

Women and the Church (WATCH) has made a formal response to the consultation.

The main body of the response is in this document (PDF):
The WATCH response to GS Misc 1042 Women in the episcopate: a new way forward.

Or it is available here as a normal web page.

There are several appendices:

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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Women Bishops Consultation - response by Jonathan Clatworthy

Another excellent response to the consultation (which has a deadline of today “if possible”) comes from Jonathan Clatworthy.

See How we argue about women bishops.

This is a personal statement but the main points aim to express the theological tradition of Modern Church, which has supported the ordination of women since the 1920s. I support a simple measure which removes the obstacles to the consecration of women on exactly the same terms as men.

The focus is on how to handle the theological disagreements.

No legislation will last long unless it is both self-consistent and theologically coherent. Legislation containing contradictions will fail the test of time, however strong the short-term pressure for fudge.

Currently there is no genuine theological debate between the two sides. This is partly because of the polarisation of views, but also largely because there is no agreement on how to do our theological disagreeing. It is an epistemological issue rather than a theological one…

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Monday, 25 February 2013

Women Bishops Consultation - response by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has written this excellent response to the Consultation document on women bishops legislation.

Schrodinger’s Cat Theology? Response to Women Bishops Consultation

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Women in the episcopate consultation

David Pocklington has published two articles at Law & Religion UK about the Consultation document on women bishops legislation.

Women in the episcopate consultation: the basics
Women in the episcopate consultation: an analysis

The second includes this comment.

The above analysis suggests that whilst the four propositions developed by the Working Group provide a broad framework within which to proceed, these need to be finessed further to maximize the benefit of the progress achieved to date. This would include.

  • more formal declaration of the objectives a) to provide a clearer focus for the group’s work, and b) to give a signal to those outside the group of the expected outcome;
  • minimization of “soft law” instruments within the “package” which is developed, which would rely [on] a combination of primary and secondary legislation coming into force at the same time;
  • a statement on the expected time-scale, identifying key milestones and reviews of progress.

But do read all of them both.

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Friday, 8 February 2013

Consultation document on women bishops legislation

Church of England press release: Consultation document issued by working group on women bishops legislation:

08 February 2013
A consultation document setting out a new way forward in enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England has today been sent to all General Synod members.

The document draws on the facilitated conversations arranged by the Working Group on women bishops legislation held earlier this week and the meeting of the House of Bishops on February 7.

The consultation document can be read here. (PDF)

Notes

Statement following the meeting of the House of Bishops PR28.13
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2013/02/statement-on-the-conclusion-of-the-meeting-of-the-house-of-bishops.aspx

The facilitation process referred to was set out in PR160.12 on 11 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/statement-from-the-house-of-bishops-on-defeat-of-women-bishops-legislation.aspx

Membership of the working group was set out in PR169.12 on 19 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/working-group-on-new-legislative-proposals-on-women-bishops-announced.aspx

We have made a webpage version of the consultation document available here.

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Thursday, 7 February 2013

House of Laity meeting - transcript and electronic voting results

The electronic voting results of the House of Laity meeting held on 18 January 2013 are now available. As usual these take the form of a pdf file, arranged by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.

For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) and added absentees and vacancies. I have also provided a webpage version of the spreadsheet.

A verbatim transcript of the meeting is also available.

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House of Bishops issues another statement on women bishops

Statement on the conclusion of the meeting of the House of Bishops

07 February 2013

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today expressed its encouragement and support for new robust processes and steps in bringing forward to General Synod the necessary legislation to consecrate women to the episcopate.

At a special meeting at Lambeth Palace today, the House reviewed the progress to develop proposals to enable women to become bishops at the earliest possible date. The meeting also considered changes to future meetings so as to ensure that eight senior women clergy will be participants in all meetings of the House and its standing committee.

The House was briefed on the two meetings held in January by the working group under the chairmanship of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. All 10 of the members of the working group attended the House of Bishops meeting. The House also received an account of the intensive, facilitated conversations held by the group with 15 others from a wide range of viewpoints on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The House was encouraged to hear of the constructive manner in which everyone had joined together in the search for a way forward. It agreed that the working group should shortly issue a consultation document that would give an outline of the discussions of the past weeks, set out some emerging ideas and provide General Synod members with an opportunity to have an input into that conversation prior to the working group meeting again on 4 March.

The House affirmed the nature of the facilitation process and encouraged opportunities which may be available to extend this process further at a diocesan and regional level. There was also support for the facilitation process to continue in parallel with the fresh proposals that will be brought to General Synod in July.

Following the discussion with the working group, the House went on to consider issues arising from its current all male membership. It decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The intention is that eight members would be elected regionally from within bishops’ senior staff teams (that include deans, archdeacons and others). The necessary change to the House’s Standing Orders will be made in May.

In addition, the House agreed to a special meeting on 19 September when the College of Bishops and a group of senior female clergy will meet to take forward the range of cultural and practical issues about gender and ministry in the Church of England arising from the ‘Transformations’ initiative that was launched at Lambeth in September 2011.

Notes

The facilitation process referred to was set out in PR160.12 on 11 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/statement-from-the-house-of-bishops-on-defeat-of-women-bishops-legislation.aspx

Membership of the working group was set out in PR169.12 on 19 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/working-group-on-new-legislative-proposals-on-women-bishops-announced.aspx

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

WATCH

As the intensive facilitated discussions on legislation to allow women to be bishops start today WATCH has published these two articles, from which I have extracted a few key paragraphs.

John Gladwin: Some comments on where we go from here on the legislation for opening the episcopate to women

The issue in front of us is not primarily doctrinal. That hurdle was jumped in the 1970’s and the church has not retreated from its clear commitment that there are no theological principles in our understanding of the tradition preventing women entering holy orders.

The issue is, therefore, fundamentally about the order of the church. The order of the Church of England is that if you are ordained deacon you may be ordained priest after one year and if you are ordained priest you may be ordained Bishop after 6 years and if you are over 30 years of age. Canon C2 sets out the refinements of this. Driving a permanent wedge between the priesthood and the episcopate is destructive of our tradition and order.

That is one of the reasons why the language of reception was used when women were admitted to the priesthood. The experience of this ministry would seal the issue. There can be no doubt that the period is reception is long passed. When the Archbishop Rowan suggested that, in theory, it was possible for the church to reverse its decision to ordain women into the priesthood, he very quickly had to retract. There is no doubt reception time is done.

Jane Charman: Gender discrimination in the Church of England – why it matters and our response

Within the Church of England defending the rights of some individuals and groups to discriminate against women currently has a high priority and is connected in many minds with upholding freedom and diversity. By contrast witnessing to the equal dignity and worth of women in society has a low priority. It is not a moral imperative for us. Opponents of women’s ministry have worked hard to alter our perceptions in this way, to present gender discrimination as a respectable alternative position within the life of the Church and themselves as victims of intolerance. This reversal of values seems perverse and incomprehensible, even morally repugnant, to those outside the Church.

I voted for the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure last November, having persuaded myself that it was the best of the options available to us. I wanted to respect the views of others and make gracious provision for those who tell us they are struggling with this issue for theological reasons. I particularly wanted to find a way for the Church of England to break out of the current impasse and move forward with the pressing missional task that is before us.

I have come to understand that what I did was wrong. I was supporting a lesser good at the expense of a greater good. We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.

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Friday, 1 February 2013

York prolocutor

Following the consecration of Glyn Webster, an election has been held to elect his successor as prolocutor [ie chair] of the lower house [ie clergy] of the Convocation of York.

The Venerable Cherry Vann, the Archdeacon of Rochdale, was elected unopposed.

Amongst other things the prolocutor is an ex officio member of the Archbishops’ Council.

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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Women Bishops - summit next week

Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times: Women-bishops summit next week. She reports that ““Intensive” facilitated discussions are to be held on Tuseday and Wednesday next week by the working group on women bishops”.

The chair of the working group has sent a statement to all General Synod members (GS Misc 1041), and this is copied below.

GS Misc 1041
GENERAL SYNOD
Women Bishops: Working Group on new legislative proposals

Please see below a statement which the Chair of the Working Group has asked to be circulated to Synod members.
William Fittall
Secretary General
31 January 2013

Synod members will have seen that, on 11 December, the House of Bishops established a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod to advise it on the preparation of fresh legislative proposals to be brought before the Synod in July. The Archbishops announced the names of the ten members of the Group on 19 December.

We held our first meeting on 3 January and met again yesterday. At our first meeting we decided to invite 15 people to join us for intensive facilitated discussions on 5/6 February. We sought nominations for some of these places from interested groups and issued some invitations to named individuals.

We thought long and hard about the best arrangements and came to the conclusion that an event of this kind, at which we could do intensive and focused work with the help of outside facilitators, would be what was most productive at this stage of the process.

After our conversations conclude at the end of Wednesday afternoon the Working Group will be meeting the Archbishops and other members of the House of Bishops Standing Committee that evening in preparation for a special meeting of the House of Bishops on Thursday 7 February.

It will be for the House to decide what should happen thereafter in the light of the conversations that have happened. My expectation is that the House will issue a statement and give the working Group a fresh mandate for the next phase of its work. I would also hope that, shortly thereafter, there will be an opportunity to circulate a consultation document enabling all Synod members to make a contribution. Given the timescale to which we are working we shall probably need to seek responses by the end of February.

The ten of us who have been appointed to serve on the Working Group – 4 bishops, 3 clergy and 3 laity – are very conscious of the weight of expectation and responsibility placed on us. Do pray for us and for all those involved in the various discussions during the week of 4 February

+Nigel St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

We reported on the establishment of the working group here and here; the second link includes a list of the group’s members.

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Friday, 18 January 2013

House of Laity meeting - press reports

The Church of England website has this press release about this afternoon’s debate.

House of Laity rejects vote of no confidence
18 January 2013

The House of Laity, meeting in Church House, Westminster today, rejected a motion of no confidence in its Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, with 47 voting for the motion and 80 voting against.

The motion was brought by Mr Stephen Barney, a lay canon of Leicester Cathedral, who said he had lost confidence in Dr Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity following Dr Giddings’ speech in the debate on women bishops legislation in November. In a letter to all members of the House of Laity before the debate, Mr Barney said, “Whatever we decide, I hope it will contribute to resolving this issue in the long term, for the flourishing of all.”

After the vote, Dr Giddings told the House: “Mr Chairman I am grateful for that vote of confidence but I need to, in a sense, take my medicine. There are clearly a substantial minority of the House who do not have confidence in me. I intend to continue in office but I shall take careful advice from colleagues about how we proceed from here. And in particular I think we need to have some kind of debate about what are the expectations of chair and vice chair in matters of this kind. I hope and pray that we can now put this behind us and the temperature can be lowered and that we can seek to work together for the sake of God’s mission to this country.”

There are several online press reports of the debate.

Madeleine Davies and Ed Thornton in the Church Times House of Laity bid to oust Giddings fails

Sam Jones in The Guardian Female bishops: house of laity chair survives no-confidence vote

Lauren Turner in The Independent Women bishops: Church leader Dr Philip Giddings wins confidence vote

BBC Church of England no-confidence vote defeated

John Bingham in The Telegraph Spectre of gay bishops feud returns amid Church debate on women

Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service England’s laity rejects ‘no confidence’ vote in their chair

Christian Today Church of England: Philip Giddings survives lay vote

Andrew Brown of The Guardian has this comment: God’s hand in General Synod politics.

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House of Laity meeting - outcome of the debate

The motion before the House was:

That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House.

Immediately before the vote was due to be taken, a motion to pass to next business (and thereby cancel the vote on the main motion) was moved, but overwhelmingly lost.

The main motion was defeated with 47 votes in favour, 80 votes against and 13 recorded.

After the debate Dr Giddings said that he would continue in office, but that there was a need for a debate on the role of the chair of the house.

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"awash with misconceptions"

The Anglican Mainstream website carries this editorial (reprinted from New Directions): Special meeting of the House of Laity. It starts:

We are appalled by the news that there is to be a special meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod to have a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings. Dr Giddings spoke up for proper and fair provision for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate. He has been accused of impartiality, a charge not levied against those leaders in other Houses who spoke out firmly in favour of the legislation and indeed in one case against any provision whatsoever for us.

and later continues:

In response to Bishop Jonathan Baker’s fine reflection on the vote in synod the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’ has been awash with misconceptions and in some cases simple untruths. Many commentators have become fixated with the idea that there is a See of Ebbsfleet. Given that Ebbsfleet is a suffragan see of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on the official advert declaring a vacancy in the see it was called the See of Ebbsfleet, one wonders why people are getting so irate. It is of course because they dislike what the See of Ebbsfleet and indeed the other Catholic sees stand for. They dislike the sense of coherence around a bishop that has grown up in our constituency. They cannot understand the world in which we operate, supporting one another and meeting together, because we share a common faith and a common vision. [emphasis added]

Unlike the Anglican Mainstream website, we are open for comments.

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

House of Laity meeting

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK looks ahead to tomorrow’s meeting with these Questions for the House of Laity (and the Church), and suggests that members of the House of Laity might ponder the following:

  • What will be achieved by holding this debate?
  • Is this a responsible use of Church resources?
  • Has the issue been discussed in the parishes/deaneries/dioceses other than between members of the House of Laity? If not, on what basis are the views of these groups to be represented?
  • What message is the meeting likely send to those outside the Church (and to those within who were not consulted)?
  • How does this fit into the bigger picture of: a] the ordination of women into episcopate; and b] synodical governance?

But do read the whole article.

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

House of Laity meeting

Updated

As Friday’s meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod approaches with its motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House, James Townsend looks ahead to the meeting with Philip Giddings – the mood of the House is yet to settle.

Townsend is a lay member of Synod from the diocese of Manchester. He predicts “a reasonably high turnout of between 75% and 79%”, and his soundings suggest that the voting on the no confidence motion will be close.

Update

Anglican Mainstream has published House of Laity Meeting on Friday January 18 with views from Bishop Jonathan Baker, Canon Stephen Barney, Peter Ould, Tom Sutcliffe and Stephen Trott.

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Friday, 11 January 2013

House of Laity meeting

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times looks ahead to next week’s meeting of the General Synod’s House of Laity with Lay rebel explains his Giddings challenge.

Another letter to members of the House of Laity about next week’s meeting has reached us; this time from Tony Berry, a lay member from Chester diocese.

Dear Fellow member of Synod;

We are to debate a motion of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at our meeting on the 18th of January.

There appear to be three areas of concern; Leadership, Representation and Accountability. The debate on the Women Bishops measure provides a kind of critical incident through which these may be viewed. The comments below follow the three issues.

It may be that the chair of the House of Laity is not expected to be a leader or to exhibit leadership. In the debate the chair (having as I understand it) voted in July 2010 for the clause defining the principle of provision by delegation (itself carried by 393 to14) and voted to send the measure to the dioceses, then chose to be led by the minority in speaking and voting against the measure. This after the measure had had a ringing endorsement from the dioceses and the support of more than 2/3 of lay people.

In his speech he (three times) used the phrase “there must be a better way” without giving any indication of what he might have had in mind. It would have been an act of leadership (given the lay votes in the dioceses to at least given some indication of what a better way might be. Instead there was emptiness, an emptiness that was widely shared.

[continued below the fold]

However the opponents of the WB measure appeared to have had a common rubric for the debate; “This is not about women Bishops, it is about the provision, there must be a better way”. So far from the lay chair speaking as an individual he was it appears party to an organised process to wish for a better way but to have no idea (or no idea to be admitted) of what that might be. Note that the provision only exists because of the objections to women bishops so the provision has everything to do with women bishops. In this respect the lay chair ignored the other Bishops’ amendment which distinguished between delegation of institutional authority (surely the church has this authority) and the derivation of orders. This amendment did underscore the provision in the measure by making it clear that the Episcopal orders are not delegated.

It may be the case that the lay chair and others thought that by using their blocking minority in the house that they could persuade the new archbishop to change the measure for them. The lay chair appears to be seeking “provision” that would see other lay people in parishes being denied the Episcopal and priestly ministry of women when in parishes that joyfully accept women’s ordained ministry all male orders are welcome; doubtless you will have your own views on the fairness of this.

The lay chair spoke of the “unchurching” of some objectors if the measure was passed. This is an old ploy, to threaten, to choose to be a victim and to then blame others for the self imposed condition. So he was prepared to lay down 3,500 serving women priests for the sake of his friends. And incidentally just because Paul lived in a sexist culture we do not and there is no reason why we should and certainly no reason to subject women to male dominance.

The lay chair appeared to accept the argument that as men may be or are the head of a household so men should exercise headship in the church. This weak argument by analogy rests upon socially constructed gendered roles. There is a stronger argument by analogy which is; to participate in God’s creation of human beings is the most wonderful thing we humans can do. To create humans requires the product of the male testes and the female ovaries to be brought together in an act of mutuality (the woman is not a mere receptacle). This mutuality, the wonderful jointness of creation, provides a splendid analogy for the mutuality and sharing in family, social and church life where we could celebrate mutual dependence and not use trivial ideas of male dominated complementarity. Again in our culture most marriages are partnerships of equals and the idea of male headship in marriage is rather quaint. And it is not surprising that the decision caused by the blocking minority of our house produced such widespread consternation in the dioceses and parishes together with incredulity bordering upon contempt in the country in which our church is supposed to be the national church.

The lay chair did not comment upon the odd and questionable role of lay evangelical women in the debate and in the vote. Here we had examples of such synod members exercising headship in the church (when they argue that women should not do so) and exercising that headship in order to deny that women should exercise headship. The lay chair might have noted this anomaly and asked such women not to vote at all as even to register an abstention was to exercise headship. At the time of the suffragette movement there was a general view that significant numbers of women did not want the vote, it seemed odd to them then to have the vote, it does not now. Very few women do not exercise their right to vote now as a matter of principal.

The lay chair asked that no decision be taken without consensus. Well if he believed that he would not have been party to any contested election in the church. But after twenty years of women priests and nearing ten years of debate on women bishops it was clear enough that his statement regarding consensus was just a kind of resistance tactic, a desperate seeking of avoidance of decision; an abdication of leadership. And let us remember that in July 2010 General Synod had not accepted the third province (a non runner), had rejected separate dioceses and automatic transfer by almost 2/3 majorities, had (just) rejected co jurisdiction but to the extent that it would never have attained a 2/3 support. Also note please that co jurisdiction would have had a women bishop in co jurisdiction with a male who did not accept that she had any jurisdiction; just how many insults do women have to bear?

The lay chair knew as did we all of Tom Sutcliffe’s letter in which Tom wrote that those who claim that the “measure makes provision” were lying. Note that Tom did not qualify the word provision. Any lay chair in a role of leadership must have taken up this issue in the debate for to let it go by was to accept unacceptable behaviour in the house of laity. Before the November meeting of Synod I took the matter up with the clerk to the synod and he referred it to the lawyers, but unlike parliament we have no rules about accusing others of lying so nothing could be done.

It could be said that in going against the expressed wishes of the lay people in the dioceses the lay chair was being brave; well maybe. But it was the act of following the objectors and not leading on behalf of the laity that was the failure of leadership. He noted that he had voted for women priests’ measure as there was the parallel Act of Synod to be brought forward at a later date.

So the whole church now knows that far from representing the house of laity the current lay chair represents only a small section of it. Now by virtue of office the lay chair sits on various bodies including the Group of Six which decided whether the revised measure brought to Synod would have to be referred to the dioceses. It would be useful to know how the lay chair and the lay vice chair voted on this matter as it would clarify their positions; surely it is not enough to hide behind a cloak of confidentiality on such a crucial issue. However in all of these other roles and settings every other person will now know, if they did not know previously, that the current lay chair is not their point of reference for the views of the house of laity. In this critical incident of the debate on the WB measure the current lay chair has lost credibility in role with the great majority of the laity in the church and has lost credibility in other roles as well. He is in office but not in authority. As this becomes clearer the current lay chair whatever the vote on the 18th may well need to consider his position.

The lay chair spoke of the need to have diversity and difference acknowledged and respected; that is true enough for us all. However when slavery was abolished there were no special provisions for those who wished it to continue because to continue slavery would be to legitimise a continuing domination of the enslaved, even where deep acculturation had so accustomed some to slave hood that they wished it to continue. It would also permit the cruelty and corruption of the slave owners to continue. There is a sense in which no provisions should be made for those who wish for whatever reasons they might advance wish to continue in the church the domination of women by men with or without the connivance of other women. A university teacher can hardly claim innocence in the history of female emancipation.

You may agree, as do I, that the lay chair has a right to his opinions. But in most other walks of life to stand so determinedly against the prevailing well argued and agreed position of the great majority of lay people would mean a speech from the back benches following a resignation. That would have been a very honourable position to take. It would have underlined that idea that the lay chair is accountable to the electorate for his actions.

Now you may see the meeting on the 18th as unnecessary, unfortunate, and expensive. Some members have reported that they will not attend. There are two ways to avoid the expense, a withdrawal of the motion of no confidence or the resignation of the current lay chair.

Clearly this motion of no confidence raises significant considerations in respect of Leadership, Representation and of Accountability. These are serious matters, not to be dismissed lightly, not to be laughed off as the action of the winners of the great and long standing church debate about women bishops, surely not to be ignored as bad manners or decided upon “party” lines. So let us have a proper debate about these issues.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 11 January 2013 at 11:32am GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

House of Laity meeting - Gavin Oldham letter

Archbishop Cranmer has written on his blog an article entitled The revenge of the liberal laity. In it he quotes the full text of a letter from Gavin Oldham, a lay General Synod member from the diocese of Oxford. In it Oldham explains why he will be voting for the vote of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at the meeting of the House next week.

Here is the letter.

Dear friends in Christ,

On 18 January the House will be debating a ‘No Confidence’ motion in its Chair, a motion which has arisen directly from the General Synod debate on women bishops in November. I have given my support to the motion being debated, and it is my intention to support the motion on the day unless by the grace of God there is clear evidence of change.

I owe it to my friends in the House who voted against the women bishops’ legislation to explain why I have given my support, and how my views have changed since that day in November. Let me first explain that I have been a member of the General Synod since 1995 representing Oxford diocese: as does Philip Giddings, who I have been fortunate to regard as a friend over these last 17 years. I am also a member of EGGS, as he is and, although I have been a consistent supporter of women bishops, I regard myself very much as an Evangelical, albeit one who places a high importance on the place of reason alongside scripture and tradition.

This is not in any respect a personal issue.

[continued below the fold]

Over the past years my position on women bishops has been to support the maximum provision for those who have found it difficult to accept the change, consistent with the solution being convergent for the Church as opposed to divergent. I explained this position in July 2012 at the meeting of the House which took place before General Synod. I have never been prepared to contemplate a solution which could evolve into a schism.

However my position has hardened considerably since the November debate, as I have come to realise that it is the destructive ideology of male headship which lies at the root of our problems.

Our deadlock over women bishops has, of course, resulted from a combination of Anglo-Catholic and conservative Evangelical opposition. The Anglo-Catholics naturally look to Rome for a lead, and while Rome might prefer to see a clear resolution of the matter within the Church of England, it is not about to give that lead.

However it is the concept of male headship, espoused by many of my Evangelical friends as theology, which presents the major problem: as was clear from speech after speech during our debate. For while valid questions may have been asked about the representative quality of the House of Laity in the General Synod, the Church should – and does – acknowledge the vibrancy and growth of Evangelical churches which have so much to offer. This vibrancy is not dependent on the adoption of male headship ideology by conservative Evangelicals, but on the working of the Holy Spirit through people of faith.

I have come to realise since the November debate that male headship is to be seen alongside a number of similar major historical issues where prejudice and discrimination have been justified by selected biblical references. These include slavery, national socialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Male headship has its roots in the same soil of prejudice and discrimination. It is another elitist creed which, in my view, has no place in the Church of England, nor indeed in the Christian faith.

It may be helpful to consider these selected biblical references through the filter of the two great commandments from which hang all the law and the prophets. For example, how can a man who is a male headship advocate claim to ‘love his neighbour as himself’ if he is not prepared to accept that she can carry the same roles within the church? Obviously it can’t be ‘as himself’, or perhaps he is denying that women are his neighbours by virtue of their gender? I don’t think Jesus was making that distinction.

The Bishop of Liverpool spoke clearly in the debate setting out how he had come to understand St. Paul’s teaching, and why it should not be used as a prop for male headship ideology. The bishops are the seat of theology within the Church, and I do feel that conservative Evangelicals should listen carefully to, and be prepared to accept, what they say.

The ideology of male headship has come to have assumed the status of doctrine, but even doctrine is shown as capable of change from a biblical perspective. St Peter was clearly of the doctrinal view that the Gospel was meant only for the Jews, and yet his vision at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10) made clear that he must change. And thank God that he did, because otherwise we would not have the opportunity to receive Christ’s salvation today.

So I have come to realise that male headship ideology must be confronted and not appeased, just in the same way that St. Peter confronted his erstwhile interpretation that the Christian faith was reserved for the Jews. Male headship is simply the latest in a long line of elitist creeds, and it is time to consign it to history, as with the others.

Finally, let me say again that the 18 January debate is not personal: it is about the integrity of the House of Laity. Nobody will be more delighted than me to see Philip being prepared to encourage Evangelicals to pursue their zeal for Christ unencumbered with elitist ideology. With best wishes

Gavin
Gavin Oldham
Oxford 370

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 8:27pm GMT | Comments (65) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Elections to the House of Laity: One member, One vote - now!

Paul Bagshaw is publishing an important series of articles on his blog about the electorate for elections to the House of Laity of the CofE General Synod, and of diocesan synods. In them he argues that this electorate should be all those on parish electoral rolls, rather than the lay members of deanery synods as it is a present.

He starts with

One member, One vote - now!

in which he writes:

The present system

At the moment those on the electoral roll of a church vote for Deanery Synod members. These people then vote for Diocesan and General Synod members.

This system of indirect voting means that there is no accountability from governing bodies to the people in the pews - the people who very largely pay for the Church. Where there is no accountability, the people don’t count.

The consequences of change

It isn’t possible simply to change the voting system as though it was a technical matter with no other implications.

  • The marginalization of the laity is a cornerstone of our present synodical system.
  • To change the franchise would be to change the whole set of relationships which currently structure the church - clergy:laity, diocese:parish, General Synod:parish.
  • Inevitably too the present kingpins in this structure - bishops and parish clergy - would also have to modify the ways they work and their relationships with the people around them.

The fundamental change will be to treat each enrolled member as a fully adult member of the Church. I think such change will be beneficial - and equally that it will be resisted.

Subsequent articles to date are:

How we got here (briefly)
One member : One vote - simple!
General Synod votes for direct election of lay representatives (almost)
2011 debate on lay representation - background paper 1
2011 debate on lay representation - background paper 2
Radical?
Let’s have a review - the GS debate on representing the laity, 2011

The articles can also be all be read on this one page.

Paul Bagshaw has also written this background article

Lay representation on General Synod

and this related article:

The Church is not a democracy …

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 1 January 2013 at 8:00pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 December 2012

Women in the Episcopate – Synodical Process

The Secretary General has prepared an explanatory memorandum outlining the legislative process that would need to be followed by the Church of England to enable women to become bishops. Although prepared for members of the two Houses of Parliament it has been issued to members of General Synod and made available online.

GS Misc 1039 Women in the Episcopate – Synodical Process

I have also placed an html version online here.

The memorandum concludes, “It would, therefore, be possible for legislation introduced in 2013 to complete all its stages in the lifetime of this Synod, which ends in July 2015. Pending the discussions with all interested parties in the early months of 2013 it is too soon, however, to offer a confident prediction of what the timescale will be given the imperative need to avoid a second failure.”

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

House of Bishops decisions taken in December

The summary of decisions taken by the House of Bishops at its latest meeting (December 2012) has been published.

The summary can be read below and has been posted on the Church of England website.

HOUSE OF BISHOPS - SUMMARY OF DECISIONS

A meeting of the House of Bishops was held at Lambeth Palace on 10-11 December 2012. Those matters reported below reflect the items discussed and decisions agreed upon.

1. The House considered the consequences of the 20 November General Synod vote on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. The House recognised and felt the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief and disappointment experienced by so many in the Church of England and beyond.

2. The House considered that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions, and affirmed that the Church of England now had to resolve the issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency. It was agreed that a statement from the House of Bishops on this issue would be released as soon as possible after the conclusion of the meeting.

3. The House expressed its gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events had left so many feeling undermined and undervalued.

4. The House had the benefit of four senior female members of General Synod participating in their discussion. The House agreed to hold an event in early 2013 to which lay and ordained women will be invited, to discuss how the culture of its processes and discussions might be changed and a more regular contribution from women secured.

5. The House also set up a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod (the membership to be determined by the Archbishops and announced before Christmas), to arrange facilitated discussion with a wide range of people of a variety of views in the week of 4 February and to advise the House so that it can decide in May what fresh legislative proposals to bring before the next meeting of the General Synod in July.

6. The House considered a number of items relating to appointments, personal data and ministry and:

  • agreed draft guidelines on Clergy Current Status Letters and Clergy Personal Files subject to some further revisions;
  • approved new model guidance on Parochial Appointments;
  • noted a presentation on the funding of Bishops’ Legal Costs, with reference to upcoming local training sessions;
  • approved revisions to the 1975 Guidelines on Deliverance Ministry; and
  • agreed to the abolition of the obsolete Bishops’ Agreed Maximum for theological colleges.

7. The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

8. The House was updated in relation to a draft document in preparation from the Faith and Order Commission in relation to the doctrine of marriage. The House agreed that, once further revisions had been made, it could be issued with the agreement of the Standing Committee as a FAOC document and commended for study.

9. The Archbishop of Canterbury briefed the House on recent events throughout the Anglican Communion.

10. The House approved new policies in relation to Local Ecumenical Policy.

11. The House approved a proposal to update the publication of Bishops’ Working Costs.

12. The House was briefed in relation to ongoing work by the Archbishops’ Task Group on Spending Plans.

13. The House was briefed on the published results of the 2011 Census. The House noted a statement which had been made on the results.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

House of Laity meeting agenda

The agenda and supporting papers for the meeting of the House of Latiy to be held on 18 January 2013 have been published.

Agenda
HL01A
HL01B

I have copied the agenda below.

The press have been advised that this is a public meeting and that it will be chaired by the Rt Worshipful Charles George QC, Dean of the Arches.

HLA1
GENERAL SYNOD
HOUSE OF LAITY

Notice is hereby given of a meeting of the House of Laity to be held at 1.30 p.m. on Friday 18 January 2013 at Church House, Westminster.

Church House
Westminster SW1P 3AZ
18 December 2012
Nicholas Hills
Secretary

AGENDA

PRAYERS

Chair of the House of Laity: HL01A and HL01B

Canon Stephen Barney (Leicester) to move:
1. ‘That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House.’

Notes to the agenda are below the fold.

Notes:

1. This meeting has been convened under Standing Order 2(c) of the House.

2. Canon Stephen Barney has prepared a note (HL01A) explaining his reasons for seeking this meeting. Members are also referred to HL01B, which is an unedited transcript of Dr Giddings’s speech during the debate on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1708D) at the November 2012 group of sessions of the General Synod.

3. It would help if members who wished to speak in this debate could, if at all possible, notify the Secretary of the House in advance either in writing or at nicholas.hills@churchofengland.org. A request to speak form is included with this agenda.

4. Members who wish to reclaim expenses associated with attendance at this meeting should discuss this with their diocese or, where their expenses are met centrally, with the Synod Support Unit. Diocesan Secretaries have been informed that the meeting is to take place.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 at 1:31pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Working group on new legislative proposals on women bishops announced

Following the meeting of the House of Bishops earlier this month when they said that they would appoint a working group to assist them in formulating new legislative proposals on women bishops the Archbishops have today announced the membership of the group.

Working group on new legislative proposals on women bishops announced
19 December 2012

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have announced the membership of the new working group established by the House of Bishops following the defeat of the women bishops’ legislation.

The group includes members of all three houses of the General Synod - Bishops, Clergy and Laity - and a senior member of clergy who is no longer on the Synod. The members are:

The Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (chair)
The Rt Rev Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry
The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester
The Rt Rev Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
The Very Rev Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
The Ven Christine Hardman
The Rev Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Dr Philip Giddings
Dr Paula Gooder
Mrs Margaret Swinson

The group’s task (see PR 160.12) is to assist the House when it meets in February and again in May to come to a decision on the new package of proposals which it intends to bring to the Synod in July. The group has been tasked to arrange facilitated discussions in February with a wide range of people of a variety of views. It is expected to have two initial meetings in January.

Once draft legislation is ready for introduction to the Synod there will be a separate decision, in the usual way, about the membership of a new Steering Committee. That Committee will have the responsibility for the management of the legislation through Synod. Steering Committees are always composed of members of Synod who support the legislation.

The membership of the Revision Committee is settled after first consideration of the legislation.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 at 11:20am GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Friday, 14 December 2012

Women Bishops

Madeleine Davies has two articles in today’s Church Times.
House of Bishops to revive hopes for women bishops
MPs ‘take up the fight’ over women bishops

David Pocklington fo Law & Religion UK has written Towards Women in the Episcopate – I.

Julian Joyce of the BBC has written Women bishops: Ordinary churchgoers could shape CofE’s future.
[There is a mistake in a sidebar to this article. PCCs do not elect deanery synod members. They are elected by the annual parochial church meeting.]

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 14 December 2012 at 11:15am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Women Bishops: House of Commons debate

The Hansard transcript of yesterday’s House of Commons debate on women bishops is now available here.

There is also a video recording.

Press reports inlcude:

John Bingham Telegraph Church urged to put faith in Parliament over women bishops crisis.

BBC Women bishops: Clergy could ask for MPs’ help, Bradshaw says.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 10:09am GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

WATCH response to House of Bishops press statement

WATCH has today issued this response to yesterday’s statement from the House of Bishops.

Response to the House of Bishops Press Statement of 11th December, 2012

WATCH welcomes the House of Bishops’ expression of gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, its acknowledgement of the anger, grief and disappointment so widely expressed during the past weeks and the commitment of all its members to making an effective response.

The House of Bishops’ willingness to consider questions regarding culture, processes and how women might more regularly contribute is also encouraging. We believe this will best be realised through the admission of women to the episcopate and will continue to work for the full inclusion of women at every level in the Church of England.

WATCH support the House of Bishops’ belief that a future legislative package would benefit from greater simplicity. A single clause measure is entirely consistent with that aim and would affirm that those who assent to the ordination of women to the episcopate are, in fact, loyal Anglicans from whom no ‘protection’ is needed.

WATCH remains clear that after ten years of searching for a compromise in law without success, a single clause measure is the best way forward now. Provision for those opposed can be made outside the Measure. This is the way that every other Province of the Anglican Communion with women bishops has proceeded.

We look forward with interest to the Archbishops’ announcement of the membership of the proposed working group and hope that it will be properly representative of the widespread support for women bishops clearly demonstrated at local level through Diocesan Synods.

We hope that future discussions will be guided by the principle that women are as central to the whole life of the church as men. It will be essential that such discussions uphold General Synod’s decision of 1975 there is ‘no fundamental objection to ordination of women to the priesthood’, and also that of 2006 which recognised that admitting women to the episcopate is ‘consonant with the faith of the church’.

Rachel Weir, WATCH CHAIR, commented

“There can be few issues that have undermined the Church’s credibility more than its recent rejection of the women bishops legislation. The entire country is watching as we try to find a way forward. Supporters of women bishops are prepared, if necessary, to wait for a new synod to get this right. It is time for a clear and unequivocal endorsement of women’s ordained ministry embodied in a single clause measure.”

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

House of Bishops statement on defeat of women bishops legislation

Statement from the House of Bishops on defeat of women bishops legislation
11 December 2012

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met yesterday and today at Lambeth Palace and considered the implications of the General Synod’s recent rejection of legislation to enable women to become bishops. The House had the benefit of participation in its discussion of the Very Rev Viv Faull, the Venerable Christine Hardman, Dr Paula Gooder, and Mrs Margaret Swinson, who had all previously served on the Steering Committee or Revision Committee for the legislation.

The House expressed its ongoing gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events should have left so many feeling undermined and undervalued. Effective response to this situation is a priority on which all are strongly agreed.

The House acknowledged the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief, and disappointment felt by so many in the Church of England and beyond, and agreed that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions. It expressed its continuing commitment to enabling women to be consecrated as bishops, and intends to have fresh proposals to put before the General Synod at its next meeting in July.

The House will be organising an event early in 2013 at which it will share with a larger number of lay and ordained women - in the context of prayer and reflection - questions about the culture of the House’s processes and discussions, and how women might more regularly contribute.

Future action

In order to avoid delay in preparing new legislative proposals, the House has set up a working group drawn from all three houses of Synod, the membership to be determined by the Archbishops and announced before Christmas.

This group will arrange facilitated discussions with a wide range of people of a variety of views in the week of February 4th, when General Synod was to have met.

The House will have an additional meeting in February immediately after these discussions, and expects to settle at its May meeting the elements of a new legislative package to come to Synod in July.

For any such proposals to command assent, the House believes that they will need (i) greater simplicity, (ii) a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference “that those who dissent from as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans”, (iii) a broadly-based measure of agreement about the shape of the legislation in advance of the beginning of the actual legislative process. These concerns will be the focus of the working group in the months ahead.

The House endorsed the view of the Archbishops’ Council that the “Church of England now has to resolve this issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency”.

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Monday, 10 December 2012

House of Laity meeting confirmed

Updated Monday afternoon to include full text of email to members of the House of Laity

The date of the meeting of the House of Laity to debate a motion of no confidence in its chair, Dr Philip Giddings, has now been confirmed as 18 January 2013. Members of the House were sent this email this morning:

Dear Members of the House of Laity

An extraordinary meeting of the House has been called to debate a motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House. Sufficient of you indicated your support under the provisions of Standing Order 2(c) of the House to require the meeting to take place.

Given the nature of the motion that will be before the House, the Standing Committee has determined that the meeting should take place as soon as possible and has consequently called the meeting for Friday 18 January 2013. The meeting will take place from 1.30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall in Church House, Westminster.

Tea and coffee will be available free of charge in the Bishop Partridge Hall. Cold snacks will also be available for a charge.

If members wish to claim expenses incurred in attending the meeting, they will need to agree this with their diocese. Those members whose expenses are met centrally will need to agree reimbursement with the Synod Office as usual.

The Standing Committee has agreed that there will be only one item on the agenda - namely, the motion of no confidence - and that no other business will be in order.

I shall circulate an agenda and supporting papers this week.

With all good wishes

Nick

Nicholas Hills
Administrative Secretary
Central Secretariat
The Archbishops’ Council
Church House
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3AZ

Dr Giddings’ local paper, the Reading Post, has published this article by Linda Fort: Top church of England figure faces no confidence vote.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 12:07pm GMT | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Friday, 7 December 2012

women bishops: Joint letter to the House of Bishops

The following letter to the House of Bishops of the Church of England has been sent jointly by four organisations, Inclusive Church, Modern Church, Progressive Christianity Network and the Centre for Radical Christianity.

For the attention of the House of Bishops
c/o Mr Christopher Smith
Archbishop’s Chief of Staff
Lambeth Palace
London
SE1 7JU

6 December 2012

We, the undersigned, deeply regret that the House of Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England failed to reach the two-thirds majority required to pass legislation enabling women to be ordained Bishop. This was a huge disappointment delivering a devastating blow to the Church of England and undermining its credibility among the people of the nation it seeks to serve. It is a missed opportunity to see women and men sharing fully in the mission, ministry and leadership of the Church of England. Other Anglican provinces have found a way of doing so and been enriched by the ministry of both male and female bishops as a consequence.

There is overwhelming support for women bishops in both the church and throughout the country. We have been discussing this issue for a generation and working on the details of this compromise legislation for over ten years. Almost 73% of General Synod members voted in favour of women bishops, challenging the legitimacy of a voting process that is able to frustrate the mandate of forty-two out of forty-four Diocesan Synods. This decision may be legally binding, but it carries no moral authority, undermining the process of representation the Synodical system is supposed to enshrine.

We welcome the statement issued on the conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council on 27-28 November 2012, and the decision that a process to admit women to the episcopate be restarted as soon as possible.

We offer our prayerful support to members of the House of Bishops as they prepare to meet shortly in December and ask them to explore, as a matter of great urgency, every possible avenue to effect the will of the Church on this issue.

We urge them to support the recommendation of the Archbishops’ Council to put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing new legislative proposals before the General Synod as a matter of urgency, convening in February 2013 if necessary.

We ask the House of Bishops to end the theological anomaly of women priests who cannot be ordained as bishops by bringing forward the simplest possible form of legislation without delay, thus fully recognising and affirming the vital importance of women’s ministry in the church.

We strongly support the principle that a woman appointed to be a bishop must be a bishop on exactly the same terms as her male colleagues, whilst recognising the need to make pastoral provision for those unable to accept the ministry of women bishops. However a new way forward must be found and one which does not enshrine discrimination on the grounds of gender.

In the meantime, we continue to celebrate all the ways in which women enrich the life of the church and look forward to their leadership as bishops.

Rev’d Ian Wallis
Chair, St Mark’s CRC
On behalf of CRC Council

Rev’d Jonathan Clatworthy
General Secretary, Modern Church
On behalf of the Trustees of Modern Church

John Churcher
Chair, PCN Britain
On behalf of PCN Committee

Rev’d Canon Diana Gwilliams
Chair, Inclusive Church
On behalf of the Trustees of Inclusive Church

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 7 December 2012 at 11:30am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Linda Woodhead: A woman's place

Once again we have permission from the Editor of The Tablet to reproduce two articles from last week’s issue, dealing with the General Synod’s failure to approve legislation allowing women to become bishops. The first one by Mark Chapman was reproduced here. The second one by Linda Woodhead is below.

A woman’s place

The Church of England is supposedly more hospitable to women than the Catholic Church. After all, the Anglicans ordain women priests and there are laywomen on the General Synod. Here, an Anglican authority on the sociology of religion turns conventional wisdom on its head

Listening to the General Synod debate on women bishops last week, I chortled with recognition when I hear the line: “Of course women aren’t just there to make the tea … Though that is an important aspect of diaconal ministry.” I remember being surprised when I was being inducted as tutor in doctrine and ethics at an Anglican clergy-training college to be asked if I could sew tablecloths. I was equally surprised to find that when I addressed certain gatherings of clergy I seemed to have donned a Harry Potter invisibility cloak.

What shocked me more was the way that insults and downright cruelty went unchecked and unchallenged. I remember a woman ordinand in an Anglo-Catholic college having her “pray for me on the day of my ordination” cards torn up and returned to her pigeonhole by fellow ordinands opposed to the ordination of women. And I remember how, at the ordination services I attended for some of the first women to be made priests, the presiding bishops told them not to celebrate out of compassion for their opponents.

That was 20 years ago. Surely things have changed? It’s true that half of all Anglican ordinands are now female, and a third of all clergy. Moreover, the gender equality scores (where 100 per cent would be perfect equality) have risen from 19 per cent in 2000 to 35 per cent in 2010. But progress has been spotty – in 2010 Blackburn and Chichester Dioceses could still only manage a score of 11 per cent. With the exception of a few high-flyers, women priests are often marginalised – in the least popular parishes, outside the positions of greatest power, and as unpaid or “non-stipendiary”. According to the Church’s own statistics, in 2011 fewer than a quarter of stipendiary clergy were female, compared with more than half non-stipendiary.

Anglican theology also remains a male bastion. In the university departments in which it is largely housed, women make up only 28-30 per cent of the staff, according to a recent study from Durham University (this compares with 57 per cent in languages, 48 per cent in law, and 27 per cent in maths). In fact it’s even worse, because not all of the 28 per cent are theologians, fewer still systematic theologians. Women trained in theology often move into areas which are more open to their talents, including practical theology, Christian ethics and sociology of religion.

Moving beyond the Churches, it’s easier to name prominent Catholic women in British society than prominent Anglicans. In planning a series of debates on religion in public life, my colleagues and I kept thinking of women with interesting things to say on the subject – and realising that they were nearly all Catholic. It’s not that Anglican women don’t make a vital contribution to society, but Catholics seem more willing to own their faith and speak openly about it. Ironically, it may be that the ordination of women in the Church of England has actually served as a brake on progress. By limiting the priesthood to celibate men, the Catholic Church has inadvertently liberated a large and well-educated laity to get on with living out their faith, independent of clerical constraints. By contrast, ordained Anglican women may find that wearing a dog collar means you can be put on a leash.

It’s not that the Church of England is as overtly authoritarian as the Catholic Church; it exercises control in more subtle ways. A prime one is the cult of niceness. You mustn’t be ambitious, and you can never, ever get angry. This applies to women more than to men: they must be patient and caring at all times. Any form of protest or demand is interpreted as pushy, unfeminine and unchristian.

The problem is compounded by a pervasive Anglican commitment to the importance of unity and inclusion. It’s this pursuit of the “common good” that has led the bishops to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that those who oppose women’s equal treatment don’t feel excluded. They have, in effect, allowed the establishment of a Church within a Church – and this is what opponents of women bishops want to strengthen, contrary to all traditional understandings of the bishop’s role as guarantor of unity.

By virtue of being lay, women in the Catholic Church escape a lot of these pressures. Their Church’s teachings give more weight to issues of truth and justice than the Church of England’s, and there’s a humour and honest earthiness about the Catholic Church and a willingness to criticise and challenge, which I often miss in my own.

Catholic women in Britain are also helped by the fact that they belong to a minority with a history of struggle against poverty and prejudice. Members of religious minorities tend to support one another. They encourage girls to be educated, get good jobs and gain the advantages that their parents – above all their mothers – could only dream of. In practice this means that Britain has many good Catholic schools with inspiring women teachers. Until recently, some of those teachers used to be nuns, sent with a mission to uplift and educate the Catholics in Britain. I attended one myself for a few years, and very empowering it was too. State-assisted Catholic schools often do similar work.

Anglican schools seem not to offer their pupils such clear identity, nor to help workingclass girls in the same way. The Church of England remains class-ridden. Public schoolboys are prominent among its leaders, and the model of the pastor with supportive wife and large family lives on.

All this may offer a crumb of comfort to Catholics, but it’s not really good news for either Church. The Catholic Church has proved more hospitable to women in spite of its official teachings and practices, not because of them, and the Anglican Church has managed to turn its ordination of women into a problem rather than a solution. This is serious for both Churches, as they contemplate declining numbers. When they began to lose power and prestige after the 1970s, increasingly welleducated but still-faithful women were the natural group to step in and inject new energy. By excluding them from senior leadership positions and influence, both Anglicans and Catholics have squandered a vital resource. Some women have done their very best to save the situation. But their difficult experiences and repeated disappointments make it ever less likely that their daughters will do the same.

  • Linda Woodhead is professor of the sociology of religion in the department of politics, philosophy and religion at Lancaster University.
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Women Bishops: July too soon?

Madeleine Davies reports in today’s Church Times that July might be too soon to return to fray, bishops warn.

CAMPAIGNERS who want to see a fresh Measure to admit women to the episcopate at the General Synod next July may be disappointed, two bishops have suggested…

On Tuesday, however, the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, suggested that the House “ought to be able to share with people a process” at the Synod in July. “That will lead in due course to fresh legislative proposals.”…

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Mark Chapman: Don't blame the laity

Once again we have permission from the Editor of The Tablet to reproduce two articles from last week’s issue, dealing with the General Synod’s failure to approve legislation allowing women to become bishops. The first one by Mark Chapman is reproduced below. The second one by Linda Woodhead will follow soon.

Don’t blame the laity

Most observers inside and outside the Church of England have concluded that last week’s failure by the General Synod to vote through legislation allowing women bishops has left it in turmoil. Here, a member of the synod claims that the problem is a lack of trust by the bishops

Seldom do the decisions of the General Synod of the Church of England make much of an impact outside the somewhat closeted world of ecclesiastical enthusiasts. But last week the Church’s governing body voted to reject the legislation to allow women to become bishops – and the media is still reeling. Although there was an overwhelming majority in favour, the necessary two-thirds majority was not achieved in the House of Laity, and the motion fell. I felt a sense of bewilderment and anger, and shared tears with my women colleagues. After all, the Church of England has ordained women as priests for 20 years, and it seemed a logical progression to move to women bishops. Church people have quickly criticised the House of Laity as unrepresentative of opinion, calling for a reform of the electoral system on the grounds that electors frequently know virtually nothing about the candidates.

But I am not sure that the House of Laity was really to blame. What was being voted on was not simply the principle of women bishops, but the safeguards offered to those opposed to women’s ministry. When women were ordained priests, a mechanism was created so that parishes could refuse their ministrations, and could also ask for “extended episcopal oversight” from bishops who did not ordain women. With this precedent, virtually everybody in the Church thought something similar would be needed if women were to be ordained as bishops.

Consequently after the principle of women bishops was accepted, a series of drafting groups took soundings over a number of years to produce proposals that were carefully crafted. The basic idea was that women bishops should have the same legal jurisdiction as all other bishops, but that pastoral care and celebration of the sacraments would be delegated to male bishops for those parishes unwilling to accept episcopal oversight from a woman or even from a man who had ordained a woman. This measure was presented for consideration to the General Synod in July 2010.

What happened then was unprecedented: no doubt with good intentions, the Archbishops of both Canterbury and York – in an act which rode roughshod over the hard work of the drafting committees – introduced an amendment that would have created parallel legal jurisdictions, and which had the support of the majority of bishops. This would have meant that the diocesan bishop would not have been legally responsible for the diocese, which could have resulted in incoherence or even conflict between bishops in matters of clergy discipline. The rejection of this amendment by the synod spelt the end of the credibility of the House of Bishops. The archbishops did not seem to realise that a blatant refusal to listen to the formal mechanisms of synod would be disastrous for efforts at building the sort of trust needed to move the measure through the legislative process.

In the new General Synod, to which I was elected and which met in November 2010, it was clear that there was a poisonous relationship between the House of Bishops and the Houses of Clergy and Laity. In what was supposed to be a straightforward piece of rubber-stamping, the synod rejected a bishop, who was a suffragan to the Archbishop of Canterbury, as chairman of the business committee. The other two houses simply did not trust the impartiality of a member of the House of Bishops being in charge of synod business.

In the subsequent months, the Anglican Communion Covenant, which was supposed to offer a mechanism for conflict resolution among the worldwide Churches, was rejected in the dioceses, despite – or perhaps because of – the support of most of the bishops for the covenant. The dioceses were also asked to vote on the women-bishops’ legislation – and 42 out of 44 voted decisively in favour. The matter returned in February 2012 for discussion – amendments were discussed, and firmly rejected. Instead, synod asked the bishops not to change anything substantial at the final stage of scrutiny. But having failed to learn from July 2010, the bishops introduced a last-minute and ill-drafted amendment which seemed to allow parishes to choose their own bishops on the basis of “theological convictions” which would have gone against one of the cardinal principles of church government since the time of Augustine’s conflicts with the Donatists.

Some bishops – most notably the Bishop of Liverpool – broke ranks and recognised their own folly. Not surprisingly, most of those in favour of women bishops firmly rejected the amendment – and since it couldn’t be changed at this stage, the measure was returned to the bishops for further amendment. It was obvious to most of us that circles cannot be squared, and there has to be a limit to compromise for the sake of coherence. Synod was consequently forced to meet again in November. Finally, it discussed a measure that was substantially unchanged from that first proposed in July 2010.

What was clear in the run-up to the synod and in the debate itself was that the significant minority who did not support women bishops and their sympathisers did not have sufficient trust that those responsible for the provisions – the bishops – would make them work unless they were forced to by law. The bishops had failed to trust the mechanisms of synod. For those who are likely to be suspicious of bishops anyway, and who certainly feel beleaguered by the dominant liberalism of the Church, it meant little that the bishops rallied behind the measure on Tuesday. The damage had already been done in July 2010.

The measure will no doubt return soon – and perhaps next time the bishops will work with synod rather than against it and realise that it is synod that provides the mechanism for listening to the mind of the Church, and not the loud-mouthed lobbyists who can easily bend bishops’ ears. Synods can work, but they have to be trusted. And in an Established Church it is to the House of Laity that the Royal Supremacy – which had previously been exercised by Parliament – has been delegated. Chastened bishops might do well to remember that – and then the Church of England might have the leaders it so richly deserves, men and women.

  • Mark Chapman is vice principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, and reader in modern theology in the University of Oxford. His books include Anglicanism: a very short introduction (OUP, 2006), and Anglican Theology (T&T Clark, 2012). He is a member of the General Synod’s House of Clergy.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:18pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Women Bishops: news and comment

Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered questions on women bishops and the constitution of General Synod in the House of Commons today. The full text of the questions and answers is here.

Claire Maxim has written about Righteous Anger.

One article we missed earlier is Jane Kramer in the New Yorker writing about The Fear of Women as Bishops

Chris Sugden has written this View from the Church of England (to American Anglican Council).

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 4:37pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Monday, 3 December 2012

Women Bishops: opinion

David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK ask Are the laity revolting?

Rachel Weir the chair of WATCH has her own blog and yesterday she published her Advent Reflections.
She has also recently published these two guest contributions:
Rose Hudson-Wilkin writes: “Sitting in the gallery…”
Anne Stevens writes: “The Synod Vote on Women Bishops - a personal reflection”

For a different perspective read what Martin Dales, a Synod member from York, has to say: Church failed to respect its minority voices.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 3 December 2012 at 10:23pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Women Bishops: WATCH calls for single clause measure

WATCH (Women and the Church) issued this press statement tonight.

WATCH (Women and the Church) PRESS STATEMENT
Monday 2nd December, 2012 - For immediate release

WATCH urges the House of Bishops to bring back a Single Clause Measure

Women clergy and supporters of their ministry have had enough of the wasteful wrangling over women bishops. Years have been spent in trying to make legal provision that would satisfy those opposed. The cost in human and financial terms has been enormous. Since 2000, there have been three major church reports, and the work of a legislative drafting group, revision committee and steering committee. General Synod has discussed the question at 10 of its meetings, and it has been debated at every level of the church. (Full details of the progress of the debate can be found here.)

The draft Measure represented the furthest possible compromise for those in favour. It was not enough for those opposed. After all these years of discussion, debate, and drafting it is clear that that there is no legal settlement that can be devised that will allow women to be bishops whilst satisfying the demands of those opposed. We therefore have to ask whether it is wise to allow the entire church to be held to ransom by minority factions who resist a change that the Church of England has discerned and declared to be entirely consistent with its understanding of the Christian faith. These same voices have spoken out repeatedly against any of the compromise proposed by the Church, and supported widely, including by WATCH.

Bishop John Gladwin said “What a small minority has done is blow up the bridge to any compromise solution. There is now only one route which must be travelled to that outcome. That is the route which removes all discriminatory provisions from the life and ministry of the Church

It is now time to go for the simplest possible legislation - a single clause measure. This would enable people to vote for or against legislation simply enabling women to be bishops. Provision can be made at local level as appropriate for those who find this difficult. This option will maintain the greatest degree of unity and open dialogue between those of differing views and prevent ghettos forming within the Church. This is the way that every other Province in the Anglican Communion that has voted to ordain women as bishops has chosen to proceed.

It is also time for honesty in this debate. Those opposed do not want women bishops. They do not want resolution of the issue but to extend the decision-making process as long as possible. We cannot see how further conversation will result in any proposals that have not been tested and rejected before. They will simply prolong the process.

With the disproportionate number of conservatives in the House of Laity, the nature of the internal debate within the church has been so weighted to accommodating small minorities that we have lost sight of the legislation’s main objective – to make women bishops. We are now in a changed landscape. It is clear from the debates in Parliament and the response in the country at large that those outside the church are scandalised by the acceptance of gender discrimination in the established church. As Helen Goodman MP said in the emergency Commons debate on 22nd November,

too many concessions have been made to those who are opposed to women priests… It is simply unjust to do that at the expense of women in the Church.

For the sake of the future of the church we need to act swiftly and unequivocally to make women bishops without any discrimination in law. WATCH urges the House of Bishops to recommend a single clause measure be returned to Synod in July with the aim of getting Final Approval in a newly elected Synod.

In the meantime, it is imperative that women are present at the discussions of the House of Bishops in December and beyond. We call on the bishops to open their proceedings to the public and invite senior women to play a full part in their discussions. As Diana Johnson MP said in February 2012

It is inconceivable to anyone engaged in equality and diversity work in other contexts that the Church would make decisions about consecrating women as bishops without seriously engaging during this last phase with those who will be most directly affected by the decision.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said

We have spent enough time in exploring how to accommodate the views of those who do not want women as bishops. Generosity is laudable but without limits it becomes a kind of profligacy. We are wasting the Church’s precious resources, both its money and its people if we seek to continue the debate about provision in law. The House of Bishops must act decisively now to legislate for women bishops in the simplest possible way.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

House of Laity meeting called

Jonathan Petre of the Mail Online is reporting today that sufficient signatures have been obtained to force a meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod to discuss a vote of no confidence in its chair, Dr Philip Giddings: Synod ‘may oust chairman’ after defeat of legislation to allow women bishops.

The standing orders of the House of Laity state that in these circumstances the chair of the house shall convene the House, and give at least 21 days’ notice. I cannot see anything to specify the longest he can wait before calling the meeting, but I have heard that the meeting will probably be in January.

Although the Mail calls the meeting “secret”, meetings of the House of Laity are open to the press and public on the same terms as meetings of the General Synod. The House can vote to exclude the public, or the press and public, whilst it is sitting, but I see nothing to allow such a decision to be made in advance.

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

women bishops: voting in diocesan synods

The detailed report on the reference to the dioceses of the now failed legislation is contained in GS 1847 available here in PDF format.

As has been widely reported, 42 of the 44 dioceses passed the legislation. The two dioceses where it failed were

Chichester: Bishops 0-2-0, Clergy 30-35-0, Laity 37-41-0 (failed in all three houses)

London: Bishops 2-1-0, Clergy 39-41-0, Laity 45-37-0 (failed only in the Clergy house)

Less widely reported are the aggregate voting figures for all dioceses:

Bishops: 75 for, 13 against, 4 abstentions
Clergy: 1503 for, 461 against, 50 abstentions
Laity: 1664 for, 489 against, 72 abstentions
Thus the proportions voting against the motion were: Bishops 15%, Clergy 23%, Laity 23%.
These contrast with General Synod proportions of 6%, 23%, and 36% respectively.

There were numerous following motions proposed and debated. GS 1847 summarised it thus:

  • Motions calling on the House of Bishops to amend the draft legislation in the way proposed by the Archbishops at the July 2010 group of sessions were carried in 6 dioceses and lost in 4 (in one case, as a result of a tied vote in the House of Laity). In five cases the motions passed called on the General Synod to debate a motion to that effect. Any motion which the General Synod has been called on to debate in that way constitutes a “diocesan synod motion‟ for the purposes of its Standing Orders.
  • Other motions calling on the House of Bishops to amend the legislation were carried in 5 dioceses (including one in which the diocesan synod motion was also carried) and lost in 27 (including one in which the diocesan synod motion was carried).
  • Of the two dioceses which voted against the legislation, one passed both of the above motions and one passed neither.
  • A motion calling for the General Synod to debate a motion inviting the House of Bishops not to amend the legislation was carried in 1 diocese.
  • Motions concerning the Code of Practice were carried in three dioceses (including one in which a motion calling for amendment of the legislation was also carried).

Thus, in aggregate a total of 11 motions calling for some kind of amendment passed, and a total of 31 motions failed. GS 1847 contains much fuller information on all of them.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 10:57am GMT | Comments (4)
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Friday, 30 November 2012

Women Bishops: news and comment

Here is an interesting perspective from Nigeria: Paul Obi for This Day Live Anglican Church Rejects Women Bishops amid Rancour

Alan Wilson Church & State: Another fine mess?

John Lloyd for Reuters A church divided against itself cannot stand

The Bishop of Liverpool spoke about women bishops in the House of Lords yesterday (during a debate about preventing violence against women).

Jody Stowell asks Are Women Really Human?

Ed Thornton has two articles in today’s Church Times that are available to non-subscribers.
C of E to set about resolving deadlock on women bishops
Campaigners seek to change the system

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Thursday, 29 November 2012

responses to Archbishops' Council press release

The Guardian had this news report in today’s newspaper: Lizzy Davies Church of England urged urgently to revive female bishops plan.

Affirming Catholicism has issued this Affirming Catholicism Press Statement the full text of which is reproduced below the fold.

Affirming Catholicism Press Statement – 29 November 2012

Affirming Catholicism welcomes the statement issued on the conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council on 27-28 November 2012, and the decision that a process to admit women to the episcopate be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.

Affirming Catholicism hopes to be closely involved in the discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July. Affirming Catholicism will continue to bring to those discussions not only strong support for the consecration of women to the episcopate, but also a deep concern to maintain the Catholic ecclesiology of the Church of England.

In offering support to the move to bring legislative proposals before the Synod in July, Affirming Catholicism will continue strongly to assert the principle that a woman appointed to be a bishop must be a bishop on exactly the same terms as her male colleagues, whilst recognising the need to make pastoral provision for those opposed. However, the rejection of the Measure, combined with the opposition to clause 5(1)© this summer, demonstrated a lack of support for the way forward laid out in the Measure, whilst also demonstrating overwhelming support for the admission of women to the episcopate in the Church of England. This indicates that a new way forward must be found, which recognises from the beginning that acceptable provisions cannot mean structures for separate existence.

In the mean time, Affirming Catholicism urges Bishops of the Church of England to offer a clear demonstration of their commitment to the full inclusion of women, and in particular to the ministry of ordained women, in the Church of England. We believe that this is the time for the House of Bishops to ensure that every diocese in the Church of England has an ordained woman on the senior staff and regularly present at senior staff meetings. In recognition of the need to ensure that theological objections to the ordination of women do not slip into prejudice against women, Affirming Catholicism would welcome an initiative by the House of Bishops, together with those who advise them on senior appointments, to commit to engaging in proper training in gender awareness on all levels of the Church of England.

ENDS

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"Women Bishops - The Way Ahead"

Joint Press Statement From The Chairmen Of The Catholic Group And Reform in General Synod
also available here.

Women Bishops - The Way Ahead

The Chairmen of the Catholic Group in General Synod and the conservative Evangelical group Reform, who called for talks to break the deadlock over legislation to enable the consecration of women as bishops, have received acknowledgement of their request from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Canon Simon Killwick (Catholic Group) and Prebendary Rod Thomas (Reform) have today further pledged themselves to do everything they can to ensure the speedy and safe passage of fresh legislation through the General Synod.

They said, “If agreement can be reached at round-table talks on fresh legislation which provides clearly and fairly for all members of the Church of England, there is no reason why fresh legislation should not be fast-tracked through the Synod before the next elections in 2015.”

The Synod’s Standing Orders only prevent the reconsideration of the same legislation during this period.

“It has never been our intention to prevent the consecration of women as bishops; our concern has always been for legislation which also made clear and fair provision for the substantial minority,” the Chairmen concluded.

The legislation which failed last week in the Synod would have had devastating consequences for the diversity and mission of the Church of England, had it been passed. We want the Church of England to continue to be a broad and comprehensive national Church.

Canon Simon Killwick
Prebendary Rod Thomas
(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod) (Chairman of Reform)

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Women bishops and the laity vote - voting records of the eight

We published earlier today details of a letter to The Times. It was signed by eight people who are supporters of women bishops, but voted against the Measure last week because they thought that the provisions for opponents were inadequate.

I have prepared a table of the recent relevant voting records of the signatories. This may give an indication of what they would find acceptable.

The main items are these three from July 2010 (the last meeting of the 2005/2010 Synod)

  • creation of additional dioceses,
  • compulsory delegation from women bishops,
  • the archbishops’ amendment (“co-ordinate juristiction”).

In each case a vote for the item was a vote in favour of adding the provision to the measure.

The links in the first column of the table are to our articles giving more details of the various votes.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 11:42am GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Women bishops and the laity vote

A letter appears in The Times today signed by eight members of the House of Laity who voted against the Measure last week, and referring in the text to a larger group of twelve people of a similar mind. Times subscribers can read the letter in full here, and there is a report of the letter at Anglican Mainstream over here.

The following excerpts make clear, first their point of view, and second their specific proposal for the way forward.

First their point of view:

…Most of us who make up the dozen, whose votes against the Measure did not reflect any serious opposition to women bishops, had taken the trouble to state clearly in our election addresses in 2010 that we would vote against the Measure if it did not in our judgment make ample provision of oversight in the way that the minorities needed, or honour promises made to the same minorities only 20 years ago.

Many of us 12 were prepared to vote for the Measure as it stood in July with a clause referring to “theological convictions” of those requiring alternative oversight, had the Bishops not lost their nerve and decided under pressure from “senior women” to reconsider their proposed “helpful” clause…

Second their proposals for the way forward:

…But we now all believe there can be a simpler way forward. A new briefer Measure could incorporate the 1993 Act of Synod governing alternative oversight as we have it, with all the valuable experience it has provided of living together with fellow Anglicans who cannot accept women priests and bishops. The new Measure should provide for alternative oversight on a churchwide basis to those unable to recognise their woman diocesan bishop and also to those parishes that accept or have women clergy which are unsuitably served by a traditional orthodox male diocesan bishop in a predominantly conservative diocese. It will minimally amend but not repeal the 1993 Measure which has served us all well. The Church must be concerned for, and provide for, all its members…

The eight signatories are:

Tom Sutcliffe, Mary Judkins, Phillip Rice, John Davies, Anne Bloor, Priscilla Hungerford, Keith Malcouronne, Christopher Corbet

More information about their voting records will follow soon.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:44am GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Archbishops' Council says restart process to admit women to the episcopate at July 2013 General Synod

The Archbishops’ Council issued this statement today.

Statement on the Conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council November 2012
28 November 2012

“The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England met on November 27-28th to consider a wide ranging agenda. A substantial amount of time was given over to the discussion of the recent vote by General Synod on Women in the Episcopate.

“As part of their reflections, many council members commented on the deep degree of sadness and shock that they had felt as a result of the vote and also of the need to affirm all women serving the church - both lay and ordained - in their ministries.

“In its discussions the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013. There was agreement that the Church of England had to resolve this matter through its own processes as a matter of urgency. The Council therefore recommended that the House of Bishops, during its meeting in a fortnight’s time, put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July.”

Notes

The Archbishops Council is a body of 19 members which acts as the standing committee of the General Synod and has a number of other responsibilities as a trustee body.

The members of the council include the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the chairs of the House of Clergy and the Chairs of the House of Laity. Full membership of the groups is available here.

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Women Bishops: yet more news and comment

First, here are two press reports on yesterday’s release of the General Synod voting lists.

Lizzy Davies in The Guardian Almost half the lay members who voted against female bishops were women

John Bingham in the Telegraph Half of women bishops opponents in Synod were women

And then there are several comment articles.

Bruce Kaye for ABC Religion and Ethics The triumph of the radicals: Women bishops and the Church of England

Savi Hensman for Ekklesia Women bishops: how to move forward?

John Coles, director of New Wine Synod Vote: Women Bishops

Paul Roberts A possible way out of the Women Bishops bind

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude The deeper (mis)understandings which divide us

Alice Udale-Smith for Varsity Female bishops and me: a defence of the General Synod

And finally, WATCH has issued a press release “Pressure for simple legislation mounts as first analysis of voting patterns shows General Synod House of Laity dramatically out of step with lay members of diocesan synods” which is copied in full below the fold.

WATCH (Women and the Church)
Press Release 27th November 2012
For immediate release
Pressure for simple legislation mounts as first analysis of voting patterns shows General Synod House of Laity dramatically out of step with lay members of diocesan synods


A week after the disastrous vote in General Synod and after a period of intense scrutiny from both houses of Parliament, pressure continues to grow on Church authorities to find a way to break the impasse on legislating for women bishops.

Given the failure of all attempts at a compromise enshrined in statute, there is increasing support for the adoption of the simplest possible legislation with provision for those opposed being made outside the legislation itself.

On Monday 26th November, the voting records were published. This shows how individual members of the House of Laity of the General Synod voted and also enables comparisons with the votes previously cast by the lay representatives in the diocesan synods.

As expected, there was a considerable discrepancy between the local and national voting patterns.

When the legislation was debated at diocesan level, it achieved more than a two-thirds majority among lay people in 37 of the 44 dioceses. In Guildford, for instance, 70% of lay members voted in favour at diocesan level, but three of the four General Synod members voted against. Had the General Synod members representing six dioceses chosen to reflect the views expressed by their diocesan synods, the measure would have passed.

Full details of the House of Laity voting figures can be found via Thinking Anglicans.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said
“It is clear that the lay members of General Synod have not reflected the wishes of ordinary parishioners in their dioceses. If the House of Laity of General Synod had followed the pattern of the diocesan synods, this legislation would have passed comfortably last week”

Bishop John Gladwin, the recently retired Bishop of Chelmsford, and Hon Vice President of WATCH said
“The public humiliation and deep wound inflicted on the Church of England by the vote in Synod on November 20th has changed the whole landscape of this and many other issues. What a small minority has done is blow up the bridge to any compromise solution. The consecration of women into the episcopate has been moved from certainty to inevitability. There is now only one route which must be travelled to that outcome. That is the route which removes all discriminatory provisions from the life and ministry of the Church”

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Monday, 26 November 2012

Women Bishops: electronic voting results

Electronic voting results for last week’s General Synod on the women bishops legislation have now been published. These take the form of a pdf file, arranged by house, by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.

Arun Arora, the Church of England Director of Communications, in announcing the publication of these results has reminded us all that Matthew 5:43-48 applies.

For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies.

For this purpose an “absentee” is someone who did not record an electronic vote (for/against/abstention). There are various reasons for being an absentee; examples known to me include illness and being on sabbatical in New Zealand. In addition some at least of the three ecclesiastical judges consider it inappropriate to vote on church legislation which they may later have to enforce.

Update I have now added a webpage version of my spreadsheet.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:46pm GMT | Comments (68) | TrackBack
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Women bishops: what might Parliament do?

There is an excellent article discussing this, on the Law and Religion UK blog, but written by Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit.

He is the principal author of Church and State in 21st Century Britain: The Future of Church Establishment (Palgrave, March 2009).

Women as bishops: should Parliament intervene?

I urge all TA readers to study this article in full. His concluding paragraphs:

The key political and constitutional problem is that, although the Church of England now behaves largely as if it is a voluntary society, it remains nonetheless part of the state. The Queen as head of state is ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church, must be in communion with it, holds the title Fidei Defensor and – nominally – appoints its senior clergy. The Archbishop crowns and anoints the new sovereign, and the Church conducts important public ceremonies and rituals effectively in relation to the UK as a whole. The Church’s courts remain courts of the land, although they lost their public law jurisdictions in the 1850s. Twenty-six bishops continue to sit in the House of Lords – each nowadays actually appointed by a private, unaccountable committee of the Church itself.

These are high matters and could be addressed again by Parliament. However, whatever the degree of change made, none could procure the appointment of female bishops unless Parliament legislated directly to that end. In other words, disestablishment could not by itself resolve the particular question of female bishops. On the other hand, what disestablishment could do would be – a very different matter – to permit the state and Parliament to wash its hands of Church of England affairs altogether.

Since nothing so far suggests that Parliament contemplates such a rupture, it follows that the Church must be allowed to deal with the present crisis itself. Whether in doing so it strengthens the case for a radical review of remaining church/state ties is another question.

However, it appears from a story broken exclusively in The Times this morning by Ruth Gledhill that William Fittall has a somewhat different view. The original Times story is behind a paywall, but it starts this way:

The Church of England is facing a “major constitutional crisis” as a result of the fiasco last week over women bishops, according to an internal document written for the archbishops by one of their most senior staff. The Established Church must take steps in July next year to consecrate women bishops and vote them through by 2015, otherwise it risks the matter being taken out of its hands by Parliament, the secret memo says. It is to be debated behind closed doors this week by the Archbishops’ Council. The memo, a hard copy of which has been handed to The Times, is intended for the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the council members. Women in the Episcopate — Where Next? is a response to growing outrage in and beyond…

The Telegraph has published this version of the story: Failure to vote in women Bishops risks ‘constitutional crisis’ in Church.

And there is this Church ‘faces crisis’ over bishops.

And the Guardian now has Church needs radical new strategy over female bishops, says internal memo

And here are some further quotes from the memo:

“What is for sure and not for maybe is that urgent and radical new thinking is now needed if major shifts in position are to be secured.”

“Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.”

“We have to do so because time is not on our side. Parliament is impatient. In addition to the all-party savaging that the Church of England had yesterday [last Thursday] in the House of Commons and the Prime Minister’s reference to the need to give us a ‘sharp prod’, there was ferocious criticism from some members at the House of Lords at a lunchtime meeting at which the Bishop of Manchester spoke on Wednesday.

“There was a particularly telling sequence of devastating attacks from the formidable combination of Detta O’Cathain (normally a supporter), Elspeth Howe and Margaret Jay. Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.”

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Women Bishops: more news and comment

Updated Sunday afternoon and evening

The Tablet editorial Measure of compromise

ABC Religion and Ethics John Milbank Unrepresentative laity: The women bishops debacle demonstrates why bishops need more authority

Telegraph John Bingham Women bishops decision a ‘stab in the back’ to female clergy – Lord Carey
Adam Luser Reputation of Church damaged by decision on women bishops

Revising Reform Rachel Marszalek Women in Christian servant-leadership, with a look at Rev Angus Macleay’s summation speech from General Synod on Tuesday November 20th 2012

OurKingdom Charlotte Methuen Women bishops in the Church of England: No or not yet?

Guardian Catherine Bennett No to women bishops? It’s high time the Church of England was taught a lesson

Mail Online Marie-Elsa Bragg ‘I’m still proud of our history in the women’s ministry’: Melvyn Bragg’s curate daughter on how it feels to be stuck in the middle of the bishops debate

Lay Anglicana Rosemary Lain-Priestley A Very Significant Tipping Point

Modern Church Linda Woodhead It’s believing in the common good that’s got the Church of England into this mess over women bishops

Update

Anglican Ink Gerald Bray Evangelical supporters of women bishops are “liberals in disguise”
to which Peter Carrell has this response: Has Gerald Bray lost the plot?

Jody Stowell The Morning After

This morning’s Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 included a major item on women bishops starting 20 minutes from the beginning.

Telegraph John Bingham Women bishops rejection has damaged Church, traditionalist bishop admits

Eureka Street Andrew McGowan Rejection of women bishops is not terminal

Ian Paul What does the decision on women bishops mean?

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 2:34pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Women Bishops: online petitions

There are a number of online petitions protesting in various ways against the decision by General Synod not to approve the legislation to allow women to be bishops. Here are the ones I am aware of.

No women Bishops, no automatic seats in the House of Lords

Responsible department: Cabinet Office

The Church of England on 20th Nov 2012 voted not to allow women to be Bishops. Though that is within its rights to do, this should worry the Government as Church of England Bishops are awarded legislative power through seats in the House of Lords.

The Church has chosen to be a sexist organisation by refusing women the right to hold highest leadership positions and therefore should not be allowed automatic seats in the House of Lords, as this clearly does not comply with the spirit of UK Equality law.

We call on the Govt to remove the right of the Church of England to have automatic seats in the House of Lords, in line with its commitments to equality and non-discrimination, set out in the Equality Act (2010) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)”

Women bishops - another vote

To: Church of England “Group of Six”

Please authorise another vote in this Synod in 2013, to allow the House of Laity to reconsider the results of their vote of 20 November 2012 in the light of clearly-expressed wishes of their electorate.

Why is this important?

42 out of 44 Dioceses have voted for women bishops; the House of Laity vote clearly did not reflect the democratic wishes of the membership they are supposed to represent. A year’s delay will enable Dioceses to reflect again, and make their views even clearer to their Synodical representatives.

Unconditionally ordain Women as Bishops in the Church of England

To: The General Synod of the Church of England

The Anglican Episcopacy should be open to women. Synod and the Dioceses of the CofE have agreed this. The vote at Novembers synod has been deeply hurtful to many women, and damaged the Church as a whole.

The next time this issue is voted on it should be as a single clause: The Church of England may ordain women as Bishops.

As well as a campaigning tool, this petition is a way of gathering together people, especially lay Anglicans, who can organize to elect new and representative Deanery, Diocesan and General synods that will effect this change.

No Confidence in General Synod: Calling for an Urgent Review

We the undersigned therefore hereby lodge a vote of no confidence in General Synod until such time as it can bring its affairs into order by effecting a genuinely democratic voting system that gives a fair and proper representation to its members in place of the current inequitable system.

The Petition

We call upon the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops to conduct an urgent review into the rules of governance in Synod to correct this grossly unfair system; and if the matter is not resolved before his enthronement, we further call upon Archbishop Designate the Rt Revd Justin Welby to make addressing this inequitable situation one of his first priorities following his installation at Canterbury.

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Women Bishops: latest news

Guardian Aida Edemariam and Lizzy Davies Pressure piles on church to vote again on female bishops
Aida Edemariam Maria Miller interview: ‘It’s very disappointing that the Church of England has taken this decision’

Telegraph John-Paul Ford Rojas Lord Carey calls for Church of England to push through introduction of women bishops

Liverpool Echo Alan Weston Frank Field MP tables parliamentary Bill over women bishops
Here is a press release from Frank Field and this is the bill’s entry on the UK Parliament website: Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

Stephen Croft, the Bishop of Sheffield, gave this presidential address to his diocesan synod this morning.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 5:06pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Bishop of Gloucester questions Church’s equality law exemption

Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester, has questioned the Church’s equality law exemption in a statement issued yesterday. The full statement is available online and is copied below the fold. It is summarised in this press release from the diocese.

Bishop questions Church’s equality law exemption
Friday 23 November 2012

The Bishop of Gloucester is questioning the Church of England’s right to exemption from equality laws, following the recent voting against women bishops.

In a statement released today, the Rt Revd Michael Perham speaks of his huge disappointment and sadness at the outcome of this week’s voting. He said: “It has undermined the sense of value of our church’s more than 3,000 women priests. It has puzzled our society and brought ridicule upon the Church.

“There are questions that now have to be faced. Is the Church’s exemption from equality laws defensible? Does a system that requires 2/3rds majorities in three separate houses place the bar too high? Can it make sense for members of the Synod to be permitted to vote entirely contrary to the view of their diocesan synod?”

In the Diocese of Gloucester, more than 95 per cent of the diocesan synod voted in favour of the legislation. At General Synod 74 per cent voted for the legislation.

Bishop Michael continued: “It is really important to keep a welcome place in the Church for those who are unhappy with the idea of women bishops, but they must not hold the Church back, undermine its mission or make it a laughing stock in the mind of the nation.

“There will be women bishops in the Church of England. I have no doubt about that. Our response to the Holy Spirit and the effectiveness of our mission require it.”

Full statement from the Bishop of Gloucester

It has been a bleak few days for the Church of England. A failure to approve the legislation that would have allowed women to be bishops has made a sad finale to the archiepiscopate of Dr Rowan Williams, whose visit to our diocese in July was such a high point in our diocesan life. It has also created a major problem for his successor, Bishop Justin of Durham. It has undermined the sense of value of our church’s more than three thousand women priests. It has puzzled our society and brought ridicule upon the Church.

People have been saying, understandably, that the Church of England is in crisis. At a certain level that is true. The General Synod has acted foolishly and its leadership has been undermined. There is a huge repair job to be done in our relationship with our society as well as within the church. But, at another level, we are not in crisis, for, as many have said, the real Church of England is to be found, not in synods, but in parishes and other communities, where Christian ministry to the people of our nation goes on being effective in churches and schools, in pastoral care and in the fulfilment of our mission. The irony is that we would be unable to fulfil that ministry without the women clergy of our church.

It is important to say today that the church has not rejected the ministry of its women clergy. In the Diocese of Gloucester more than 95 per cent of our Diocesan Synod voted in favour of the legislation. In the General Synod 74 per cent voted in favour - I wish it were 100%, but 74% is much more than enough. The responses I am receiving to this vote from ordinary Christians give evidence of the fact that the church has received the ministry of women, values and affirms it and wants to see that ministry extended to include episcopal ministry. The ministry of ordained women has been a huge gift of God to the church.

What the church has done is to fail to pass legislation that made generous provision for those unwilling to accept this development. And, of course, there are questions that now have to be faced. Is the church’s exemption from equality laws defensible? Does a system that requires 2/3rds majorities in three separate houses place the bar too high? Can it make sense for members of the Synod to be permitted to vote entirely contrary to the view of their diocesan synod? It is really important to keep a welcome place in the Church for those who are unhappy with the idea of women bishops, but they must not hold the Church back, undermine its mission or make it a laughing stock in the mind of the nation.

The more immediate question is how we may find a way forward more speedily than over the cycle of a whole new General Synod. I don’t know the answer and I would be suspicious of anyone who thought they did at this stage when we are all still so “raw” after the reverse of this week. But the mood of our leadership, and indeed the mood across the church and the nation, is that a way forward must and will be found without haste but with urgency. I ask you to pray for all those who will be starting conversations about that very soon. I ask you to pray also for those clergy who have experienced this vote as a painful undermining of their ministry. Above all pray for justice, peace and reconciliation in the church.

It has been a difficult time, “grim” as the Bishop of Durham put it, but I have found myself repeating with quiet conviction those wonderful words of the Lady Julian of Norwich - “All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” I do believe that.

+Michael Gloucestr:

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Friday, 23 November 2012

Women Bishops: latest opinions

Here are some more opinions on General Synod’s decision not to approve the legislation on women bishops, and transcripts of some of the speeches made in the debate.

Paul Vallely How a recalcitrant minority stopped the Church from entering the 20th let alone the 21st century

Jane Tillier Ekklesia Rejecting women bishops harms the church’s mission

Fulcrum Statement on the Decision of General Synod not to approve the legislation on Women Bishops

Sarah Coakley at ABC Religion and Ethics Has the Church of England finally lost its reason? Women bishops and the collapse of Anglican theology

John Gladwin Some reflections on the November 20th Vote

Nick Baines Get real

Jeremy Fletcher Women Bishops – After Tuesday

Kevin Lewis man boobs

Benny Hazlehurst Two feet in the grave…

Lesley Crawley I would like General Synod to pass a policy denouncing sexism

Justin Brett What now, then?

Sam Wells Response to Women Bishops Vote

Tom Wright Women Bishops: It’s about the Bible, not fake ideas of progress

Some of the speeches made to General Synod

Elaine Storkey
Philip Giddings
Tom Sutcliffe
Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham
James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool

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Women bishops: Church Times report and comment

The Church Times has extensive coverage:

  • News articles:

Women-bishops Measure falls by six votes in House of Laity

Dr Williams warns: no short cut, no simple solution

Campaigners talk of betrayal and disaster after vote

Politicians express their dissatisfaction with Synod vote

  • Comment articles:

Leader: After the vote, what next?

Frances Ward What difference does women’s ministry make?

David Houlding I work happily with women clergy

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 23 November 2012 at 7:46am GMT | Comments (45) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 22 November 2012

House of Commons discusses women bishops

Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered an urgent question tabled by Labour MP Diana Johnson on women bishops on 22 November 2012.

Watch a video recording of the ensuing debate (lasts about 34 minutes) via the Democracy Live website here.

The Hansard transcript of the debate is now available here.

Initial media reports:

Yesterday there were also exchanges with the Prime Minister during Question Time, details are below the fold.

From Hansard record, here:

Q11. Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend share my deep disappointment, and that of many hon. Members on both sides of the House, that the Church of England yesterday failed to make proper provision for women bishops? It was a sad day for our national Church and our national character, particularly given that 42 of 44 dioceses voted overwhelmingly in support of women bishops. Is the dangerous consequence of that vote not the disestablishment of the Church of England but simply disinterest?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend speaks with great expertise and knowledge. On a personal basis, I am a strong supporter of women bishops and am very sad about how the vote went yesterday. I am particularly sad for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, because he saw this as a major campaign that he wanted to achieve at the end of his excellent tenure of that office. It is important for the Church of England to be a modern Church that is in touch with society as it is today. This was a key step it needed to take.


……. Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Following the Prime Minister’s answer to the hon. Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) a moment ago, and given that the Church of England is the established Church, will the Prime Minister consider what Parliament can do to ensure that the overwhelming will of members of the Church and of the country is respected?

The Prime Minister: I will certainly look carefully at what the right hon. Gentleman has said. The Church has its own processes and elections. They might be hard for some of us to understand, but we must respect individual institutions and the decisions they make. That does not mean we should hold back in saying what we think. I am very clear that the time is right for women bishops—it was right many years ago. The Church needs to get on with it, as it were, and get with the programme, but we must respect individual institutions and how they work, while giving them a sharp prod.

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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

General Synod days two and three

Audio files for Tuesday’s debate, and (when available) for today’s debate can all be found here.

The business summary for Wednesday has been published: General Synod Wednesday 21 November 2012: Debates and farewells.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 3:49pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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More press coverage and comment

Major Update on Wednesday evening
Updated Thursday morning

Guardian Patrick Wintour Female bishops controversy: government says it will not step in
Andrew Brown Why the church’s house of laity is vulnerable to capture by interest groups
Alan Wilson What next for the Church of England?

Telegraph PMQs: David Cameron said the Church needs a ‘sharp prod’ over women bishops

Independent Jerome Taylor Church of England in crisis: Archbishop of Canterbury attacks members for voting against women bishops

Channel 4 News Archbishop: Church less credible after women bishop vote

Huffington Post Female Bishops Deal Will Happen, Says Justin Welby, Archbishop Of Canterbury

Mail Online Steve Doughty and Matt Chorley ‘Very grim day’: Next Archbishop of Canterbury tweets his verdict after Church of England Synod rejected women bishops

BBC Women bishops: PM ‘very sad’ at Church of England rejection

Update

Church Times Women-bishops legislation falls

Guardian Lizzy Davies Female bishops and the Church of England: what happens next?
Lizzy Davies Church of England bishops plot response to vote to exclude women
Patrick Wintour and Lizzy Davies and agencies David Cameron: Church of England should ‘get on with it’ on female bishops
Patrick Wintour and Lizzy Davies Cameron warns priests of turbulence after church votes no to female bishops
Lizzy Davies Female bishops supporter: ‘Although I’m gutted, it’s not the end of the road’
Giles Fraser After the bishops vote, I’m ashamed to be a part of the Church of England
Simon Hoggart Prime minister issues prod for God after vote against women bishops
Suzanne Moore The Church of England can no longer continue as an arm of the state

BBC Women bishops: A century-long struggle for recognition

Mail Online George Pitcher It’s not really about women bishops, it’s a fight for the Church of England’s soul
Steve Doughty The troubles that brought the Synod vote have been building up for decades

Telegraph Allison Pearson Swaziland has a woman bishop – why not Suffolk?
Rowena Mason and Tim Ross David Cameron: Church needs to ‘get with the programme’ after rejecting women bishops
Martyn Percy Women bishops: a failure of leadership
Tim Stanley In its search for ‘relevance’, the Anglican Church is losing relevance

Independent Susie Leafe Why I voted no to women bishops
Jerome Taylor Strong-arm tactics vs misplaced niceties: how the legislation was sunk

Huffington Post Susan Russell A Seriously Sad Day for the Church of England

Ekklesia Symon Hill “Too good for a girlie”? Sexism and women bishops
Fran Porter The Church of England and women: a rare moment of clarity?

Changing Attitude Colin Coward Reform and Forward in Faith achieve unexpected success

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes My reaction? Incredulity, hurt - and anger

Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop tells women “this is still your Church”

Thursday update

Rachel Weir Time to reform General Synod

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 3:29pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Archbishop's comments

Following an emergency meeting of the House of Bishops this morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the Presidential Statement to General Synod, in which he called on members to ‘attend to one another…to give to one another the care that we need’. said that the failure to approve the draft Measure meant that the Church of England has “lost a measure of credibility” and that the Church could be seen as “wilfully blind” to modern trends and priorities.

At the end of yesterday afternoon’s proceedings the Archbishop of York said that the Presidents would be consulting overnight in the light of Synod’s decision not to give final approval to the proposed legislation about women in the episcopate. We met last night and we also this morning had the opportunity of an informal discussion with members of the House of Bishops. And what I say is in light of those meetings.

I’ve already said something in public about my personal reaction to yesterday’s vote and I don’t want to repeat what said then or offer a commentary on other people’s comments. But there are a few things it would be helpful to say from the chair today before we move on, as we must, to the rest of today’s business.

Whatever decision was made yesterday, today was always going to be a difficult day. There would have been, whatever decision was made, people feeling that their presence and their significance in the Church was in some sense put into question. There will be people feeling profoundly vulnerable, unwanted and unsure, and that means that the priority for today for all of us is to attend to one another in the light of that recognition, that is to give to one another the care that we need, and whatever else we do today, and think today and say today, I hope that that is what we will be able to offer one another.”

UPDATED Wednesday afternoon (transcript now available)
You can read and listen to the Archbishop’s address on the Lambeth Palace website. The full text is also reproduced below the fold.

Full text of the Archbishop’s presidential address:

At the end of yesterday afternoon’s proceedings the Archbishop of York said that the presidents would be consulting overnight in the light of Synod’s decision not to give final approval to the proposed legislation about women in the episcopate. We met last night, and we also this morning had the opportunity of an informal discussion with members of the House of Bishops. And what I say is in the light of those meetings.

I have already said something in public about my personal reaction to yesterday’s vote and I don’t want to repeat now what I said then, or offer a commentary on other people’s comments. But there are a few things that perhaps it would be helpful to say today, from the chair, before we move on, as we must, to the rest of today’s business.

Whatever decision had been made yesterday, today was always going to be a difficult day. There would have been, whatever decision was made, people feeling that their presence and their significance in the Church was in some sense put into question. There would be people feeling profoundly vulnerable, unwanted and unsure. And that means that the priority today, for all of us, is to attend to one another in the light of that recognition. That is to give to one another the care that we need, and whatever else we do today and think today and say today, I hope that that is what we shall be able to offer one another.

But today is also an opportunity to express appreciation which I’m sure Synod will share for all those staff members and others in the Synod who have worked so devotedly in the course of this legislative process over the past few years. And while it is invidious to single out any individual, a great deal of the burden of steering this process through has fallen on the steering committee in general and the Bishop of Manchester in particular. Bishop Nigel will be retiring in the New Year, there will be a formal farewell to him later today by the Archbishop of York. But I can’t miss this opportunity of recording my personal gratitude to Nigel for the unfailing graciousness and skill that he has shown through this process.

Recognising the work that has been done prompts the reflection that it won’t really do to speak as if talking had never started between parties and presences in the Church of England or in this Synod. Nonetheless, in the light of much that was said yesterday, I believe it is very important that we hold one another to account for the promises made of a willingness to undertake and engage urgently in further conversation. I believe that yesterday there was both realism and unrealism in much of what was said, and the realism was largely in the recognition that there is now that urgent demand for close, properly mediated conversation. The offers that were made need to be taken up, the Presidents of Synod and the House of Bishops are very eager that that should happen, and in their meeting in December will be discussing further how that might most constructively be taken forward.

But I have to say, and I hope you will bear with me in my saying this, that there was an unrealism around yesterday as well. The idea that there is a readily available formula just around the corner is, in my view, an illusion. There is no short cut here, there is no simple, God-given (dare I say) solution, to a problem which brings people’s deepest convictions into conflict in the way in which they have come into conflict in this Synod and previously. Realism requires us to recognise that; to recognise the depth and seriousness of the work still to be done. The map is clear enough. The decisions we have to make are about the route, and those decisions, given the nature of the terrain, are not going to be simple and straightforward.

So as we enter into further conversation, and as we reflect on the urgency of moving our situation forward, please don’t let us be under any misapprehensions about what it is going to demand of all of us, intellectually, spiritually and imaginatively. Part of recognising that also, I think, involves us recognising the greatest risk of all that faces us as a Synod and I suspect as a Church in our internal life. Yesterday did nothing to make polarisation in our Church less likely and the risk of treating further polarisation of views and identity is a very great one. It will feel like the default setting.

If I can be frivolous for a moment, there is a Matt Groening cartoon set in outer space, an appropriate location you might think at the moment, where crisis is impending for the staff of an inter-galactic rocket and they run around saying, ‘What do we do, who do we blame?’ Well, the temptation to run round saying what do we do, who do we blame today is going to be strong. I hope that we will try and hold back from simple recrimination in all this. So the work to do internally is considerable, but it is tempting to say that is as nothing compared to the work we have to do externally.

We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do. Whatever the motivations for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted, spoke; the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society. We have some explaining to do. We have, as the result of yesterday, undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society, and I make that as an observation as objectively as I can; because it’s perfectly true, as was said yesterday, that the ultimate credibility of the Church does not depend on the good will of the wider public. We would not be Christians and believers in divine revelation if we held that; but the fact is as it is.

We also have a lot of explaining to do within the Church because I think a great many people will be wondering why it is that Diocesan Synods can express a view in one direction and the General Syod in another. That means that Synod itself is under scrutiny and under question; and I shouldn’t be at all surprised if many members of Synod and groups within Synod were not feeling today confused and uncertain about how Synod itself works – and whether there are issues we have to attend to there. We rightly insist in the Church of England on a high level of consent for certain kinds of change and the failure to secure a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity doesn’t mean that those high levels of consent are necessarily wrong. They do mean that there is a great deal of further work to be done, as I have said. But that sense of a Synod which, for admirable, praiseworthy reasons gives a very strong voice to the minority – that sense of Synod needs some explaining and some exploring if it is not simply to be seen as a holding to hostage of Synod by certain groups. That is part of the explaining we have to do, and we are all, I guess, feeling those uncomfortable questions.

How exactly we structure the conversations which lie ahead, as I have said, will take some time to work out. The House of Bishops will need to be thinking very hard in a couple of weeks’ time about how that goes forward, and the Archbishops’ Council also meets next week. Bishops of course will meanwhile be taking soundings and pursuing conversations in their own dioceses, and that does bear a little bit on a question later today about the pattern of Synodical meetings next year. We have a proposal that we should meet in July and November next year rather than in February. There is clearly a case for not loosing momentum in our discussion. There is also clearly a case for thinking twice about pursuing after a very, very short interval a set of issues that are still raw and undigested. I think the difficult question that Synod will have to address in that context is how we best use the next six months or so. It may be, for example, that if we do not have the Synod in February, that reserved time should be set aside to some brokered conversations in groups rather smaller than 470. But you may well feel, and I think the House of Bishops as a whole feels, that the full Synod in February is a little close for comfort given all the business, all the emotion, all the consequence we have to explore. The best way of keeping up pressure for a solution may not be to meet in February; but that is of course for further discussion and is in no sense meant to minimise the sense of urgency that we all face. Within that timeframe is when initial conversations have to begin.

After all the effort that has gone into this process over the last few years, after the intense frustration that has been experienced in recent years – and I don’t just speak of yesterday – about getting to the right point to make a decision, it would be tempting to conclude that it is too difficult, that perhaps the issue should be parked for a while. I don’t believe that is possible because of what I said earlier about the sense of our credibility in the wider society. Every day in which we fail to resolve this to our satisfaction, and the Church of England’s satisfaction, is a day when our credibility in the public eye is likely to diminish, and we have to take that seriously: however uncomfortable that message may be. There is a matter of mission here and we can’t afford to hang about. We can’t, as I said yesterday in my remarks, indefinitely go on living simply theologically with the anomaly of women priests who cannot be considered for bishops.

I mentioned earlier the duty of care that we have which does not lessen with the pressure and complexity of matters we face. But I do also want to repeat something that I said last night, having said that I wouldn’t repeat what I said last night, let me say something that I did say I as believe that it is probably worth saying, and that is that in spite of headlines in the press, the Church of England did not vote for its dissolution yesterday. The Church of England in a very important sense cannot vote for its dissolution, because the Church does not exist by the decision of Synod, by the will or personality of bishops or archbishops, by the decision of any pressure group, but by the call of Almighty God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will not regard it as disrespectful to Synod if I say that Synod cannot vote to abolish God the Holy Trinity. Therefore, what God asks of the Church and what God equips the Church to do are as true this morning as they were yesterday morning and to paraphrase something I said in another context, God does not wait for us to respond to his call for mission and service until we have solved all our internal problems. We are going to be faced with a great deal of very uncomfortable and very unpleasant accusation and recrimination about yesterday and there is no easy way of getting through that except to endure it. But we can at least say God remains God, our call remains our call, our Church remains our Church and it is in that confidence that, with a good deal of deep breathing and as they say heart-swearing, we prepare ourselves to do our business today in the hope that the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit is what is always is, and always was and always will be.

Thank you.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 10:46am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

more responses to the vote part 2

Church of England Evangelical Council:

“The church failed to attend to God’s work in God’s way” – Michael Lawson, CEEC Chairman

The Venerable Michael Lawson, CEEC Chairman, comments on the No vote for Women Bishops “Is the church out of touch? No! It simply failed to attend to God’s work in God’s way.”

“The General Synod’s no vote for women bishops will undoubtedly cause both pain and even incredulity to some, yet to others a relief that biblical and catholic orthodoxy has been upheld. The reality is that the out come brings no victory to either side. It is true that broadly speaking the church as a whole has grappled responsibly with this issue. What will be extremely sad is if the result of this vote leads some women to feel they are marginalised in the church, for the reality is that the New Testament encourages the ministry of both men and women, yet in complementary ways. There are of course many places where the rich ministerial gifts of women already have a chance to flourish. But as a result of the vote, this complementarity needs an even greater encouragement by word and action in our churches.

As CEEC has warned on many occasions, one of the reasons for the outcome of the vote will have been the weak and inadequate approach to provision for those who could not accept the po