Comments: Anglican Mainstream responds to today's debate

"In the meantime, leaders of the two groups within the CofE are asking parishes to pray earnestly this weekend for grace and wisdom for the General Synod as they seek God’s will for His church."

His church, like God is a man. Maybe neutering the language would help change the mindset.

Posted by bobinswpa at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 9:56pm BST

Is it OK if I pray "unearnestly"? Just asking

Posted by J. Michael Povey at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:10pm BST

I wonder how often those who would freeze the Church in the 19th century use the term "unprecedented". It is becoming so common in their discourse that it begins to grate on my nerves whenever I hear it or read it. Nothing, it seems, is precedented. I call for a moratorium on this word!

As to AM calling on their parishes "pray earnestly this weekend for grace and wisdom for the General Synod as they seek God’s will for His church" I wonder if it has occurred to them that GS has already discerned God's will for His church, at least on this matter?

Posted by Nom de Plume at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:18pm BST

"Despite a majority of Synod voting FOR the Archbishops' amendment, it failed on a 'procedural device' of requiring a two-thirds majority in all three houses: bishops, clergy and laity. In the House of Clergy, the vote was split 50/50."

In this case, thank God for 'procedural devices'. Usually, these have worked in the direction of the 'status quo' - something obviously that the two Primates did not suspect. At least, the democratic process of a 3-House Synodical Government worked!

"Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church." Veni Creator Spiritua! Ave. It would appear that the venerable Church of england will now more closely match up to the Inclusive Church way of ministry effective in other Provinces.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:20pm BST

"Despite a majority of synod voting FOR the Archbishops’’ amendment, it failed on a “procedural device” of requiring a two-thirds majority in all three houses: Bishops, clergy and laity. In the House of Clergy, the vote was split 50/50."

This doesn't jibe with the report from Peter Owen on amendment 514, which is, I assume, the amendment in question. The report to TA was that while bishops and laity favored it, albeit not necessarily by 2/3s, the clergy rejected it outright at 80 for/90 against/5 abstain.


Posted by RobinD at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:32pm BST

I hope some compromise comes about as a result of this meeting (if it happens). The alternative could be very messy - I imagine with traditionalist clergy not recognising any clergy (male or female) ordained by a woman bishop . Hopefully a modus vivendi will emerge. The alternative, as I have said, is likely to be chaotic. What the General Synod has refused to offer will instead be taken.

Posted by Neil at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:44pm BST

'be pastorally sensitive to those who, from theological and conscience issues, cannot accept the Episcopal ministry of women'

I do wonder why no-one in these groups ever seems to mention being pastorally sensitive to women who, from theological and conscience issues, regard the attempt to exclude women from ministry and Episcopal ministry as profoundly contrary to the teachings of Christ...

Posted by chenier1 at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:48pm BST

They need to get their facts right. It did not need a two-thirds majority in each house, just a simple one.

And anyone can call for a vote by houses: the 'procedural device' is a normal way of doing things, especially in tricky debates.

But I accept that it is unfortunate that a majority of the members voting got a the wrong result for them.

Posted by Jeremy Fletcher at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 10:57pm BST

I do hope the two Archbishops will not allow themselves to be spun by Anglican Mainstream and traditionalist Anglo-Catholics. As far as I am aware I shall be going to church to worship as usual tomorrow as will every other faithful anglican - what is this crisis that has arrived?

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton (the other Jeremy) at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 11:14pm BST

'it failed on a “procedural device”'

And if it had succeeded using the same so-called 'procedural device', would Anglican Mainstream have complained?

'as they seek God’s will for His church'

as long as it coincides with Chris Sugden's will I suppose?

Posted by Laurence at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 11:24pm BST

'Despite a majority of synod voting FOR the Archbishops’’ amendment, it failed on a “procedural device” of requiring a two-thirds majority in all three houses: Bishops, clergy and laity. In the House of Clergy, the vote was split 50/50.'

Is this statement correct? Did it really require a 2/3 majority in all houses, or was it a simple majority?

If 2/3, then it would have failed in all three houses, as it garnered only 53% of votes cast, broken down as 60% in the House of Bishops, 55% in laity and 48% in clergy. 53% total, whilst a technical simple majority, is far from a ringing endorsement of the scheme. At any rate, the clergy saved the day.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 2:15am BST

If you'd been unchurched by five votes you'd be crying too. I don't know what I am going to do...

Posted by Tristan at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 6:09am BST

There's still some way to go, in terms of procedure, it seems, not to mention trauma if Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals do go (more, probably, if they decide to stay), but it seems the CofE may now be able to 'get on with it', to lift its eyes to heaven rather than have them half-closed in downward contemplation of the collective navel.

Interesting for me is that the question of the very authority of the two Archbishops clouds the result, and has actually really obfuscated the profile of the church - were people voting this way or that because they did not want to see a rift, wanted to respect their positions as such, or straightforwardly because they wanted a single scope in appointing bishops (of whatever stripe, 'co-episcopal' or otherwise)?

I am in the CofE precisely on account of the ministry of a female priest. No male priest (Anglican or Roman Catholic) in the previous 20 years of my investigations, questions or queries had been able to a) acknowledge and comprehend me as an individual b) be straight about the difficult things c) offer hope or d) point to love and compassion rather than a species of 'thou-shalt-ness'. The only other positive contribution during my journey was offered by a Roman Catholic sister.

Frankly, the sooner we rid ourselves of the culture of the bluff, blokey duffer and general male cronyism within the CofE, the better. It belonged to a different age. I know these sentiments will come across as crude (perhaps even malicious) generalizations but unfortunately I haven't seen very much on the ground that has challenged them. Masculinity has itself changed over the past 50 years but the CofE has simply not reflected this, or even understood the fact. It can no longer remain impervious and imperious in this matter.

Posted by Achilles at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 7:11am BST

It can hardly have helped those supporting the Archbishops' proposals that, on the same day they were being debated, Anglo-catholics were discussing the 'ordinariate' with a Roman Catholic bishop in Nottingham.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:08am BST

I would have more faith in the process and in the integrity of the Archbishops if they said that all private meetings about this issue must now cease as far as they are concerned. All future meetings which they attend should be open, with minutes taken and published. There should be notice that the meetings are to take place. Observers should be invited. Any threats, deals, stitch-ups or fudges would be instantly apparent. Anything short of this is politics and manipulation. The time for those has ended. Trust needs to be restored.

Posted by junius at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:44am BST

"procedural device" indeed!

2/3 majority for decisions is the ancient way of the Church in Council.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 9:09am BST

Interesting. Politics tends to trump procedure in most cases. Looks like the parties at each end of the continuum are cranking up the crisis. I would expect some sort of attempt at reconsideration. Ratcheting up the fireworks will help those who demand provisions if reconsideration happens. Escalation creates anxiety and pushes people on the fence towards compromise. One can see what a patriarchs do not like empowerment. The amendment failed by a slim majority in the clergy. There are of course women in that house. It passed by a good majority in the Bishops --an order where currently there are no women.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 12:10pm BST

An additional Anglican Mainstream statement, signed by Sugden and Philip Giddings, was issued after you went to press last night. It reads in part, "the problem the Archbishops were trying to address was the problem of monoepiscopacy, the belief that only one bishop can have jurisdiction in one geographical area."

"Monoepiscopacy" - guess we'll be hearing that term quite a bit in the future. (Biepiscopacy? Polyepiscopacy?) At least it's in the open, now. Concede the principal of co-equal parallel jurisdiction (anyone going to tell me that either Giddings or Sugden gives a rodent's rear about the plight of the Anglo-Catholics?), in absolute contradiction of close to 2,000 years of teaching and practice, and these people will have everything they need to wreak unfettered mayhem at the communion level.

The statement concludes "Further meetings to address this will take place". You don't say.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 2:03pm BST

They didn't want women to vote, either.
From a much lengthier article in the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia:
"The opposition expressed by many women to the introduction of woman's suffrage, as for instance, the New York State Association opposed to Woman "Suffrage", should be regarded by Catholics as, at least, the voice of common sense."

Posted by Mike at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 3:27pm BST

Did this need a 2/3 majority? And even if it didn't, it failed anyway. Does he have different math than the rest of us, claiming that it only failed because of the need for a 2/3 majority?

Posted by Doug Spurlin at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 4:25pm BST

I see the argument here... notwithstanding a requirement that each order had to pass it counted separately, since that didn't happen, just count the total number of votes.

Deceptively attractive, but isn't that changing the rules after the game is over? Not unlike saying who gets the most electoral votes for US President or the most seats in the House of Commons isn't the deciding factor after the election is held.

Posted by Paul Davison at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 4:52pm BST

I cans tand all this 'false self' hysteria and posing.

Get a grip and grow up !

Posted by Pantycelyn at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 6:03pm BST

As Andrew Brown points out, had the vote gone the other way on a "procedural point", Anglican Mainstream would have hailed it an overwhelming victory.

Posted by Rev Sidney Jensen at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 6:15pm BST

There is an old saying, "Be careful what you pray for." I know that the Anglo-Catholic/Evangelical anti-WO contingent may find it hard to believe, but it may just be God's will being done in bringing women bishops to reality, and truly earnest prayer may hasten that day.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 7:04pm BST

Voting by Houses was brought in to disadvantage those in favour of WO; and make a positive vote for it less possible. Surely ?

Posted by Pantycelyn at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:15pm BST

As I noted in another place, 'Anglican Mainstream has already issued a press release which makes false statements of fact, presumably in the hope that the media won't know any better'.

Quite why the people who did so apparently believe that Christ's ministry is best served by telling lies is beyond me, but having devoted much of today to listening to the audio of yesterday's am and pm sessions of the General Synod, I have realised that this sort of disingenuous approach is more common than one would hope.

The bits about 'it's not about gender' were a particularly fruitful area, and I actually applauded the speaker who suggested that we needed to get real about it.

And Tristen, I really don't understand how you can claim to have been unchurched by those 5 votes; less than a week ago you asserted that you don't even belong to FiF, so this seems a strange response...

Posted by chenier1 at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:25pm BST

Thank God that the Synod has voted for a genuine theological understanding of the episcopate! The compromises, including the one from the Primates, were theologically incomprehensible. And thank God that Synod did not alow itself to be bullied and blackmailed by people who see every concession as weakness and just gobble up more ground. Those who have been negotiating with Rome should follow their consciences and go. But they should realise that that is the last bit of negotiating they will ever do, for in Rome you do not negotiate, you obey. Let them also understand that their former ministry will not be acknowledged and they may not be re-ordained. I doubt any of the bishops will be consecrated>

Posted by Gerry Reilly at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:30pm BST


If I were you, I'd hang on in. Although it's clear there is a large majority in favour of women bishops, it is also clear that there is a majority in favour of 'special provision' for people such as yourself, at least to the extent of the Archbishops' amendment. Just keep your nerve.

Posted by john at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:40pm BST

Anglican mainstream..really a front organisation for Reform ( look at the trustees).

It should be noted that Reform churches already operate as a Church within a church already...having South African schismatic bishops confirming and ordaining.They even have established church plants across diocesan boundaries...even in a diocese headed by an evangelical.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 8:47pm BST

Rev Sidney Jensen,

This may be so, but the fact remains that, while there is a large majority in the C of E in favour of women bishops, there also seems to be a majority in favour of 'special provision' for opponents - provision somewhat beyond the code of practice of the Revision Committee. That being so, it seems unjust to close down that option on a relative technicality. Even on the essentially 'keep the status quo' (flying bishops etc.) motions, about a third voted in support. Again, it seems (a) unjust and (b) profoundly unwise to proceed regardless of these very substantial cohorts of opinion.

Posted by john at Sunday, 11 July 2010 at 9:02pm BST

Anglican Mainstream is neither.

Posted by JPM at Monday, 12 July 2010 at 2:12am BST

I'm not sure this is really bad news for the traditionalists, except in that it forces them to act on their conscience now which people of the church of whatever stripe really try to avoid. This last minute attempt would merely push the issue down the road. That this will not be optional sooner rather than later is probably helpful for those that want to uphold what they believe to be true about God's order for the church regarding male only Holy Orders. Though it will be hard and costly for them in the near term. (This is probably a bit nieve as I am from the US and don't have a good grasp of the church in England.)

As one who was open to the idea of women clergy (lumping the presbytery and episcopacy together) but decided to read up on the theology of ordination to figure out what all the hubub was about, I have been convinced of the traditional view. This kept me from being called to one church, so I understant the cost of keeping one's conscience. And yet I have like J.I.Packer decided to accept women's orders "with objection." Those that see this as a rights issue like the aformentioned church, find my views intolerable, even when I accept their views and women in all ranks of holy orders. This is all annecdotal evidence that as Richard Neuhaus wrote, "where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed."

As time goes by, I am beginning to see that if it truly is against God's order, (that this is part of a western confusion of true manhood and womanhood,) that I too will need to find a way to submit to traditional ordering in the church. Otherwise, I by my passivity (which "acceptance with objection" really is) condone the confusion and allow my views to be proscribed by my church sooner or later -- and God's people to be further misled.

I still think it would be far more honest if those who call themselves "inclusive" would really just drop that term. As one who was also barred from a "liberal and inclusive" diocese by a bishop when a parish there did want to call me, I must say that all this rhetoric of inclusiveness and rights lacks integrity. Admittedly, this is becoming clearer and clearer as time goes by.

Posted by Rob+ at Monday, 12 July 2010 at 4:28am BST

I am fascinated and amazed. There are far more and stronger scriptural and traditional arguments for Slavery, the Death Penalty, religious wars, corporal punishment of children and adults, than there are against women priests and bishops. How do the "traditionalists" and "Bible-based Christians explain that they can so easily dispense with these arguments, but the ordination of women is a matter for schism? I seriously would like an answer to this, because I fear it is about male power and the brainwashing of women by supposed Biblical superiors>

Posted by Gerry Reilly at Monday, 12 July 2010 at 12:52pm BST

Gerry Reilly,

I appreciate your asking. You raise isssues of civil law and church order. These issues overlap when say the church promotes stances on civil issues that traditionalists see as unbiblical or even evil, such as TEC's suport of aborting unborn children. This is yet another reason why many of us traditionalists felt we had to leave TEC. We cannot in good conscience be a part of an organization that promotes the murder of the unborn. That would be a participation in evil. And whether the readers here agree with it or not, that is how we see it.

If the church were to support re-instituting slavery, or conducting a religious war against Islamic peoples, the result would be the same. That the church once approved of these things is really an issue of God's ongoing sanctification of the church. For example, that I once engaged in behaviors as a Christian that I now see as sinful, means I have matured. Likewise, the church has matured and cannot go back. Many on the innovative side of the church see this as a similar issue of godly maturity. Traditionalists do not. Traditionalists believe God created men and women to serve him equally but in different roles. They actually do take the lessons of past failures in biblical interpretation into account but the innovators do not agree with their theology.

Posted by Rob+ at Monday, 12 July 2010 at 7:24pm BST

Gerry Reilly,

But I think your real emphasis is a genuine question as to why THIS issue is such a big deal? Certainly, women serving in roles traditionally held by men in the church does not equate to such evils in society as slavery and religious wars? Traditionalist theologians like J.I. Packer have said as much, ie. this is not a salvation issue, but a church order issue, and therefore in the "non-essentials" category. [From the maxim, in essentials unity in non-essentials charity.]

And yet, I have read many times that the strong all-male ordination traditionalists believe this "smaller confusion" over the God given roles of men and women in holy orders leads to greater confusions regarding God's ordering of who we were created to be as men and women. This leads to confusion over what is right or not right regarding sexual relations, contraception, marriage, the nature of family and the very fabric of society. To appreciate the conservative biblical mindset simply replace the word "confusion" with "sin." Given that sin often begins small initially, then increases to the point where one's understanding is darkened, character is diminished and relationship with God is threatened, the traditionalists see this as a boundary that cannot be crossed because of the long term affects in the church and its healthy influence on the fabric of society.

This fight to maintain a male episcopate is seen not so much as a battle but as a war to be lost. If lost, they believe the church is lost as well.

None of the readers here have to accept this as correct, but it is the way the traditionalists who are willing to leave the church over this think about it. That is why it is so important to them. In their eyes, it is a fight for the very life of the church, if this is lost the church is (eventually) lost too.

Other traditionalists may have other thoughts, but this is what I have been able to understand of the "Balaam's ass" response of the traditionalists regarding women in the episcopate. They have caused me to re-think my own views that this is a non-essential issue for the church.

Posted by Rob+ at Monday, 12 July 2010 at 7:27pm BST

Thank you ,Rob, for your clarifications, but I can't help saying that they do not hold water. How Church order can take precedence over cardinal issues in the Scriptures such as justice and mercy beggars the imagination it sounds like the debates the Pharisees had with Jesus.Patriarchialism is still alive and well in the Church! It is very clever to put the Blessed Virgin and other women on pedestals, so that they do not get in the way of the men in running the Church.
If the church can arrive at the conclusion that it need not obey the rules on slavery, diet, etc, why can it not come to a similar conclusion about the role of women?

Posted by Gerry Reilly at Monday, 12 July 2010 at 11:03pm BST


Thank you for the thoughtful interchange. You make a very interesting statement: "How Church order can take precedence over cardinal issues in the Scriptures such as justice and mercy...". Traditionalists would say it doesn't take precedence but is a part of justice and mercy. First off, no one has a 'right' to holy orders. God calls whom he chooses. IF traditionalists are correct (and they have much theology to back up their beliefs, these are not mere sentiments) then saying no to cultural trends regarding roles of the sexes in the church is not an injustice but submitting to God's order and therefore just and merciful to all involved.

As to patriarchialism, well, that is something God instituted in the call of Noah (Genesis 9:8-9), Abraham (Genesis 12:3), Moses, David, Jesus, the Apostles, the early fathers of the church, to present day bishops. That God's institution of patriarchy as a means of blessing all men, women and children of the world has always been fallen and corrupted by sinful man (beginning with Adam) does not mean that we have a right to throw it out. That is like getting rid of marriage because of divorce.

All this is to say, there really is a rational view on the other side of what you understand to be right, even if you think the rationality is wrong. You might try reading this example (found at,%20Ordination%20and%20the%20Bible.pdf) to better understand a traditionalist view of the theology of ordination. It is concise, irenic and helpful. Then at least when you maintain the traditionalist view is wrong you will know what precisely that view is and why we hold it in spite of the accusations made against us.

Grace, peace and blessings,

Posted by Rob+ at Tuesday, 13 July 2010 at 11:38pm BST

Rob, thanks for your gentleness.As to patriarchialism, God in Jesus seems to have gently subverted it in the choice of the BVM for the Incarnation, in the choice of the Marys to report the Resurrection to the Apostles, etc. The rules have always been made by men, but God seems to subvert the power trend, and if we accept world history as somehow expressing the will of God, is showing us his plan very gently in the emancipation of women world wide. Humanity was made in the image of God, not just men. How can we criticise the Muslims if we are no better, if more subtle.
By the way, I am not condemning anyone. I just think that the Church is wittingly or unwittingly engaged in power politics and that we are giving the world sa skewed imgae of God. Gerry

Posted by Gerry Reilly at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 8:00pm BST
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