Having found time, today, to sit down and listen to the Gazette's interview with Dr. Christina
Baxter, I was impressed with her realistic attitude towards the question which asked what she thought might be the outcome of the debate in the English G.S. on Women Bishops in the C.of E.
Obviously, from her position as Chair of the House of Laity, one must allow that Dr.Baxter has a 'bird's eye view' of the situation on the ground, as it were; and - despite the fact that General Synod has got as far as it has on the motion - she has no idea as to whether or not the final legislation will pass muster - either in the body of G.S., or in the individual diocesan synods; or, in fact, if it eventually reaches the House of Bishops for final approval.
This, to me, as a member of another Province (in New Zealand, which already has one retired woman bishop), seems almost too tortuous a path of legislation - especially when one considers that there must be a two-thirds majority in all 3 Houses (presumably in local synods as well as General Synod) for the legislation to succeed.
However, the Holy Spirit - if invoked over the entire proceedings - has a way of overcoming this sort of obstacle, even though it may seem almost insurmountable in human terms.
Surely, having a woman with the theological nous of Dr. Baker - head of St. John's Theological College and with further capabilities in the academic life and governance of the Church of England - members of all 3 House of the English General Synod can recognise the ability of at least one woman in the Church of England with all of the gifts required of a Bishop - except, in her own case, perhaps the call from God into this specific role. But there are many women in the Church who feel they ARE called by God to this task of the episcopate - as a natural outcome of the call to priesthood. We are praying for God's will to be done on this one!
In diocesan synods, there is not a requirement for a two-thirds majority.
I can see a call to the priesthood -- though this urge seems to come to many who are enthusiastic about the institution (perhaps the clergy is where things seem to happen, where the people are cast as followers). But I would be suspicious of anyone who feels a CALL to the episcopate. If I have read rightly, in the early days, persons were called by the community from its members to lead. We have present examples of persons who have felt a call not only to be bishop, but to be Primate. I would like to see more of a call to serve, and let the community assign leaders according to need and ability.
Murdoch, I recognise your need to point out the fact that any 'call' to the episcopate - and, in fact, for any sacerdotal ministry may first be discerned by the Church community. However, presumably this call, when discerned in the community, would need also to be discerned by the candidate as, finally, coming from God.
Simon, thanks for the correction about no need for a two-thirds majority in diocesan synods. At least, that will be a relief for those of us who feel that General Synod is, and ought to be, the final arbiter.
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