Comments: General Synod Agenda - July 2014

And there was me thinking I'd "plunged the Church into crisis." Apparently not!

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 8:33pm BST

Laurence, you may have done the C of E a favour, but it will take time for the C of E to realise that and no one will give you credit for it.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 10:31pm BST

"8.30 pm – 10.00 pm )Monday, 14 July)
CHARM: Presentation"

Couldn't help wondering why 'charm' was left until nearly the end of the meeting. Let's hope 'love' was not similarly absent beforehand. (Smirk removed).

My prayers for your General Synod (from Aotearoa/NZ)

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 29 May 2014 at 7:02am BST

At last the end in sight. Lets get half of all bishops women as soon as possible, and then either Canterbury or York. If the Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals don't like it - tough. Let them their quota of bishops, whatever percentage it is 25% -30% then they can't grumble.

Posted by Henry Dee at Thursday, 29 May 2014 at 1:39pm BST

is that the provision? A quota? Will there be a quota of gay friendly bishops?

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 29 May 2014 at 6:27pm BST

This is not the best way to timetable the Women in the Episcopate debate. We need all day - from 9.30 and the evening slot. In the last Final Approval debate the chair reduced the speech limit in the end to 30 seconds. That is tantamount to refusing to let people speak and at Final Approval all who wish to speak have a right to do so. I stopped standing to speak at that point because I needed more than 30 seconds to rebut the Trinitarian / Subordinationist arguments which some REFORM people had introduced. I understand the Bishop of Sheffield (a Biblical scholar, please note...) stopped standing at the 1 minute speech reduction because again he felt that was not long enough to address the misuse of the Bible by some Synod members.

This timetable will breed annoyance once again...

Posted by Charles Read at Friday, 30 May 2014 at 10:55am BST

"This timetable will breed annoyance once again..."
isn't that largely a question of how the debate is chaired? It should only focus on the provisions offered and on whether they are sufficient for those who would otherwise not be able to remain in the CoE.
It should absolutely not be possible to start a whole theological debate on whether women can or should be priests and bishops.
That has already been agreed in principle and is no longer up for negotiation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 30 May 2014 at 1:11pm BST

I really don't wish to listen to many more speeches about women bishops. November 2012 used up all my tolerance. It was annoying that people were making speeches that didn't need to be made but no one was able to refute various conservative arguments. I am not sure how many would have listened. I am hoping that a few more have made up their minds in a positive direction. The earlier debates have surprisingly positive but final approval is the last chance to state the negative case - at least I hope it is. I don't mind the apologetic speeches but I would rather that they could agree.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Friday, 30 May 2014 at 4:14pm BST

I have said before that the discussion is only about the legislation, it is not about the principle. A good chair should emphasise this at the start and curtail any attempt to widen the debate.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 30 May 2014 at 10:40pm BST

This being the case, Richard, why did the Bishop of Sheffield want to present his own interpretation of the Bible's take on Women's episcopal ministry? If, as Charles suggests, it was to "address the misuse of the Bible by some Synod members", this would suggest to me that there is still great unhappiness and discontent within the Church over this highly contentious issue and disagreement of interpretation over the actual principle. I wonder, who was Chairing the Synodical session the last time "Final Approval" was defeated? Perhaps whoever is in the Chair on Monday,14th July will ensure that speakers stick to the practicalities rather than revisit the principle, even though there is still great disagreement on the latter.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 7:25am BST

I agree entirely Richard ( Ashby)..but I also think the trinitarian/subordinationist argument should have been answered at an official level since it was given a significant airing last time...and would seem to have rattled some people.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 8:57am BST

Two of these comments (from, as it happens, 'opposite sides') seem to me very confused.

The bishop of Sheffield is wholly in favour of women priests and women bishops.

He is not remotely a 'biblical scholar'. Nor, of course, do 'biblical scholars' generically agree on this or on many other issues.

I greatly admire said bishop. That, precisely, is why statements about him should be accurate.

Posted by John at Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 7:18pm BST

I'm quite aware that the Bishop of Sheffield is in favour of women bishops but completely at a loss as to how he can support or justify this favouritism from his study of Holy Scripture, whether or not he is "a Biblical scholar"?
As Bishop Alec Graham once so wisely said at General Synod in refuting the "Biblical" assertion in favour of this innovation by Bishop Michael Adie, as far as Scripture is concerned the answer is either "No or not proven"; and Bishop Graham IS a considerable Biblical scholar.

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 1 June 2014 at 6:08am BST

It does seem that on this issue of women in ministry, no amount of arguing from reason will ever convince some people that God created both female and male in the divine image and likeness - to share the Gospel proclamation and provenance. To my mind, that could well include governance in the Church.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 2 June 2014 at 10:23am BST

John: the bishop of Sheffield has a PhD in Old Testament studies from Durham University. He taught OT while he was Warden of Cranmer Hall, though his attention has focussed on issues of ministry and mission in his teaching and writing over the last decade or more.

Fr. David: the said bishop and Dr Paula Gooder (also a Biblical scholar despite being a lay person*) edited a book about the Biblical case for the ordination of women. The arguments have been rehearsed ad nauseam but, for what it's worth, like most evangelicals, I support the ordination of women because of scripture not despite it.

And as for the agenda for July - well yes, we ought to be dabating the measure and not the principle but we won't be - for some of those opposed it is their principled opposition to the ordination of women that leads them to vote against the Measure. A very strict chair might be able to exclude references to the principle but skillful GS members will sneak it into their speeches anyway....

Posted by Charles Read at Monday, 2 June 2014 at 12:41pm BST

Doh! The * in my last post should have led to a note which read:

* this is my attempt at irony by the way....

Now I owe the wonderful Dr Gooder a drink at the July Synod!

Posted by Charles Read at Monday, 2 June 2014 at 4:29pm BST


I am aware of the facts you adduce concerning said bishop. Doesn't make him a 'biblical scholar' in any serious sense (and I write both as a serious 'scholar' in another discipline who regularly attends NT seminars in Durham and elsewhere and as one who in a private capacity has heard many excellent sermons from Steve which were notably light on 'biblical scholarship'). Nor, as I pointed out before, do 'biblical scholars' generically agree on this contemporary issue (or on many others). Such appeals to 'authority' by 'liberals' are no better than appeals to 'authority' by 'traditionalists'.

All this is a waste of time. I confidently expect 'traditionalists' to 'conscientiously abstain' in Synod. If they don't (and thereby wreck this difficult compromise), (a) I will eat my hat; (b) I will judge them to be lacking in integrity; (c) I will no longer argue their case; and (d) I will urge them to go. But I'm pretty confident they want to stay and won't wreck things. We shall see.

Posted by John at Monday, 2 June 2014 at 7:19pm BST

Fr. Ron, but of course we are all made in the image and likeness of God but Reason is only one leg of a three legged stool - the other two, as you well know, are Scripture and Tradition which to my mind come out clearly against the innovation. By your reference to "some people" are you including His Holiness Papa Francesco and His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch by any chance?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 2 June 2014 at 7:24pm BST

Could someone please inform us Yanks about the business with the "Magna Carta?" We thought that was a done deal a long time ago! Loved seeing one of the, um, original copies in Salisbury…

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 12:43am BST

"By your reference to "some people" are you including His Holiness Papa Francesco...
- Father David -

Dear Father, I don't think Papa Francesco has yet got into his stride. Don't think he's finished with his 'semper reformanda' process in the Curia. I think he's a chip off the old block - Papa Giovanni.

In any case, being an Anglican myself, why would I need to look to other Churches to bring justice into my own Church? We are, after all, part of the Body of Christ, with our own constitutions and ordinances. The struggle for unity does not absolve us from doing justice.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 7:07am BST

Father Ron, here's me thinking that you lived in New Zealand and not Cloud Cuckoo Land. If you think that Papa Francesco is going to open up the ancient three fold ministry to women then you are in for a BIG disappointment.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 8:34am BST

Here's the motion on Magna Carta.

That this Synod:

(a) recognise the 800th Anniversary, on 15 June 2015, of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede as an important opportunity to celebrate the Charter's principles - which established that the English Church and all our citizens shall live in freedom and have contributed to human flourishing in this country and around the world;

(b) urge dioceses, deaneries, parishes and other church bodies to affirm the significant part played by the Church through Archbishop Stephen Langton and the Bishops in the Charter's formulation and implementation and warmly commend the continued engagement of the Church in transforming community at national, regional and local level - which might include projects such as food banks, debt relief, community kitchens and other ways of caring with Christ's love for those in need;

(c) welcome with enthusiasm the events throughout 2015 already being organised by dioceses, deaneries, parishes and local authorities to mark the Magna Carta and encourage dioceses, deaneries, parishes and other church bodies to undertake further local initiatives around the Anniversary - which might include street parties, community fairs or pageants, and the ringing of Church and Cathedral bells.

Posted by Peter Owen at Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 10:38am BST

Thank you, Peter! Hope I'm there to help celebrate in 2015!

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 8:09pm BST

Doesn't make him a 'biblical scholar' in any serious sense (and I write as a serious 'scholar' in another discipline )

Patronising or what?

Posted by ian at Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 10:09am BST

With any luck, The Church of England might be able to celebrate a Double Freedom for its members:
1. The 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, and:
2. The Ordination its first Woman Bishop.

All other Anglican Provinces will be celebrating with you - on both accounts!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 11:29am BST

In reality the Magna Carta guaranteed the rights of the Catholic Church, to be in full communion with Rome and not to be interfered with by the King. That is why it was endorsed by the bishops and the Papal legate.Prior to the signing , Enagland been under a papl interdict to undermine the authority of King John, who was interfering in the rights of the CHurch.Furthermore as a document as regards political liberty , the document has been greatly exaggerated.

Anglicans, should be mindful that these rights were eventually trampled over, and the Anglican Church settlement in the sixteenth century was the usurption of the power of the Crown and its lackeys in parliament.

Posted by robert ian williams at Friday, 6 June 2014 at 6:04am BST

It's not patronising. Standards in biblical scholarship can be not terribly high (as many true biblical scholars acknowledge - I could quote you some of them).

Posted by John at Saturday, 7 June 2014 at 10:41am BST

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church meets in Edinburgh from 12 - 14 Jun at St Paul's and St George's, York Place Edinburgh.

Agenda and papers are available from

Audio Streaming and twitter updates are available from a link on the provincial website or directly at

Follow the SEC on twitter @secsynod or look for #pisky.

Posted by kennedy at Wednesday, 11 June 2014 at 11:06pm BST

Thank you, and we shall do our best to report on it here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 12 June 2014 at 7:40am BST
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