Thinking Anglicans

Bishops' amendments to women bishops legislation

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has issued a press release.

GRAS is deeply disturbed by the outcome of the recent House of Bishops meeting, particularly the amendment to Clause 5. This is being presented as a minor tweak, when in fact it pushes the Draft Measure beyond an acceptable level of generosity and compromise. The Measure that a huge majority of Dioceses voted in favour of was an extensive dilution from the Single Clause Measure that would have been the true and simple way to ensure full legal equality for men and women bishops. These final amendments from the House of Bishops send a further signal of disparagement to women of the Church of England. Women are once again expected to sacrifice the hope and expectation of being considered equal with their brothers in the eyes of the church. It also sends a dispiriting message that future women bishops are not trusted to minister to their parishes and clergy with generosity, grace and pastoral sensitivity… If this now nebulous Measure is passed, the 1993 Act of Synod will be replaced by law potentially even more damaging to women and to the unity of the Church of England…

Rachel Hartland has blogged Let us make the best of things – let us progress (towards women in the episcopate).

… If the measure is not supported by WATCH and therefore not passed at General Synod (and yes I believe the link is that strong), it will be a retrograde step, and damage both the future ministry of women and possibly the future chances of seeing women in the episcopate in the Church of England.

If this measure is passed at General Synod (with the support of WATCH) then that will be progress. It will mean that the Church of England will become a slightly better representation of what Christ came into the world to achieve, through the grace, love and forgiveness that we will continue to receive from the cross and proclaim to the world.

Stephen Conway, the Bishop of Ely, has included the following paragraphs in a letter to his clergy, that is also published in the diocesan newsletter.

I was party to the decision of the House of Bishops to make two amendments to the draft legislation to enable women to be ordained as bishops in the Church of God. I wholly supported the clarification about the derivation of episcopal authority from ordination. I am sure that the intention of the other amendment was to provide more secure clarification of the terms on which a male bishop would be chosen by a diocesan bishop to serve parishes asking for such extended care. This may now make it possible for some more conservative members of the General Synod to vote for the legislation if it advances that far.

I fully appreciate, however, that there is a difference between intention and effect. The draft legislation was already a compromise and enshrined further discrimination against women. The amendment has created great hurt among many [although it has given hope to others]. We must pray for all of our representatives among the bishops, clergy and laity to act according to their conscience, faithfully seeking God’s will and praying for each other in such a way that we can express our genuine anger, sadness and hope without anathematising one another. I pray that we shall find a way to pass the legislation in the coming months. It would be a dreadful witness to the world if we cannot. Many people are hurting and afraid. But we must not lose sight at any time of what we keep asking of God’s disciples in our Church who are women, not only those called to the sacred ministry, but most other women too.


General Synod – July timetable

The Church of England has issued the outline timetable for the July meeting of General Synod. This is copied below (with non-business items omitted).



Friday 6 July

2.00 pm – 4.45 pm
Article 7 meetings of the Convocations and House of Laity
(Canterbury Upper House meeting at 4.00 pm)

5.15 pm – 6.15 pm
Formal business (prayers, introductions, welcomes, progress of legislation)
Address by the Archbishop of Turku and Finland
Business Committee Report

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Saturday 7 July

11.45 am – 1.00 pm
World-Shaped Mission: Report from MPA

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative Business
    Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure: Final Drafting/Final Approval
    Diocese in Europe Measure: Revision Stage and Final Approval
    Miscellaneous Provisions Measure: First Consideration
    The Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme (Amendment) Rules 2012
    (Fees Orders – deemed)
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report: presentation

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Fresh Expressions: Report from MPA

Sunday 8 July

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Liturgical Business Additional Eucharistic Prayers
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report: presentation
Financial Business
Testing the Bridges: Understanding the Role of the Church amidst Riots, Disturbances, Disorder: Report from MPA

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
PMM: The Revd Stephen Trott: Manifestation of Faith in Public Life

Monday 9 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Legislative Business Women in the Episcopate

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative Business Women in the Episcopate

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
The Church School of the Future: Chadwick Report (Education Division): Presentation

Tuesday 10 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
PMM: Dr John Dinnen: Palestine and Israel
Bradford DSM: Vacancy in See Committees
Farewell to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Contingency business:
PMM: The Revd Christopher Hobbs: Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956


next Archbishop of Canterbury

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) held its first meeting to discuss the choice of the next Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of last week.

This has prompted two articles in the Telegraph.
Edward Malnick Archbishop selection panel ‘dominated by liberals’
Peter Stanford Archbishop of Canterbury: who’ll get the impossible job?

The Guardian published this leader today: Church of England: archbishop’s move.

There were also two items about this on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Friday, at 0655 and 0846.

There has been no official announcement of the dates of later CNC meetings, but Thinking Anglicans understands that there will be two further meetings, in late July and September, with an announcement of the name of the next Archbishop several weeks later.


WATCH consults membership over Clause 5 amendment

Women and the Church (WATCH) has issued a press release about the House of Bishops’ amendment to Clause 5 of the draft Women bishops measure.

Women and the Church (WATCH) Press Release

Monday 28th May 2012: For immediate release

WATCH consults membership over Clause 5 amendment

The WATCH committee met on Saturday to consider the House of Bishops’ amendments to the draft legislation for women bishops and agreed the following statement:

“WATCH recognises that some amendments were rejected by the House of Bishops. However, the WATCH committee is unanimous in its serious concern about the amended Clause 5 and is therefore consulting further about how to proceed as we approach General Synod in July.”

A consultation paper has been sent to WATCH members reporting the arguments that WATCH has heard both for and against the Clause 5 amendment. This is a work in progress and does not represent WATCH’s considered view but shows that, at the time of writing, the arguments against the amendment heavily outweigh those in favour.

The principal arguments WATCH has heard in favour of the amendment are pragmatic. Those against come under a variety of headings: the problems with process; the unforeseen legal effects; the institution of a permanent state of ‘reception’ for women; the consequences of qualifying ‘maleness’ and including taint on the face of the Measure. For full details see attached paper ‘For and against’.

Many people continue to express enormous anger that these changes have been made at this late stage.

The WATCH committee will meet later in the week to consider the merits of these and other arguments. We will then consider how best to respond to the House of Bishops’ intervention.

The Rev’d Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said:
“We have not found anyone who thinks the Clause 5 amendment is helpful in substance. The Church Times poll currently shows 68% people consider it will not improve the chances of the legislation passing in July. This is a very serious situation and we need to consult more widely before deciding our response.”

We have made a copy of the For and against paper available online.


Church Representation Rules online

The Church Representation Rules are, at last, online in a convenient form. Their availability was announced today in this press release: Church Representation Rules – online for first time.

Strictly speaking this is not the first time that the rules have been available online as they form Schedule 3 of the Synodical Government Measure 1969. This has long been available but does not always include the latest amendments to the Rules. Also, because it keeps a record of amendments, it is not very convenient for anybody just wanting to know the current version.


Women bishops: some more analyses

Janet Henderson Archdeacon of Richmond has written A Nettle the Church of England Can’t Seem to Grasp.

…For 18 years the Church of England has been trying out an approach that says, in effect, ‘both groups are right’. A lot of us thought we were doing this in the patient expectation that one or other group would eventually become less sustainable. How else are decisions made and people able to move forward? You pray, you argue the rationale, you try things out, you put it to the vote. In the Church of England, we seem now to be saying that however small the number of people who want to be protected from women priests becomes, we will continue to order the life of the church for their benefit and at the expense of all who want to see women in leadership.

Well, I can see that to pass legislation that is completely unacceptable to those who do not want women priests and bishops is a very hard decision to take (and not, at this point, one that is open to Synod) but let’s look at the cost of continuing with this ‘two integrities’ approach

  • It seriously endangers the coherence of episcopacy in the Church of England. The bishops will be trying to move in two directions at once over a good number of issues to do with gender and the ordering of the church.
  • It will cause arguments in parishes where there is a divergence of view about women’s ministry, particularly as the ‘supply’ (to use the bishops’ word) of clergy gets smaller.
  • It makes for a national church that treats women as second class, something parts of the church have to be protected from. How proud of that can we be?
  • It means that language about ‘taint’ and ‘the unsuitability of women having authority’ will continue to be a norm of church life. (As Desmond Tutu so famously pointed out, what you say about people in fact shapes the possibilities of your behaviour towards them.)
  • It endorses the notion of different churches within the Church of England needing different types of theological leadership – will other grounds for being able to petition for a different bishop begin to emerge? This leads to chaos!

The Church Mouse on the other hand has written So what’s changed?

…The second change (to Clause 5 for those who want to check these things) is the one which has caused the aforementioned emotional responses. This change inserts an instruction to the House of Bishops that when they are writing the Code of Practice under which arrangements for those who cannot accept the authority of a woman bishop are defined. This instruction is that the Code of Practice should include a requirement that when a diocesan bishop is assigning an alternative bishop to oversee a parish requesting an opt out from the oversight of a woman bishop, this parish’s theological convictions should be taken into account.

This was an issue for some who feared that there was a danger of Anglo-Catholic parishes requesting an alternative bishop, but being given an evangelical to do the job who may be just as unacceptable as the woman they were seeking to avoid.

This issue has been debated before, and has caused arguments to be raised on both sides. On the one hand if you are trying to respect theological integrity, you should try to do so in a genuine way. On the other, it sounds a bit like parishes being given the right to pick whatever bishop they like, which isn’t really how church works.

However, whatever the rights and wrongs of this argument, let’s just check what the draft Code of Practice already says on this issue. Paragraph 40 of the draft Code of Practice says:

it will be for the diocesan bishop to identify, in the written notice sent to the secretary of the PCC under section 1(8) of the Measure, which particular bishop should exercise episcopal ministry by delegation under the diocesan scheme in relation to any particular parish whose PCC has issued a Letter of Request after taking account of the theological convictions on the grounds of which the Letter of Request was issued.

So this amendment changes nothing. It was merely inserted by the House of Bishops to ask themselves, as the ones also responsible for writing the Code of Practice, to include something that is already in there…


opinion for Pentecost

The Dirty Sexy Ministry blog tells us What Priests Want You to Know.
And Ben Reed tells us 10 Things You Forget About Pastors.

Sam Charles Norton asks What is to be done?
[The Guardian article referred to is here.]

Tim Suttle at The Huffington Post asked several theologians What Is the Chief Political Concern of the Bible? and gives us their answers.

Paul Vallely writes in the Church Times about How to find Paradise on the ground.

Episcopal Café has two articles about the Ascension.
Ascension’s real message by George Clifford
Ascension to the Right Hand of God? Where? by Donald Schell


Women bishops: some media reports and blog reactions

Gavin Drake has this news report today for the Church Times House of Bishops amends women bishops Measure.

And there is this Church Times Leader: Looking forward to the women-bishops vote

…Concerning the Bishops’ amendments, we question whether making the obvious distinction between “permission” to ordain and the “power” to do so will reassure traditionalists. Also, the phrase about ensuring that the exercise of ministry of a priest or bishop is “consistent” with the views of the PCC sounds faintly alarming; but this is restricted to views on women’s ordination. It is not a general test of faith; nor is anything here particularly sur­prising or novel. Altogether, the authority of the diocesan bishop is untouched, but traditionalists are given a little more reas­surance. These amendments should be welcomed as a sign that the House of Bishops wishes to respect the views of both sides.

Pete Broadbent wrote Women Bishops – what the House of Bishops amendments mean.

…The House rejected amendments to ensconce Mission Societies in the Measure. It also rejected changes that would have removed delegation from the Measure.

Two amendments were passed…

Unshaun Sheep provided The Sheep Unpicks The Worst Press Release Ever.

Alan Wilson has written twice so far about the week’s developments:

Swimmin with the Wimmin part 94

Cooking the Curate’s Egg

Andrew Brown has also written twice:

The female priests issue threatens to envenom parish politics

A suicide note for the Church of England over female priests

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has written Pick Your Own Bishop

David Keen has this useful roundup: House of Bishops statement – links roundup and thoughts


Women bishops: Statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint explanatory statement about the amendments made to the Women Bishops legislation at a meeting of the House of Bishops earlier this week. It is online here and here, and copied below.

Women bishops: Statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York about the amendments to Clause 5 and Clause 8 of the Draft Measure

Friday 25th May 2012
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint explanatory statement about the amendments made to the Women Bishops legislation at a meeting of the House of Bishops earlier this week.

The Archbishops’ statement follows.

There has already been a lot of discussion about the amendments agreed this week by the House of Bishops to the draft Measure concerning the ordination of women as bishops. Although the senior officers of the Synod (the ‘Group of Six’) have determined by a majority that these amendments do not alter the substance of the proposals embodied in the Measure, much anxiety has been expressed as to their implications, and it may be helpful to set out what the House attempted and intended.

The House fully and wholeheartedly accepts that the draft legislation voted on by the dioceses represents the will of an undoubted and significant majority in the Church of England. They did not intend to make any change in any principle of that legislation or to create any new powers or privileges for anyone. They believed that, if certain clarifications and expansions of the wording were made, the Measure might be carried with more confidence, and, out of that conviction, agreed the new wording, which affects two questions.

To take the simpler one first: we decided to make no change to the provision in the Draft Measure by virtue of which the arrangements made by diocesan bishops under diocesan schemes for the exercise of ministry by a male bishop take effect, as a matter of law, by way of ‘delegation. But we believed that it would help to spell out what is and isn’t meant by the ‘delegation’ of the power to perform acts of episcopal ministry. Bishops are bishops because they are ordained in the name of the whole Church; but they are enabled to act as bishops in this or that particular area in virtue of various legal provisions. For those who are not diocesan bishops, this means that a diocesan gives them the legal authority to act as bishops – as pastors and teachers and people responsible for other ordained ministers.

‘Delegation’ describes the giving of that authority. It does not take anything away from the diocesan bishop who delegates; it just allows another bishop to minister legally in the diocesan’s area of oversight. The amendment simply declares what the law and practice of the Church already is, and what we mean by delegation in other contexts.

The second amendment requires rather more explanation.

The earlier draft of the Measure already allowed parishes to request the diocesan to provide a male bishop to minister to them if their theological convictions were such as to make it impossible in conscience to receive a woman’s ministry in this role. For this to operate effectively, a diocesan would obviously have to do what could be done to find a bishop who could work constructively with such a parish.

The amendment requires the Code of Practice which the bishops will draw up to offer guidance as to how this might be achieved. This was already something the bishops and the Synod would have been able to include in the Code. The change is that they will now have to include such guidance. It does not give parishes the right to ‘choose their own bishop’ or insist that their bishop has a particular set of beliefs. It allows them to ask for episcopal ministry, as spelled out in Clause 2 of the Measure, only on the grounds of theological conviction about women’s ordained ministry. The precise wording in the Code remains something for the Bishops and Synod to determine but it attempts to take seriously the fact that, as has been clear all along, simply providing any male bishop would not do justice to the theological convictions lying behind requests from some parishes.

The bishops have listened to a great many diverse voices in the process of finalising these amendments, and they are aware that their decision to reject some amendments and accept others may be difficult for a good many people on all sides of the argument, for very different reasons. They were painfully aware that whatever decision they came to would surprise or disappoint some, but they believed that some helpful modifications could be made without sacrificing any aspect of the Measure’s main purpose or changing any of its fundamentals, and so allowing the legislation to command a wider degree of support and welcome.

So they hope that the new wording now presented will be considered carefully and dispassionately by the Church at large. We have tried to keep in view what might be for the good of the whole Church’s mission, and we commend these amendments to the Church’s reflection and prayer over the coming weeks as the moment of decision approaches.


Wycliffe Hall: Principal on ‘leave of absence’

The following Statement from the Wycliffe Hall Council was published on Wednesday.

Staff and students at Wycliffe were told last week that Principal Richard Turnbull is to take a leave of absence from the Hall. The Council wishes to make it clear that the Principal has not been dismissed. The Council and Richard are now in ongoing discussions over his future role at Wycliffe, with Vice-Principal Simon Vibert assuming the position of Acting Principal. We have every confidence in Simon, and in the rest of the staff, to ensure continuity and the efficient functioning of the Hall during this time.

The outcome of the discussions with Richard will be communicated to staff and students in due course. However, our overriding priority is to ensure Wycliffe remains unequivocally committed to equipping men and women as leaders, preachers, church planters and evangelists in the mission of proclaiming and living the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, with a deeply biblical understanding of the nature of the Kingdom of God.

George Conger published Wycliffe Hall principal out at Anglican Ink.

…Dr. Turnbull’s leave of absence came as a surprise to many outside observers as the college appeared to have recovered from its difficulties. However, an insider who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the council said the departure of Dr. Turnbull centered round issues of trust and management…

Gavin Drake published Principal on ‘leave of absence’ after more redundancies in the Church Times.

..Dr Turnbull has not been avail­able for comment since the weekend. He had been expected to lead a parish mission last weekend in Oughti­bridge, near Sheffield, but pulled out at the last minute.
On the Virtue Online blog, the Revd Julian Mann wrote: “He withdrew from that on Friday, the day of his planned arrival, strongly indicating that from his perspective his departure was sudden. The explanation given to me as the minister of the parish on Friday morning for Dr Turnbull’s withdrawal from the mission was that he was on sick leave.”
He described Dr Turnbull’s departure as “a massive loss for UK Anglican Evangelicals”.
The college’s latest annual ac­counts, to June 2011, were lodged with the Charity Commission last month. They reveal that it would have made a deficit on its unrestricted funds of £149,080 had it not made £2.3 million from the sale of property…


Announcement from Group of Six (Women Bishops Legislation)

The Group of Six (the six officers of the General Synod) has determined, by a majority, that the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation do not alter the substance of the proposals, and so do not require a further reference to the dioceses. Their decision is contained in this press release.

Announcement from Group of Six (Women Bishops Legislation)
24 May 2012

The six Officers of the General Synod (the Archbishops, Dr Philip Giddings, the Venerable Christine Hardman, Mr Tim Hind and Canon Glyn Webster) met this afternoon. Their task was not to consider the merits of the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation but to determine whether they had altered the ‘substance of the proposals embodied in the legislation which had already been approved last year by 42 of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses. Any such alteration necessitates a further reference to the dioceses before the legislation can come to the Synod for consideration at the Final Approval stage.

Having received legal advice they determined, by a majority, that the amendments made did not constitute such an alteration. The next steps are for the Officers of the House of Laity and the Convocations of Canterbury and York to decide whether to ask for the legislation to be referred to those bodies for consideration immediately before the Synod meets in York in July. They have no power to amend the legislation but their approval by simple majorities is required before the Final Approval debate in Synod can happen. In addition the Business Committee of the Synod will meet tomorrow to decide when to schedule the Final approval debate in July.

The Synod has no power to amend the legislation further but can adjourn the Final Approval debate and invite the House of Bishops to reconsider the amendments that they have made. If such an adjournment motion were passed the House would have to meet again-and would at that point have power to make further amendments- before the Final Approval debate was resumed. An adjournment motion in July would mean that the further meeting of the House and the resumption of the Final Approval debate would have to happen at a later date. The earliest that the General Synod might be able to conclude the Final Approval Stage in that eventuality would, therefore, be in November.

For background to Group of Six and House of Bishops’ amendments see


Forward in Faith responds to House of Bishops on changes to draft legislation

Forward in Faith UK has published this response:

Statement from Forward in Faith
May 23, 2012

Forward in Faith welcomes the amendments to the draft legislation on women bishops passed by the House of Bishops on Monday.

The first amendment secures the provision of bishops for traditional catholics and conservative evangelicals who are not simply male, but who share the theological convictions of those to whom they will minister. For traditional catholics, that means bishops ordained into the historic episcopate as we understand it. The draft Measure now recognises that our position is one of legitimate theological conviction for which the Church of England must provide. This principle will be enshrined in law.

The second amendment helpfully clarifies that the charism of episcopal ministry derives from the fact of a bishop’s ordination, and is not by delegation from another bishop.

It was disappointing that the amendment which would have implemented co-ordinate jurisdiction was not passed. The draft Measure stills fails, therefore, to address questions of jurisdiction and authority in the way we need.


Reactions to Dr Sentamu's response on Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Updated Friday

The original article was reported here.

A shorter version was published by the Guardian as Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would benefit nobody.

Both of those contain a number of reader comments. In addition:

The Guardian published a number of letters on the topic on Monday under the headline Sentamu’s flaws over gay marriage. Authors include Richard Harries, Mark Oakley and Iain McLean.

From Richard Harries:

The archbishop of York wants to keep marriage as a separate category but regards civil partnerships as an honourable expression of a committed relationship; that marriage and civil partnerships are in fact complementary, equal but different (Not equality but justice, 18 May). He pleads for time for civil partnerships to gain greater public understanding.

The great flaw in his argument is that he does not urge the church to bless such partnerships. This would do more than anything to obtain that greater public understanding he says he wants. Now that the government appears to have dropped its idea of legalising gay marriages, it is a chance for the Church of England to make amends for the reluctance with which it accepted civil partnerships in the first place, and to take the lead in declaring unequivocally that such committed relationships are to be warmly celebrated before God.

Richard Harries
Crossbench, House of Lords

Cif Belief has published an article by Iain McLean John Sentamu’s claims on civil partnerships are false.

John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, recently posted a long statement explaining his opposition to same-sex marriage. Some of it appeared in the Guardian and on Comment is Free. In it he referenced an interview he recently gave to the Daily Telegraph, which contains the following statement: “We [the bishops in the House of Lords] supported civil partnerships, because we believe that friendships are good for everybody.”

Like other religious opponents of same-sex marriage, he goes on to argue that civil partnership is “in every respect in ethical terms an honourable contract of a committed relationship”. Same-sex couples, he therefore says, should not press for marriage.

But his factual claim is false. The main Lords debate on the civil partnership bill took place in June 2004. Richard Harries, then bishop of Oxford, did indeed signal Church of England support for civil partnerships. But his efforts were contradicted by the five conservative bishops who spoke on the other side. Going by the bishops’ contributions to debate, the score is 5/3 against. Going by the bishops’ votes, it is 6/1 against. Six bishops voted for a successful wrecking amendment in the name of Lady O’Cathain, which made the bill unworkable. Only the Commons’ insistence on rejecting the O’Cathain amendment made it possible to enact civil partnerships…

The Church Times has this report by Ed Thornton Dr Sentamu challenged over his views on gay marriages.


Reform responds to House of Bishops on changes to draft legislation

Response from Reform to House of Bishops Statement

The Rev’d Rod Thomas, Chairman of Reform, said:

“We are grateful to those in the House of Bishops who have sought to protect the unity of the Church of England by seeking better provision for those Anglicans who cannot accept the oversight of female bishops.

“However we are disappointed that none of the very many compromise options that we and others suggested has been acted upon.

“While we recognise that these small amendments could be helpful, we are dismayed that the assurance for our future ministry within the Church of England will rest on what a Code of Practice says. Not only have the provisions of this Code yet to be agreed, but also, as we all know, Codes of Practice are frequently changed over time. This means that we are being asked to base our futures on a shifting foundation. In particular we are concerned that those considering ordination in the future could be discriminated against because of their views on the difference between men’s and women’s ministries.

“We will now take further counsel as we consider the exact wording of the revisions.”


Women Bishops amendments: the actual texts


Clause 5

After subsection (1)(b) insert—

“( ) the selection of male bishops or male priests the exercise of ministry by whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women on grounds of which parochial church councils have issued Letters of Request under section 3,”.

[Note: As amended, clause 5(1) will accordingly read:

“5 (1) The House of Bishops shall draw up, and promulgate, guidance in a Code of Practice as to—

(a) the making of schemes under section 2,
(b) the exercise of episcopal ministry in accordance with the arrangements contained in such schemes,
(c) the selection of male bishops or male priests the exercise of ministry by whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women on grounds of which parochial church councils have issued Letters of Request under section 3,
(d) the exercise by those involved in the making of an appointment of an incumbent and of a priest in charge for the benefice, of their functions in that regard where a Letter of Request is issued under section 3(3),
(e) the matters referred to in section 2(5), and
(f) such other matters as the House of Bishops considers appropriate to give effect to this Measure.”]

Clause 8

After clause 8(1) insert the following subsection—

“(2) Where a male bishop exercises episcopal ministry in a diocese by way of delegation in accordance with arrangements contained in a scheme made under section 2—

(a) the legal authority which he has by virtue of such delegation does not affect, and is distinct from, the authority to exercise the functions of the office of bishop which that bishop has by virtue of his holy orders; and

(b) any such delegation shall not be taken as divesting the bishop of the diocese of any of his or her authority or functions.”


WATCH responds to House of Bishops on changes to draft legislation

WATCH (Women and the Church)


TUESDAY 22nd MAY 2012 10.15am

House of Bishops Discussion Outcome : Women Bishops Legislation

WATCH (Women and the Church) is deeply disappointed to hear that the all male House of Bishops has, in a closed meeting, decided to make two amendments to the draft legislation on women bishops that had been so carefully crafted after years of debate and scrutiny from all sides and had commanded the support of 42/44 dioceses across the Church of England.

They have failed to listen to the voice of ordained women and those who support their ministry and been swayed by those who are opposed into making concessions that can only undermine the ministry of women in future years.

Their decision to intervene in this way will significantly undermine the credibility of the House of Bishops both inside and outside the Church.

The exact wording of the amendments is not in the House of Bishops’ Press Release, nor are the figures of how many bishops voted for and against them. WATCH will be considering the amendments in detail over coming days and will issue a full response in due course.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said:

“The House of Bishops’ intervention will be an enormous blow to the morale of women clergy who were looking to their bishops for clear affirmation of their ministry as a welcome gift to the Church.”


"House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation"

The House of Bishops considered the draft legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England this afternoon. The results of their deliberations are available in a press release which is copied below.

House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation

21 May 2012

The House of Bishops of the Church of England today concluded its consideration of the draft legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishops. It agreed that the legislation should be returned to the General Synod for final approval.

The House of Bishops had power to amend the draft legislation in such manner “as it thinks fit”. It made two amendments to the draft Measure.

The House accepted an amendment making it clear that the use of the word “delegation” (in Clause 2 of the draft Measure) relates to the legal authority which a male bishop acting under a diocesan scheme would have and was distinct from the authority to exercise the functions of the office of bishop that that person derived from his ordination. For example, when another bishop ordains someone to the priesthood he needs permission to do from the bishop of the diocese (“delegation”), but the power to ordain derives from his consecration as a bishop. The amendment also makes clear that delegation should not be taken as divesting the diocesan bishop of any of his or her authority or functions.

The House also accepted an amendment to express in the Measure one of the three principles which the House had agreed in December (see notes). This amendment adds to the list of matters on which guidance will need to be given in the Code of Practice that the House of Bishops will be required to draw up and promulgate under the Measure. It will now need to include guidance on the selection by the diocesan bishop of the male bishops and priests who will minister in parishes whose parochial church council (PCC) has issued a Letter of Request under the Measure. That guidance will be directed at ensuring that the exercise of ministry by those bishops and priests will be consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women which prompted the issuing of the Letter of Request. Thus, the legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.

The House rejected more far-reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.

It also rejected amendments giving statutory expression to the other two principles (see notes) that it agreed in December, judging that it would be better to leave them to be addressed in the Code of Practice or in other ways rather than referring to them in the Measure.

Now that the legislation has been amended the six Officers of the Synod (the ‘Group of Six’) – the Archbishops, the Prolocutors of the Lower Houses of the Convocations of Canterbury and York and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity – will need to meet later this week to determine whether the amendments constitute a change to the substance of the proposals embodied in the draft Measure as approved by 42 of the 44 dioceses last year.

If the Group of Six determines that no such change has been made – an announcement will be made after their deliberations – the way will be clear for the legislation to come to the Synod for final approval in York in July. This is subject to the possibility of the Convocations and the House of Laity asking for the draft legislation to be referred to them for approval before it is returned to the Synod. If they were to exercise this right, their meetings would take place in York immediately before the July meeting of General Synod, and the legislation would need to be approved by each of those bodies by simple majorities before the General Synod as a whole could consider it at the Final Approval Stage (at which two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod will be required).

The press release continues with a series of notes which are copied below the fold. They include these three principles referred to above.

  • Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;
  • In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request;
  • The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to maintain a supply of bishops able to minister on this basis. This will obviously have a bearing on decisions about appointments and on the role of bishops occupying the sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough (which will, as a matter of law, continue to exist even after the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod has been rescinded).




Update: The audio of Peter Selby’s lecture is now working.

John Sentamu writes for The Telegraph Let’s not be afraid to talk about death.
And on the same topic, but from a different perspective, Matthew Engelke writes in The Guardian What is a good death? Ritual, whether religious or not, still counts.

Bethany Blankley writes for The Huffington Post about How Protestantism Redefined Marriage.

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian about Moral decay? Family life’s the best it’s been for 1,000 years.

Peter Selby has given the 27th Eric Symes Abbott memorial lecture: Mis-establishment: Locating, and Re-locating, the Church of England.

Reluctant Xtian gives us 5 Phrases I Think Christians Shouldn’t Say.

The Guardian has published a version of the article by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes that we linked here: Female bishops legislation must not be compromised out of existence.


Results of House of Bishops' election for CNC

The Church of England has just released the Results of House of Bishops’ election for CNC.

The Bishop of Gloucester the Rt Revd Michael Perham and the Bishop of Carlisle the Rt Revd James Newcome have been voted onto the Crown Nominations Commission, CNC, the body that will nominate the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

This result of the vote by the House of Bishops completes the make-up of the 16 member voting body of the CNC which will meet for the first time later this month.

The press release also includes this complete list of CNC members for this appointment.

Chair – the Rt Hon the Lord Luce KG, GCVO
The Reverend Canon Clare Edwards, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee
Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith – Diocese of London – elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period
Mr Raymond Harris, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee
Professor Glynn Harrison – Diocese of Bristol – elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period
Mrs Mary Johnston – Diocese of London – elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period
Mr David Kemp, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee
The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Primate of The Church in Wales, elected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion
The Rt Revd James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle – elected by House of Bishops
The Very Revd Andrew Nunn – Diocese of Southwark – elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period
The Rt Revd Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester – elected by House of Bishops
The Reverend Canon Mark Roberts, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee
Mrs Caroline Spencer, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee
The Revd Canon Peter Spiers – Diocese of Liverpool – elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period
The Revd Canon Glyn Webster – Diocese of York – elected by General Synod to serve as members of the Commission for a five year period
The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee

In addition, the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments (Ms Caroline Boddington), the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary (Sir Paul Britton) and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon) are non-voting members of the Commission.

Full background on the CNC

The detailed voting figures are available for download.


VAT on alterations to listed places of worship

Updated Friday morning

I have written about this earlier here, here and here.

But today the Church Times reports that We will cover your whole VAT bill, says Osborne.

The Government is to find an extra £30 million a year to help repay the VAT bill on alterations to listed places of worship, it was announced today. The move marks a sig­nificant concession after zero-VAT rating for alterations was removed in the Budget. …

And the Church of England has this press release: Government agrees £30 million extra to resolve VAT concerns.


The Hansard record of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement in the House of Commons

Richard Chartres in the Church Times Saved by the churches’ service

The Telegraph Osborne unveils £30m package to help churches

BBC Church of England welcomes money to offset VAT on alterations

James Chapman in the Mail Online Osborne in £30m heritage tax U-turn: Compensation fund to relieve burden on churches

ITV News VAT help “doesn’t go far enough”

The Heritage Alliance The Heritage Alliance responds to the Chancellor’s announcement.