Thinking Anglicans

Revision of Clause 5(1)(c)

On Monday the General Synod voted to adjourn the debate on Final Aproval of the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to enable the House of Bishops to reconsider the new clause 5(1)(c) that the House had inserted.

We propose to conduct a discussion here on Thinking Anglicans with the aim of making one or more suggestions to the House on the form that reconsideration might take. In order to make this as constructive, helpful and eirenic as possible, we will conduct this in a more formal way than we normally do.

  • Discussion will begin with a post from one or more guest contributors
  • Commenting will as now be subject to moderation, but we will more strictly enforce the rules on relevance, ad hominem comment (none allowed) and so on. ‘Relevance’ means keeping to this particular topic: constructively discussing possible texts that would satisfy the reference back to the HoB from the Synod, i.e., we are solely concerned with revision, removal, expansion, replacement etc of clause 5(1)(c).
  • We hope that various viewpoints will be offered, and we expect all to be respected. However, the purpose of the discussion is to make the draft Measure more likely to gain Final Approval at the General Synod, and more likely to gain parliamentary approval.

We firmly believe and hope that a site named ‘Thinking Anglicans’ can and should be a place for this sort of debate: one of high quality, and high regard for other participants, as well as for those who are not participating, whether an individual agrees with them or not.

We will introduce this debate shortly.

Simon, Simon and Peter


General Convention declines to take a position on the Anglican Covenant

ENS reports Convention ‘declines to take a position’ on Anglican Covenant.

The House of Bishops concurred with the deputies July 10 to affirm their commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, and to decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant.

After considering eight resolutions, the General Convention’s committee on world mission recommended adoption of two resolutions on Anglican Communion relationships and the Anglican Covenant, a document that initially had been intended as a way to bind Anglicans globally across cultural and theological differences.

Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, chair of the world mission committee, told ENS following the vote that the resolutions are “a genuine pastoral response because we are not of one mind, and to push a decision at this time would cause hurt and alienation in our church on both sides and instead we chose to stay in the conversation.”

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this statement:

The wind has clearly gone out of the sails of the Anglican Covenant. There was not even a single dissenting vote when the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia declared itself unable to adopt the Covenant. While our Coalition would have preferred a clearer “no” from the Episcopal Church, the resolution passed in Indianapolis is scarcely more than an abstention – and the commitment to “monitor the ongoing developments” rings hollow when we consider that the same General Convention phased out funding for the Episcopal Church staff position for Anglican Communion affairs. Perhaps they will monitor the situation by following #noanglicancovenant on Twitter.

The next major step in the Covenant process will be at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, this fall. We understand that there will be an attempt to introduce a ratification threshold and a sunset date to the Covenant process. Depending on the details, our Coalition is likely to be broadly supportive of both initiatives.


General Synod – Monday afternoon business

Here is the official summary of Monday afternoon’s business at General Synod, which concluded this group of sessions: General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Monday 9th July PM.

The Press Association carried this report of one of the debates: Schools ‘must keep spiritual core’.


General Convention approves Same Sex Blessings

Updated again Sunday morning
Episcopal News Service reports: Blessing rite authorized for provisional use from First Advent

Same-gender couples soon can have their lifelong relationships blessed using a rite approved by General Convention July 10.

In a vote by orders, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday of Advent). Clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution.

The motion in the House of Deputies carried by 78 percent in the clergy order, with the clergy in 85 deputations voting yes, 22 no and four divided; and 76 percent in the lay order, with laity in 86 deputations voting yes, 19 no and five divided. The bishops had approved the resolution on July 9 with a roll call vote of 111 to 41 with three abstentions…

The text of the resolution, as amended, is here as a PDF.

The Diocese of South Carolina released a statement in opposition to this action.

Some other statements in reaction to this, and some press coverage can be found here.


Anglican Ink reports
12 bishops say no to gay blessings

A coalition of conservative and moderate bishops attending the 77th General Convention has released a statement denouncing the passage of Resolution A059: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.”

The “Indianapolis Statement” joins declarations by the bishops and deputations of South Carolina and Central Florida in rejecting the authorization of provisional local rites for gay blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the undivided theological, pastoral and moral witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years…

and South Carolina walks out of General Convention

“Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal. John Burwell and Lonnie Hamilton have agreed to remain at Convention to monitor further developments and by their presence demonstrate that our action is not to be construed as a departure from the Episcopal Church. Please pray for those of us who will be traveling early and for those who remain.”

and South Carolina not seceding from the Episcopal Church

Sunday Updates
Statement from Diocese of Central Florida
Statement from Diocese of Albany (PDF)


General Synod Adjournment debate – more reports and comments

Updated Monday evening

John Bingham writes in the Telegraph Women bishops row is a ‘train crash’.

Stephen Lynas (a synod member) blogs Monday: delayed but not denied.

Avril Ormsby writes for Reuters Church of England delays women bishops vote.

A Statement from Forward in Faith

Forward in Faith is disappointed that the General Synod today resolved to adjourn the debate on final approval of the draft Measure to permit women to be ordained as bishops in order to give the House of Bishops an opportunity to rethink its recent amendments to the Measure. We call upon the House of Bishops to stand firm in the face of this unwarranted pressure and to return the draft Measure to the Synod in a form which will provide for the future of traditional Catholics and conservative Evangelicals in line with the clearly expressed mind of the Synod throughout this morning’s debate.

Reform comment on Women Bishops adjournment

Following today’s adjournment of the debate on women bishops, Rev’d Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, said: “We stand ready to co-operate to find a solution if there is a genuine desire to see a permanent place secured within the Church of England for those who on theological grounds cannot accept women as bishops.”

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian Women bishops amendment has been rightly thrown out.

George Pitcher writes for the Mail Online If some parts of the Church of England want women bishops, they must also satisfy those who don’t.


Jerome Taylor writes in The Independent Months of frantic lobbying expected as women bishops debate is temporarily stayed by Church of England .

Lizzy Davies writes in The Guardian that Church of England must reassure female clergy.


General Synod – press reports of Monday morning's business

BBC Women bishops: Church’s General Synod delays vote

Jerome Taylor in The Independent Church backs away from women bishops debate

Lizzy Davies in The Guardian Church of England postpones vote on female bishops

Ed Thornton, Gavin Drake and Madeleine Davies in the Church Times Synod postpones final decision on women bishops

In addition, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s contribution to this morning’s debate is now online, both as an audio recording and a transcript.


Women bishops – what happens now

Following Synod’s vote to adjourn, the House of Bishops will reconsider its amendment to clause 5(1)(c) of the draft measure at its meeting on 12/13 September. The General Synod will meet in November (19-21) in London to resume the Final Approval debate in the light of the House of Bishops’ consideration.

There are two official press releases on this morning’s business and its consequences.

Latest on women bishops legislation from General Synod
General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Monday 9th July AM


Women bishops debate adjournment – WATCH press release

Women and the Church (WATCH) has issued this press release.

Press Release 9th July 2012

Adjournment gives bishops opportunity for the House of Bishops to reconsider Clause 5(1)(c)

WATCH is relieved that General Synod has today adjourned the final vote on consecrating women as bishops in the Church of England. 288:144 with 15 abstentions.

There has been widespread opposition to the inclusion of an amended Clause 5 and this adjournment gives the House of Bishops the opportunity to reconsider.

WATCH hopes that the bishops will withdraw Clause 5(1)(c) so as to allow General Synod the opportunity to vote on legislation that is as close as possible to that which was approved by 42 out of 44 dioceses.

WATCH’s petition asking the House of Bishops to withdraw Clause 5(1)(c) has now attracted nearly 6,000 signatures after just over a week See link on our website.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH, said

We are very relieved that the House of Bishops now has the chance to reconsider Clause 5(1)c and we hope that there will be a thorough consultation process over the summer so that whatever is presented to General Synod in November keeps faith with the dioceses that voted overwhelmingly for the unamended Measure.


General Synod – women bishops debate

General Synod has just voted to adjourn its debate on final approval of the legislation to allow women to be bishops. The vote was 288 in favour of the adjournment and 144 against with 15 recorded abstentions. The measure will now go back to the House of Bishops, and return to General Synod at a later group of sessions.

In more detail, immediately after the motion

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

was moved by the Bishop of Manchester, the Bishop of Dover proposed an adjournment to allow the House of Bishops to reconsider their amendment to clause 5:

That the debate be now adjourned to enable the new clause 5(1)(c) inserted by the House of Bishops into the draft Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” to be reconsidered by the House of Bishops.

It was this latter motion that was carried.


New Zealand "Unable to adopt" covenant

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia today (Monday 9 July 2012) voted that it “Is unable to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant due to concerns about aspects of Section 4, but subscribes to Sections 1, 2, and 3 as currently drafted to be a useful starting point for consideration of our Anglican understanding of the church.”

Anglican Taonga (the communications arm of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) reports this as “Unable to adopt” covenant.

As expected, the General Synod said a final: ‘No’ to the proposed Anglican covenant today.

But it did so quietly, and the original motion was amended to stress this church’s desire to remain tightly knit with the Communion.

And to suggest that the early parts of the covenant – the non contentious bits about “Our Inheritance in Faith” etc – “are a useful starting point” for future Anglican thinking about their church…

Also available is the full text of the resolution as passed by the Synod.


General Synod – Monday morning press reports

The General Synod debate on women bishops will start at about 10.00 am this morning. Here are some more predictions of what might happen.

BBC Women bishops: Church’s General Synod to delay vote

John Bingham in the Telegraph Women bishop vote set to be suspended

Avril Ormsby of Reuters Church of England seen delaying women bishop vote

And here are some reports on some of yesterday’s business

Lizzie Davies in The Guardian Church report on riots warns about effects of cuts

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times Christians should show their faith in public, Synod says


General Synod – more Sunday reports

Cal Flyn in the Telegraph Archbishop warns followers ahead of crucial vote

Lizzy Davies in The Guardian Church of England vote on women bishops likely to be postponed

Ed Thornton in the Church Times Don’t get depressed, Dr Williams tells Church of England

Here is the official summary of today’s business.
General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Sunday 8th July PM

1 Comment

General Synod – Sunday reports and comments

Ed Thornton writes in the Church Times Whittam Smith ‘shocked’ by banking scandal.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Women bishops must be given full powers, MPs warn.

Lizzy Davies writes in The Observer that Women bishops campaign approaches crucial synod vote.

BBC has Women bishops vote facing postponement at general synod.

The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday this morning presented this special programme from General Synod in York.

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this speech on Saturday in the debate on World-shaped Mission.

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon in York Minster this morning.

Lizzy Davies in The Guardian reports on the Archbishop’s sermon: Rowan Williams issues warning ahead of women bishops vote.


Women bishops legislation – Permission to be sought to move adjournment motion

It was announced at lunchtime today that the Steering Committee for the draft legislation on Women in the Episcopate will seek permission to move a motion to adjourn tomorrow’s debate to allow the House of Bishops to reconsider the amendment that they made to clause 5 of the draft measure. Here is the press release.

Latest on women bishops legislation – General Synod July 8
08 July 2012

Permission to be sought to move adjournment motion

The Steering Committee for the draft legislation on Women in the Episcopate has indicated that it intends to seek permission from the Chair of the debate on the Final Approval of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to move a motion adjourning the debate to enable the House of Bishops to reconsider the amendment made by the House to clause 5 of the draft Measure.

Permission will be sought to move the motion during the Final Approval debate on Monday morning (July 9).

If permission is given to move the motion, and the Synod passes it, the effect will be to adjourn the Final Approval debate on the draft Measure until the House of Bishops can meet (probably in September). When it does so it will have power to amend the part of the text of the draft Measure previously altered by the amendment it made in May to clause 5.

Following the reconsideration by the House, the Final Approval debate would be resumed at the next group of sessions of the General Synod – the earliest date for which would be in November this year.


The two amendments made by the House of Bishops in May (see press release).

The amendment made by the House to clause 5

The House accepted an amendment to express in the Measure one of the three principles which the House had agreed in December. 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 must 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 draft Measure now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.

Amendment to Clause 8

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 is 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.


General Synod – more Saturday reports and comments

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes for The Guardian about Women bishops: Jesus was happy with female apostles. What is the CofE’s problem?

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times that Archbishop defends gay-marriage response.

Lizzy Davies writes for The Guardian that Church of England votes to ban clergy from discriminatory political parties.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Archbishop of Canterbury: Government has no right to introduce gay marriage.

Gavin Drake writes in the Church Times: Ban on clergy in racist groups approved.

Official summary of Saturday’s business
General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Saturday 7th July AM
General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Saturday 7th July PM

On 3 July The Times published a letter from a group of bishops, led by the Right Rev Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, in which they write:

We are wholeheartedly committed to honouring those women whom the Church of England calls to the ordained ministry. We ask, too, for that proper respect for conscience which will continue to allow all traditions in our Church to flourish without detriment to one another.

The original copy of the letter is behind The Times paywall, but it has now been published elsewhere, including here on the Better Together website.


General Synod – official summary of Friday's business

General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Friday 6th July PM.

This summary also includes links to audios of the sessions.


General Synod – Saturday morning reports

The Press Association CofE to vote on BNP membership ban

BBC Church of England to ban race group membership

Paul Vale in The Huffington Post: Women Bishops: Church Of England To Vote On Female Ordination

Benny Hazlehurst writes about last night’s Questions & Answers (& more Questions).

1 Comment

WATCH petition gains over 5,000 signatures in its first week

WATCH (Women And The Church) issued this press release this morning.

Loyal Anglicans say “Enough!”
WATCH petition gains over 5,000 signatures in its first week

To the House of Bishops [of the Church of England]: Withdraw Clause 5(1)c

Today WATCH (Women And The Church) sent the interim results of their Petition, to the House of Bishops in advance of their emergency meeting this morning.

The Petition calls upon the House of Bishops to withdraw their last minute amendment to clause 5(1)c which many feel will entrench discrimination against women in the Established Church and place a permanent question mark over the validity of women’s orders, if passed into law.

Over 5,000 have signed in the first week and the numbers are still rising rapidly.

The signatories represent a very broad constituency including lay and ordained women and men, committed church goers, and those who are on the fringes and put off deeper commitment by (amongst other things) the Church of England’s perceived ambivalence towards women.

The comments that many people have made when signing the petition offer lucid and powerful arguments for the withdrawal of the amendment to Clause 5(1)c, but there is also much anger and sadness that the House of Bishops have seen fit to override the opinions of the overwhelming majority who voted in diocesan synods to approve the unamended legislation.

Most worryingly, there are many people who are truly beginning to lose faith in the Church of England, and there is clearly a danger that by falling over backwards to accommodate the loud demands of those who will not accept the ministry of women bishops the church will lose many thousands of quietly despairing loyal but weary Anglicans.

Comments can be viewed can be viewed online here.

The following quotes give a flavour of the responses;

“As a lay woman in the C of E, I have observed developments in this field for nearly 50 years. It is now time to say that ‘enough is enough’. I value the Anglican approach to holding views in tension, but there comes a time when it is simply a matter of refusing to address prejudices”

“This amendment gives permanent support to a theology of ‘taint’ and a theology of male headship. As the co-founder of a women’s refuge and worker there before ordination I am sadly aware this has ramifications far beyond the priesthood and reflects badly on the C of E. General Synod has a responsibility to look beyond itself. ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ Acts.10.15, this morning’s NT reading.”

“There comes a point at which the Church of England must find the courage to make a decision and stick to it – there is no way to square this particular circle. I am fed up with being expected to accept being a kind of “Shroedinger’s Priest” – simultaneously a priest and not a priest, depending on who is looking at me – and it baffles and offends most of those outside the church that this should be the case.”

“This measure implies that women can only make second class bishops and maintains the perception that male bishops are ‘tainted’ by association once they’ve ordained women. I’ve been a member of the CofE for over ten years since becoming a Christian, moved churches at the beginning of the year and recently became an Adherent member of the Salvation Army. It’s so refreshing and affirming to be in a church where gender just isn’t an issue and women are treated as equals.”

“Having worked as a Training Officer in Chaplaincy, relating to Chaplains of several denominations and World Faiths, I have always found myself to be respected as fair, sensitive and generous in my dealings. I am profoundly shocked that fellow Anglicans seem unable to trust potential women Bishops to be just and generous. It is time to pass this measure in the form in which it has already been affirmed by a large majority.”

“Too many questions have been raised by this late addition to draft legislation that has already been through a long process, including overwhelming approval in the dioceses. There is insufficient time for General Synod members to consider and weigh all the implications of enactment of the legislation as amended before taking a final vote.”

“I am an Anglican worshipper, married to an Anglican priest. I don’t want the polite internal schism we agreed to when women were ordained to the priesthood to be perpetuated for further generations. The arrangements for woman-free enclaves of the church should only ever have been transitional: the amendment threatens to make the division, and the injustice, a lasting feature.”

Following the preliminary debates yesterday, the measure will be considered again on Monday. WATCH urges General Synod to adjourn the debate on Monday to allow the House of Bishops to reconsider and withdraw the amendment.



Doug Chaplin gives us Five conversations for a declining church.

Dave Bookless writes on the A Rocha blog about The poor or the planet: which comes first?

Jamie Arpin-Ricci writes for The Huffington Post: Preach the Gospel at All Times?


General Synod – more Friday press reports and comment

John Bingham reports in the Telegraph on what the Archbishop of Canterbury said to his convocation this afternoon: Women bishops: Church is looking into the abyss, says Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lizzy Davies writes for The Guardian: Rowan Williams urges speedy solution to row over women bishops and Debate on women bishops goes to General Synod.

Gavin Drake writes for the Church Times: Convocations and laity say preliminary yes to women bishops.

Steve Doughty writes for the Mail Online: Archbishop of Canterbury warns supporters of women bishops they face years of delay if they do not accept compromise.

Christian Today has Rowan Williams: I long to see women bishops in CofE.

Robert Pigott at the BBC has Church of England votes to allow women bishops vote.

The Guardian has published this editorial: Church of England: what women don’t want.

Christina Rees writes for The Guardian: Female bishops: this is about the church’s attitude to all women.