Thinking Anglicans

women bishops: REFORM and WATCH respond

REFORM has issued a press statement: Reform members resolve to vote against women bishops Measure:

General Synod members at the Reform conference this week joined over 160 other Reform members in resolving to vote against the current draft measure on women bishops at the Synod’s watershed meeting in November.

Speaking at the conference Reform chairman, Rev’d Rod Thomas, a member of the General Synod House of Clergy, said: “After all the tweaking and tinkering with amendments we have sadly been left with a draft Measure which in the long term is likely to have very detrimental effects on our ministries, however benign it may appear in its first few years.

“We are therefore going to oppose this measure and urge those who want to see a strong evangelical presence continuing in the Church of England to join us in doing so.”

The resolution passed was this:

2. Women Bishops
This conference believes the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure represents a step in an unbiblical and therefore wrong direction for the Church of England. Its provision is entirely inadequate for those who believe the Bible’s teaching of male headship in the family and the church. Recent amendments by the House of Bishops will make no material difference. It therefore urges the Reform Council to continue to campaign vigorously against the Draft Measure and calls on General Synod members to vote against it in November 2012.

WATCH has issued a briefing note and consultation paper which can be found as a PDF here. The covering note reads as follows:

Dear WATCH friends,

Since the announcement by the House of Bishops that wording suggested by Revd Janet Appleby (“the Appleby amendment”) has been selected to replace the previous Clause 5(1)c of the draft Women Bishops Measure, WATCH has been consulting widely to help us determine how best to respond. We would like to give all members the chance to contribute and you will find a very short briefing attached which we hope you may find helpful.

It is already clear that WATCH supporters are divided on whether or not they are happy to support the amended Measure and that people hold their opinions with passion and integrity. As we approach the crucial debate in November we want to be clear that WATCH is not intending to campaign either for or against the Measure. We see our role as being to highlight the arguments and issues at stake for those who support the full flourishing of women in the Church and to allow voices to enter the national debate that often go unheard.

Please be in touch to let us know your views before 15th October by emailing:

Thank you
The National WATCH committee
29th September 2012


more articles about the Crown Nominations Commission

Richard Harries writes in the Evening Standard Roll dice if you have to, but name an Archbishop.

…What is causing the hold-up? It is said that Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, who has been galloping up on the outside, is now the front-runner. Some might say that Welby, a former executive in the oil industry who has only just been appointed as a bishop, lacks experience. But when a vacancy occurred in Milan in the fourth century, the cry went up “Ambrose for Bishop”. Ambrose was Governor of Northern Italy at the time and then a layman. He was baptised, confirmed, ordained priest and consecrated Bishop in a matter of days. So there is good precedent.

There remain, of course, all the familiar fierce divisions over the issues of woman bishops and same-sex relationships, which complicate any simple assessment of the abilities of candidates. However, the overriding criterion for selection must surely be not one of these issues, important though they are, but which candidate is most likely to speak with credibility to a population so many of whom find the Christian faith a foreign tongue. He will need to find both the language and right tone to win a hearing. After the rampant hedonism and greed of the last decades there could now be a new seriousness in our national life, one in which people might be receptive to the very different view of life offered by the Christian faith. The overriding priority is for a candidate who can take this opportunity…

John Martin writes in The Living Church Clearing the Two-thirds Hurdle.

…It’s not entirely clear what would happen in the event of an insoluble deadlock. The most extreme scenario would be dissolution of the CNC and an appointment of new members. It may call upon the mediation skills of Cameron to sort something out. In 1987 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher provided the only known example of overturning a church nomination when she preferred Mark Santer to James Thompson as Bishop of Birmingham. This kind of intervention is unlikely. There are rumblings, however, that leaving such an important decision to a small group meeting in secret is arcane and an open election would be preferable. But that is an unlikely future prospect, not a present reality.

Meanwhile, being an acknowledged candidate for Canterbury has thrust the Bishop of Durham into the media spotlight. He is related to a former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Richard Austen “Rab” Butler, and as a Cambridge undergraduate signed up as a Christian Union member, which positions him among evangelicals. He left a £100,000 annual salary with Enterprise Oil to enter the ministry and his previous church posts include being co-director for the International Ministry Centre at Coventry Cathedral, succeeding the colourful “Vicar of Baghdad,” Andrew White.

In 1991 the Church of England skipped a generation which included options such as Richard Harries (Oxford) and the former test cricketer David Sheppard (Liverpool) and instead plucked a little-known bishop from the west of England to succeed Robert Runcie. George Carey had less than three years experience as a diocesan. Should Welby emerge as Archbishop of Canterbury he will have spent less than half that time as Bishop of Durham.


Archbishop of Canterbury delivers fifth annual Theos Lecture

Updated Friday

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the fifth annual Theos Lecture with the title ‘The person and the individual: human dignity, human relationships and human limits’ last night. Afterwards he answered questions, many about his time as archbishop.

His website has links to audio of the speech and the question and answer session that followed. A transcript of the speech is promised now (Friday) available.

There is also this summary.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, delivered the fifth annual lecture hosted by think tank Theos with the title ‘The person and the individual: human dignity, human relationships and human limits’.

The lecture explored ways of understanding the human person as shaped and conditioned by relations with God and others – and the risks of reducing personal dignity to individual well-being alone.

In a question and answer session following the lecture, he said: “I just don’t think that it will do to be too cautious in a job like this, you are here, as is true for any archbishop, you are here to try and say what you believe you have been given to say – by which I don’t mean by divine inspiration.

“To try and share a particular picture of what the world is like, what God is like, which of course leads you into sometimes risky and anything but infallible judgments about particular issues of the day.”

Dr Williams added that he did not believe that there had been a “golden age” in the history of the Church when it had been free of difficulties.

“There is no golden age in the Church’s history, we may think ‘oh, it was relatively problem-free then’ – one of the advantages in this job of being a Church historian is that you know that is not true,” he said. “When I think I have got problems, I think well at least it is not the fourth century, at least it is not the 17th century.” …

The lecture has attracted much press attention.

Lizzy Davies in The Guardian Rowan Williams defends outspoken approach as archbishop

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times Williams the anti-individual speaks his individual mind

John Bingham in The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury defends record in office

BBC Archbishop defends ‘anything but infallible’ judgements

The Huffington Post Archbishop Of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams Defends ‘Outspoken’ Stance On Sharia Law, Iraq War

London Evening Standard Outspoken Archbishop of Canterbury defends his ‘risky’ views on Iraq war and sharia law


Canterbury speculation continues

Although it appears that the Church of England now officially admits that the Crown Nominations Commission did fail to complete its work last Friday, speculation continues as to what exactly the position now is.

Ruth Gledhill in The Times says:

David Cameron may have to break the deadlock over the choice of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, according to a former member of the committee charged with nominating Rowan Williams’s successor.

The call came as sources said that the Crown Nominations Commission had agreed on the first name but was divided over the “runner-up” to submit to Downing Street. Justin Welby… has secured the necessary two-thirds majority to be recommended as first choice..

Paul Sims in the Mail has Deadlock over Archbishop job ‘to last months’ as panel is split between Sentamu and two other candidates.

Andrew Johnson in the Independent has John Sentamu snubbed – and Church may take months to name new Archbishop.

Jerome Taylor has comment: Secrecy only reflects poorly on the Church.

The BBC has a video in which Robert Pigott reviews the candidates.

John Bingham Telegraph Church in deadlock over new Archbishop

There are other articles and letters, some behind paywalls, but a comprehensive list of links is provided by the CofE Communications Office here.