Thinking Anglicans

WATCH responds to Revision Committee

WATCH PRESS STATEMENT
Friday, 30th October 2009 – for immediate release

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: STOP THIS CHARADE!

WATCH has a message for the Revision Committee as it meets on Tuesday to continue its task of preparing draft legislation to bring to General Synod in February: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

WATCH has received an unprecedented number of emails from normally quiet and patient members of the Church of England. They have expressed their disbelief at the Revision Committee’s announcement earlier this month that it has decided to prepare legislation for an option the General Synod has already rejected!

Instead of doing what General Synod asked of them, namely drafting simple legislation for women to be allowed to be bishops, with arrangements for those who remain opposed to women’s ordinations to be contained in a statutory Code of Practice, the Revision Committee decided to “provide for certain functions to be vested in Bishops by statute rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory code of practice”.

This would result in a two-tier Episcopate, with every female bishop, and potentially all male bishops who ordain or consecrate women, having their authority diverted on request to another male bishop acceptable to those opposed to women bishops. A senior clergywoman and General Synod member has written of her dismay at the proposals, making the point that for those who want to stay in the Church of England, in spite of their difficulty with women’s ordination, it is precisely this Church they love, not the damaged and divided one that would result from the proposed arrangements. She says, “We can and will make it possible for them to stay…not through rules but through Christian care.”

The Revision Committee’s decision has produced widespread shock among Church members, not to mention disbelief and derision from wider society. People are confused about the role of the Established Church, which exists to serve all in the land and which is supposed to give Christian leadership on matters of ethics and justice. For the Church to be equivocating on the ability or desirability of women to hold positions of leadership is to send out a damaging message about all women, and one which is at odds with the Church’s understanding of humanity.

A clergy woman writes: “How am I supposed to try to explain this sort of mess to my parishioners? It’s acutely embarrassing. I want to grow the Church, not bring it into disrepute.”

A lay member writes: “I am really shocked at the inhumanity of this latest backward step.”

Another writes: “I am appalled at this dreadful idea which is unspeakable in its implications of the second-class nature of women in general. “

Other messages include comments like “unacceptable” “idiocy” “highly insulting” “tragic” with one clergywoman describing the revision process as a “charade.”

WATCH is asking the Revision Committee to think again and bring the legislation it was asked to bring to the next Synod.

Christina Rees, WATCH Chair said the outcry was unprecedented. “I have never before witnessed such outrage and anger. Most people in our Church do not want to distinguish in law between male and female bishops. People are interested in bishops, whether male or female, who have a heart for the priests and people in their dioceses. They do not want to see the historic Episcopate of the Church of England destroyed in order to appease less than 2% of clergy who do not believe women should be ordained. In the light of the overwhelming will of the Church, tested repeatedly, the Revision Committee needs to think again and prepare the legislation that General Synod has asked for – without any further delay.”

Contacts:
Christina Rees Tel: 01763-848-822 Email: Christina@MediaMaxima.com
Revd Dr Miranda Thelfall-Holmes Tel: 07981–459-479
Sally Barnes Tel: 020–8731–9860 or 07759–343-335

Timeline on women’s ordination in the Church of England

1975 General Synod (GS) agrees there are ‘no fundamental objections’ to ordaining women to the priesthood

1978 GS debates ordaining women as deacons, priests and bishops and wins overall majority but vote is taken by Houses and it falls in House of Clergy

1986 GS votes for women to be allowed to be deacons – the first of the three historic orders

1987 First female deacons ordained

1992 GS votes for women to be allowed to be priests

1994 1,500 female deacons ordained as priests

2000 GS asks House of Bishops to “initiate further theological study on the episcopate, focussing on the issues that need to be addressed in preparation for the debate on women in the episcopate in the Church of England” (Rochester Commission – House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women in the Episcopate established.)

2004 Publication of Rochester Commission Report

2005 GS (Feb) debates Rochester Commission Report

2005 GS (July) votes to start process of removing legal obstacles to having women as bishops (The Bishops of Guildford and Gloucester are asked to start the process)

2006 (Jan) Guildford and Gloucester Report published

2006 GS (July) agrees that having women as bishops is ‘consonant with the faith of the Church’. Legislative drafting group set up to prepare the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women as bishops

2007 (no consideration in GS)

2008 GS (July) Report of Legislative Group debated and sent back to be completed. GS votes to “affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests” and “affirm that these should be contained in a national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard.” GS asks the Revision Committee to prepare the draft measure and code of practice.

2009 GS (Feb) Legislative Drafting Group final report considered and the legal provisions sent for revision in committee

2009 Revision Committee (8th October) decides to reject arrangements in a Code of Practice and to prepare legislation with statutory provision.

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toby forward
Guest

I’m so glad to see this. It’s long past time that people got angry about the way women are treated by politicians in synod. Let’s hope there’s the same sort of righteous angry response soon about the treatment of LGBT people in the church.

Pluralist
Guest

About the C of E – “which exists to serve all in the land and which is supposed to give Christian leadership on matters of ethics and justice.”

That claim went out the door after a little wind sucked it out in a long time ago.

David Malloch
Guest
David Malloch

It is a bit rich for WATCH to criticise the revision committee for adopting a solution synod rejected when WATCH submitted to that same committee a proposal for a single clause measure which is, itself……a solution the synod rejected! As for the claim it provides for 2% of priests- what about the laity who seek provision? WATCH is adopting a shameful clericalism! Enough is enough! Let’s go with provision which allows WB; makes full provision for opponents and honours promisses made. Does Ms Rees seriously believe that we can accept promisses for care from someone who has consistently argued that… Read more »

Rose Gaudete
Guest
Rose Gaudete

It has often been stated on these pages that nobody is actualy going to leave. Rome has made a generous offer and many will take it. The exact number depends on the provision synod makes. Rees & co will be to blame if the floodgates are opened and thousands go. It may be hard for priests to leave because of financial implications, but they will be ministering in empty churches! The traditionalist laity have had enough – many of us, including thousands of WOMEN are not going to remain under WATCH terms!!!!!!!!

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“For the Church to be equivocating on the ability or desirability of women to hold positions of leadership is to send out a damaging message about all women, and one which is at odds with the Church’s understanding of humanity” – WATCH – This so obvious truth – at the heart of the Press Statement by WATCH – ought to be the spiritual basis on which the Church of England should make a decision on the ordination in the Church of England of suitable female candidates to be accepted as Bishops in the Church. The theologically-based arguments have already been… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Then, Rose, people like that will never be happy anywhere. Sooner or later, Rome will do something you don’t like and you’ll leave in a huff – at most, a minute-and-a-huff.

If thousands go, then we get the “smaller, purer” church and Benny da Bavarian gets those unwilling to accept ecclesial authority.

Go, already!

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Rees & co will be to blame if the floodgates are opened and thousands go. – Rose Gaudete – Obviously, not much joy and gladness (Gaudete) for you and your anti-WO here Rose. Christina Rees and her fellow women clergy are only asking for what General Synod has already agreed to provide – the ordination of women who are called by God and the Church to be bishops. You cannot blame them for your determination to leave your birthright in the Church of England. Indeed, if you were loyal to her patronage you would gladly welcome this prophetic move in… Read more »

Rose Gaudete
Guest
Rose Gaudete

Fr Ron: No. Rees et al are not only asking for for the ordination of women as bishops. They are asking for promisses made by synod to be broken – so much for synod sticking to what it has agreed. WATCH sent its own submission to the revision committee trying to overturn the synodical remit with a single clause measure – so they are duplicitous to now argue that alterations are not acceptable.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Rose Gaudete Two questions and a comment: (i) Can you please identify me the specific promises made by General Synod, which are supposed to be being broken, and how they were made, and who by? (ii) Is it possible for a legislative body like General Synod to bind its successors (bearing in mind, for example, the rule that the same Synod cannot generally revisit the same issue, but the next one can)? Comment: There are some members of the Church of England who seem to be arguing, using a curious idea of ‘reception’ that the decision to ordain women was… Read more »

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Just whom, I ask, are Christina Rees and her allies speaking for, in such invective?? For the life of me, I wonder where on earth their Christian heart is in their seemingly obsessive behaviour and antics, not to mention their constant display of intolerance and bigotry, the very accusation they level against those they disagree with. Do they not imagine that there may in fact be Anglicans and Church of England members out there, and a significant number, who actually find their words and behaviour absolutely intolerable, irrespective of opinions over the ordination of women to the episcopate. Rees and… Read more »

Sue
Guest

Rees and WATCH are speaking out for a Church in which women can practise their calling, gifts and ministries without legally imposed restrictions, which would be likely to humiliate them and undermine their authority. WATCH believe that it would be storing up all sorts of trouble and divisions to allow women as bishops but on the basis that they remain second class within the Church. It is not morally acceptable, nor is it practically workable. It is an act of dignity, in my view, to say “accept us as equals or not at all.”

john
Guest
john

I am afraid I found WATCH’s reaction very disproportionate. If FiF is only 2%, one cannot maintain that women’s episcopacy would be gravely undermined. On the other hand, I also think that the reaction of the FiF leadership and many of its members to the Pope’s ‘offer’ was badly out of kilter. If they (most of them) can’t muster more loyalty to the C of E, they don’t deserve separate treatment. That reaction has badly undermined the position of such as ‘Bromenblue’ who (correct me if I am wrong) is not Pope-fixated.

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

A thank you to John for his comments. I am one of those Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England who, although I have a huge affection for the Pope as a great spiritual leader, desperately hope and pray that, despite WATCH’s unwelcome invective and intervention, a structural way forward may yet be found. I am sure members of the Revision Committee are far more temperate and less ill-disciplined than seems to be the case with members of WATCH. I am confident that they are not representative of most sensible and right thinking Anglicans.

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Revisiting the website, I’ve just read Ron’s comment to Rose:”You seem determined to leave. Then go with God, with joy and gladness.” Such a comment sums up, for me, the absolute illiberality of so-called liberals! In other words, conform to our way of thinking, or get out. No doubt Ron will attempt to put some kind of theological spin on his comments. I’m just glad he never ministered in any parishes I’ve been in with that sort of attitude. Does he, I wonder, say to those parishioners who are out of line with his way of thinking, “Go with God,… Read more »

john
Guest
john

Bromenblue,

Thanks. I hope you get what you need. So also Fr Simon Killwick (and Frs Ed Tomlinson and T E Jones in their better moments [as I regard them]). Now of course AffCath (whom I generally agree with) have weighed in against the Revision Committee. What we need is some proper ‘”live and let live” under the C of E umbrella’ heavyweight leadership, plus a commitment by both sides to permanent cessation of hostilities. Will it happen? God knows.

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

John, at last someone who is just what the label says: a true Liberal. You actually said you hope we get what we need. Yes, what we need, not simply what we want, to be able to remain as loyal Anglicans within the fold of the Church of England. Sadly, it seems there are those less temperate and tolerant than yourself who simply refuse to try to understand our needs. I suspect you’ve come from the same sort of stable as myself and can therefore sympathise, even though you may not agree. Would that some members of WATCH and Aff… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Anyway, the point is, I do think it’s time people finally understood that the liberals really don’t want FinF people in the CofE any longer. You want them out, so why not just admit it and let the parting be as friendly as possible?” – Clive – Clive (& Bromenblue), this is just not so! What some of us, who are both Catholic and Reformed in the Anglican Communion, would like of you and your fellows (generally fellows and, rarely, women), is that you would consider the females of the Church as possible participants of the *Persona Christi* at the… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Sorry, but I stand by earlier: Leave, already. Rome’s door is open. Here’s Bromenblue, talking Anglo-Catholic and an internal solution. So, you only accept ecclesial authority so long as it doesn’t inconvenience you? Is that why you won’t trot along to Rome, because the RCC wouldn’t put up with your complaining, wouldn’t go making the huge concessions you expect? Intolerance? You push, push, push, alienating everyone else, then want to cry “Brother!” when you get pushed back. Even tolerance has its limits – the same way bodies develop a fever. The same way crab traps don’t catch sharks. You have… Read more »

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

To Mark Brunson: You are wrong about the Roman Catholic Church. It has certainly been more generous than people like yourself, and has made enormous concessions. With your own comments, you have clearly shown yourself to be among the most intolerant of individuals. I and others like me will continue to be the “necessary abrasion” Rowan Williams has said is needed in the Church of England to ensure at least some semblance of faithfulness to its Catholic Roots. I will thus not, as you put it, “Leave already.” By the way “Brother!” is not an expression I would choose to… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

I wonder, when people say ‘leave’, whether they are members of the TEC or the CofE, because it sounds shrill and quite out of keeping with the gentle and kind tolerance which typifies the CofE. The tone within TEC, by contrast, often seems to be more shrill, and this may well have to do with the fact they are a mere denomination, and not the national Church. In England, those who attend, and those who do not attend can regard themselves as ‘belonging’ to the CofE and have equal rights and ownership thanks to the Parish system. We have a… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Neil, you might also consider how your last post would read if you began it – I wonder, when people say they are going to leave …

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“those who attend, and those who do not attend can regard themselves as ‘belonging’ to the CofE and have equal rights and ownership thanks to the Parish system.” In my eyes, this is not a good thing. In this country, there is no sense that because one is Canadian one must be Anglican, regardless of one’s actual beliefs. Here, there is more of what might be called a religious marketplace, though that’s a revolting term. So, if I cannot accept what the Anglican Church teaches, I feel no nationalistic compulsion to stay with “our” national religion. I don’t see that… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford
if you’ve been baptised into the CoE you are a member, whether you attend church or not.
Is that really so different where you are?

Neil
Guest
Neil

Mark – I agree that threats to leave are equally shrill. If that is how people feel, and they want to leave, then they should get on with it. However, in the case of Bromenblue the intention is clearly to remain in the Church into which one was baptised.

Neil
Guest
Neil

Ford – lots of people (and this includes even the unbaptised) would still, when asked for example when admitted to hospital, assume that they are ‘CofE’. Their position needs to be at least considered, and because we are the national Church we need to guard against one strand (or other) of theological opinion (eg that of WATCH) getting to define the position of others out of existence. Thereby reducing us merely to one denomination amongst others.

toby forward
Guest

Ford, if you are an English citizen living in England, you have certain rights with regard to your parish church, whether or not you are baptized or believe anything. As an unbaptized, non-believing resident you have to the right to demand baptism for your children, the right to demand marriage in the parish church (I stress again, as an unbaptized, non-believing resident), and the right to attend the annual Meeting and to vote for the Church Wardens. I’m not sure about this, but I think you may even have the right to be elected as a Church Warden. Some clergy… Read more »

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Toby Forward has stooped to new lows with his comments about genital inspection. It is just the kind of crass statement one might expect from those unable to articulate a coherent theological argument. Is this website really for “Thinking” Anglicans?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Toby People attending the APCM have to be on the Electoral Roll of the respective parish. And to qualify for the electoral roll, a person has to be: (a) a member of the Church of England (or a Church ‘in commuion’ with the Church of England), (b) baptised, (c) 16 years of age or over, (d) a resident of the parish (or if not a resident, has ‘habitually attended public worship in the church’ for six months), (e) as signed the electoral roll application form. As regards marriage, I don’t know if it is a legal requirement, but all the… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“Toby Forward has stooped to new lows with his comments about genital inspection”

So, what do you do – genetic testing?

toby forward
Guest

Bromenblue (whoever you are), I think you misunderstood when you said I ‘stooped to new lows with (my) comments about genital inspection’. I don’t do the inspecting myself. In fact, I object to its being done at all. Erika, thanks for your correction. Are you right however about attending, or are those the rules for voting? As far as marriage is concerned, I know that you are right about the requirement that some clergy make, but I think that I am right that canon law does not permit them to make that requirement. The official document says: ‘Q/ I’m not… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

It is interesting to me, given the mutual recognition of Baptism, and the difficulties in recognising orders, that that there is a tendency for people to suggest that Church into which they are baptised is the Church of England, but those ordained are priests in the Church of God/catholic Church/Church universal.

BillyD
Guest

Lest my last comment to “Bromenblue” be written off as mere flippancy, let me expand it: exactly what is it about females that disqualifies them from the priesthood? How male do you have to be for the Sacrament of Orders to “take”? Would a female to male transsexual fit the bill? How about someone who was born with both male and female sexual characteristics, and had surgery to appear unambiguously male: male enough? How about people who *look* like women but have male chromosomes, or vice versa? I assume that neither FiF nor the SSC has yet developed an apparatus… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“if you’ve been baptised into the CoE you are a member, whether you attend church or not.” Yes, actually. We would use the phrase “nominally Anglican” and there is the growing belief that if one does not take part in the Church one is not part of the Church. It’s nothing close to widespread yet, but it is there. It isn’t possible to negate one’s baptism, but it isn’t logical to claim that one can be part of something in which one never actually takes part. It’s about acknowledging that Christianity is not the societal religion, we are at best… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Toby
The rules for attending and voting at the APCM came from “An ABC for the PCC – A Handbook for Church Council Members” bu John Pitchford. My edition was printed in 2001.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

Election of Churchwardens takes place at the Annual Vestry Meeting — all parishioners are entitled to attend and vote. The APCM follows immediately and only those on the Electoral Roll may vote (the others may well be invited to stay on for that meeting). The APCM elects the Deanery Synod representatives, and they with the Churchwardens are ex officio members of the PCC. The remaining number of the PCC are then elected. To be married in a particular church you need to reside in the parish or be on the electoral roll of that parish. So it is possible for… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Is this website really for “Thinking” Anglicans?”
– Bromenblue, on Wednesday –

Well, Bromenblue. You are a prolific contributor, what do you think is the answer to your question?

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

John Roch

At the risk of thread drift.

The new marriage rules now also cover people having a qualifying connection with the parish (lived in the parish for six months, and so forth).

This helps us with people who live in the parish here, but move after booking their wedding, but before their service – for example.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John Roch
This is interesting.
Leaving aside the fact that in most churches I know the Annual Vestry Meeting takes place immediately before the APCM, and that the same people attend both, if the provisions for the Vestry meeting are different, how are “parishioners” defined?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford
“For you, the concern is that being too strict on that will force people out. To me it’s about being clear on what we are offering people in order for them to choose whether or not they want to come in.”

No, my concern is not about being strict or lax. My concern is that we can never know why someone comes to church and that we do not have the right to judge.
“We” aren’t offering anything, God is offering and people respond (or not).

But this is off topic again, I fear.

David Malloch
Guest
David Malloch

Anyone living in a parish has the right to marriage in the parish church, with the exception of divorcees, who may be married at the discretion of the priest. If clergy are insisting that one party has to be on the electoral roll or even baptised, they are in breach of the law.

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Revd Smith, if you look back on the site, you will see that I am not in fact a prolific contributor. I have occasionally offered a good number of thoughts on the issue of women bishops. The reason I posed the question about whether this is really a website for “Thinking” Anglicans stems from a very crass statement made by Toby Forward about genital inspection. Would you defend such as theological argument or suitable for sensible debate? Or is that perhaps the level of intelligent thinking we’ve now come to in the Church? Maybe that’s why the Anglican Communion and… Read more »

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

There is information here

on qualification to be a churchwarden
http://www.churchcare.co.uk/further.php?BADB

on the election of churchwardens.
http://www.churchcare.co.uk/further.php?BADC

I have not studied the detail of the changes to the marriage rules, as they have not affected us (2 straight-forward weddings in the last 12 months)

[necessary NB, perhaps – I’m not clergy]

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Would you defend such as theological argument or suitable for sensible debate? Or is that perhaps the level of intelligent thinking we’ve now come to in the Church? Maybe that’s why the Anglican Communion and Church of England are in such a mess. The liberal hold on reasoning, to the exclusion of Scripture and Tradition.” – Bromenblue – The wonderful thing about most of those who make comments on this site is that they are not averse to evidencing a refreshing sense of humour now and again – especially when the arguments get a little intense – as has this… Read more »

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Revd Smith, I haven’t claimed humour is why we’re in a mess. I wouldn’t be so flippant.

BillyD
Guest

By the way, isn’t it rather tacky for a priest of the SSC to refer to another Anglican priest (and one who signs himself as “Father,” at that) as “Revd.”? Reverend is an adjective, not a title.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

” Thank you BillyD, for that defence. Maybe Bromenblue finds it difficult to call me ‘Father’ simply because I have never begotten children. My children are all ‘spiritual’ – I joyfully baptised one of them this morning. God Bless! Keep up the good work.

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Billy D, the Revd Smith is neither my Father in God nor my spiritual Father. So no, it’s not tacky, it has an integrity about it. I would, however, like to question how you have assumed I am a member of SSC, when nowhere in my contributions have I ever made mention of such membership, nor have I on this site ever signed myself “Father”. Could you please elucidate me and other readers, as to how you can substantiate making such a comment, without ever having read it anywhere on “Thinking Anglicans”?

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Billy D, apologies, I misread your comment about “Father”, but I would still like to know where you have read that I am a member of SSC.

BillyD
Guest

“Billy D, the Revd Smith is neither my Father in God nor my spiritual Father. So no, it’s not tacky, it has an integrity about it.” See, I’m used to Anglo Catholic priests calling each other “Father” as a matter of course. I’ve never known a priest of any Catholic group, Western or Eastern, refer to another priest as anything but “Father.” To make such a nice distinction as you are seems odd, and I find it hard to understand why you would want to do it unless you were somehow “othering” him, as it were. “Could you please elucidate… Read more »

Bromenblue
Guest
Bromenblue

Billy D, I do have to say it is rather disturbing that you have been trying to uncover my identity. I do have a right to privacy, and you may well be wrong in your assumptions about who I am anyway. However, in your point about Anglo-Catholic priests and use of the word “Father”, I’d feel I was using the term rather loosely, as Revd Smith is clearly a liberal who enjoys Catholic ritual, but that’s as about as far as it goes. He and I clearly come from very different stables and have widely differing views in terms of… Read more »