General Synod – November 2013 – Women Bishops

20 Nov

The Chair asks that Synod does not repeat comments of others and to be on top form with its deliberations and debate.
Bishop of Rochester opens, talking about the work of the steering committee. He notes that no amendments have been offered to the motion and says that if the motion is passed then the members of the committee will be offered the chance to remain on the committee as they take it forward to the next stage of the process.
+Rochester makes the interesting comment that the issue of male headship has been seriously heard, talked about and understood, yet not able to be done by ++Welby or ++Sentamu.
Our first speaker makes the very important point that there is a huge gap in episcopal provision for those of a traditional view of leadership in the CofE.
Very positive speech by Rod Thomas, saying that whilst he may not agree with the end result regarding women bishops, he seeks to rejoice with the church at the level of agreement reached within it.
Christina Rees says that she thinks that what is before Synod is better than what was on the table last year, and so is fully in support of the motion. However she falls down on 1 matter, she sees the view of the world as being important, but makes no mention of keeping in step with God above all else.
David Banting is the first to speak against the motion, doing so, he says, with a new-found confidence that his conservative perspective has a chance to flourish in the new mood at Synod. He points out that the chance of a diocesan bishop being appointed from the conservative evangelical wing is almost certainly never going to happen again, but that he hopes that more suffragan posts will be created to increase provision for those with a conservative persuasion.
One speaker comments on the reasons why we appoint bishops, pointing out that the aim is not to appoint because of their churchmanship, but for their ability to do the job, so asks that there is no “ring-fencing” in the House of Bishops.
We then have our first woman, Susie Leafe, speaking against the motion, from a conservative evangelical perspective. She asks that the HoB keep the concerns of her and those like her so that we can move forward together in this.
Father Seville points out that working with people who have differing views requires doing things in ways that we haven’t done them before. He references 2 Samuel 21, where David seeks to do something so that others might be a blessing to the inheritance of Israel.
Now we are hearing a speech from Christine Hardman, apologising to the Bishop of Willesden for disagreeing with his suggestion at the last synod for a larger steering committee to offer up a wider range of views.
Elaine Storkey makes the point that good law enables the flow of grace. She points out that what unites us is far greater that that which separates us. She says she wants to be as inclusive as possible, so long as the theology is triune, biblical and Trinitarian.
The next speaker says that the facilitative process has been invaluable in getting to this point and wants to see it continue as we go.
With still an hour to go before lunch, there is a rather early point of order for closure. The Chair says no.
++Sentamu says that he and ++Welby are fully behind getting more traditional Catholics and conservative evangelicals into the House of Bishops. Though he doesn’t make any comment in regard to how this might take effect in the event of a female Archbishop, or indeed both sees of York and Canterbury being held by women. He does, however, say that he would love to have coffee and discuss the matter of CEs and TCs in the HoB with people like Rod Thomas, as away of finding the way forward together.
We then had a speaker raising an issue with Clause 2 (gs1925), as it might cause problems in the future for the CofE’s position within the Establishment.
Our next speaker points out the pain that was caused after last year’s vote. He then makes the comment that we shouldn’t get to choose our bishops, regardless of gender or churchmanship.
An excellent speech making the point that we need to be based in the bible when we make our decisions of how the church goes forward. Sadly he then ends by saying that once we start consecrating women we can go and give the world some “really good news”.
An emphasis ones speech from a woman who’s daughter felt a calling to ordained ministry, despite our speaker and her daughter’s godparents being from a Forward in Faith churchmanship. She told us of how they have been able to continue in loving relationship without compromising their integrity.
The speaker is now looking for a motion for closure, so that the debate can be responded to and Synod can vote on the motion.
The motion is offered, accepted and carried.
The Bishop of Rochester comes to reply. He points to the fact that 3 people from completely different churchmanships have said pretty much the same thing. He also reminds Synod that there is the danger of complacency, so to remain vigilant so that the positive progress can continue. He comments that the aim of getting people from TC and CE churchmanships into the HoB is to continue in a spirit of mutual generosity, given that there are currently no CE representatives from the 110 diocesans and suffragans in the HoB. He highlights the idea of outdoing each other in how we honour one another. He urges that Synod votes in favour of the motion so that the process can continue.

The result:
In favour – 378
Against – 8
Abstentions – 25

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