Synod avoids cataclysm over women bishops

February 11, 2009

So the Church of England opted for safety when it met to discuss the next stage in the ordination of women bishops, avoiding the cataclysmic result of a ‘no’ vote.

More than 280 members of the General Synod, or governing body, voted in favour of sending draft legislation and a code of practice to a revision committee, ensuring its continued progress.

The church will still take its time over the legislation, with no woman bishop likely to be installed before 2014.

But as Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield, said: “I believe we must go forward today however slowly the progress may be.”

Failure to have voted in favour would not have killed off the prospect of women bishops – as the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said on Tuesday, the issue will not go away – but it could have delayed ordination for many years.

Anglicans in Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand already have women bishops.

But don’t be fooled. There was still widespread discontent, with 114 members voting against, and 13 abstaining.

The code of practice is a compromise, attempting to keep traditionalists within the church while satisfying liberal calls for the ordination of women, 15 years after they were ordained as priests.

The compromise would provide for “complementary bishops” in parishes which object to women bishops, giving them the chance to be supervised by men only.

But like most compromises, it failed to satisfy many on both sides. Traditionalists and liberals variously described the code as “a jigsaw put together by a hammer”, “an unbalanced and intolerable situation” and “fractured”.

The Revd. Rod Thomas, of Exeter diocese, argued he felt he was still being excluded by the code because it was such an “uncertain instrument and only becomes certain when it is being examined in secular courts”.

Another reason for exclusion, he said, was because it would operate on the discretion of the diocese bishop.

“This leaves us very clearly with the feeling that our ministry in the church is simply being tolerated rather than we are being given space where our ministry is encouraged to flourish,” he added.

He said trainees were considering their future in the church because of this uncertainty.

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, chaplain to Durham University, asked the traditionalists who reject the code to “please understand how great a sacrifice you are asking women to make in accepting this legislation based on a code of practice and please do be prepared to meet us half way as this draft legislation suggests”.

Self-confessed moderate Anne Martin, of the Guildford diocese, said: “My greatest fear is what will happen if this draft legislation is rejected and we have to start again. How will we feel if we have to go back to the drawing board? What will the wider membership of the Church of England and those outside it think if we continue to wrangle and apparently self-destruct?”

She said a rejection would only “prolong the agony” of the inevitable ordination.


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sorry, ms martin, but the c of e and ecusa “wider membership” is rapidly and relentlessly narrowing over ecclesiastical hypocrisy, apostacy, and political grandstanding of the controlling liberal factions of both churches. in your quest for relevance, you have achieved supreme irrelevancy

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

I am saddened that the Church of England had allowed conflicting doctrines on their Church rather of its oneness. He seemed to forget the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 which says “Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also seemed to forget Ephesians 4:3-5 telling Christians to strive to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one spirit, as we were called to the one hope of our call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and throgh all and in all”. Archbishop Williams must remember that there is still a need for doctrinal unity amidst diversity. As an Overseer of your flock, you must uphold Christian doctrines and must not give in to the worldy pressures. God never change and so his doctrines never change. God do not contradict himself at another time and so his doctrines never contradict from one time to another time.

Posted by Jusie Rivera | Report as abusive

you are so correct jusie,in the progressive church it is unity at any cost, but paul states this unity is around the truth ,if it is not ,then it is compromise.when the lord confronted the multitude of demons he cast into the pigs they did not seem to have a problem of unity is not a qualification that necessary points to righteousness

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

the events that lead a healthy christain life are ,accepting him, getting to know him,and finally the most importent learning to love him.the valleys and deserts between these statements are what leads us to the final chapter. like in pilgrim/s progress many stop by the way side.sadly i have heard many shout his name but not many that have developed that supernatural love for him.”do you love me peter?”it is the target.because if you love him you will obay his commands.and all this progressive stuff will show it,s self like the nonsense it is.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive