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Lambeth YouTube bid to swing Synod

26 October 2012

LAMBETH PALACE stepped up its campaign to persuade the General Synod to approve the draft women-bishops Measure this week, amid signs of growing opposition among some Evangelicals.

The General Synod meets next month to debate final approval. The Measure includes a new version of the 5(1)(c) amendment, which states that the Code of Practice should cover "the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which Parochial Church Councils issue Letters of Request under section 3" ( News, 14 September).

In a video posted on YouTube by Lambeth Palace, on Tuesday, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, says: "This Measure is a compromise. It's not saying, 'We'll have women bishops and that's the end of it,' but nor is it saying that we're going to have some sort of parallel jurisdiction. It's saying that if those who conscientiously disagree with this send a letter of request to their diocesan bishop, they will have a male bishop, and the grounds upon which they've made that request will be properly respected."

Bishop Cottrell says that he hopes that "those who disagree may choose to abstain." If the Measure is not passed, "it would look terrible in the eyes of the world, would hold back our mission, and would plunge us into years more debate on this issue."

Writing in the Church Times last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that voting against the legisla­tion would be to risk "committing us to a period of continued and perhaps intensified internal conflict" ( News and Comment, 19 October).

In another video posted on You­Tube by Lambeth Palace, Rebecca Swinson, who is 26 and the youngest ever member of the Archbishops' Council, says: "It seems like a bit of a strange situation to have women at all levels of the Church, apart from sitting in the House of Bishops. . . For so many people out there, there are much more important things for us to be talking about."

A video of the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, was posted on YouTube yesterday by Lambeth Palace. He said: "We've been around the houses a long time trying to get this legislation right and I've been involved quite a lot in trying to make that happen. I think we've got to the stage now where there is a consensus in the Church that this is the best possible way forward."

The Church of England Evan­gelical Council (CEEC) warned on Monday that "undue pressure" was being brought to bear on Synod members who are opposed to the Measure.

A statement, issued after the CEEC met on Tuesday and Wednes­day of last week, said that "a majority of the Council believes that the current Measure does not make adequate provision for the sub­stantial number of the Church of England who cannot support this development."

Synod members should "vote with a clear  conscience, which, for op­ponents, may mean voting against the Measure rather than, as they are being asked, to  abstain".

A spokesman for the CEEC said that about two-thirds of the Council, including supporters of the Measure, were concerned about provision for opponents. He said that there had been reports from members of the CEEC that opponents were coming under pressure from their diocesan bishops, and others in their dioceses, to abstain rather than vote against.

A statement from Fulcrum, the network of Anglican Evangelicals, said that it believed that "most Evan­gelicals in the Church of England" supported the Measure that would be put before the Synod.

"We hope that all those who want women bishops will vote for the Measure. We further hope that those who are against will be able in good conscience to abstain, recognising that it is clearly the will of the Church to proceed, and then work with the provision, which is unlikely to be strengthened, should the legislation fall this time."

The Chief Executive of the Church Army, Mark Russell, a former member of the Archbishops' Council who resigned from the CEEC last month, said that the CEEC's state­ment "doesn't speak for the whole Evangelical constituency [in the Cof E] at all". If the Measure fell next month, it would be "missional suicide".

A new blog, Fair Measure 2012, was launched by Anglican Mainstream on Wednesday. Anglican Mainstream said that the blog, which contains a number of papers and links, would "show that the Measure as it stands is not fit for purpose, because of its unjust treatment of significant minorities within the Church of England. It must be stopped before it damages the Church irreparably, and replaced with a new, fairer Measure which enables us all to go forward together."



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