*** DEBUG END ***

General Synod: The fall of the women-bishops legislation

30 November 2012

Women-bishops Measure

THERE had been 172 requests to speak, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, in the chair, told the General Synod on Tuesday morning before it resumed the final-approval debate on the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, adjourned in July to enable the House of Bishops to consider the new Clause 5(1)(c) that had been inserted in May.

Introducing the debate, the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, moved that the Measure be finally approved, urging the Synod to give it "an emphatic 'yes'." He said that he was "deeply grateful" to the 288 members of Synod who had voted in July to adjourn the debate. This had enabled the Synod to avoid ending the legislative process in a "very unsettled and unsatisfactory fashion", with the discussion "distorted and dominated" by arguments about clause 5(1)(c). Today's debate would focus on one key question: "will God's mission and ministry entrusted to the Church of England be advanced better if this legislation is approved or if it is rejected?" Referring to the amendment to Clause 5(1)(c) - the so-called "Appleby amendment" - the Bishop said that the Measure now made it clear that, with regard to selection, "it will not simply be a case of 'any man will do.'".

The Measure could, he said, "whatever its imperfections", be "made to work". It would "enable the Church of England to flourish" and enable women to exercise the leadership which "a great majority of us recognise as God's gift to this Church". But it would also enable those with "understandable concerns" about the change to continue to have an "honoured place" within the Church.

The Synod should not underestimate "the degree of compromise and accommodation" which was reflected in the Measure, whose length and complexity illustrated the fact that the Synod had not insisted that there was "now only one acceptable view on this matter". The Bishop warned that if the Measure was rejected, it would be "a shock to large numbers of people across the Church of England . . . a devastating blow to the morale of many, not least our female clergy . . . a major deterrent to continuing to attract into the ordained ministry able women - and many able men, too".

It would also do "real harm to the credibility and mission" of the Church of England: "They simply wouldn't understand." The Bishop said that he simply could not believe that it was in the interest of the Church to continue to debate the issue for another decade, pointing to the "overwhelming majority" of dioceses that had supported the Measure.

Canon Simon Killwick (Manchester) spoke against the Measure. The debate was not, he said, about whether the Synod was in favour of women bishops in principle, but "about whether this is the right legislation for introducing women bishops". He did not believe that the Measure would be "good" for the Church of England.

Everyone was "desperate to move on from the sad infighting" of recent years; but the Measure did not provide a "clear way forward". He warned that the formation of the Code of Practice could become "a new battleground", were it approved, with attempts to "improve" the provision for traditionalists in the Code opposed.

The concept of respect set out in the Appleby amendment was "vague", leaving the Measure vulnerable to disputes over interpretation and application which "can only really be solved in the secular courts by means of judicial review". Canon Killwick cited a survey by Christian Research which suggested that 31 per cent of the Church of England "remain to be convinced that women bishops would be an appropriate development in the Christian tradition". The provision provided for this "significant minority" would be both "insecure" and "unfair". Bishops provided for traditionalists would be "second-class bishops", making traditionalists "second-class Anglicans".

He reminded the Synod of earlier attempts to satisfy traditionalists, including the revision committee's vote for provision by statutory transfer and the Synod's vote for the Archbishops' suggestion of co-ordinate jurisdiction. There had been "much hype" about the consequences of rejecting the Measure, he said; and yet a BBC poll had suggested that 80 per cent "would not think less of the C of E if there were not women bishops".

The Measure was "not fit for purpose", and the Catholic Group would "do everything it could" to enable the development of a "fair Measure" and facilitate its "safe passage" through the Synod.

Anne Foreman (Exeter) said that a "yes" vote today presented an opportunity to "further the mission of the Church". The views of "thousands" in the parishes had been "clearly expressed", and "they support the legislation." Mrs Foreman continued: "We must make this legislation work, not send it into the long grass, not spend more years debating and come to broadly the same decision. This is the compromise so long laboured over."

Jane Patterson (Sheffield) spoke against the Measure. The legislation before the Synod "tells us that despite past assurances our theological convictions about the consecrtation of women to the episcopate are not legitimate. Are we legitimate Anglicans?" The passing of the Measure would "promote the loss of conservative Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic ministry in the Church of England". England "cannot afford this loss if we are serious about sharing the gospel with the nation".

The Synod should "not bow to cultural pressure but . . . pull us back from brink of disunity, and vote 'No' to this legislation."

The Archdeacon of Hackney, the Ven. Rachel Treweek (London), had urged the Synod in July "not to do competitive pain. Please could we also not compete for places of honour. Honour is something we give to each other." Traditionalist Catholics and conservative Evangelicals were all loyal Anglicans, "and we must honour one another, not seek protection from one another."

The Measure before the Synod "has created appropriate boundaries to offer space and respect". The words of the Measure "do not now diminish anyone, and respect for theological conviction has weight, and there will be diocesan schemes. I do not believe adequate provision has not been made for those who cannot accept women bishops."

The Synod now needed the courage "to say we've worked at this and there is no solution that will give everyone what they most want . . . We are called to look out for each other's needs. We now have a bridge which is strong enough to walk over."

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, argued that there were "serious and positive" reasons for turning down the Measure. He was "enormously grateful" that the Church of England and the Synod recognised "freedom of conscience" - that there were theological reasons why some might reject the draft legislation. This view was "recognised and accepted", but it sought "adequate structural expression".

The principle for traditional Anglo-Catholics had been widely rehearsed. It was a "matter of profound disquiet and pain" that disunity should be expressed in the matter of the eucharist. He would resist any assumption that a vote against the Measure implied a belief that "women are inferior to men or must be subject to them or that they do not have the skills and capacity [required]." The significance that the Church attached to gender differentiation - "What did God intend in the creation of male and female?" - was "unresolved".

There were "serious concerns" about the scope and reliability of the provision for those who could not approve of women bishops and there was a need for "further travel and fuller consensus".

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, suggested that the future of the Church of England, and thus the future of England, was at stake, given that a third of all the clergy were women, and that the parish network might collapse without their ministry. He understood those who "take seriously the authority of scripture and believe that women should not exercise such leadership or headship".

He had held a similar understanding of 1 Corinthians Chapter 11 in which Paul talks about the husband's being the head of the wife and God's being the head of Christ. Yet he had come to believe that Christ did not have less authority than God, and was not subordinate to God: "otherwise we would be denying the full divinity of Jesus." Thus, he believed, women were not subordinate to men, and did not have less authority than them.

He pointed also to the fact that clergy swore allegiance to and accepted the authority of the Queen, a "female minister". The Book of Common Prayer showed that the ministry of a bishop was "to feed the body of Christ", and scripture showed that it was a woman who first physically fed the body of Christ: "If a woman can feed the body of Christ in the flesh, she can surely feed the body of Christ in the spirit." Women had been doing this, he argued, for centuries, in the mission field. He believed that, for the mission of God to the people of England, it was right for women to take their place in the House of Bishops.

Prebendary David Houlding (London) warned that there would be "pain and distress, anger and tears", whichever way the vote went and that the discussion would continue. It was important to protect the rights of the minority, and the majority could afford to be generous. A model of delegation not in the primary legislation but dependent solely on the Code of Practice "can never do - because it cannot enshrine theological conviction".

He regretted that consultation with the wider Church had not taken place: "By what authority today do we make this decision on our own?" To press ahead would make all the difference to ecumenical relations. He called for "more waiting on the Lord in prayer".

The Revd Janet Appleby (Newcastle) said that she had no idea that her suggestion to the House of Bishops that they should introduce the concept of "respect" would lead to what has become known as "the Appleby amendment".

"We are going to make a decision whose future effects we can't predict," she said. "Fortunately, we can trust the future to God. We can have faith in God's extraordinary grace." She said: "We need to be reassured that it is possible to remain one Church despite holding contradictory beliefs. The difficulty is that our disagreements are absolute: either a woman can be a bishop or she can't be. We are walking a tightrope."

She supported the Measure as being "the best compromise we can possibly find".

Canon Rebecca Swyer (Chichester) said she had to be true to her theological convictions and vote no to the Measure. "I don't believe C of E has the authority to make a decision about women bishops."

She said that the Measure before the Synod had been the cause of a "significant number of sleepless nights", and they had "ended up with words that nobody is keen on". She asked: "Does it allow Christians of different traditions not only to exist together, but to thrive together?"

In a maiden speech, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, recalled a speech by the Revd Erasmus Phillips, Rector of Warminster, to a Church Congress in Bristol in 1864, in which he called on women to work in the mission fields, saying: "They had a part in our fall, and they should work for our redemption with us."

The Bishop said that he would have struggled to vote in favour of women priests had he been a member of the Synod in 1992, because the legislation was "hedged around, encumbered and too qualified. We needed a clear decision." But, he said, he was wrong: "What we have experienced over the last 20 years is the ministry of women graciously leading in parishes and Christian communities."

Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) said: "We have been told that if this Measure does not go through, many women will be deterred from entering ordained ministry; but I want to know what it will do for conservative Evangelicals."

She said that people of her tradition had been "told that we are not welcome. . . If discrimination already exists with the present legislation, then how, with much weaker legislation, can we have any hope for the future?"

Hannah Page (Church of England Youth Council) said: "We shared Communion this morning saying 'We are one body.' Why don't we act like it?" She said she was born in 1993 and "grew up in a Church where the ministry of women has always been there. It seems like we have been discussing this issue all my life. Please don't let me wait until I'm 30 to see this pass."

Adrian Vincent (Guildford) said that he had always told those who elected him that he would vote for women bishops so long as the legislation provided for those who opposed, but "Bishops who serve under delegated authority cannot resolve conservative Evangelicals' headship concern, or provide Anglo-Catholics' sacramental assurance," he said. "I am not being the awkward squad, but when the words 'theological convictions' have to be deleted from a Measure, do we really expect people to sign up to that?"

He said that the legislation should be voted down and then WATCH, Forward in Faith, and Reform should meet, together with a mediator and a leading ecclesiastical lawyer. "When those three can agree a scheme, it can be brought to Synod and be voted on with genuine unity," he said.

Philip French (Rochester) spoke of his late mother, and how he "wasn't able to explain to my mother why, over the past 20 years, we failed to make the C of E fully inclusive of women". He didn't want to "wait too much longer to explain that to my teenager daughter". His teenage children "do not easily recognise in this Church as it now appears a place of grace and a place in which all may flourish".

David Kemp (Canterbury) opted to tell a story, an imagined conversation between God and an otter. The two were discussing the General Synod, and God concluded of its members that "they don't seem to be enjoying life in all its fullness at the moment." God wanted, the story suggested, "every human to be the best they can be and use all gifts I gave them. I want them to love and be free."

The otter replied that love and freedom were "dangerous ideas", which scared humans, who tried to "contain them and contain you". God, Mr Kemp said, saw humans trying to "limit" him with "books, history and ideas"; but he wanted them to "join us in the dance".

Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford) asked the Synod to have a "sense of proportionality" about the consequences of their vote. If it passed, there would be those who felt that the assurances that they had been given were "too weak", but such assurance would be "firmly in place". The consequences of rejecting the Measure were "far more severe".

This was partly personal, for her; and she would wake up the next morning, "knowing the ministry to which I am called is not truly accepted by the Church". But there were "bigger issues" also. As the Church for the whole country, "we will be seen to have failed to do what is right and honourable. . . A Church with a lower moral standard than the rest of society risks its right to comment on other issues."

A rejection would also "inevitably be seen as the act of a dying Church, more wedded to the past than committed to the hope of the future". It would also be seen as a vote of no-confidence in the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate, and "pretty much the whole House of Bishops". She urged people who sympathised with those who could not support women bishops to abstain rather than vote against the Measure: "Your 'No' vote won't improve the legislation: it will simply be a vote that says 'No' to women bishops."

Prebendary Rod Thomas (Exeter), the chairman of Reform, laid out some of the theological reasons for opposing women bishops. "What we are seeking to do in modelling subjection and headship in the Church is to model the equality we see in God between Father and Son, and also model the subjection we see eternally of the Son to the Father." The legislation before the Synod, he said, "requires us conservative Evangelicals to accept the authority of women bishops that we believe the Bible says should not be in that position, because if they are, they are unable to do the modelling that the world so needs."

Even an alternative bishop, given through a diocesan scheme, was "a delegate of a female bishop. All along the line, we are accepting the authority of a woman bishop, something we do not believe the Bible teaches." Prebendary Thomas said that the legislation was "profoundly un-Anglican", because it forced conservative Evangelicals into a position which "can't be proved by scripture".

Prebendary Thomas asked the Synod "to preserve the Anglican position and vote against the Measure".

The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, reminded the Synod that he had served on the Rochester Commission, which "concluded that there were arguments for and an equal number of arguments against women as bishops". The Commission's advice "should have been sent to the dioceses in order that the dioceses might reflect on those two different conclusions at the end".

The decision to ordain women to the episcopate should belong "to the whole Church, not just part of it", Dr Rowell said. He was "not convinced the Church of England has the authority to do this without wider Catholic consent".

Colonel Edward Armitstead (Bath & Wells) said that, "having been so very close on a number of occasions to finding a way to consecrate women bishops, it is a pity the Measure we have before us is so unsatisfactory."

Passing the Measure would lead to "division and further decline". If the Church was "mocked and ridiculed" for not passing the Measure, "it will show that we are not governed by the secular agenda and culture of the day, but what we learn from God's revelation of himself." Canon Armitstead urged the Synod "to vote against the Measure, so the process can start on a different footing".

The Revd Martin Gorick (Coventry), "a lifelong supporter of the whole ministry of women and men together", quoted a line of Shakespeare: "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." There was "a feeling in the Church and the country that now is the time. The tide in the affairs of men certainly seems to be at the flood. Our only job is to catch that wave."

April Alexander (Southwark) said: "We have discussed and debated this for 12 years. Sometimes the discussion has been here in this chamber, sometimes elsewhere and sometimes sharing meals together hoping it would help. It has not."

"The discussion should end here," she said: "there is no better solution around the corner. We started this process in 2000. Three new Synods have been elected since then, and all have followed the same line": yes to women bishops, and yes to proper provision.

The Revd Jonathan Beswick (Oxford) said there had been lots of talk about what was and what was not visible on the face of the legislation. "The only thing I see is fear, often played out in the guise of grudging compromise, and I don't think compromise is a Christian virtue." He said some of the words used in recent weeks to persuade Synod members to pass the legislation amounted to coercion, threatening, or bullying. "Love does not coerce, threaten, or bully."

Mary Judkins (Wakefield) described herself as an independent; and said that her own vicar was a woman. But she was unhappy about voting "Yes", as it would mean accepting second best. "Olympic athletes aimed for gold; we're only aiming for bronze." She said that the legislation didn't provide the provision that was promised; and the issue was not about equality: "equal does not mean the same," she said.

The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett (Southwark) said: "It's time. I'm tired. Those of you who have been in this chamber over many years must be very tired. Now is the time for decision making." She said: "We can't go on like this . . . or wait for a bishop in Rome to make our decision for us."

She said that the result would painful for everybody in the Church because "we need to share each other's pain. . . Sharing the pain could be the birth-pangs of a new way of being church."

Sarah Finch (London), a member of College Council at Oak Hill, said that it was a "vibrant, young and strong" college with ordinands who "know how to engage with contemporary culture" and who "repres-ent hope for England's future".

Because of the Measure before the Synod, however, there was an "air of dismay" at the college, where ordinands expected to be discriminated against because of the sincere theological convictions that they held. To approve the Measure would be an "act of betrayal" of these ordinands, and others like them and would have a "devastating effect on the unity of the Church of England".

The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said that the "many reasons" why he would be voting for the Measure were "rooted in what I do see as the scriptural rightness of women and men together being apostolic witnesses to Christ. . ."

It was men and women's "very complementarity, not our sameness that adds to value of the leadership of the Church of both". Although there might be "chaos and confusion" if the Measure was passed, the chaos and confusion would be "far worse" if it were rejected, and young women "certainly" not coming forward for ordination, and many young men. The status and reputation of the General Synod would be "seriously impaired". There was, he argued, "little chance" of ever again producing a "compromise deal" if the Measure was turned down.

Prudence Dailey (Oxford) spoke to the argument that opponents of women bishops should be able to "live" with the legislation without the need for legal provision "if only we can all trust one another". She argued that they did not live in a world, or a Church, where trust had absolved the need for safeguards, and that the Church didn't have a "terribly good record with codes of practice", citing the example of the code concerning the circumstances under which livings could be suspended: "we all know that it is not always rigorously adhered to."

Miss Dailey also referred to a statement issued by WATCH at the July Synod meeting. This statement, she said, argued against the Measure as it then stood, because "it legitimated the theological position of those who could not accept women bishops. . . In other words, they are happy to allow a place for their opponents within the Church, but only on the basis that their views are not recognised as legitimate: what kind of respect is that?"

Although she understood that people had spent a long time on the Measure, she warned that "we will be living with the outcome of this for a great deal longer." Those uncomfortable with it should vote against it.

Hazel Whitehead (Guildford), employing the analogy of the Olympics, said that competitors could not "go on training for ever until they are absolutely sure of winning the gold medal". They had to "trust in the long preparation [and] training" and to "get on with it". The Synod should be doing the same: trusting in the long years of preparation, and the relationships its members had.

Brian Wilson (Southwark) described the legislation as "fatally flawed" and "illogical", because it would "require a bishop with conservative Evangelical, complementarian views, and a bishop with traditional Catholic views on bishops, to whom authority could be delegated by a woman bishop. Yet there would be, and could be, no such candidates, because, if they hold those views, they would not be prepared to serve under a woman bishop."

If the Synod went away and produced legislation that was not flawed, Mr Wilson said that he could not vote in favour, against his conscience, but would abstain.

Sister Anita OHP (Religious Communities) said that friends of hers in Canada "simply cannot understand why we are making such a fuss and bother about implementing a development that has such huge support across the dioceses". Were members of the Synod "Luddites" when it came to ecclesiology?

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, said that the Synod had "listened to one another and tried to understand and feel the pain of those with whom we disagree". His hope and plea was that those present who did not agree with the Church's ordaining women bishops could agree that "God might be at work in our Synod." The mission of the Church would be "hugely harmed" if women were not allowed to become bishops. Bishop Priddis urged those who were opposed to "abstain rather than to vote no, so that this Measure can be passed, and passed joyfully."

Canon Christopher Cook (Liverpool) spoke of his "interest and great love" for the Coptic Church. In recent years, there had been a revival, he said. "The churches are full, and monasteries are being founded or re-founded, despite [anti-]Christian discrimination, and sporadic attacks on Christians and church buildings in Egypt. . . They have achieved this largely by standing true to their traditional beliefs. We in the West have stalled or declined.

"Mission is an uphill task if we undermine the traditional understanding of the Church and its ministry. The Measure will make it more difficult to bring to a society so much in need of Christ as our Lord and Saviour."

Victoria Russell (Oxford) spoke of a conversation that she had recently had with a woman priest in her diocese, who said: "Why should we make provision for these men? Women have been suffering or thousands of years. It's time to make the men suffer." This was scarcely Christlike, Mrs Russell commented.

She also spoke of a "promising young Anglo-Catholic ordinand" who did not complete his training because, "with the inadequacies of the Code of Practice, he felt there was no place for him in the Church of England. . . How many more young men are we going to lose? Do we really want women bishops at any price?"

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop-designate of Canterbury, received sustained applause for his speech. He began by thanking the Synod for the warm welcome given to him the previous day.

"The ministry of women in the last 20 years has contributed enormously to the C of E and today we include thankfulness for what has happened. For all our struggles and its many setbacks, the Church has gained from its decision of 1992.

"For most of those coming to faith, it is the normal order of things. The ministry of women priests has been powerful in all areas of the Church, except as part of the episcopacy. It is time to finish the job, and vote for this Measure; but also the Church of England needs to show how to develop the ministry of the Church in a way that demonstrates that we can manage diversity of view without division.

"Diversity in amity, not diversity in enmity. This is far more than showing that what unites us is far greater than what divides us, true as that is. The Church is, above all, those who are drawn into being a new people by the work of Christ and the gift of the Spirit. We are reconciled to God and to one another not by our choice, but by his.

"That is at the heart of our testimony to the gospel. For this testimony to be convincing, we must demonstrate it in lived reality, which is something that we have to express in institutional life: in Measures and rules and codes of conduct, and in forms of dispute resolution which need not involve the courts.

"All these are necessary, and this approach that we have before us today is, I believe, after much discussion with many people, as good as we are going to get. As the Bishop of Hereford just said, our will and intention is far more important than rules.

"For all these reasons, as well as what I have experienced in my own life, being converted in churches that today would be led by those who in good conscience cannot accept these moves, I am personally deeply committed - and believe that fellow bishops are also - to ensuring as far as I am able, that what we promise today, and later in the code of conduct, is carried out faithfully in spirit as well as in letter.

"Expressing in attitude and by our actions that we more than respect, but also love one another, is a foundation stone for our mission in this country and the world more widely. We cannot get trapped into believing that this is a zero-sum provision where one person's gain must be another loss. That is not a theology of grace.

"As we talk, at this very moment in places from Israel and Gaza, to Goma and the Congo, there is killing and suffering because difference cannot be dealt with. We Christians are those who carry peace and grace as a treasure for the world. We must be those who live a better way, who carry that treasure visibly and deliver it lavishly. I urge the General Synod to vote for this motion."

Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford) welcomed Bishop Welby as Archbishop-designate, but said that, although he agreed with almost everything he had said, he could not agree with his conclusion. As chair of the House of Laity, his role was "to ensure that the views of the whole House are heard". He estimated the minority of lay people opposed in principle to women bishops or to the Measure to be "at least a quarter and perhaps a third".

He wanted to point out the "unwisdom" of going ahead with the Measure, and warned against repeating the mistakes of the past, such as the Great Ejection of 1662 and breach with the Methodist Church. Dr Giddings voted in favour of ordaining women as priests in 1992 "because it was designed to ensure that those who could not in conscience accept it could remain with us". The Measure would not remove diversity of opinion, and risked excluding the "dissenting minority" from the future of the Church.

The key point was that "those for whom the provision is intended do not own it." The consent of the minority was needed "if we are to remain a united and growing church". To "press ahead regardless" was "missional suicide".

The Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich, the Ven. Christine Hardman (Southwark), said that she had found it "more difficult than I can say" to decide how to vote. The amended Clause 5(1)(c) was only subtly different from the clause that prompted the Synod to adjourn the debate in July. It placed within the Measure itself "the belief that not any man will do". Although she was "instinctively in favour of being as inclusive as possible", this was "not to the point where that provision would undermine the very nature of the Church itself".

It was "crucially important for the very nature of our Church" that the Code "does not allow you to choose your own bishop on the basis of his theological beliefs", or lead to the creation of two separate Churches, or "cast doubt on the status of our orders" and on the authority of the Church of England to confer those orders.

She quoted the Revd Kenneth Leech, who had said that, to achieve reconciliation, those with profound difference would have to move to the point "where they believe they may have betrayed their very souls and gone too far". She was at that point today, and would vote in favour of the Measure, "because I believe that the principle that the episcopate should be fully open to women as to men that lies behind this legislation is right and just and true and of the gospel".

The debate was adjourned for lunch.


WHEN the debate was resumed, Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) said that the debate, "with all its pressure", was "designed to make it hard for us to say no". As an "improbable liberal Anglo-Catholic donkey", he argued that, in fact, "this is the moment for No." While "Guardian bloggers and some of our other fellow citizens" thought that members of the Synod were "religious nuts" and that the Measure was "just getting a bit real", he argued that belief in God taught that "discerning the difference between right and wrong is not like telling the difference between black and white. One person's good may be another person's bad."

God "keeps moving goalposts", he suggested; hence the need for reception. "We, the majority, could still be wrong, and the minority could just be right." While Dr Mallett might want the Measure to establish an article of faith, it could never do that: "Whatever this Measure does, women will not be universally accepted for years in Anglicanism worldwide. . . The Gordian knot the Measure cannot cut is about abolishing gender as a factor."

The Synod must honour the promises made 20 years ago to those who could not accept women's ministry rather than rely on a "hotchpotch of schemes reworked every time a new bishop comes in". The Synod must show love and tolerance; there was an alternative today, he said.

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent (Southern Suffragans), conveyed the greetings of the Bishop of London, who was unwell. London, he suggested, epitomised "how you can make this thing work", as the diocese with more opposed to the Measure than any other, and also more women priests than any other diocese. He said that he could not "get the rhetoric of 'We need some more time to discuss this,'" given that it had been talked about for the past 20 years. Changes had been made to the Measure which "say something about how we intend to continue to walk together", and diocesan schemes would have to be coherent. He gave the example of provision for traditionalists in the diocese of London under the care of the Bishop of Fulham. He urged the Synod "not to share the pain around. . . There is no monopoly on pain. We know this is a . . . hurtful process to our psyches, but it hasn't got to be hurtful to our Church."

Christina Rees (St Albans) suggested that the Measure reflected "who we are". It was "workable entirely", and was "good because it does what we mainly want it to do: to open the episcopate to women". She reminded the Synod that it had agreed in 2005 to remove the relevant legal obstacles, and in 2006 that the change was consonant with doctrine of the Church. "If you don't believe we have the authority to decide on matters like this, I have to ask, why did you stand for Synod?"

Mrs Rees referred to the Indiana Jones film in which the hero faced a chasm that he was able to cross by taking "a step of faith", after which a stone bridge formed out of thin air: "We have to take this step together. We know we can trust one another." The ultimate authority was Jesus Christ. The Synod could make the Measure work by showing "good will" to one another.

Fr Thomas Seville CR (Religious Communities, York) said that he could not see "the basis in the Measure for the kind of trust that is needed to go forward". He continued: "There is a suspicion that law is the default which you have to have when there is no hope for trust. . . Good law makes for trust and for relationship. . . That law we need for the basis of the development of that trust and respect. It isn't there, and I think you are kidding yourselves if you think it is."

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that most Synod members had "arrived at substantive convictions . . . over a longish period. . . It would be odd to expect convictions like that to change in the course of a few hours." Dr Williams said that he had "no intention . . of trying to persuade those with the deepest convictions against the substance of the Measure to abstain, if you believe that the Measure is against the will of God for his Church."

But Dr Williams said that he thought that there were some members of the Synod "who are genuinely uncertain, either about principle or [about] tactics and timing". There was not "absolute certainty" that this was the right step, but there was "an increasingly strong flow of feeling and thinking" in the Church.

"We have to weigh whether, in the long run, we can defend a system where certain priests are for ever blocked from having their episcopal vocation tested."

The legislation before the Synod had come about "after an intensely detailed process". There was now "a legal requirement that any diocesan scheme should work in a way which members of a minority can recognise as taking them seriously in their own terms. The much maligned word 'respect' means that there is a legal requirement that the convictions of a minority should make a measurable difference."

Dr Williams had come to believe "that the grounds for dissent were so varied that it wasn't a good idea to spell out in detail how accommodation might be found. What mattered was a clear a statement as possible that minorities' account of their own convinctions could be expected in law to make a difference. What was needed was a small but strong hook on which to hang discussion of a fuller Code."

Dr Williams also asked Synod members to consider the message that voting against the Measure would send to society: "A 'No' vote would not do anything positive for our mission at this juncture." There also remained the "deeply troubling question of how much energy we want to spend on this in this decade, and how much we want to bind the extraordinary energy and skills of a new Archbishop into the same agenda."

Dr Williams's prayer was "for all of us, even those strongly opposed, for a sense of liberation, so we can go on to the next stage. That next stage won't be easy or peaceful. We will still have to argue through the context of the Code."

Dr Williams concluded: "It is time to turn a page and discover what we can actually do about this. If this rings any bells, and if you don't find yourself completely convinced that the only proper answer is a "No", I encourage you to ask how you can play your part either by supporting or abstaining in a potentially liberating moment for us all."

In a maiden speech, Carol Wolstenholme (Newcastle) said that she had received many communications about how to vote in this debate. "Many of those asking me to vote against focus on the demotivating effect on those who can't accept women bishops," who would feel betrayal, and that they had no place in the Church.

"I've sometimes needed to remind myself that these views are not those of the majority. My plea is to remember the majority of lay people and clergy in the Church who do want women as bishops, who too may feel demotivated, betrayed, and that there is no place for them in the Church" if the Measure was lost.

In another maiden speech, Kathleen Playle (Chelmsford), who had come to the Synod with a broken ankle, explained that, when the vote to ordain women was carried, the Vicar of her church had felt unable to remain. "As heart-breaking as it was for him and for us, he resigned." She said that the Measure "does nothing to reassure women like me, conservative Evangelicals in ministry, . . . that we are loyal Anglicans."

Rosemary Lyon (Blackburn), in another maiden speech, said that she had "listened hard to the debate and was still listening, . . . wanting to hear from people who are very much encouraging me to support this Measure, whether there is a place for me. I think we need to stick with scripture, and I'm not convinced this is the right time to take this decision." She respected those who had come to a different decision, but said that she wanted "to hear . . . whether I really have a legitimate place".

The vice-chairman of the House of Laity, Tim Hind (Bath & Wells), said that it hadn't been a 12-, 20-, or 125-year journey, but a 150-year journey, beginning when the then Bishop of London licensed Elizabeth Ferrard as the first deaconess in the Church of England.

He said that the Church was the ecclesia, the gathered; and the parochia, those outside. "The ecclesia has been focusing our attention for some time now, and I fear it is at the expense of the parochia," he said. The decision would have an impact on ecumenical relationships whichever way it went. "No further work will affect that."

The Archdeacon of Norwich, the Ven. Jan McFarlane (Norwich), had not heard "anything new" today, and suggested that it was "insulting" to suggest that the Synod had not given enough time to the discussion. It was "time to act", and it could be argued that "we have been waiting over 2000 years to reach this point."

She asked whether those opposed to the change could understand that "if we try to move it on again, then those in favour won't vote for it. It's like a seesaw, and I believe we have reached the pivotal point."

The Measure did not reflect a Church "bowing to secular pressure", but one "doing our theology in context". She warned that "a Church that is so out of step with the world around us that it is regarded as irrelevant removes any possibility of speaking with a prophetic voice to that world."

Parts of the world where women were treated as second-class citizens were "looking to us to model a better way".

Anne Martin (Guildford) said that the Synod must "accept the impossibility of finding words which we can all absolutely agree on". If the draft legislation was rejected, there was "no guarantee that we can do better", and a risk that, for those who opposed it, the legislation that came back might offer "even less". She urged these members to trust in the provision of Clause 5(1)(c) and the Code of Practice.

The Revd Charles Razzall (Chester) spoke to the appeals that had been made to "grace, trust, and goodwill". While the Church had a "background radiation" of these virtues, it was important to remember that it was legislation that was under discussion, and "all the natural-law tradition teaches us that legislation should not be based, predicated, on the presumption of goodwill." The Church was composed of "both saints and sinners, and the faultline goes through each of us". Thus legislation must be "indifferent to any presumption of goodwill". It must also offer protection to the vulnerable. The Measure before the Synod did not meet these criteria.

While Bishop Victoria Matthews in Canada had "certainly acted with great personal generosity and goodwill", other bishops in Canada had been "less circumspect". Mr Razzall suggested that the Measure provided for only one understanding within the Church to be "normal and expressed fully ecclesially". While the other was not "relegated to a matter of personal opinion" by the Measure, it was forced to "live in an ecclesial half-world with no legal guarantee of the succession of bishops and ecclesial life in perpetuity". For these reasons, he urged the Synod to reject the Measure.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, gave an impassioned speech, seeking to reassure the Synod that the bishops, the "overwhelming majority" of whom supported the Measure,

"are committed to making things work. We will be in the dock if things go wrong. We are the ones with the greatest interest in making it work."

Bishop Cottrell argued that the provision in the Measure was "better provision" than the Act of Synod. "I say to conservative Evangelicals, 'You will be better served by this set of arrangements,'" because he would be able to offer them the ministry of a conservative Evangelical bishop.

The Measure could "work for all of us", the Bishop said. "This is Spirit-led. We have been brought to this point where we can say 'Yes' to this. I'm voting 'Yes' for the good of the Church. . . Please join me in that lobby."

Samuel Margrave (Coventry), in a maiden speech, said that the Synod should listen to the traditionalists who were saying that the provision they had been given in the Measure did not meet their needs. Time was "irrelevant, in the grand scheme of things", Mr Margrave said. "Traditionalists just want their theological convictions recognised; the legislation really isn't good enough." He urged the Synod "to reject this legislation, because it doesn't meet the needs of the whole Church. Let us not undo one injustice by creating another."

John Shand (Lichfield), in another maiden speech, said that he was 70, and that for all his adult life "I've yearned to see women bishops in my lifetime; not out of some token bowing down to secular political trends, but as an affirmation of our gospel of inclusive love. I want to see them accepted with joy and acclamation."

Mr Shand urged Synod members to "put aside this last decade of acrimonious entrenchment, of megaphone diplomacy". If the Measure was passed, "many hearts will be broken; but, if it falls, many other hearts will be broken too, my own included."

Canon Ann Turner (Europe) said that she understood the "impatience and desire to get on with it" of those who wanted the Measure to pass, "but inside me, the inner me, my conscience says no." She had tried, over the past 20 years, to attend worship where the eucharist was celebrated by a woman. "My feet won't get me to the altar-rail. I think this is my conscience."

She continued: "We have said, as a Church, that we will have women bishops. I accept that; but, please, not at any price. I seriously believe we can do better. . . When the Spirit wills, a day will come when 'Yes' will mean 'Yes' for the whole Church of England to flourish together."

Dr Lindsay Newcombe (London) said that she loved being an Anglo-Catholic; and loved the Church of England for its breadth and diversity. But, she asked, "Will my daughter grow up in a Church where being a traditional Anglo-Catholic is something you have to fight for?"She said that the Measure would lead to "endless public debate about a Code of Practice and diocesan schemes; and endless uncertainty about how we relate to each other. It has the potential to stifle the mission of the Church in future generations, tying it up in endless discussions."

Susannah Leafe (Truro) thanked the bishops who had stood up to say they would make the Measure work, but told them: "It may come as a surprise to you, but you're not immortal. There will come a day when you are no longer the House of Bishops, and we will be relying on other bishops. Promises made by previous generations can't be held accountable to this generation."

The Revd Jacqueline Stober (Liverpool) said her children and their friends had been thrilled when she had been first ordained five years ago and set up a Facebook fan page "I love the Rev!" "That group is now all 18. . . Students are interested in what the Church is doing. There is only one thing they refuse to discuss: women bishops," she said. "I asked my daughter for her opinion, and she said she could not see how a particular bit of anatomy could affect your ability to do a job. We preach that 'There is no male or female.' Our problem is that they believe us."

Lt Cdr Philippa Sargent (Armed Forces Representative Council) said that she did not think that wording "matters all that much". The Church, like a family, would not be held together by words, legislation, or pieces of paper, but by love. She urged the Synod to accept that the words of the Measure were "good enough". The "real work" would be done "day by day, person by person, parish by parish, diocese by diocese". But this would not happen unless the Holy Spirit was given "room to work in us". The Synod should vote for the Measure and "get on with what really matters".

Canon Judith Maltby (University of Oxford) was entering her 20th year as college chaplain in Oxford. The young people she worked with gave her "enormous confidence in the future of the Church". While they went to churches in all traditions of Anglicanism on Sunday mornings, they gathered together in the college chapel in the evening. She reminded the Synod that the least-represented group among ordinands was young women, and urged it to "think about them, too".

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) reminded the Synod of St Paul's teaching against the Church's having recourse to secular courts to resolve internal disputes. For this reason, he urged the Synod to vote against the Measure.

The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher (Southern Suffragans), said that he used to believe that male headship was "part of the order of the biblical record", but that he had since changed his mind, after reading "the whole New Testament". His previous view had been "too bound by 1 Corinthians"; he had since taken into account passages such as Romans 16, where "you have a wonderful grouping of men and women." He had also had "the sheer joy of working with female colleagues over the last 20 years". The House of Bishops was "the one body I now sit in which feels very odd indeed. . . It is a disadvantage to our Church to keep it all male."

The Revd Janet Kearton (Ripon & Leeds) described the legislation as "good news for the Church of England", because "it provides the women bishops that 42 out of 44 dioceses expressed their longing for," and "it provides a clear and relational way for parishes to request alternative pastoral and sacramental ministry." She urged members to vote for the Measure.

The Revd Andrew Howard (York), a chaplain at Teesside University, said that the institution for which he worked accommodated diversity. "Why is Church, of all places, failing to do so?" The Measure as it stood did not accomodate the minority of traditionalists. He urged members to vote against the Measure.

Canon Dagmar Winter (Newcastle) said that in rural areas, where people could not pick and choose the church that suited them, common sense, not law, was enough to allow each other to flourish. "We can use this legislation as a platform from which to welcome women to the episcopate and include those who do not welcome this."

Dr Charles Hanson (Carlisle) asked: "Where is the Code of Practice? We've seen an illustrative draft; we all know that drafts can be changed in every particular before we reach the final version." In being asked to approve the legislation, the Synod was "being asked to sign a blank cheque", which "risks bankruptcy".

The Revd Maggie McLean (Wakefield) said: "The decision we must make today is not only about women in episcopal orders, but about the kind of Church we are called to be. Any further delay, or excessive provision for those who have already 2000 years of ministry on their terms, will hinder the mission and credibility of the gospel."

The Archdeacon of Northampton, the Ven. Christine Allsopp (Peterborough), spoke about risk, the subject of her first sermon as a deacon, 23 years ago. She also reminded the Synod about the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1992, when he told the Synod that it was "caught between fear and faith". She had decided, in spite of her fears, to vote for the Measure, and urged the Synod to "take the risk and continue to journey together despite our differences, and step out together in faith".

The Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, expanded on the concerns that he had expressed in the Church Times (Comment, 9 November) about the Measure. To vote for it was, he suggested, "to vote for a theology of the episcopate where people can choose their own bishop, . . . a Church in which bishops in the House of Bishops are not in eucharistic union with one another."

He "longed" for the day when women could be ordained as bishops and "fully accepted"; but the Measure was "doing more to change the theology of bishops than we have acknowledged". The Church had not got the Measure "sufficiently right" to win his support.

John Ward (London) spoke as a lawyer in response to concerns about the legal weight of the word "respect" as set out in the Appleby amendment. This word was, he said, "already known in the law of England". It dated back to the Geneva Conventions on the law of war and was enshrined in Articles 8 and 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to respect for family life and the right to education and respect for the right of parents to ensure education in conformity with religious and philosophical convictions).

He spoke of a case concerning parental objections to the use of corporal punishment in schools. A court had ruled that respect must mean more than taking into account: it conferred a "positive obligation on the part of the State". Merely striking a balance between conflicting views was "not enough"; neither was a policy of gradually abolishing corporate punishment. The word "respect" was "known in law and will be respected".

The Dean of Jersey, the Very Revd Robert Key (Winchester), said: "Jersey is a small jurisdiction and when the fog comes down we're on our own." He explained that his ministry was to support the views of all of those placed in his care by the Crown and, at her command, the Bishop of Winchester's commission.

"Evangelical and Catholic churches within the Church of England in Jersey do not find the provisions in this Measure acceptable."

He was an enthusiastic carnivore, "but my best friends don't eat meat." He envisaged a Christmas meal at which he invited his friends: "I could say to them, 'Here's a single-clause dinner: turkey, like it or leave it. I could say: 'I've made provision for you. You can have the vegetables by themselves without the turkey.' I don't think either of them would think that they had an honoured place at my table. It matters not that the provisions are acceptable to the host. It matters that they are acceptable to the guests."

The General Synod's other Robert Key (Salisbury) cited a number of historical examples, include a quotation from Elizabeth I ("There is only one Christ, one faith. All else is a dispute over trifles") to show that the Church of England had a history of reconciliation, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and the reconciliation between the old Celtic and new Roman traditions. Salisbury, he said, was a happy diocese, and had been for 1300 years. "We're not about to change. The Church of England has always been a folk Church - a Church of our people."

As they sat there, he said, "there is only one thing that really matters: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and our neighbours as ourselves; to do that, we need to vote in favour of this Measure."

Janet Perrett (Ely) said: "Our Church truly is a family, or all of this wouldn't hurt so much. However much we are disappointed or dismayed by one another, we must still remain a family, and not leave anybody out. We need to, and we must, stay together."

Susan Cooper (London) urged Synod members to pass the Measure "for the sake of the mission of the Church, not just the Church of England, but all Christian communities in this land". She said that St Paul realised that circumcision was a barrier to mission in the Gentile world, and travelled to Jerusalem to persuade church leaders to abandon this requirement for adult converts. The inability of women to serve as bishops was a barrier to mission today.

The Revd James Dudley-Smith (Bath & Wells) said that he was grateful to the Bishop of Chelmsford for his speech, and "looked forward to meeting the conservative Evangelical bishop who holds a view against the ordination of women to the episcopate" to provide for those parishes. "There is no such bishop in the Church of England at present."

Dr Phillip Rice (London) said that that bishops would have "their own particular views" about how a diocesan scheme should work. It would have been "better to have the Code of Practice on the face of the Measure". He urged the Synod not to vote for it.

Professor Helen Leathard (Blackburn) noted that the Synod was "gathering to deal with internal business rather than mission and outreach. . . It is time to put our internal wranglings behind us and to start reaching out to the world."

Clive Scowen (London) spoke of the "importance of God's people keeping their promises". Twenty years ago, "promises were made. . . to members of our own Church who could not in conscience receive the priestly ministry of women. I suggest that we need to ask ourselves today whether this Measure before us, which includes repeal of all provision made in Part 2 of the 1993 Measure, is keeping faith with those promises. I don't think it is."

The Revd Andrew Dotchin (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said that he had voted for the ordination of women as priests - in Swaziland. Bishops were voted for at the same time. In that vote, several bishops who could not in conscience ordain women, "out of a sense of assurance and collegiality, . . . either abstained or voted in favour of the motion".

The first consecration of an African female bishop had just taken place in Swaziland this past weekend, he said. "Perhaps now there's a time for England to follow Mamma Africa; please vote in favour."

The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough) quoted Hillary Clinton's assertion that "democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority, but also about protecting the rights of the minority". The Measure "doesn't do what it says on the tin: it doesn't provide any legal mechanism for any assurances [for traditionalists] to be put into effect."

The Code of Practice "will be subject to revision by the Synod, and diocesan-synod motions for years to come. The only way that assurance can be made for certain is by putting it into the Measure itself; the only way to do that is replace this unfair Measure with a Measure that is truly fair."

The Revd Dr Rosalyn Murphy (Archbishops' Council) spoke as an Evangelical priest who was "in sympathy" with those opposed to women bishops, but also in favour of the Measure. This was a "unique opportunity to continue to journey together in unity, love and trust". If people felt that they could not trust one another, they could trust in the synodical process that had guided the church for two millennia, or, if not, then they could trust Christ, whose "plan for us is that we will all prosper together and not perish".

Joy Gilliver (Chichester) said that the primary reason why she could not vote in favour of the Measure was her concern about unity and Catholic consensus. She questioned whether the Synod was happy to have a Measure that "gives an incumbent the power of veto if a PCC wishes to give a letter of request", and removed Resolution A so that a parish priest could invite women to celebrate "irrespective of the views of the PCC". She feared that the Measure imposed "discrimination against the lay voice".

The Revd Jane Morris (London) said that many Evangelicals whose theology was conservative and who took scripture "seriously" found the Measure to be consonant with scripture. The Holy Spirit was poured out on all people, she said; and people of all backgrounds were called into ministry and leadership. A generation of young people would be "devastated" if the Measure were rejected, she said.

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nicholas Baines, spoke to the ecumenical element of the debate. With regard to Catholic consent, he argued that the Church of England was "an ecclesial community in the eyes of Rome, and our orders are invalid; so let's get real about it". If he could not believe that the Synod had the authority to press ahead, then he wasn't an Anglican.

He challenged the claim that people were being "pushed out": "it's a choice, as an adult. . . We have to take responsibility for the decision we take." Others had spoken about the Olympics, and he pointed out that the Games had a deadline: "You can't for ever train and keep preparing: you have to make decision. . . Are you going to convince me we will be doing it differently in five years' time?"

The Revd Mark Ireland (Lichfield) longed to be able to talk about "something else" at the next Synod, he said. The Measure was a compromise, but it was not second best or a bronze medal. "If we are to win this nation back to Christ, we need to harness all the leadership gifts God has given to his Church."

Gerald O'Brien (Rochester) warned that, if the Synod voted against the Measure, there would be those who would feel unable to continue their ministry in the Church of England. He argued that "every single one will be someone who believes that God called them into the ministry of the Church of England." In addition, every single one would have been regarded by the Church as someone called to ministry. The vote was "deadly serious". If the Synod voted in such a way that people gave up the ministry that God had called them to, then it would be a "very sad day".

Dr Chik Kaw Tan (Lichfield) described how he had turned to Christ at the age of 17 and had had to "grapple with many issues". The man who had brought him to Christ had given him one basic principle: "If you are not sure, don't do it." He urged the Synod to remember this, and to vote against the Measure. Abstention was "a yes vote by proxy".

Anneliese Barrell (Exeter) described the Measure as a door with one hinge. When it closed, it would look calm, contained, and the status quo maintained. "That is, until pressure is put on it. PCCs start actions in the civil courts, respect is forgotten, and an as-yet-unseen code of practice is changed, what is promised is forgotten, our security no longer exists, chaos and schism will tear the heart out of our beloved Church. Like the door with one hinge, it will collapse; then who knows what will come flooding through." She urged the Synod to oppose the Measure. "We are so close to consensus on the important issues."

Lucy Docherty (Portsmouth) said that the Church of England had got itself "caught on barbed wire that we have created by our own competing certainties". As in the film War Horse, she said, a truce would be needed if they were to cut themselves free. "A truce would be risky, but it carries the potential to bring great good to all sides."

She urged the Synod to vote for the legislation and "place ourselves in God's hands, secure in our faith that he will give us the grace, courage, and kindness that we will need in the years to come to live with the outcomes of this legislation".

Canon Jane Charman (Salisbury) said that the debate had been "one of the most inward-looking debates that I can ever remember at this Synod. . . This is not about my right to exercise my ministry on my terms, or my right to receive the ministry I prefer. It's not even about our corporate responsibility to continue to provide one another with the ministry each of us wants."

She responded to the Dean of Jersey's speech. Those they wanted to invite as guests were "those who are not yet part of our fellowship". "The spin-doctor of divinity does not exist who can make the exclusion of women sound like good news to those outside the Church."

Canon David Banting (Chelmsford) urged the Synod to vote against the motion. The issue of headship meant that this was not an internal debate. The Measure had been back and forth in a process of thesis and antithesis, when the proponents had been upset by the Bishops' amendment. Now, "Opponents are upset, but we are told that we cannot wait and must go forward now. I beg the Synod to vote "No", so that we can now have the opportunity, not to wait for ever, but to wait for synthesis."

Canon Gavin Ashenden (Southern Universities) said that the Church of England was now where the Episcopal Church in the United States had been 30 years ago. Since then, the Episcopal Church had "moved from accepting the minority, to indifference, and then to oppression", he said. "I can't understand how it is that those members of this Synod who say this won't do to allow us to flourish, to be, and pray, . . . how they simply cannot be heard.

"The eucharistic debates of the 16th century make this look like a doddle," he said. Yet Anglicans had managed to live with "two utterly irreconcilable theologies of the sacrament".

Timothy Allen (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said: "The present compromise is as good as we can get. . . If we insist on an ideal best, we will lose the good now offered by the present compromise Measure." If the Measure was defeated, this "would convince many that we are so far outside society's present-day norms on gender issues as to deserve only mockery and indifference. There could be no sadder end to Archbishop Rowan's ministry."

The Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) said that "trust" was not relied upon in other areas of church life, where "numerous canons and statutes govern our conduct." It was not clear how the Code of Practice would work out; some appeared happy to leave the fate of opponents to "some sort of flexible standard which we can make up as go along. This is bad legislation, which must be rejected."

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, said that his faith had been transformed by working with female colleagues. "I have been enriched by what they have revealed to me of the nature of God and Christ. I am excited about the future; we can make this work. . . We just need courage to go forward and unleash what God is giving to his Church."

Emma Forward (Exeter), an Anglo-Catholic, said that "not one person in the whole debate for whom provision is being made . . . has expressed that this legislation would be good enough. Not one person has even come close to saying that would work for them." What did proponents of the Measure think of them? "Are you just going to tell us it will work? We have sat down and looked at this, because our survival depends on it."

Canon Susan Booys (Oxford) urged Synod members to replace the word "but" with the word "yes", and "to come and dance with me".

Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham) said: "Now is the time to seize the moment and to make a positive decision, which will allow women and men to flourish and able to honour their vocation at every level of the ordained ministry. . . To demonstrate to the peoples of our nation and rest of world the sort of Church we really wish to be."

Canon Chris Sugden (Oxford) argued that "Christian doctrine is not set by a popular vote, as if an episode of Strictly Come Dancing". Opponents should not be turned into "members of the Church of England on sufferance. We do not make ourselves taller by making other people kneel. Please vote against."

The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) said that he was a pacifist, but could live in a Church with those who were not. "We can also live together with those who believe in the consecration and ordination of women and those who can't. Let's vote for this measure now."

Dr Edmund Marshall (St Albans) said that the Measure was not a perfect solution, but "we have to work with what is possible. . . The work of separating the wheat and tares and making the future evolve is the work of God; it is not the work of the House of Bishops, or us in the Church. God alone severs. . . By passing this Measure, we will allow him to do that."

Charlotte Cook (Youth Council Representative) spoke as a 22-year-old ordinand. She wanted to offer reassurance to a previous speaker who had expressed concern, as a traditionalist, about whether her baby daughter would have a place in the Church of England. If she were able to vote, she would vote in favour of the Measure. She was committed to both those who believed that women could be ordained as bishops and those who did not.

The Revd Paul Cartwright (Wakefield) recognised the "sense of urgency", but but urged the Synod not to "throw out the baby with the bathwater". It must listen to minorities. Now that "people have stopped shouting at each other", it was time to "get round the table and make a difference".

The Revd Dr John Perumbalath (Rochester) described how his church was flourishing, despite the fact that he had joined a parish where people did not agree with the ordination of women. Trust was the way forward.

Sally Muggeridge (Canterbury) questioned who, if the Measure was rejected, was going to tell the Queen that "we have failed her." Forty-two out of 44 dioceses supported the legislation. "It's not perfect. We know it's not right; but please vote 'Yes'."

Alison Wynne (Blackburn) said that the idea that the mission of the Church depended on the passing of the legislation was a "fallacy". In her many years of evangelism, she had never been asked about women in the Church, or told that somebody would not come to church unless it had women bishops. It was "far more important" to get the Measure right than to do it quickly.

The Revd Stephen France (Chichester) spoke of how Jesus had told the crowd that his disciples were his mother, brother, and sister. He urged the Synod to vote "Yes" and to "move forward in faith".

Angela Scott (Rochester) said that her prayer was that the Synod could be "counter-cultural" and "show the world we can work with difference". She wanted to allow the bishops and dioceses to work with trust.

Margaret White (Newcastle) said that she had been a "faithful member" of the Church of England for 80 years and asked for someone to tell her "what I have done to be treated so badly. . . Why am I being treated as a second-class member?" She had been offered a "wretched Code of Practice instead of a place in our beloved broad Church". She would vote against the Measure.

Jane Bisson (Winchester) argued that respect was a "subjective word" that would bring "comfort and encouragement to some" and "tears and devastation and sorrow" to others.

Jacob Vince (Chichester) argued that the present legislation had "real potential to disable two significant traditions of the Church of England" and would impair growth. "What organisation would pass legislation that makes it more difficult for any part of it to grow?"

Margaret Condick (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) spoke of the joy that would greet a "Yes" vote, a "symbol of good news for the world . . . Let's vote in favour, and show the world that we move forward together."

The Archdeacon of Chichester, the Ven. Douglas McKittrick (Chichester), argued that it was not possible to "force compromise", which was "not a name given to God. Love is."

Canon Gordon Oliver (Rochester) argued that the Synod was "not primarily a legislative body, but a gathering to find a way forward together". The "only conceivable excuse for a gathering as gruesome as this is that Jesus Christ is Lord for the glory of God the Father". Jesus had not selected gold, silver, or bronze, but wood and nails. The Synod should vote in favour of the Measure: "The dioceses have spoken very clearly. We must represent them."

Peter Collard (Derby) argued that the Measure was "not as good as it gets", and that it "can be improved".

Dr Anna Thomas-Betts (Oxford) paid a "huge tribute" to the legislative drafting group for the "enormous amount of meticulous work they did month after month". They had considered "every possible option in great detail", she said. When people urged the Church to "sit at the table and mediate a solution", or said that it was "so close", she wondered what they meant, as "virtually everything that can be thought of has been thought of, and we have arrived at this point."

The Revd Philip North (London) said that his pastoral assistant was at the dentist receiving root-canal treatment. "I'd give all the money in the world to swap places with her." He said that he felt great sadness that as a Church they had got themselves into this situation. "We stand at the end of a road with a choice of junctions. One road leads to a fiery furnace, and the other leads to a lions' den. Which road do we take?"

He said that he didn't care about the reaction of the press or blogosphere if the Synod voted down the Measure, but he did "care deeply and passionately about the reaction of women priests and women ordinands" who were his close friends, and whose ministry he valued, cherished, and admired deeply.

He acknowledged that they would be deeply hurt by a "No" vote. "I can't bear to think about that. One thing I can assure you about is that if this Measure falls, there will be no celebration."

He said: "I simply do not accept the authority of the Church of England to make this decision." The Church of England was "not some small, independent state Church, but part of the wider Catholic Church with all its limitations and all the joys that that entails".

Dr Elaine Storkey (Ely) said that she had been listening to the debate - both those who wanted a single-clause Measure; and those who opposed women bishops who said that, despite all assurances to the contrary, insufficient provision had been made. "If what you are hearing is fundamentally wrong, conflicting with your conscience and deeply held theological convictions, there can be no way forward that holds the whole Church together."

The fears, she said, had been reinforced in the debate by inflammatory words. "We have been told we are going to drive people out of the Church, are going to impose women on others, exclude appointments, create second-class members of the Church, discriminate, and make sure that ordinands from Oak Hill do not get any parishes.

"We are not going to do any of those things. We really are not. We have taken all this time over this Measure because this is exactly what we do not want to do."

She continued: "Evangelicals will always be those who love the truth. Catholics will always be those who love the sacramental tradition. . . But if we put those so high so that we can no longer share together the vulnerability of Christ on the cross, we will never understand and experience his redemptive love for us also."

The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd John Goddard (Northern Suffragans), said that he was "able to acknowledge that the majority of the Church of England wishes to have women bishops. In conscience, in theological commitment, that is not where I stand, but I do recognise that it is the weight of the Church.

"But I have also been promised that there would be proper provision for people like myself - a provision that I would embrace because I would love to continue belonging loyally and flourishing, engaging in mission, winning souls for Christ within the Church of England. It's my spiritual home; it does theology the way I do theology; but, above all else, in it I find a touching place of Christ."

He wanted the Synod to vote against the Measure: "We can fix this, and, under God, we will. I, for one, while I'm not able to feel any joy in today's proceedings, will work with others to find a unified way of moving forward with twin tracks of the ordination of women to the episcopate and proper provision for those who cannot accept it."

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, said he had been considering all the voices that the Synod had heard that day. "We are not hearing the voice of those who are marginalised and unheard in our society: the young unemployed, displaced children."

The Church's place in society was very different now from 20 years before, when the Church of England had voted to allow women priests; and the 12 years of debate on women bishops had coincided, in the past four years, with a dramatic global financial crisis. The Church needed to make its voice heard more clearly on these issues. "Not only is this voice wanted by the people; a 'No' vote will diminish it in Parliament, and we will commit ourselves to another decade of disputes if the Measure fails."

The Revd Angus MacLeay (Rochester) said that there the great concerns of opponents did not exist in a vacuum. The context was a decision-making body that was deciding to rip up promises made, apparently in perpetuity, 20 years ago. Concerns about trust had to be interpreted in that context, which included the public vilification of female members of Reform.

Second, if the draft Measure were carried, Synod members were looking to the Code of Practice group to solve all the problems. His experience of being on the present group was that, unless there was a significant increase in the representation of traditional Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals on it, this would be unsuccessful. All they had was words, but these words had to be backed up by actions.

Whatever definition of a "conservative Evangelical" people came up with, the fact was that there were conservative Evangelicals who in conscience would be unable to ordain women, and not one had of them had been preferred in the past 15 years. Despite the Pilling report, there was no genuine respect for their theological position.

If Synod members wanted some actions to look at, they should look at the "tragedy of the Episcopal Church in the States over the past 30 years". Speakers had said that, if the Measure was lost, it would be "missional suicide"; but "missional suicide by any indicator you care to use" could be seen in the trajectory of events across the Atlantic.

"Everything that gave us hope has gone through a process of theological subtraction," he said. The Rochester report had attempted to set out the theological issues. "Many were not interested in such a fundamental debate." The process had, instead, taken for granted secular principles rather than discuss what the Bible meant.

A bishop in July had said: "I don't believe in headship." But if you took that view, you would do something serious to the Church. Headship was not intrinsically a bad thing. If you said that things were equal and the same, what would you do to Christian ministry, Christian marriage, and the Christian view of the Godhead?

There would be no victory in the coming vote: it was a train crash. "We will have to vote against." But they wanted to respond to offers immediately to sit with other groups, to find a solution that would work.

Responding to the debate, Bishop McCulloch said that the Measure would have to be supplemented by self-restraint and graciousness on all sides; and no one was being asked to sign a blank cheque: Clause 5 gave the details of what the Code of Practice would have to do. The past 20 years had not been easy for anybody. If they wanted to wait for perfection, "you will be waiting for ever," he warned.

The motion for final approval was put to a vote by Houses, and failed to gain the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity, and therefore lost overall. Bishops: Ayes 44; Noes 3; Recorded Abstentions 2; House of Clergy: Ayes 148; Noes 45; Recorded Abstentions 0; House of Laity: Ayes 132; Noes 74; Recorded Abstentions 0.


Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)