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