BISHOPS attempted this week to deal with the fall-out of the
General Synod's rejection of the women-bishops
Measure. Protests have been planned for Sunday week.
Having made strongly worded statements expressing
disappointment, or even anger, at the outcome of the vote (
News, 23 November), many bishops met their diocesan synods and
female clerics to discuss the repercussions.
The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, in an address to his diocesan synod on Saturday,
said that "a significant number" of clerics in Sheffield had
"talked of resignation and withdrawal - from their posts, from
additional responsibilities, from volunteering, from the life of
the Church of England".
He encouraged those considering their positions "to channel that
sense of hurt and anger not into withdrawal but engagement".
The diocese contains a large number of conservative Evangelicals
and traditionalists. Speaking on Tuesday, Dr Croft said that the
discussion was a "passionate but measured. . . One of the things
that came out from a number of different quarters was the
importance of having conversations across the divide to build
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, held a
champagne breakfast for female clergy in his diocese last Saturday,
which he described as in "a longstanding Christian tradition of
offering praise in the face of adversity". It also provided an
opportunity to discuss the repercussions of the vote, he said.
"Nearly one in three priests in Chelmsford diocese is a woman.
Without them, the Church would be in a very bad way."
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, who was one of three
bishops to vote against the Measure, told his diocesan synod that the vote had
damaged the Church's "self-confidence and national reputa- tion. .
. We now have to face some very uncomfortable facts that will
implicate us all in a review of our decision-making processes as a
The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, said in a
letter to his diocese that "the door to women being bishops is open
and cannot now be shut. The clear majority of the Church of England
demands it. . . There will be women bishops in the Church of
England, and I hope and pray that the wait will not be a long
Discontent has been growing among grass-roots laity about the
vote. The Revd Maggie Durran, a retired priest, has suggested that,
on the Second Sunday of Advent (9 December), all women in the
Church "be silent" (Letters).
"You may be present, you may take a day off. You may organise
rotas so there are no women presiding, preaching, reading, leading
intercessions, and no sideswomen. . . Let men do it all."
Christine Walters, a laywoman in Hereford diocese, is
encouraging women in the diocese to wear an apron to church on the
same day. "The idea is that women in the pews wear an apron or
pinafore on top of their clothes as a mockery of the idea that they
are fit only for tea making. . . We are asking men to wear a purple
Concerns about the ecumenical implications of the vote were
addressed by the Joint Implementation Commission of the
Anglican-Methodist Covenant. A statement "voiced its disappointment
that the General Synod has not found a way to move forward on the
question of women bishops".