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Women in the episcopate: first reactions to the Synod’s final-approval vote

18 July 2014


From the Revd Don Brewin

Sir, - Along with many others, I am pleased that the Church of England has voted in favour of women bishops. But may I express a note of caution.

When the Episcopal Church in the United States voted to appoint women bishops, there appeared to be an unseemly competition to be the first. This was exacerbated because bishops there are elected, encouraging the ambitious to put themselves forward. Some of those who became women bishops were and are of the highest calibre; but others were projected into high office for less laudable reasons, and have not served God or the Church so well.

In the Church of England, thank God, we do not elect our bishops; but the pressure will now be on those who appoint bishops to be quick to choose a woman, whether she is right for the particular post or not. There are some outstanding women clergy; but the media are already speculating about who might be the first woman bishop.

The important thing is not who is the front runner, but who is God's choice. This requires much prayer, clear thinking, and a willingness not to be swayed by political correctness, public opinion, or media pressure. This may take time; but it is worth waiting for the right choice to be made.

Wickham Cottage
Gaddesden Turn, Billington
Leighton Buzzard LU7 9BW

From Mr A. D. Hewlett

Sir, - The General Synod voted on Monday to put the Church of England in the forefront of church reform for a modern age, and has taken care to make provision for all shades of opinion and faith, charging all of us to be charitable and understanding of those whose feelings are not our own.

Now let us acknowledge our commitment to each other and our acceptance of each other's positions by asking the Bishops to provide an immutable liturgical moment to be used by us all to open each and every act of public worship, perhaps like this:

Versicle: God grant grace to your Church to worship together in unity and concord.

Response: In the name of the Holy Trinity. Amen.

Folly, Winsford TA24 7JL

From Dr Christopher Wilkinson

Sir, - RIP the Catholic creeds that the Church of England claims to profess. When will the Anglican Churches in these Islands come clean and proclaim, boldly, that they are now truly Protestant, and end the farce of reciting the Catholic creeds daily, when they no longer believe them?

3 The Terrace, Rhymney NP22 5LY

From the Revd James Oakley

Sir, - Canon Angela Tilby appeared to be criticising two views of headship (Comment, 11 July). The full version teaches that women are secondary beings, less in God's image than men. The more moderate version says this applies only in family and church. The former is old-fashioned and rarely found today; the latter is troublingly inconsistent.

I don't know whom she's learnt these views from, but I hope she would be reassured to know that we conservative Evangelicals would not wish to see either view represented in the House of Bishops. The biblical view of headship, classically formulated, is quite different.

Nobody is claiming any female inferiority in church, family, or anywhere else. Men and women are equally made in God's image. But we are designed differently, to work in partnership in complementary roles.

Tellingly, in alluding to 1 Corinthians 11, Canon Tilby cited only Christ's being the head of man and the husband's being head of his wife. St Paul gives a third parallel: the head of Christ is God. The first two Persons of the Trinity are in ordered relationship, and yet equal in dignity and divinity. Indeed, without this, the Trinity explodes into tritheism.

This is the key place to begin, if she's looking for a view of headship that is not arbitrary or worrying, but biblical and liberating.

The Vicarage, High Street
Kemsing, Sevenoaks TN15 6NA

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