AN ATTEMPT to bar traditionalists from ordination in the Church in Wales was heavily defeated in the Church’s Governing Body on Thursday of last week.
The private member’s motion called on the Bishops to refuse to ordain any candidate who objected to the ministry of women priests and bishops. This would involve retracting conscience provisions created in a Code of Practice in 2014 when the Church authorised the consecration of women bishops in the first place (News, 1 May).
But, after an hour-long debate in the Governing Body (GB), members voted overwhelmingly to reject the motion, proposed by the Archdeacon of Llandaff (Llandaff), the Ven. Peggy Jackson.
Sixty-three people voted against her proposal, 20 abstained and 19 voted for it. Two of the Church’s six bishops, however — the Bishops of Bangor and St Davids — indicated their support for the motion.
The debate, which was expected to be vigorous and extended, was in fact cut short after all ten speakers urged the GB to reject the motion.
Several said that the prospect of the discussion had given them sleepless nights. Others spoke of the dismay felt in some parts of the Church that such a divisive issue was being brought to the fore again.
The Revd Rosemary Hill (Llandaff) said although she deeply disagreed with those opposed to her ordination as a woman, she could not support banning anyone from receiving sacramental ministry, including ordination.
“I know the pain of having my vocation denied, and I will not willingly inflict that on anybody,” she said.
Alan Glass, a layman from the diocese of Swansea & Brecon, described Archdeacon Jackson’s motion as “not just unnecessary and untimely, but divisive and malicious”.
The women-bishops debate was a “wound” in the Church in Wales which was starting to heal, but the motion sought to “expose it and scratch it and make it bleed again”, he lamented. “It’s time to move on and put this thing behind us.”
Paulette Brown (Monmouth) said that she and other traditionalists could have quit the Church after it changed its canons to permit women’s ordination, but had not.
“The fact we have not done so is proof of our deep loyalty to the Church we love. But, instead of respecting this and valuing our contribution, this motion wants to take the safeguards away.”
A current ordinand, Gareth Erlandson, rebutted Archdeacon Jackson’s argument that women had to suffer their calling and vocation being disputed and dismissed by traditionalists. He said that he had spoken to every current female ordinand in the Church in Wales and reported that all had told him that they had never experienced this kind of discrimination.
He applauded the “spirit” behind the motion, but said that a cultural shift was under way, and the wounds felt by the first generation of women clergy were being healed in a new atmosphere of mutual respect between traditions.
For her part, Archdeacon Jackson insisted the intention of her motion had been misunderstood as an attack on traditionalists. She did not want to force out those who disagreed with women’s ordination, but simply to ask any traditionalists who sought to enter the priesthood to reconcile themselves to the existence of women in all orders in Wales.
“It is not to say there is not a place for them, but the Church will not set up a parallel jurisdiction in order for them to stay,” she concluded.