Archive for November, 2012

Women Bishops Vote

I am surprised at just how sad and low I am feeling this evening after the vote at General Synod today. I wanted the legislation to pass. I genuinely believed it was the best we could do to enable us to go forward together. I feel gutted for the wonderful women we have who would make excellent bishops. I am gutted too for younger women coming into the church; I had hoped this evening there would be no glass ceiling for them. But I am gutted for us all as I think we would all gain by women in the episcopate.
However I then have to recognise that we have all been praying for the Spirit to lead us and teach us. So with the outcome as it was I have to start reflecting on what the Spirit might be saying to us. These reflections might be wrong but they are my first humble stab.
The majority of synod voted Yes. Indeed if we were not divided by houses the legislation would have had the necessary two thirds majority. So might the Spirit be saying, “Yes, you are right, this is the direction in which I am calling you.” But the laity, though a majority said Yes, failed to give the two thirds required. Here I wrestle with what the Spirit might be saying. It could be that the voice here is speaking of a need for reform, a call to laity to join in more fully for I am sure this is not representative of the laity across the church as a whole. But it could be the Spirit saying, Yes, right direction of travel but wrong route; using the voice of the people to tell us all clearly. But then if this latter is true we could quickly divide into those who say Yes the Spirit is telling us we should have had a single clause; whilst others will say the Spirit is telling us we have failed to provide graciously and fully enough for the minority. Tonight I cannot say, and anyway it is not my personal view but the corporate mind of the church that has to be determined.
The Church of England really does want women as bishops, that is clear. But sadly enough think we have not found the right route to have stalled the way.
One thing appears clear to me; we have to find a different way of doing the business as and when we return to it – which we will. Somehow we have to find ways in which all really do think and feel that they have been listened to fully.
So deep sadness; some anger and a commitment to work towards finding a way that will ensure thorough support in all 3 houses in the coming years. Meanwhile I will also keep working to see women and men develop as leaders together in my diocese.

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