General Synod February 8 2012

February 8, 2012 § 6 Comments

Good morning all. I left you abruptly yesterday, so you didn’t hear about the debates and discussions I myself missed. Synod rejected a call from the Diocese of Chichester that a Deacon could become an Archdeacon, and heard about a new way of the Anglican Communion being involved in matters of relief and development – a body called the Anglican Alliance for Relief, Development and Advocacy.

I was however present at the service at Westminster Abbey which expressed repentance for the expulsion of presbyterians in 1662 (which led ultimately to the formation of what is now the United Reformed Church), and hope for continued closer working between our denominations. It was well done and spoke much. I was also sitting right underneath a pulpit in the Nave which is said to have been occupied by Cranmer. Special indeed.

Today Synod has worshipped together in Communion (with the theme of Seeking Guidance from the Holy Spirit and with a fabulous reflection from the Archbishop of Canterbury about seeking God’s future, not our own), and heard from the Bishop of Durham about the  situation in Nigeria.

Nick Baines has blogged profoundly about Nigeria here – Im sorry I wasn’t present.

Now it’s all about Women Bishops., and for the rest of this morning we are taking note of a report about how the voting in Diocesan Synods went. It’s more of the skirmishing before some substantial stuff this afternoon which gets to the heart of what arrangements will be made for those who cannot accept the ministry of a female Bishop.

The Dioceses voted heavily in favour of the legislation (more than did for Women Priests 20 years ago), but a number of  Dioceses added following motions (more so than 20 years ago). I’ll blog if  anything substantial is said.

12.15 Here’s a substantial thing…

The Archbishop of Canterbury has just clarified the nature of the ‘derivation’ and ‘delegation’ of authority, which is referred to in the Code of Practice, and asked us to give the House of Bishops a steer about the adequate provision to be provided for the minority of people who will object to the Measure. This is my quick resume – I hope I’ve got him right.

He says that two principles are enshrined in the Measure: A single episcopacy, and respect for the integrity of differences.

When a person is ordained they receive the church’s authority to preach, teach and minister the sacraments. Their ordination is the derivation of their authority. And…the church exists in ordered form, legally and canonically. Someone who receives general authority needs to be legally and canonically ‘plugged in’ (his words) – they are delegated to exercise that authority. That is the difference between derivation and delegation.

A Diocesan Bishop is the legal entity to do the ‘plugging in’, and this is appropriate legal delegation, nothing in which prejudices the authority which is given at ordination.

With regard to the integrity of differences there is a problem with the use of the word ‘male’ Bishop in the Measure, in that objections to Episcopal ministry are not about gender alone, but that the gender issue arises from other theological convictions. The code may need to make more mention of such theological convictions, and not leave the word ‘male’ to bear such weight. He asks us to leave the door open to the House of Bishops to amend things before it comes back in the summer, especially to clarify the point at which theological convictions come into play. So a call to the House of Bishops this afternoon to amend ‘in the manner’ of the amendment the Archbishops proposed in 2010 might yet produce something which is not necessarily the co-ordinate jurisdiction which was then proposed.

We will see!

2.30. Afternoon all. Just about to debate the Manchester and Southwark Diocesan Synod Motions. It will assist the House of Bishops when they come to play their part in the legislative process before the Measure comes back to us in July. But it feels like a crunch moment. Will let you know.

Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochadale, proposes the Manchester Motion – to encourage the House of Bishops to look again at the Archbishops’ amendment, which would give, it is felt, greater safeguards to those who object to women bishops in all conscience. I can understand the intention, but I don’t think ‘coordinate jurisdiction’ actually does what people think it does.

Just looked upstairs…public gallery and press gallery is packed.

Rosemarie Mallett (Southwark) is now speaking on an amendment proposed by the Southwark Diocese (that the House of Bishops should make no change at all to the Measure). This itself is subject to possible amendment to ask the House of Bishops, if they do amend the Measure, not to do so ‘substantially’. After what the Archbishop of Canterbury said this morning, I would be content with that if it’s where we get at the end of the afternoon. Excellent and measured speech, which receives prolonged applause.

Pete Spiers is now speaking to the ‘not substantially’ amendment to the Southwark amendment. (Neither of these amendments has been moved, so we’ll have some complicated voting to do when we get to it). Very reasonable – the Bishops should be allowed to amend the Measure, but we can ask them to keep to the main thrust of it.

Into general speeches now. Joy Gilliver (Chichester) says that coordinate jurisdiction implies cooperation. I’m not so sure. Katheryn Fitzimons (R + L) talks about ‘inclusion’. If we get coordinate jurisdiction we would diminish women in law.  (I think that’s what she’s about to say anyway!!). Angus McLeay (Rochester) speaks as a Member of the Revision Committee and of the Code of Practice Drafting Group. He’s an objector to women in episcopacy, and speaks of the generosity of the discussions in the detail of the process. They tried to find a way to treat objectors and proponents together, but could not find a way. They did not look at coordinate jurisdiction, and, he says, he wished they had. So let’s put it on the table. He supports Manchester.

Clare Edwards (Canterbury) says that coordinate jurisdiction would give some people the means to say who is and who is not a bishop.

Sentamu now speaking. The objective of the Measure to include all members of the C of E is not fully met – objectors don’t feel safe. People object to him because he has ordained women, but he is no less a Bishop. Listen to Rowan this morning, he says. The Diocesan Bishop is not divested of their powers as Diocesan when there is coordinate jurisdiction. He is convinced that there should be a not change of substance to the Measure…but you can make a substantial change which does not change the substance!! So he doesn’t like the amended Southwark. Go for Manchester.

Paul Ferguson (York) speaking in support of Manchester (because York passed it too). There’s a structural bias so far – every diocese which passed a following motion gets to speak about it. And so far I’ve not heard a convincing theological rationale for coordinate jursidiction in this form. Paul looks for a pattern of ‘plural episcopal ministry’ which depends on trust. I agree – but disagree that coordinate jurisdiction is the way to express it.

Sister Anita (from the monastic order based at Whitby) reminds us that Hilda of Whitby presided over a Synod which came up with one jurisdiction, not two. She calls us to mission, with women in their right place. Resist Manchester. Warm applause.

A speaker notes that it is growing churches (evangelical) which will have most problem with women Bishops.

Michael Perham (Bishop of Gloucester) notes that 15 Diocesan Bishops votes against the Archbishops’ amendment in 2010. He says that the current Measure IS the compromise. The final vote must be yes, and we must not have a Measure amended as per Manchester. You do not need to vote for Manchester to enable the House of Bishops to explore the nature of delegation and sharing of Minstry. “Manchester is not the way forward. Southwark as amended by Spiers could be”. Long and loud applause.

Philip Giddings (Chair of the House of Laity) says that we should not be ruled by majorities. If we moved house we would not leave people behind if they didn’t want to move. Not an analogy I think works.

Sister Rosemary (CHN) asks us not to go for Manchester – it would require us not to be together. Good for the nuns.

Bishop of Coventry is broadly pro Manchester, because in the 3rd Century there was a kind of coordinate jurisdiction. The Bishops acted as group in their responsibility for the whole. Give us Manchester so that the House of Bishops can do some more theology.

Bishop of Guildford says that coordinate jurisdiction is about shared authority, not transferred authority. The Diocesan remains the diocesan.

Philip North (London) is also pro coordinate jurisdiction – but like all the other speeches doesn’t say why it works theologically.

Aiden Hargreaves Smith says that the current Measure is like offering a steak to a vegetarian.

Christine Hardman (Prolocutor of Canterbury – Chair of the House of Clergy of the Province) speaks on behalf of senior women and says test the current legislation.

David Houlding says that objectors are not discriminators. And we need the Manchester Motion – otherwise the lifeline for loyal anglicans who object will be cut. He raises the emotional temperature, as he has done before. Christina Rees says that we rejoice that God has led us to this moment. The Measure and Code are a ‘yes and’. Yes to women Bishops, and there will be provision. The Manchester motion is a ‘yes but’. Yes there are women Bishops, but no they are not Bishops like others.

We are about to vote in a complicated way. The amendment to Southwark, followed by Southwark (amended or not), followed by Manchester (amended or not). The Southwark people are happy to accept the Spiers amendment.

We have voted by Houses

Bishops 40 – 5 (1)
Cergy 122 – 70 (1)
Laity 107 – 85 (4)

And Southwark is amended. Now we see whether Manchester is to be amended by the amended Southwark. Archdeacon of  Rochdale asks us to reject the Southwark amendment – coordinate jurisdiction is a way forward. Rosemarie Mallett says it isn’t. And she takes on the Archbishop of York, saying that the lawyers have not yet ruled on whether coordinate jurisdiction is a matter of substance.

We are about to vote by houses – effectively it’s Southwark (amended) vs Manchester.Voting on SOuthwark

Bishops 26 – 16 (5)
Clergy 128 – 64 (o)
Laity 111 – 85 (1)

So the motion is not Manchester but Southwark. And we go for an immediate vote after the Archdeacon of Rochdale has to sum up a debate she did not call for – the Southwark motion completely changes what Manchester asked for. BUt she is brilliantly gracious.

The vote was clearly carried on a show of hands. We have agreed to invite the HOuse of Bishops not to amend the Measure substantially.

§ 6 Responses to General Synod February 8 2012

  • Mark Bonney says:

    Thanks Jeremy – I understand what happened a little clearer thatn I di from the newspapers!!

  • […] Fletcher pro­duced a work­man­like and seem­ingly reli­able live blog of the debate fol­low­ing Rowan’s […]

  • Rhiannon Jones says:

    V helpful. Thanks Jeremy!

  • Richard Brown says:


    Just to say thank you for your posting on the debates. It helps me remember exactly what has happened at GS!

    I think the overall voting figures from the women bishops debate are interesting. Compared to the 1992 vote, when women were permitted into the priesthood, the votes on Wednesday show an increase in %age of those voting for the Manchester option. In any case, if the Bishops do not alter the code in a manner which is fair and reasonable, I believe (based on voting statistics) that the legislation may struggle to get through in July. The house that may bring down the legislation is the House of Laity! I, as well as many others really do hope that it doesnt come to that, and pray that the HOB do actually bring something back that is workable and that will enable those who are unable to accept the ordination of women to the episcopate to stay in the CofE. But unless those of Anglo-Catholic or Conservative Evangelical integrity are provided with ‘what we need’ I am afraid that I will vote against the legislation. I believe that co-ordinate jurisdiction is the best way forward as it clearly does not remove the authority from the Diocesan Bishop (who may be male/female). It provides a partnership way of working whilst ensuring that the Diocesan retains all of his/her jurisdiction.

    One thing that you didnt mention was the graciousness from all within the debating chamber. It seemed, for me, a far more courteous debate than what we experienced in July 2010. I hope and pray that the next meeting of GS is equally as good and that all people show Christian charity to others – that is certainly what i will be doing!

  • Thanks Richard. You’re right about the courtesy – and humour too on occasions. I’ll blog later about coordinate jurisdiction, as I’m not sure it does what people want of it. But what I am clear about is that no one wants to compromise the convictions of those whose consciences do not allow for a female bishop. I have a real hope that the H of B will bring something back which makes that clearer.

  • Charles Read says:

    Thanks fo this account – very helpful as I had to leave before the end.

    My fear though is that the HOB will bring back something that many of us who are in favour of women as bishops will find unacceptable because it makes such bishops (and male bishops who ordain women) effectively second class bishops – this is why the word ‘male’ is important. If parishes / clergy can opt for a bishop who has not ordained women then surely this implies some kind of taint – and I wish there were another word one could use there.

    Then we will have +Gloucester’s worst-case scenario of those in favour of women as bishops voting against the motion – a very real possibility. Ironic if the HOB produced a text which meant that the legislation failed due to voting by those in favour of the substantive matter!

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