Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Doubts and deliberations

There seems to be some level of confusion as to whether the composition of the new Synod is likely to favour traditionalists and be prejudicial to the cause of groups such as WATCH, who are in favour of a code of practice as provision for those opposed to women's ministry.

We always knew that the composition of this Synod would be crucial, so it is hardly surprising that we are seeing anxiety and speculation. I remember that the different sides were recruiting supporters in July. I had to explain to one or two people that a. my job does not allow me to have the time off that is required and b. I was present at Synod as an exhibitor, but I am not currently an official member of the Church of England, not being on any electoral roll.

Now the reports have been published and there are claims of a recruitment of evangelicals to the new synod ensuring that 66% of the clergy, and almost 36% of the laity would vote against legislation if all that was offered was a code of practice. ( if you remember, the legislation in favour of greater provisions for those opposed to women bishops was only narrowly defeated in the House of Clergy in July.) However, this press statement from WATCH seems to suggest that the situation is not so clear cut, although how far this may be wishful thinking is yet unclear.
Damian Thompson suggests that the Bishop of Fulham's departure for Rome may be premature; I think not as I suspect that some opposed are leaving for the Ordinariate because they cannot accept women bishops at any price.
Meanwhile, Rod Thomas of Reform, has released this document describing the "increasingly uncertain" future of those opposed to women's ministry. He seems to give further credence to the likelihood that there will be an evangelical equivalent to the Anglo Catholic society St Wilfred and St Hilda, obviously for those opposed to women bishops on the grounds of male headship rather than sacramental assurance. Julian Mann (Cranmer's Curate) writes of the society having as its basis a group of about twenty Gafcon-supporting churches and saying this could be set up before 2012. Mann also says that they would bring in some missionary bishops to show that the new society means business. It looks like they are going to attempt that manly thrust after all!

Finally, my attention was particularly caught by this sentence in the Reform document,

"We must encourage people to keep offering themselves for the ordained ministry for as long as it is possible."
Presumably by "people" Reform actually means "men"? I am assuming they do and that this was an error, as otherwise the implication would be that Reform do not consider women to be "people"?

I hope they are not going to go back to the days of debate about whether women have souls...


  1. I would imagine that they would encourage women to offer for Diaconal ministry.

  2. I suppose so. Having said that a lot of Reform members/ churches based their thinking on a very narrow reading of scripture, in particular verses such as 1 Timothy 2:12. If you believe that women should not even teach men or have any position of authority, or indeed should keep silent in church and ask their husbands at home(!) One would wonder how the position of deacon could be justified anymore than priest? Since the issue is not sacramental assurance or apostolic succession, but is more based on scriptural injunctions, it would seem illogical?

  3. Women have souls. Rod Thomas doesn't.

  4. He says in the document:

    but at the very least it seems likely that some of our best young men will be put off offering themselves for the ordained ministry in the Church of England

    Presumably, some of their sub-standard older men will be happy to offer themselves, but they want to make sure those young thrusting uncompromising women-conquerors still apply. I'd like to see them try to get me to shut up.

  5. Most evangelicals support women's ordination so a large evangelical grouping may not mean the House of Clergy would vote against. And there are more women clergy on GS this time round...

    Charles Read
    (evangelical clergy and convinced a Code of Practice will have to do)

  6. Hi Charles and welcome!
    I agree that most evangelicals do support women's ordination. The term "evangelical" is quite broad anyhow, I might blog on what being an evangelical actually means in the current climate (different things to different people, I suspect.)
    I think it is hard to predict how this new Synod will vote anyway, we will have to wait and see. Might I see you there in July then?

  7. I tried to post a comment on your blog, Charles. It won't allow comments unless people are logged in, but there is no facility to log in. Just thought you ought to know:)