1.11.08

My letter following the Christina Rees prompt

Dear Bishop
I really urge you to stand by the decisions that were made in the June Synod, concerning women bishops, and not to give in to pressure that would lead to the creation of a separate structure, which might actually, without it being intended, create two separate churches. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to create unity not to increase fracture and brokenness.

I urge you not to back legislation that would consecrate any more PEVs. With an alternative Episcopal structure, we can not really call ourselves a church - we are divided.

The idea that the creation of women bishops will cool further our relations with the Catholic church is, I'm afraid, not something that I feel we should be too concerned over. The Catholic Church do not recognise Anglican orders, male or female, so really, this is not a sufficient reason to delay the consecration of women to the episcopate. We might focus instead, more appropriately, on our relationship with the Methodists, with whom we share a great deal in common.

We need to recognise and consecrate women for their desire to serve the Body of Christ. If we do not the effect on the church will be disastrous, surely. We will alienate half of the people made in God's image. Women are likely to feel demoralised and discriminated against. Tradition has denied women these offices but the Bible does not. We have inherited a way of reading the Bible; a patriarchal hermeneutic, that has really manipulated its message so that its inclusiveness is hard for many to see. The Bible is a text that is full of light and hope and surely not something that would render half of the planet silent; unable to speak publicly and have oversight over those who speak publicly of God's love and salvation through Christ, it just doesn't make sense. If we are really going to recognise the beautiful complementary creation that is humanity - made male and female, we should be able to benefit from oversight from both male and female bishops.

The vast majority of people in our parishes want women to be bishops. Their voice has not been adequately heard or listened to. Most of these people would not threaten to leave, they are counting on the Church to move forward.

Before too long women will be able to be bishops, but the terms of the legislation and Code of Practice are crucial and progress must not be hindered by a small minority who choose to read the Bible in a particular way.

God be with you at this time, so that you might make decisions that will glorify Him, whatever they might be.


Thank you
Rachel

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.