Breaking news on revision committee progress reaction

Super and flying or not super and flying? Super? Flying?

It would seem that there might be flying bishops but there will not be super-bishops, in fact, from what I can understand, it would seem that 'headship' (yes, that rather misleading term), could be invested in a woman: (remember though that this is only the story so far, which will be played out in meetings until a final decision in 2012)

I quote:
After much discussion, the members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions for vesting which commanded sufficient support both from those in favour of the ordination of women as bishops and those unable to support that development. As a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated. The effect of the Committee’s decision is therefore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.

...so if the diocesan bishop is a woman and she decides that another bishop can be flown in to confirm or ordain those for whom she, by her gender, presents problems, then is not the fact that she has assented to this arrangement a sign of her authority over the situation and thereby does she not pollute the chain for traditionalists, remember this:

To test the purity of a church for a traditionalist, he would need to ask the priest:

(1) - have you ever received communion from a woman?
(2) - were you confirmed by a female bishop?
(3) - were you confirmed by a male bishop who:-
(a) - was confirmed by a female bishop?
(b) - was ordained by a female bishop?
(c) - was ordained at a service where women were also being ordained?
(d) - was consecrated at a service where a female bishop was present or laying hands?
(e) - has ever received communion from a female priest or bishop?
(f) - has ever ordained a female priest?
(g) – has ever participated in the consecration of a female bishop?
(4) -If you answered 'no' to (3(a) to (3)(g)) above, repeat each step (a) to (g) in relation to:-
(i) the bishop who consecrated the bishop who confirmed you
(ii) the bishop who ordained the bishop who confirmed you
(iii) the bishop who confirmed the bishop who confirmed you

Is there a point to be inserted at the top:
Are you confirming/ordaining me after receiving permission to do so from your diocesan bishop? Is that bishop a woman?

And if she's a woman, then they are scuppered, aren't they?

I wonder what the end result will be for those who cannot tolerate the episcopal oversight of a woman? There are three more meetings to go before February and I think the next few weeks are going to prove a very interesting time. Christina Rees does use a persuasive subtlety in her affirmations, for how can a Bishop represent unity if some of the functions are transferred to someone else. She is pleased that thus far "the Church of England can proceed to opening the Episcopate to women in such a way that the nature of the Episcopate is retained". It is retained because a consecrated woman will represent unity because she will make decisions about the 'protection' of those for whom her ordaining and confirming presents problems. If I understand things correctly, she will get to make the decision as regards bringing in a man for these functions.

Anglo-Catholics have an offer on the table from the Vatican but what about Conservative evangelicals?

For Anglo-Catholics going to Rome, will they need to be certain that they fulfil some of the Magisterium's rulings? For example, can a divorced and remarried Anglo-Catholic take communion in the Catholic Church (Catechism para 1665)? What will happen to priests who join the ordinariate? Will it really all be so easy for them?

Will Conservative Evangelicals take up membership of Reform and support all things GAFCON, FOCA and Jerusalem Declaration? Will we have the creation of a church within a church?

Someone over at Thinking Anglicans describes how 'There will, therefore be 3 "anglican" provisions in England: The CofE; the Ordinariate; and some form of evangelical anglicanism under the umbrella of GAFCON. What needs to be addressed now is the relationship between those 3 bodies and the means by which folk align themselves to them.' Someone else describes how 'God's rain falls wetly on the Anglican evangelicals, the Anglican Catholics, and the Anglican progressives, no matter.' ;-) (of course this betrays a limited understanding of what it means to be an 'Anglican evangelical', but we all know what he's getting at).

See Thinking Anglicans and included below is the statement from Christina Rees, who always manages to communicate what everything means in essence, without all the jargon!

Saturday, 14th November 2009 – for immediate release


WATCH is delighted to hear that the Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate has decided that legislation for women bishops will no longer include proposals for the mandatory transfer of authority - the vesting of particular functions by law – in bishops who would provide oversight for those unable to receive the Episcopal and/or priestly ministry of women.

WATCH commends the recent work of the Revision Committee, which met yesterday to explore how the previous proposed arrangements could be made to work. WATCH is aware of the huge outcry from members of General Synod and from other Church members to the earlier announcement of the Revision Committee to make changes in law that would have resulted in a two-tier episcopate.

WATCH Chair, Christina Rees said: “This is a real breakthrough. I am delighted that now we can look forward to having women as bishops on the same terms that men are bishops. Women will bring valuable different perspectives and ways of doing things and will also bring a sorely needed wholeness to the Episcopal leadership of our Church. The House of Bishops will cease to be the ‘men only’ club it has been and will be more representative of the people whom the Church exists to serve. Now the Church will be able to draw on the experience and wisdom of many gifted women. We know from 15 years of having women as priests that they are often able to reach people and approach situations in ways that are creative and empowering for many others.”

WATCH is pleased with the outcome on two counts: first, and most importantly, the new proposals express the theological understanding of the Church about the status of baptised Christians and about the relationship between men and women and God. Secondly, the Revision Committee has shown that it has heeded the will of General Synod to draft legislation that would not have arrangements in law that would differentiate between male and female bishops.

WATCH continues to urge to Revision Committee to bring proposals to General Synod in February 2010 which adopt the simplest possible legislation, so that the Church of England can proceed to opening the Episcopate to women in such a way that the nature of the Episcopate is retained and the Church can best communicate its belief that women and men are equal in the eyes of God.


Peter O said...


I think that's a great list for highlighting the issues for those of us who have a "sacramental" objection to female priests/bishops (as opposed to those whose (evangelical) objections are more based around issues of headship and teaching).

Can I ask you a question? Do you think that some provision, like a third province, needs to be made for those who simply cannot theologically accept women bishops, even under a statutory code of practice or are you in the "like it or lump it" camp (as it were)?

Rachel Marszalek said...

Interesting Peter for me to dwell on your question. I am opposed to the idea of a superbishop if it means that he is a female bishop's hierarchical superior.

However, as someone whose very good friend at college can not accept communion from a woman, I understand that he is simply approaching the Bible with a different hermeneutic. I have often found that those who can not accept the eucharist from a woman are wanting to preserve tradition and haven't always engaged with the scriptures at first-hand. However there is also in traditionalists a motivation to test everything which I think honours both God and his church.Those who wish to change tradition need to have patience and women must ensure their efforts are for the benefit of humankind, not just womankind. There is no room for feminist appeals to the secular.Everything in God's house must be done with order.

Theologically, the plural name of God, Elohim is worth dwelling upon. The Hebrew is a feminine noun with a masculine plural ending intimating that when God made humankind in his own image, he was exemplifying something very fundamental about his own nature. He made us in his image and we are male and female. The imago dei includes both men and women. To me we are therefore being far more faithful to the imago dei if we have both men and women shepherding the church.

However, we all grasp our faith differently and God has so much patience with us. If I were a bishop (!) I like to think that I would love my brothers enough to see them take the eucharist or accept holy orders from a man if that helped them to come into the presence of God psychologically, and I would step aside. I inwardly believe that they make their Christ too small if he can only be represented by a man but I am also aware that we all grapple with our symbolic reconstructions of the truth and in whatever guise we stand as representatives, we fail him, I just do not see how a woman by her very biology fails him more.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you have really answered Peter O's question other than by restating what you believe about these issues.

You write

"I have often found that those who cannot accept the eucharist from a woman are wanting to preseve traditions and haven't engaged with the scripture at first-hand"

This may be true for some, but from what I have read from their writings many of them have engaged with the scripture first-hand and have reached very different conclusions to yours.

They find your beliefs as theologically objectionable as much as you find their beliefs on Women Bishops.

So as for Peter's question: Are they to lump it? Should they have a third province?

I cannot really imagine a Woman Bishop worth her salt giving them any shrift at all. In fact the system will act to drive them out of Anglicanism and lead to their extinction in the CofE which I suspect is what people like Christina Rees are really aiming for.


Rachel Marszalek said...

Hi Iconoclast
I think the Church demonstrates its patience by allowing flying bishops to ordain and confirm those for whom a consecrated woman poses difficulties. There will come a time, I am sure, when this will be seen as just one of our birth pangs. We will survive this problem and the church will proclaim afresh the vision of our Saviour in ways that resonate with the lives of people today and tomorrow.I think that the expression of the priest as male only, will be a part of the church's historic evolution into what it will one day become when we live out Gal 3:28 more faithfully. In the meantime, we exercise patience and we love those with whom we disagree and we wait for the church to 'grow up'.

Rosemary said...

"In the meantime, we exercise patience and we love those with whom we disagree and we wait for the church to 'grow up'.

In other words, we love you BUT you're wrong, so we'll just wait until you grow to where we are. We are a superior breed to whom God has granted superior understanding. Sounds just like the super apostles in 2 Corinthians .. sigh .. and I've heard it so often before.

Anonymous said...


So by implication, are you are saying that those who believe that Prieshood is male only, have not grown up and that those who don't have?

That they have still somehow to climb up the evolutionary theological ladder whereas proponents of women Bishops have got there first? Is that not patronising them?

Suppose that growing up might really mean that the CofE should take a more complementarian position?

With respect Rachel, you still have not answered Peters's question. The impression I get is that the provision of PEVS will disappear and that provision will be 'discretionary' only and what that will mean in practice is only too clear to the proponents of male priesthood.

So are they going have to lump it, have a third province or leave?

I am not taking sides here BTW.


Charles Read said...

Anonymous - I am surprised that you know what Christina Rees' motivation is. I work with her often and don't recognise your assertion as accurate....

On the substantive issue here, the church (of England) cannot offer people just what they want simply because they ask for it. The transfered functions approach has been rejected by Synod twice because it would destoy any semblance of episcopacy shared equally amongst all bishops. The Revision Committee unsurprisingly found its efforts to square the circle won't work.

If we wanted to push those opposed to OW out of the Church, we would go for no provision at all for opponents. A robust Code of Practice should provide what they need, but not what they say they want.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Charles, I took her sentence "the Church of England can proceed to opening the Episcopate to women in such a way that the nature of the Episcopate is retained" to mean that she does care about maintaining the idea of all that a bishop should represent.

But you would know better about her motivations than I. I do think though that we have to preserve the theology of a bishop. i do not see how this can happen if we have a sharing out of functions. However, I am unsure what the answer might be.

Perhaps traditionalists want something more than the Church is able to provide, indeed. What do you think their options are?

SueM said...

Such good news. I am so delighted and pleased for countless women who will now be able to feel their ministries are valued by the Church and will be able to reach their potential without curtailment. Happy too as a lay woman feeling more valued by the Church than I did before. I am sorry for those "opposed" but I do not think it supportable that women's ministries and gifts should be sacrificed to their scruples.I hope that those who stay, stay with good grace and those who go to Rome do likewise.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Re my comment about 'growing up'.

The idea of the church 'growing up' is theological. We will grow up into the head that is Christ and surely the gender wrangles are just one problem amongst many we face but there is so much hope.

Thank you, Sue, yes, it is good news that the Church is now being more faithful to Lambeth 08 after the October 09 set-back.

Rosemary said...

I'm afraid SueM, that you don't understand our position. If you have EVER been in a church where you as a woman were not 'valued' for your gifts and ministries, then that church has failed you in it's teaching. IMHO, many churches have failed in that area for centuries.

Rachel, it changes nothing to say the 'growing up' is theological, I had assumed that. It's exactly what liberals have said to me, charismatics have said to me .. and all their reasoning was theological.

Jesus says we are united in Him. That we must strive to be united in Him .. well is that what is happening? Is you saying we're wrong and you're right achieving unity? I have not only expressed a different way on this blog, I have lived it for over 20 years.

Janice said...

I don't think this argument is about male versus female bishops at all. It's about law versus grace.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Rosemary, you have been in Christian ministry for twenty years and is it the case that because of your hermeneutic you have not preached from the Bible to men? I am not saying you therefore haven't ministered to men, in our Christian lives we cannot fail to do this, simply by living alongside them. Does your hermeneutic cause you to believe that women called to 'ordained' ministry, where they will preach from the front to mixed congregations (which is what happens in the churches that God has established) are mis-hearing that call because of certain passages in the Bible, because of tradition or because you do not feel that a woman can represent Jesus in his humanity?

Rosemary said...

Actually Rachel, I've been in Christian ministry for 30 years, but 20 of them as the wife of an ordained minister. I think my personal views are fairly well known by you, but I don't think they're very relevant to this particular conversation. I think a much more important question here is, "How can we work together?" In fact I suspect the question for you at the moment is, "CAN we work together?" Or would you prefer to 'cleanse' the church of women who do not believe as you do .. because that's going to take a very strong will and complete conviction that this is God's Will.

We have a full time women's worker in our parish, she's our second, so I have some experience with the huge demands that are made of her. Both our full time workers have been single, so their committment wasn't divided between family and parish. Even so, let me give you a couple of thoughts about the realities of her situation.

1. If someone with a pastoral problem goes to my husband, lets say the time spent will be half an hour. Then they will pray about the situation and my husband will return to his other duties. The situation may remain a part of his urgent prayers for a while, but that is 'sort of' dealt with. If that same person goes to our women's worker, the time spent will be at least two hours. Ours have both been very empathetic, so ask many more questions, deal far more in tears and sympathy, and the situation is often such that it weighs on the heart of our women's worker, not just during that time, but for days and weeks afterwards.

2. Our women's worker requires more time off than our male workers. Not because of family committments, as I've already explained, but because the strains of ministry literally 'weigh her down.' This time off is absolutely essential for both her and us if she is to continue to be effective .. which she is. We have found that if this fact is not taken into consideration, then she quickly loses the essential 'heart' that makes her so effective, and she becomes just another 'guy' .. and someone we don't recognise as having her own unique and frequently gentle way of dealing with pastoral situations.
[Hope this fits in .. if so, to be continued..]

Rosemary said...

You mention in your latest post, that in your own parish you would hold services of thanksgiving for a new babe .. that's wonderful. As you point out, half the human race has often been forgotten by the church. Banished to running the parish fair and doing the dishes. They NEED this care and attention. They need much more too. They NEED to be assured of their equality with their menfolk, their brothers in Christ. Their children need to be taught and cared for almost better than the adults, because they are the future of Christ's church. Frequently however, the male gender has done a very poor job of this as Peter Carrell pointed out in reply. We [that is women and children]have been left with very little in the way of teaching, and left to assume that the sacraments will keep us safe.

So I'm thrilled that you're going for further theological training, positively delighted. I remember with clarity the enthusiasm I had to 'DO' something when I first felt the Lord's embrace and forgiveness. [I blush these days to remember what in my pride, I thought I could do mind you!]

So God be with you Rachel, but don't forget the huge numbers of women who don't feel as you do, but who need HUGE amounts of care, teaching and love. I think your heart runs that way anyway .. but that's just a personal opinion.

Now I personally don't think this means that women should 'teach' men. I DO think that equality should be shouted from the rooftops, that it is still unclear in the minds of many, especially those who push WO. I find that's often only 'skin' deep .. "Well we've given you the job you wanted, what more do you want?" It's simply a 'justice' issue with them, rather than a deep conviction that we ARE equal.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Much that I could resonate here with Rosemary and I feel that I know you a little better. Where the heart reigns and legalism or a strident shouting for equal rights do not, Christians engage. Legalism and feminism polarise debate. There are so many shades in between as we seek faithfully to do the will of God.

As regards the first part of your response, I listen with interest but can not always relate to the gender lines you draw, perhaps you are not drawing them but are speaking simply from what you have personally witnessed. In contrast, my life, so far has been shaped by having lived with a hard-working, pragmatic mother who became head of the household (not that we (the children) saw it that way but the world might, eg Mum dealt with financial matters, decision-making etc) due to my father suffering multiple sclerosis. My father always demonstrated (before and after diagnosis) that ability to give consideration to issues, to listen, suffer with etc that your women's worker demonstrates. My mother, the pragmatist is very good at looking to what might be next on the horizon.

In my own marriage I experience something similar with a husband who is very nurturing by nature.

I am beginning to enter into relationships with a spiritual director and women at college who demonstrate more the gifts of your women's worker but in my life, so far, it has always been men (male teacher A level), Head of English department (where I worked), my vicar, who have demonstrated a certain kind of tenderness. I just happen to be someone, because of my own experiences, who can not easily categorise on gender lines, it could also be a generational thing. Because of this I am less inclined to read the scriptures in terms of gender demarcations so I am aware that my own ideology impinges upon my interpretation and generates my hermeneutic but I am someone who is quite okay about this for I think that it is true of us all and is maybe even intrinsically good (I've been reading Grenz on hermeneutics) rather than us think hermeneutic diversity is a consequence of our fall, it might say more about how God made us all diverse and unique and he has a way to reach all of us.

Thank you for your contribution.

Rosemary said...

Rachel .. you are a NEW creation in Jesus Christ, you have shed the old.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions