Requesting a man!

The richness of the Church of England is that we are a reformed Church and as Cranmer observed 'the church has been reformed and should be reformed in every generation.' We have made discoveries over time as the Holy Spirit has guided us. In the past, it was realised that the doctrine of the celibacy of all ministers of the Church could not be biblically substantiated. Further on in history the issue of the abolition of slavery was a matter of reformation in Church doctrine. More recently the Church of England, with many other Anglican Provinces, has concluded that there could be no theological bar to the ordination of women priests and therefore women bishops.

This is what enables traditionalists to think that women can be ordained and consecrated. This is what enables those with the highest view of scripture to think that women can be ordained and consecrated. It is supported by liberal Anglicans too but also by many of us, like me, who consider ourselves conservative evangelicals.

In July 2006, the Church of England said this:

'That this Synod welcome and affirm the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church as the Church of England has received it and would be a proper development in proclaiming afresh in this generation the grace and truth of Christ.'

Two years later, as I launched this blog to investigate what was happening, my imagination so captured by all the proceedings, the church said this:

'That this Synod:

(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;

(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;

(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and

(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.'

This is not a debate about whether the Church of England has Women as Bishops, but how we hold it all together with Women Bishops. Does the legislation achieve this? That is what we are debating                                       

Dioceses all around the country are now being asked to think these important issues through. They are being asked to consider not whether women bishops are a good idea, but whether the arrangements being proposed are the best way forward for the Church so that all views in the Church are respected.

Synods will then vote on the following motion “that this synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priest (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon No 30.” That vote will then be fed back to the Church’s national body, the General Synod, where the issue is likely to be decided in February 2012.

If your parish parochial council passed Resolution A - no woman can give you the Holy Communion or tell you that God forgives you.

If your parish parochial council passed resolution B - you will not have allowed a woman to be in charge of your church.

If your parish parochial council passed resolution C, you will have had a bishop who agreed with A and B, this might not have been your church's diocesan bishop and so you will have seen another man confirming people in your church.

Churches all over the country have been debating recently what they are going to put in place of the above to provide for people who refuse to take communion or leadership in a church from a woman.

It is now the case that you can not automatically be given another bishop who sympathises with your views that the priesthood should only be male. If parishes call in another bishop, if they had a woman leading a diocese, this would not help to establish what bishops are all about - unity! In itself two separate authorities would symbolise disunity. So, if a male bishop was needed and a woman was in charge, the woman would be asked first if this was okay. It is very likely, I would imagine, she would say 'yes.' I think St Paul in the New Testament has a lot to say about us helping those who have problems which might hinder their faith being supported by the church. He asks that we might be sympathetic. I am almost sure women would show a lot of grace. There are lots of statistics to reveal that women are more orientated by what facilitates relationship than men.

I like this about Romans from Campbell Paul and the Creation of Christian Identity (2008). It speaks neatly into the situation we find ourselves in:

If you are a resolution A or B parish, this will be phased out over the next few years but you will still be able to request a man in writing and petition for one after this.

Here is the official writing on the above

If Diocesan Synods approve, General Synod (probably in February 2012) will put together a Final Drafting. Then two-thirds majorities are required in each House in July 2012. If approved, the legislation would then go to Parliament for consideration by the Ecclesiastical Committee and each House of Parliament and you might begin to see women bishops in about 2014. I'll be forty that year, how nice.

I have tried to use plain-speak to make this clear.

If you want to access the views of someone who shares my theological convictions and attended a diocesan synod to ask questions and hear viewpoints, take a trip over to Ian Paul's site. He has been putting a book together on women in ministry, which will be available soon and I am sure you will find, that as his site proclaims, on this issue - it all adds up. Ian Paul reveals moreover that a very clear case from scripture can be made for women in all levels of ministry but you might have to keep visiting his blog to find out when you can access his research altogether in a book-form. (Soon to be published by Grove.)


Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Ah you'll be 40 in 2014. So you'll be a bishop then anywhere between 2024 and 2034.

Rach said...

Well, of course, I was only being cheeky about that - but I am glad to be joining the church in these times...where changes lie ahead.


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