Sunday, 18 November 2012

Women as Bishops - Waiting to Begin

As something of a professional peddler of bombast and barely disguised foolishness, I'm rarely lost for words. And yet I've spent a fair proportion of this Sunday evening trying to write something sensible, irenic and smart about the forthcoming General Synod vote on women as bishops. Perhaps something will yet emerge in the next twenty four hours. However, for now, I'm conscious that I can barely find words for what I want to say.

Perhaps this just reflects my general tiredness. It has been a busy couple of months and, truth is, I've been really quite ill this weekend. However, I suspect the 'famine of word and sense' reflects something deeper - that the time for smart words and cunning arguments may be done. I know that, over the next thirty six hours, speeches will be made for and against and there will be lobbying up until the moment of the vote. However, at a deep level I feel like the time for horsetrading and talking is done. Now is the time to act and vote. We all know, deep down, where we stand by now. We all know that people are going to be hurt, one way or the other. We all know that there are no magic solutions to be had. Jesus is not going to descend from  heaven in a fiery crown, like a second-rate superhero, to make it all alright.

I am not going to pretend that I don't have a particular voting outcome in mind. It's time for women as bishops. It's time for this piece of Synodical work to be passed. There is no other intelligent option to be pursued that reflects the overwhelming desire of the dioceses. Let's not pretend there is some dazzling piece of legislative alchemy that is yet to be wrought. Let's get it done and move forward, hoping and praying that - through grace - the very many differing groups within the C of E may yet be converted to each other. I still have enough faith to think it's possible.


  1. I pray you're right. Our church has had women vicars for nearly 20 years now - as a congregation we chose women until the diocese decided we could no long support a priest of our own. So we have chosen to have a female lay reader instead who helps officiate at most of our services - and leads when we don't have communion.

    Therefore we really don't see why women can't be Bishops - our first lady vicar would probably be one of the first in line - she was very ambitious and is currently known as The Venerable Christine Allsop (though my knowledge of clergy hierarchy is severely lacking, I don't know what that title means). I would be so proud if this were to happen. She baptised my youngest son 18 years ago - it would be great to see her get the position within the C of E she deserves.

  2. I agree Rach, as does the vast majority of the church, many other churches (including many Roman Catholics who would love to see women clergy in that church) and most outside the church can't understand what the problem is....
    The vote must be yes; at this stage, after all this time, anything else would be devastating for Mission & what little credibility the church has left.

  3. First, rotten bad luck about your poorly weekend and I do hope you feel better this week. I've given up mainstream Christianity for many reasons that I'm sure you would understand, so I guess it's none of my business, but as a sort of semi pagan 'spiritual searcher' I still revere Jesus, and churches are always banging on about wanting to 'lure' people like me into their membership, so my views might have some use. Like other churches the Episcopal church here in Scotland has voted for women bishops a while ago, but doesn't yet have any,and I suspect it will be ages before it happens. BUT - I'm not sure that just getting more women in positions of power helps. I know some brilliant women priests - like you ;o)but some are just as patriarchal as the men - it's the organisation that's the problem. Many churches are stuck in the 'tradition trap' IMHO - or they are only about doing good deeds and forget about the numinous which should prompt it. I just can't see Jesus thinking to Himself 'now, I'll need a proper hierarchy, and bishops will have to look after all the cash, and of course there are the buildings...' If He had, Mrs Mary Magdalene Jesus would have given Him a good slap (IMHO!). Have read about your book from Sande Ramage and have ordered from Amazon - keep up the good work! All the best, Mary (Harriet was a Google nom de guerre!)

  4. Women bishops are now inevitable. As are those who will be unhappy and disenchanted. Having just gone through an American Presidential election and the bitterness the election results provoked I can imagine those of us in the C of E will experience similar hostility. It is all very exhausting and sad...

  5. thanks for sharing..