Church of England Rejects Women Bishops … Some Thoughts

Church of England Rejects Women Bishops … Some Thoughts November 20, 2012

The news is in that the COE Synod has rejected a  vote to have women bishops.

Read articles at BBC, HuffPost, and CNN for more info.

A 2/3 majority was needed to carry the motion. It passed in the house of bishops and house of clergy, but fell short by just six votes in the house of laity. I have friends in both conservative and progressive evangelical lobby groups (i.e., Fulcrum and Reform) for whom the vote was either a marginal victory or a monumental disaster. So there is a lot of emotion going on right now among English clergy, which is all the more significant because the English are not known for their vibrant and public displays of emotion.

As I read the news reports, blogs, and social media, there’s been several stages of grief by progressive clergy: (1) Bitter disappointment; (2) Self-loathing and disillusionment with the COE, and finally (3) Anger against conservatives.

If I can try offer some words of exhortation to the haughty, the hurting (and perhaps the hysterical), let me say this:

1. Due process is due process. The debate has been had, the arguments put forward, voices were heard, and the votes counted. Many are disappointed as their hopes have been dashed. But the processes are there to make sure that all representatives in the COE get a fair say and no one gets to decide what that “says” is. This is an issue that needed a mandate and consensus. And it came up short.

2. If women bishops are put forward in the name of a diverse, inclusive, and broad church, you have to remember that diversity and breadth cuts both ways, it means including and empowering people to the left and to the right of you.
3. Women bishops are inevitable, clearly the majority wants it, but the timing will depend on constructively engaging and assuaging both the anglo-catholic and conservative evangelical wings of the church rather antagonizing them or demonizing them.
4. This is not the last word. Discussion and debate will go on. Time for  a cup of tea, an iced-vovo, and then some further conversations about mission and the episcopacy.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kullervo

    I feel like your “words of exhortation” are applicable to basically every decision that is made in a democratic society. Well said.

  • I don’t know what an “iced-vovo” is, but you’re right: This is not the end of the line, just another step in the process.

  • Protestants are not hell bent on the secular. And C/catholicism is a needless subversive and subterfuge discrpition of an ideal that denies the devoted actual Priesthood of All Believers. None of these post Counterculture types all over the ‘Western’ world uses that term; because it is reserved for radical-reactionaries.

  • Brandon

    Michael – what is your personal view on the subject?

  • Jonathan

    Nice piece, Mike. I like your points 1,2 and 4. Always uncomfortable with the ‘this is inevitable’ line you take in point 3. A bit Hegelian and Marxist-sounding for my liking. Nothing is inevitable except the second Advent!

    I have blogged on the CofE vote at