It should come as no surprise to you that as a woman priest
and as the former Diocesan Adviser for Women in Ministry for
the Lichfield Diocese, I was bitterly disappointed by the vote
in General Synod on Tuesday 20th November.
As I tried to make clear to all those who contacted me beforehand,
I voted "Yes" to the legislation. I did this because;
1). I believe passionately that this was the moment to proceed
with this legislation, but also because ;
2). I felt that with 42 out of 44 dioceses voting in favour,
that was what the Wider Church expected me to do on their behalf.
I also sincerely believe that the proposed amended motion would
have provided for the needs of those unable to accept the episcopal
ministry of women, even if they did not agree.
There was a real will to make it work.We had also been given
a very strong endorsement from Arch Bishop Rowan, and from Bishop
Justin as the next ABC, that they were fully supportive. And
the Church of England is supposed to be "episcopally led"
- even if it is also "synodically governed."
It is especially
ironic that those who voted "no" - many on the issue
of episcopal authority, completely failed to take account of
the clear wishes of the House of Bishops!
But we must now pick ourselves up and go on. I will not deny
that just now, I and many female clergy (not to mention many
male colleagues and our wonderful lay supporters) are wondering
just what sort of institution we serve?
Morale will take time to recover. However, I have already committed
myself to the ongoing task of meeting with, talking to and listening
to the other Lichfield Reps - some of whom voted against the
legislation, with a view to trying to find a workable way to
make happen what is clearly the will of the Church in this land
and what I believe to be the will of God. One day we must have
women bishops ... I just pray it may be before I retire, not
for ANY reason of personal interest, but for the sake of the
mission of the Church. It is Mission I fear the General Synod
has served very poorly this week.