There’s been much in the media recently about women bishops and the General Synod’s failure earlier in the week to agree plans. Since then I’ve been asked by quite a few people what my views are, and what that means for us at The Belfrey. Christian Selvaratnam and I wrote a letter each to the York Press and this morning Christian’s was published. Christian heads our G2 congregation, is a Synod Member, and voted in the debate last Tuesday. His letter should be online later today – read it by clicking here.
Below is what I wrote.
I was a General Synod (GS) member for Sheffield in 2006 when we affirmed that ordaining women bishops should happen. I had to come off GS when I moved to York in 2009 but I have watched things develop with interest. Since then the debate has been more to do with how, rather than whether it should happen. The motion before Synod this week involved a significant change to the Church and so required a two-thirds majority in all three houses – the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity. It achieved these in the first two, but not amongst the laity, failing by just six votes. The failure to receive sufficient votes shows that despite a strong lead from the bishops and vicars, not enough non-clergy representatives were satisfied – either with the process set out in the legislation or with the idea of women bishops altogether. In any event the issue can’t now come before GS again until the end of this five-year period (ie. at least 2015).
At St Michael le Belfrey we encourage and support women leaders. At present we have one woman on the clergy team and many women on our wider Staff Team. Whilst there are a variety of views on this subject, the majority of The Belfrey – including most of the clergy – support the idea of women bishops on both biblical and missional grounds and so we are disappointed at this week’s news. Nevertheless this will not stop us getting on with doing what we’ve always done, which is share the fantastic news of Jesus Christ through word and action. We will continue to reach out to York and the North, helping people discover the transforming power of Christ and, despite the negative press that the church sometimes gets, we will be pleased to serve Jesus and his church in this generation.