The Parish of Burchetts Green

The Rev'd Dilys Woodmore writes about

Women in the Episcopacy


The news from General Synod, which met last week, was one of cautious optimism in relation to the on-going legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.


It has been a long haul to get thus far but even now there is still a considerable way to go. Amendments to amendments make for confusion and once again we have to wait, until the matter is brought back for further debate at the July Synod, and voting takes place to see what the eventual outcome will be.


Precedent set

As far as my view counts, I believe that the Church of England cannot keep delaying the decision by introducing further amendments that at best don't really move the matter forward.  There will always be those who find that they cannot accept women bishops but really the die was cast back in  1992 when women were allowed to become priests.


It is a natural progression for women clergy who possess the necessary ability and other key attributes to serve as bishops.  An artificial 'glass ceiling' is always going to be a source of pain and conflict which diverts attention from the more important matter of the church's mission.


I was reading the Bishop of Buckingham's blog he wrote in response to the meeting of Synod and he likened the issue to the fall of Apartheid. Apartheid had to fall; racial discrimination was wrong and had to cease.  We know how much blood sweat and tears went into bringing it to an end.  Bishop Alan said discrimination against women in the church was wrong and should end. Further complex legislation, to provide for those who cannot accept women, could bring about unintended  consequences that would be difficult to unpick in the future.  Rather, trust in a code of practice should be commended.


Within the Anglican Communion there are women bishops making a huge contribution to the life of the church and many outside the church cannot see what all the fuss is  about.  To those who take issue with the matter they have their  reasons and must be listened to, but equally they must recognise the fast moving, changing world of today with a very different outlook and social order.


Equality is a key issue in all walks of life and women as bishops seems to me far less of a problem than some of the other equality issues that confront us, like same sex marriages.


Great pity

If the vote is lost next July then the matter cannot be brought back for consideration for another five years. That to me would be a great, pity and we would, in those years, lose many well-qualified and able women which we can ill afford to do without.


We must continue to hope and pray for a positive outcome in July and look forward to the time in the not too distant future when the first women bishops will be consecrated.


Every blessing