Tuesday afternoon…

Showing my age, one of my favourite Moody Blues songs. Maybe it ought to be ‘Go Now…’? Anyway, this is a continuation of this morning’s running blog…

6.05. Sentamu calls for two minutes silent prayer and reflection….

Bishop of Manchester summed up the whole debate before that. Compliments Sentamu on his chairing (applause, clapometer running fairly high). Rehearses some of the history as to why the legislation does not permit anyone other than the diocesan Bishop to be the ultimate authority in a diocese. We have spent a long time on this. Does not agree with critics who say it is a recipe for going to law/judicial review, etc. A female diocesan Bishop must be treated exactly the same as a make one: hence all diocese must have diocesan Schemes. Comment: He demolishes many of the objections that have come from conservative evangelicals – but not so many of the catholics. Maybe there is a recognition that many of them will be prepared to work with it (as hinted by the Bishop of Chichester and David Houlding)?

If you wait for the perfect legislation, you willbe waiting for ever. Now is the moment for decision. Let all three Houses give the Measure its final approval. Thunderous applause. Broken clapometer.

6.00 a rather sour summing up speech from Angus McLeay from a conservative evangelical perspective. ‘Respect’ is not worth the weight put on it. If we vote yes, we will move to a Code of Practice which will need to be better than the illustrative Code already out – insufficient for his constituency and traditionalist Catholics. Where are the senior appointments from among his constituency? No respect has been shown over the last fifteen years? Everything has been taken away from our desires by synodical subtraction. The process has been based on secular justice and equality assumptions. (He rehearsed Biblical material on headship). I think he lost himself a whole lot of sympathy by the Bible study bit: not really addressing where a weary Synod is at at this point.



5.45 Now we are into the final speeches. After the artillery battle of the last two hours, we’ve had a crazy half-hour of running machine gun fire. And now carefully targeted mortars. They’ve got 31/2 minutes each.

Philip North – Anglo Catholic traditionalist. Synod has no authority to change ministry: we are part of a wider Catholic church. He’s got an engaging manner, but he never convinces me. Appeals to love and togetherness – but what does that mean?

Elaine Storkey – open evangelical, very good speaker usually. Why are we not being listened to?’ people keep asking. She’s been listening hard. There can be no simple solution. We’ve had inflammatory words spoken today about make ordinands, etc etc. She tries to demolish the myths because she believes the legislation will protect/encourage them. Lovely story about being invited to preach at Oak Hill, despite being a woman. Superb demolition job (my opinion). My clapometer practically broke!

Bishop of Burnley – opposed, but recognises that the weight of the church is in favour of women bishops. But where is the proper provision for people like me? I want to continue to belong. I looked for some of the options that have been thrown out over recent Synods. The Appleby amendment (‘respect’) does not offer enough hooks for me. We may trust people, but not necessarily the institution. I feel marginalised. Vote against. Mild applause – clapometer not too troubled. Maybe I am cheering up after all.

Bishop of Leicester – what voices have we not heard today? The poor, the young, the marginalised. Consequences of financial crisis being felt by ordinary people – this is the core business of the church, but will the gallery be full, will the cameras be there? The church’s voice is being lost in its own debates. A No vote will directly diminish the Church’s voice in Parliament and the public eye. Can we be a voice for the millions of people who might expect us to speak for them. Vote Yes

5.15 Sentamu is giving a steer. We have had 100 speeches. He is very sorry for those who have stood all day but not been called. But have they anything new to say?  Would they consider not standing..? (Several members sit down, to chorus of ‘aaahs’)

30 second speech limit. Very tense. It’s getting like speed dating.

4.50 James Dudley Smith (another Bath & Wells rep) making one of the better ‘No’ speeches: clear. to the point – even if I disagree with him! Where are the conservative evangelical bishops? How should a Christian ‘majority’ treat the ‘minority’? James’ answer: not like this. Vote no.

Comment: If this fails today, the next General Synod elections will be very fiercely contested. candidates will be scrutinised as never before, and they will not get away without stating clearly their views. Sadly, (it seems to me) the present House of Laity in particular contains many people who do not properly represent the parishes and deaneries they come from. I bet that doesn’t happen again.

What’s more, as I reported last night, there is a real possibility that the Act of Synod will be debated next July. There might easily be a simple majority to scrap it, in reaction to the failure of the present Measure. Hmmm.

Now Clive Scowen (a popular Synod regular speaker on procedural and legal stuff) is reminding us of promises made 20 years ago (Act of Synod, etc): we must keep faith (which I think means vote No). Short but focussed applause.

Very good speech from Andrew Dotchin contrasting out ways with the church in Southern Africa – Swaziland appointed its first woman bishop this week. Vote Yes (applause). Then Stephen Trott (sagacious Synod wise man) saying Vote No. Now an evangelical woman priest suggesting that even if we can’t trust each other, we could trust the Synodical process – and God.

Archbishop Sentamu setting out his plans for the next hour. He will call some big guns in the run-up to the vote (6.00 was mentioned) – Bishop of Leicester, Elaine Storkey, and more. Things may look up! Jane Morris points out many evangelicals are in favour. Bishop Nick Baines demolishes some cliches but rus out of time. Mark Ireland giving one of his chirpy and clear speeches – time to get this done. For the sake of unity, we must agree. Clapometer running well for him.

Maybe I should cheer up..? It’s like Fireworks Night now: lots of very short (one-minute) speeches, bursts of applause, then on to the next…

 3.40 Two-minute speech limit imposed. ‘The way the applause is going, I’m not feeling confident about this… A bit of light relief when Sentamu called a woman speaker, but a fellow started talking. He sorted that out with imposing charm, and now Judith Maltby is speaking, trying to close off the argument about young ordinands – where are the women candidates? Now Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester giving a personal account of his own move from not accepting ‘headship’ to now doing so: he’s been to Rome and read the Bible better. And he’s had the ‘sheer joy’ of working with women colleagues. The House of Bishops is odd because it is all-male: itom trying to read the runes as the vote gets closer. My persos out of touch with the real church.

I’m in the tea-ronal clapometer has never failed before – it gives some indication as to how Synod is feeling. And today I hear some solid (sometimes slightly orchestrated) applause when the conservative evangelical speakers say their piece; and some rather thinner and less confident applause when it is an Anglo-Catholic opponent. It feels horribly as if between them they are going to derail this. I hope I’m wrong.

Crisp clear lay woman’s voice: do you really want to vote against just to put this off? Glass half full approach needed. As Hilda of Whitby: compromise for the sake of the whole church. Charles Razzall: legislation can’t rely on goodwill. Is this legislation sufficient to protect the vulnerable. Please please vote against this measure – and we’ll start talking tonight. Surprised applause.

Stephen Cottrell Bishop of Chelmsford. Wants to talk about how we make this legislation work (in the light of Bp Chichester’s committment from the other side of the fence. The provision in this Measure is better than the current Act of Synod. It can be made to work for conservative evangelicals. We believe in ‘two integrities’, not ‘two legislations’. I’m voting Yes for my brothers and sisters in Forward in Faith and in Reform. Clapometer reading very high: Sentamu suggests people clap louder but shorter to save time…

Samuel Margrave quotes the Bible to say let’s be gracious and not push this through against the will of traditionalists. Measure does not meet the needs of the whole church. Quielty passionate speech from John Shand saying he wants to see women bishops in his lifetime. Put aside the factions and the campaigning organisations, and vote after deep reflection. Solid applause. Ann Turner: I want us to go forward, but my feet will not take me to the altar when a woman priest is celebrating. Lindsay Newcombe personal journey into Anglo-Catholicism: will it be there for her daughter?

3.15 Gone a bit quiet now. Another conservative evangelical woman saying we are being left out. ‘Please vote against this: there is a better way’ (though it seems to me no-one actually tells us what it is….)

Tim Hind (Bath & Wells lay rep, Vice-Chair of the House of Laity). Speaking up for the laity. Time we stopped worrying about the in-house stuff and turned our attention to the world outside. It is less than perfect but… Without women priests the Church would be in a v difficult situation. A diverse nation requires a diverse church. Quotes FW Faber’s hymn: There’s a wideness in God’s mercy. Clapometer goes well – genuine approval.

Delighted to bump into Bath University Chaplain The Revd Angela Berners-Wilson in the queue for the public gallery at lunchtime. Angela was the first woman to be ordained priest in 1992 (an accident of her surname being first on the list in Bristol Cathedral on the day), Tells me she is going on BBC regional TV tonight and local radio too. And she has been on Al-Jazeera!

Jan McFarlane (Norwich): an engaging voice from Norfolk saying we are not bowing to secular pressure – we’re speaking with a prophetic voice to our own time. For the sake of the church, Christian witness, and women looking for a model: please vote Yes.

2.15The big guns are out again

Tom Sutcliffe, in real life an opera critic, being listened to attentively by the reassembled Synod. Starts with references to endless Wagner, but soon gets to the meat: he wants women Bishops, but not this way – it is not right to by-pass the minority. Getting passionate, but a complex line to take.

Pete Broadbent begins by apologising that the Bishop of London is away sick. The London example shows that we can make provision work (plenty of women priests, plenty of those opposed.) He has worked hard to get provision in the Measure: but now we have to decide.  we can walk together: this is not perfect, it cannot satisfy everyone – but it has provision in it. People have forgotten that ‘Respect’ has the weight of a legal opinion, that Clause 8 of the Measure was changed to safeguard opponent’s views. Those fully opposed to the whole idea   should vote against. But to the ‘not sures’ he says: we can make this work, we will take traditionalists with us, and make it work in each diocese. No Bishop can invent a Scheme that will not deal properly.Listened to in deep silence and attentiveness: Synod likes him – even those who disagree. It will be painful for everyone – no one side has a monopoly of pain. Yes to women Bishops, Yes to making the legislation work. Clapometer says: applause, not necessarily huge and hearty.

Christina Rees (a leading light in WATCH and MOW in former times.). Synod has the authority – that is what it’s for. Refers to Indiana Jones film – stepping out in faith. we need to do that, but make the walk together.

Fr Thomas Seville (religious communities rep): a careful, thoughtful setting out of his reservations. The trust people talk about is not there… When he saw the Indiana Jones film,, it ended with all the beautiful things being destroyed. With regret he will say No.

Archbishop of Canterbury is reading his speech: that’s unusual for him – he normally ad libs. He doesn’t want to persuade those genuinely opposed that they should abstain. He respects their obedience to their firm beliefs. But he wanted to talk to those who are not sure if this is the right measure, the right timing, etc etc. They should reflect that there is a clear direction in our church’s mind now, and we don’t want to be in a position where a certain class of priest cannot have their full vocation tested. This is what we have come up with: there is no compromise in the equality of male and female Bishops in this measure; but there is a strong system for ensuring those opposed have provision.

He suggests we need to liberate ourselves from this, and enable the new Archbishop to have a clear field. Plenty of work still to do, and work to console those who are hurt. It’s time to turn a page. If you are a don’t know: can   your part by voting in favour or abstaining, and liberate us all?

Clapometer off the scale again….

This entry was posted in 2012: Nov - London, General Synod and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tuesday afternoon…

  1. Sue Green says:

    Gutted at result. You must all have had an awful day. Tomorrow is about poor people: that’s what really matters (although as a mere woman, I may have misunderstood what Jesus said…)

  2. Pingback: How can we know the way…? | bathwellschap

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