“ATTENTION! THIS VEHICLE IS REVERSING! As I wandered across the campus to the morning Communion service, a council dustcart (recycling vehicle nowadays, I suppose) was outside the restaurant block. It blared out its recorded message and I found myself wondering whether this morning’s debate would be one in which the various people who (to change the metaphor) parked their tanks on our lawns in November would be willing to indicate they were going to reverse. Not a lot, but just a little reversing is all we need to put some energy into getting the process going again.
Bad sign: the morning Communion was conducted by a (male, obviously) Bishop with a woman (permanent) deacon assisting him. It felt like something from 20 years ago, with no place at all for a woman priest in the liturgy. Breakfast conversations confirmed that others were uncomfortable about that: what message does it send?
Good sign: the Chair of the women bishops session (a serving Judge) indicated that he did not want to hear re-runs of last November’s speeches. We need, he said, to remember that we have decided we will have women Bishops. We need to bring into today the insights of Saturday’s facilitated conversations. We need to listen. He didn’t actually say people needed to reverse their tanks off the lawns, but I just hope that’s what people will do.
Bishop Baldrick’s cunning plan
A bad start: someone tried to get the whole debate delayed for a day so the bishops could all go to London for the House of Lords. A procedural motion heavily defeated.
A good start: fairly eirenical contributions from Rod Thomas of Reform and others, and a ‘cunning plan’ from the Bishop of Willesden. Pete Broadbent suggests a Steering Group larger than usual, that works in a facilitated discussion mode to develop proposals with which they all agree – or at the eats, are prepared to live with. No minority reports – only an agreed report will do. Then, (if the Business Committee agree), the Revision Committee stage is changed to revision in full Synod. Assuming the Steering group ‘own’ their proposal, it won’t get nit-picked and wrecked in full synod, because most of the late amendments will get little support. So, he asked all following speakers to indicate ‘I agree with Pete.‘ in their speeches – a kind of straw poll to see if Baldrick’s cunning plan will work.
To say his speech was well-received is an understatement. A very tense Synod suddenly got relieved, and the Clapometer went off the scale. Chair says “don’t encourage him: his blog is bad enough.”
So far. those who ‘agree with Pete’ include Tim Hind and Fr Paul Benfield of the Catholic Group. (Fr Paul has an amendment down looking for legally-based safeguards) More later today.
* Best part of breaking up is when you’re making up – First two lines of the Ronettes single; a classic Phil Spector ‘Wall of Sound’ teenage love-angst song from 1964. Younger people may know a slightly tuneless 1982 dance version by Roni Griffiths.