!!UPDATED!! Tuesday 9 July – scroll to bottom
Well, it’s over. For now. We have voted to go with Option 1, with some bells and whistles added in the direction of:
- greater security for those opposed (without the statutory provision that some opponents want)
- a more inclusive steering, drafting and revising process than is usually the case (a.k.a. I agree with Pete)
If you want to make sense of all this, have a look at the paper on which the debate was based (to read it, try googling GS1886) . It sets out five principles on which the process should be based, as well as Options 1 to 4 as ways of doing it. And the result today is… (drum roll)… not simply “Option 1” (the nearest option to a single-clause measure, and the Bishops preferred option). I’d describe it as probably “Option 1.75” on the Synodical Richter Scale, rather than “1.999 recurring”. But it’s not quite Option 2; and it certainly isn’t Option 3 or 4, to the annoyance of some.
If you want to see the detailed debate, twitter #synod is fun, but a bit incoherent. I suggest you turn instead to Jeremy Fletcher’s blog. He gives a good run-down on who said what and why. (You’ll need to scroll down to Monday Afternoon). For the Archbishop of Canterbury’s significant speech, go here.
What happens next?
The Appointments Committee (which has a new Chair, Margaret Swinson) has to put together a Steering Committee. They have to do that this month and they will have to put the motion into effect in time for a first consideration of draft legislation this November. The italics indicate this is pretty quick work for us. At the same time, the House of Bishops has to work up either an Act of Synod (boo words to many) or some other instrument that will set out how dissenting parishes will be handled in future (the existing Act of Synod, Resolutions A and B, etc, will disappear).
So Margaret Swinson has a job and a half on her hands, starting today. Particularly so because the Bishop of St Eds and Ips, Nigel Stock, committed us to taking on board many of the concerns raised in debate, noting that some of the votes on potential ways forward were very close. If you take that together with Bishop Pete Broadbent’s cunning plan for a very wide membership of the Committee, and continued professional facilitation, there is a heck of a lot to do in not much time. And it all hangs on the detailed proposals gaining wide acceptance before they ever get near a formal vote.
But we are basically committed to having our women bishops legislation done by July or November 2015. Then Royal Approval, etc has to follow. Might we expect to see the first women Bishops (or just ‘Bishops’ as we might then call them) in 2016? That depends on whether the process we have agreed today can come up with a final package that can gain a two-thirds majority on the day.
There is subdued relief all round the campus. As Gilbert and Sullivan put it: ‘modified rapture’. But it’s not over.
!!UPDATE!! Tuesday 9 July. Margaret Swinson announced to Synod this morning that the Appointments Committee met last night with David Porter (the man behind the facilitated conversations held on Saturday.)
They have agreed that the Steering Committee for this work should be 15 people, drawn from across the range of opinions in Synod. Invitations are going out and names will be announced when people have signed up. The size of the group will be reviewed as the work proceeds.
* Is this for real? Or is it fantasy?: Opening lines from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody