Thursday, 18 December 2014

Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill published

The following ministerial statement has been issued by a government minister, Mr Sam Gyimah:

Publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
Today the Government is introducing the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill to the House of Commons, with explanatory notes.

The Bill follows the legislation permitting women to be ordained bishops. That was completed by the General Synod of the Church of England on 17 November. With the way clear for the first women to be appointed, it is right that those women should be amongst the Bishops who occupy seats in the House of Lords (known as Lords Spiritual). This Bill is intended to allow that to happen sooner than it would under the existing rules.

Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by Bishops in order of seniority (length of service). Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.

The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next ten years, so that if a female bishop is available when a Lords Spiritual seat becomes vacant, they will automatically be appointed to the House of Lords. If no female bishop is available, the vacancy would be filled by the next most senior male bishop, as currently happens…

The text of the bill is now published here. The explanatory notes are over here.

Update The following press release has been issued from Church House, Westminster:

Church of England welcomes publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill

The Church of England has welcomed a Bill published today by the Government aimed at speeding up the introduction of the first women diocesan bishops into the House of Lords.

Bishop Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and convenor of the bishops in the House of Lords, welcoming the Bill, said the presence of women diocesan bishops would “enrich and strengthen” the voice of the bishops in the House of Lords.

He said: “We know that women bishops will enrich and strengthen the leadership of the Church of England and we are very confident that they will also enrich and strengthen our voice in the House of Lords.

“We have reason to suppose that this is supported from all sides of both Houses and we are grateful to the business managers for making time to get this minor amendment to the law in place as soon as possible.”

The Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said: “There was very widespread support across Parliament for the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England and I think there will be a widespread welcome to legislation that will enable women who are diocesan bishops to become Lords Spiritual at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Under current rules, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester are entitled to sit in the House of Lords from the start of their appointments.

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill makes provision for vacancies among the remaining 21 places, which are normally filled according to length of service, to be filled as they arise by eligible female diocesan bishops. The provision would remain in place for 10 years, equivalent to two fixed term Parliaments.

The proposed legislation would not prevent male bishops from entering the House of Lords during this period as vacancies would be filled, as is currently the case, by the longest serving male diocesan bishop if there is no eligible female diocesan bishop in line at that time.

After the end of the 10-year period, the provision made by the Bill would come to an end and the current arrangements under the Bishoprics Act 1878 for determining which bishops are to fill vacancies in the House of Lords would be restored.


Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 12:07pm GMT
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

more on Bishop of Stockport

More news reports in addition to those I linked to yesterday

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Meet Libby Lane – the first interview with the first woman bishop

John Bingham The Telegraph First woman bishop ‘grew up believing that anything was possible’
First woman bishop: ‘Now I hope to see more like me’

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Rev Libby Lane will be first woman bishop for Church of England

Emily Dugan The Independent Manchester vicar Rev Libby Lane will be Church of England’s first woman bishop

Edward Malnick The Telegraph First woman bishop: profile of parish priest Libby Lane

Caroline Crampton New Statesman Meet Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first woman bishop

Megan Gibson Time Meet the Church of England’s First Ever Female Bishop

A welcome from the Archbishop of Canterbury

And a few comments from campaigning organisations

Forward in Faith

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 10:13am GMT
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport

From the Church of England website

The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport
17 December 2014

Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter’s, Hale, and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley.

As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minister on Monday 26 January 2015.

Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter’s Hale and St. Elizabeth’s Ashley.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West

Speaking at Stockport town hall where she was announced as the new Bihsop of Stockport Libby Lane said: “I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.

“The church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. The Church of England is called to serve all the people of this country, and being present in every community, we communicate our faith best when our lives build up the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. I am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead.”

Responding to news of the announcement the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, said: “It is with great joy that on January 26, 2015 - the feast of Timothy and Titus, companions of Paul - I will be in York Minster, presiding over the consecration of the Revd Libby Lane as Bishop Suffragan of Stockport. Libby brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, in hospital and FE chaplaincy, in vocations work and the nurture of ordinands. I am delighted that she will exercise her episcopal ministry with joy, prayerfulness, and trust in God.

“When the General Synod rejected the previous proposals in November 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote to ‘pour some balm on (my) wounded heart’. That year, he encouraged me, his province was finally celebrating the election of two women bishops. ‘Be comforted’, he said, ‘it will come.’

“When I wrote to him last weekend to offer my prayers for his battle with prostate cancer, he replied with these words: ‘Wonderful that you over there will soon have women bishops. Yippee! I know you have pushed for this for a long time. Yippee again!’

“Praise be to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all in England!”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “”I am absolutely delighted that Libby has been appointed to succeed Bishop Robert Atwell as Bishop of Stockport. Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community make her a wonderful choice.

“She will be bishop in a diocese that has been outstanding in its development of people, and she will make a major contribution. She and her family will be in my prayers during the initial excitement, and the pressures of moving”.

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: “Libby has had a varied and distinguished ministry, and is currently a first-rate parish priest. She has already demonstrated her ability to contribute nationally through her representative role in the House of Bishops, on behalf of the north-west England dioceses.

“As the first woman bishop in the Church of England she will face many challenges as well as enjoying many opportunities to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that she has the gifts and determination to be an outstanding bishop.

“I am delighted at her designation as Bishop of Stockport after a lengthy process of discernment across the Church of England and beyond.”

The nomination of Libby as the new Bishop of Stockport was approved by the Queen and announced today (Wednesday 17 December 2014). Libby succeeds the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, who is now the Bishop of Exeter.


Biographical Details:

Libby Lane has been the Vicar of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the Diocese of Chester, since April 2007, and from January 2010 has also been Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese. After school in Manchester and University at Oxford, she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. She was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Prior to moving to Hale, Libby was Team Vicar in the Stockport South West Team, and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Chester, advising and supporting those considering a vocation to ministry in the church. She continues to be a Bishop’s Selection Advisor.

Libby has served in the Diocese of York, as Chaplain in hospital and further education, and as Family Life Officer for the Committee for Social Responsibility in the Diocese of Chester.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.

Her husband, George, is also a priest; they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. George is Coordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport, licensed in the Diocese of Manchester. They have two grown up children in higher education.
Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords.

Resources available:

A Video statement by The Revd Libby Lane on her appointment is available from the Diocese of Chester Website here (Chester Diocese youtube channel is available here).

An audio interview with The Revd Libby Lane on today’s announcement is available as part of a Church of England podcast here.

A photostream from today’s announcement including photos of The Revd Libby lane are available here.

Announcement on the Chester diocesan website England’s first woman bishop to be Libby Lane

Announcement from Number 10 Suffragan See of Stockport: Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane nomination approved

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 10:05am GMT
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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Society announces a process for priests to register

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has announced a process whereby priests in sympathy with the society can register. This is explained by Colin Podmore in this article, which also appears in the Advent newsletter. The following is taken from the website of the Bishop of Beverley:

Priests of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages priests to sign up and make the Society Declaration.

Catholics believe that both women and men are called to different ministries in the Church. But for theological reasons, we are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women as priests (presiding at the Eucharist) or bishops (ordaining priests to preside at the Eucharist).

So when the Church of England has women bishops, how can we know that a priest has been ordained by a bishop whose sacramental ministry of ordination we do recognise? How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?

The need to offer an easy answer to that question of ‘sacramental assurance’ is one of the reasons why our bishops have formed The Society. As it says on the Society website, the Society provides ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.

Priests are now invited to make a Declaration which says that they:

  • believe and teach the catholic faith
  • are currently entitled to minister as a priest in the Church of England*
  • have been ordained by a male bishop in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination male bishops presided
  • will themselves not receive or join in the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops or those whom they have ordained
  • will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop).

When the relevant Bishop of the Society receives a Declaration from a priest, he will welcome him as a Priest of The Society. The Welcome Letter will serve as proof that the priest is someone whose sacramental ministry we can receive with confidence.

Of course, there will still be validly ordained priests who are not Priests of The Society. Clergy (and, during vacancies, churchwardens) will need to ask some delicate questions about their orders before inviting them to say mass. With Priests of The Society, that research will not be necessary.

Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop, but with all the priests whom that bishop has ordained, and who will support the resolutions passed by the PCC. When advertising for, or interviewing, potential new parish priests, asking them whether they are Priests of The Society will be an easy way of finding out where they stand.

Being a Priest of The Society costs nothing, although the bishops hope that priests and people of The Society will join Forward in Faith, because it is the membership organization which administers The Society on their behalf, and helps to pay for it. Being a priest of The Society involves only the basic obligations of relating to one of our bishops, and looking to him for sacramental ministry we can no longer find elsewhere.

So if a priest has not made the Declaration and become a Priest of The Society, why not?

There is further information on this page, which is copied below the fold.

Continue reading "The Society announces a process for priests to register"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 9:48pm GMT
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Church of England releases Talent Management report

Updated again Thursday morning

The Church of England has now published the “Green report” on its own website, here.

together with A Note from the Bishop of Ely on “The Green Report”. He is described at the end of that note as:

Chair of the Development and Appointments Group (DAG) - a sub-committee of the House of Bishops with oversight of the development for senior clerical posts as well as the appointments processes to them.

Several recruitment advertisements have appeared:

Head of Senior Leadership Development

Talent Development Manager and more detail here and also here.


The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued The Green Report: A Response.

The Dean of Liverpool has written Lord Green’s Report: A reflection [f]rom a member of the Group.

Andrew Lightbown has responded to the above in this article: An open letter to advocates of the Green Report.

Al Barrett has written On ‘talent pools’ and floods…

Justin Lewis-Anthony has written A Gregorian critique of Managerialism, i (more episodes to follow)

And Oliver Coss has something to say about this in his post on another topic, see The Suffragan See of Stockport.

Archdruid Eileen offers us The Church of England / Business Translator.

The Financial Times has a news report: Church of England management courses overlook God, say critics registration required

Mark Clavier has written It shall not be among you.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 3:42pm GMT
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Monday, 15 December 2014

Reactions to the Green report


Several commentators have written about these proposals for business school style training programmes for selected clergy. Here are some links, and I will add more as I discover them (or as readers report them to me).

Andrew Lightbown An open letter to Lord Green et al

Richard Murphy Should the Church of England really be taking a lead from Lord Stephen Green?

Rachel Mann ‘These are not the leaders you’re looking for’ - talent pools, management & the C of E

Michael Sadgrove The Next Generation of Church Leaders: thoughts on the Green Report


“Archbishop Cranmer” Church of England to spend £2m on “new approach” to leadership

Ian Paul Should bishops come from a ‘talent pool’?

Ruth Gledhill Can business training solve CofE’s ‘toxic’ leadership problem?

“Archdruid Eileen” Infecting the Church with Mangerialism

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 December 2014 at 8:32am GMT
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Saturday, 13 December 2014


Ian Ellis of the Church of Ireland Gazette has interviewed Rowan Williams. You can listen to the interview here. Topics include Christian Aid and the European Union; there’s a list of contents with timings below the fold.

Kelvin Holdsworth blogs about The Peace and Unity and Order of the Church.

Rachel Mann blogs on Headship and Holiness: ‘It’s a Trap!’ or ‘Why the Bishop of Maidstone might be particularly bad news for Conservative Evangelicals’

Continue reading "opinion"
Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 13 December 2014 at 11:00am GMT
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Friday, 12 December 2014

Business school style training proposed for some clergy

The Church Times today carries several articles about the recommendations made in a report which is titled Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A New Approach.

Paul Handley has written a news report: Plan to groom ‘talent’ for high office in C of E Report of the Lord Green Steering Group.

Martyn Percy has written a highly critical review of the report: Are these the leaders that we really want? Here are two extracts:

…In terms of process, there is a problem about the composition of the group who produced the report. Not one ordained woman was on the review group - and at a time when the Church is about to welcome women bishops. This is breathtaking. Nor was there a recognised theologian, or an academic specialising in continuing professional or vocational education. And, despite the fact that the report raises secular “MBA-style” programmes to a level of apotheosis, no recognised scholar with expertise in management or leadership from the academic world formed part of the core working party.

In the actual text of the Green report, there are a couple of serious issues to wrestle with. First, it has no point of origination in theological or spiritual wisdom. Instead, on offer is a dish of basic contemporary approaches to executive management, with a little theological garnish. A total absence of ecclesiology flows from this. The report has little depth or immersion in educational literature.

A more notable absence is any self-awareness in the report: unaware of critiques of management, executive authority, and leadership which abound in academic literature, it is steeped in its own uncritical use of executive management-speak…

And this:

…Ultimately, the report is coy about the problem it is actually trying to solve: ecclesiastical preferment. No definition of leadership is ever advanced in the text. The report shows no evidence of having solicited the views of the led. Or of former church leaders. The executive managers already know what they are looking for in preferment - folk like themselves.

There is no critique offered of the expectations placed on church leaders. The text focuses on training people for management tasks that the review group take as givens. No different models of leadership are discussed, such as servanthood, collaborative ministry, or pastoral care.

Although executive managers are patently not the leaders of the Church, they none the less aspire to be in charge. If this report is put into practice, they will be. A few administrative offices either side of the Thames, based in Church House, Westminster, or at the Wash House at Lambeth Palace - secretariats that once served the Church - will become sovereign.

THIS work on leadership in the Church really needs to begin in a different place with different people, starting with deep spiritual, intellectual, and theological interlocutors. They would produce something less presumptuous, with a clearer methodology and a cogent argument rather than a set of assertions…

And there is a Church Times leader column: A pooling of talents.

…there are other models of management and leadership: ones that require a humility that is unlikely to be engendered by an invitation to join an elite leadership pool. Had Lord Green’s steering group looked at the Church’s systems rather than its individuals, they might have concluded that a pool of talent exists already in the Church, and that it is not necessary to train individual leaders to hold every skill. When diocesan bishops, say, function as part of a diocesan team, they will draw on any expertise that they lack: finance, human resources, and so on. In such a system, the concept of leadership runs counter to the alpha-male model depicted in the Green report. Here the bishop is an enabler, challenger, or encourager. It is probably notable that, while the word “leader” occurs 171 times in the report, the word “pastor” or “pastoral” does not appear once.

There is clear value in a checklist for ministerial training. It is wise stewardship to ensure that the right skills are nurtured, and that people are encouraged to apply for the right posts. The present ad hoc system, which relies too heavily on being noticed or finding favour, is inadequate. It is wise, too, to borrow best practice from secular institutions; but it needs to be applicable to an institution that, uniquely, follows a founder whose evidence-based record of leadership involved abandonment and death.

The report itself is already in quite wide circulation, although it is not yet on the CofE website, and there seems to be no page there dealing with the Development and Appointments Group, which appears to be a subcommittee of the House of Bishops.

Thinking Anglicans was shown it several weeks ago. Readers may judge the full report for themselves here.

Curiously, another document has also just appeared, which though closely related in subject matter is of a quite different character. It is from the CofE Faith and Order Commission, and entitled Senior Church Leadership A Resource for Reflection. Sadly very little of its thinking seems to have permeated the Green report. It is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 4:30pm GMT
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Planned interruption of service

The fibre optic cables that provide internet access to our server are going to be replaced tomorrow (Saturday 13 December 2014). The work will start at 15:00 GMT (7am California time, 10am New York time) and will continue until it is done. This is estimated to take 5 hours, but it could be longer.

This site will not be available whilst this work is carried out.

Please do not be worried…

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 2:00pm GMT
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Oxford Faith Debate on Vision for the Church of England

The fifth and final debate of the current Oxford series took place last Thursday. Audio recordings of the entire event are now available on this page.

Those who have been attending regularly seemed to agree that this debate was the best of the series. Do listen to it all if you can.

Links to the opening statements:

Link to the ensuing discussion.

Lorraine Cavanagh has written about the event here: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

Update Video highlights are also now available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 8:30pm GMT
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Scottish Episcopal Church: Guidance on Marriage and Civil Partnership

The Scottish Episcopal Church has issued guidance in relation to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. The substance of the guidance is very similar to that issued in February by the Church of England House of Bishops.


Later this month key parts of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 will come into force. Conscious that the Scottish Episcopal Church is currently in a period of discussion regarding its understanding of same-sex relationships, the College of Bishops has produced guidance to support and inform clergy and lay readers in the exercise of their ministries and in their provision of pastoral care.

A copy of the Guidance is attached

John Stuart
Secretary General

Earlier statements from the Scottish Episcopal Church can be found here.

A response from Changing Attitude Scotland can be found here.

Update Changing Attitude Scotland has this digest of responses.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 8:17pm GMT
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Categorised as: Scottish Episcopal Church | equality legislation

Monday, 8 December 2014

All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty

The All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty released its report Feeding Britain today. The Group was chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank Field MP.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke at the launch and a copy of his speech is available here, and an article written by the Archbishop on food poverty in the Mail on Sunday is available here.

There was much media anticipation of the report overnight.

Patrick Wintour and Patrick Butler The Guardian Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
and Nick Clegg calls for rethink on benefits sanctions to help tackle food poverty
Andy McSmith The Independent Food banks: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urges politicians to face up to Britain’s hunger
Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Families go hungry as supermarkets send millions of tonnes of food for landfill
ITV News ‘Stop food waste and speed up benefits payments to end UK hunger,’ say MPs and church in foodbank report
Hannah Richardson BBC News ‘Pay benefits faster’ to reduce hunger, MPs urge

And more since publication

Graham Riches The Guardian Food banks don’t solve food poverty. The UK must not institutionalise them
Rose Troup Buchanan The Independent Almost 50% of referrals to food banks in the UK are due to ‘issues with the welfare system’
Frank Field and John Glen New Statesman Food banks: why can’t people afford to eat in the world’s sixth richest country?
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Britain’s hunger crisis: Bishop of Truro says benefits system doesn’t work
Keith Hebden Ekklesia Feeding Britain: A start, but much more emphasis on justice needed

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 5:30pm GMT
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Categorised as: Church of England | News

Saturday, 6 December 2014


Vic Van Den Bergh More than ‘Just a service’ - Funerals

Michael Sadgrove Cathedrals: a success story?

Giles Fraser The Guardian The whole point of Christianity is to create a deeper form of humanism

Madeleine Davies Church Times The Maasai – a tradition in transition

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 11:00am GMT
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Friday, 5 December 2014

Reactions to "headship" bishop

Yesterday I published details of the forthcoming Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship. There are already many comments on that article.

Tim Wyatt has written this for the Church Times Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop.

Kelvin Holdsworth has posed 10 questions arising from the misogyny of a “headship” bishop.

WATCH have issued this response:

WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop

WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).

Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.

In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’

Church Society have sent us this:

Church Society statement on the announcement regarding the appointment of a headship evangelical bishop of Maidstone

Church Society welcomes the news that a man who upholds the complementarian view of headship will soon be appointed to the vacant See of Maidstone.

The measure – recently ratified by Synod – allowing women to be appointed to the episcopate, was passed partly on the basis of five guiding principles. These principles enshrine within the legislation a commitment to the flourishing within the Church of those who hold to what we believe is the biblical view of men and women having complementary roles in church leadership, a view held by many throughout the Anglican Communion and by many other churches also.

The imminent appointment of a bishop with this conviction is an important step in realising that commitment and rebuilding trust in the family of the Church. We are particularly encouraged by the recognition that the evangelical complementarian perspective should be represented in the College of Bishops after several years without a spokesman.

We wish to stress that this is but a first step: for flourishing, rather than mere toleration and tokenism, more surely needs to be done. For example, if soon a complementarian suffragan were to be appointed in the province of York also, that would be a further positive expression of the Church’s intent that complementarians can flourish within the structures and life of the Church. There are many excellent and able conservative evangelical ministers who are willing and able to serve in Diocesan and suffragan roles for the health of the whole church. We pray that they will not be discriminated against in any future appointments process if some may be tempted to say “we will soon have one complementarian evangelical and should not have any others.” The large number of lay people in the Church with complementarian convictions evidences the appropriateness of having several more bishops to pastor, lead, and represent them in the House of Bishops.

Despite this and other remaining concerns, we wish sincerely to thank the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues for keeping his promise, and for seeking to serve us in accordance with our conscience in this matter. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss with him how the arrangements regarding the Bishop of Maidstone could work, and how he can further help complementarian evangelicals to flourish within the Church of England.

Rev Dr Lee Gatiss
Director of Church Society
Revd Paul Darlington
Chairman of Church Society Council

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 9:13pm GMT
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