Priest promotes progress on women bishops in Church of England

The Rev. Janet Appleby has drafted an amendment that has received overwhelming support in the House of Bishops regarding the issue of women bishops in the Church of England.

The BBC reports that “Senior Anglican bishops have significantly watered down proposed concessions to those in the Church of England who are against women bishops. It is hoped the proposals – to consider the views of individuals and lobby groups – will allow for agreement ahead of a planned vote in November. Meanwhile, a BBC poll suggests nearly 80% of people support women bishops. But one in five would have a less favourable view of the Church if women were not allowed to become bishops.”

From Church Times:

The House of Bishops, meeting this week to rescue the women-bishops legislation, has adopted an amendment suggested by a woman priest.

The House met on Wednesday to find a way out of the impasse over the legislation. In July, the General Synod declined to vote on the final wording, after the House had inserted clause 5(1)(c), which stated that the Code of Practice should cover “the selection of male bishops or male priests the exercise of ministry by whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration of women” of the PCC in a traditionalist parish.

Opponents of women bishops quietly welcomed the clause, but many supporters found it unacceptable, and threatened to vote against the legislation if it remained. As a result, the final vote was postponed until an extraordinary meeting of the General Synod in November, giving the Bishops time to reconsider.

In a consultation exercise during the summer, there appeared to have been no shift in the entrenched positions. Almost all the preferences recorded favoured either the retention of 5(1)(c), or its removal. None of the rewordings suggested by the steering committee attracted any great interest.

But on Wednesday evening, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that the House of Bishops had voted to accept a new version of the amendment submitted by the Revd Janet Appleby, Team Vicar in the Willington Team and Vicar and Minister in the Church of the Good Shepherd Local Ecumenical Project in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear.

It reads that the Code should cover “the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which Parochial Church Councils issue Letters of Request under section 3”.

Letters of Request are the means whereby a traditionalist parish asks for a new priest or for episcopal oversight by someone other than the diocesan bishop.

Dr Williams said: “It is particularly significant and welcome that the new text emerged not from the House of Bishops itself but rather from a serving woman priest.”

The statement reported that Mrs Appleby’s amendment had received “overwhelming support from the House of Bishops in both their discussions and in the final vote.

Read full story here. The full text of the draft legislation is available here.

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