This day in Anglican history


[Photo credit: The Rev. Ann Fontaine]

In September 1988, Barbara Harris was elected suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. On February 11, 1989, she was consecrated a bishop, the first woman to be ordained to the episcopate in the worldwide Anglican Communion. (Source; also)

February 11, 2009, the Church of England General Synod debates debating legislation to make it legal — remember this is the established church — to ordain women to the episcopate. To follow developments monitor Thinking Anglicans. TA already has three items: here, here, and here.

Justin Brett, live blogging, provides the news,

Moment of truth. For:281 Against:114 Abstained:13

So that’s the Draft Measure through – we now have formally to dispatch the Amending Canon in the same way. It’s interesting that there was such a majority – we are at 2/3 of the whole Synod, which I hadn’t expected.

Here’s how Peter Ould reported the vote:

Item 507 (to ask the drafting group to continue to look at the legislation and to revise according to input as requsted) was voted electronically (which means that we’ll be able to know who voted which way).

For : 281 (68.8%)

Against : 114

Abstaining : 13

The previous vote in July was 263 in favour (66.75%), 124 against and only 7 abstentions, so very little movement on the numbers.

Gledhill is also live blogging:

[A colleague and I] discuss the Bishop of Norwich Graham James’ surprise decision to vote against the women bishops motion. This was because he believes that, in providing for ‘complementary bishops’ to cater to traditionalists, he fears the Church of England will undermine the integrity of episcopal orders by creating two classes of bishops. And we all know which ‘class’ the women will end up in.

In case that’s all rather unclear, the BBC explains what’s happened.

The measure includes safeguards for traditionalists opposed to women in the episcopacy. Many traditionalists say the safeguards are not sufficient and they get on their bikes. A familiar sounding middle way? A middle way (Good News for all) is what the ABC is seeking.

UPDATE, 3PM – ENS has an excellent explanation of what’s happened:

The two pieces of legislation now in the hands of the revision committee are a measure titled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women)” and a proposed amendment to a canon that deals with “the accommodation that will need to be made … to welcome women wholeheartedly and enthusiastically to each order of ministry and leave generous space for those who in conscience cannot receive this development,” said McCulloch.

The revision committee is expected to report its conclusions and present a revised measure to synod in February 2010, at which point amendments may be debated.

The process involved in allowing women in the episcopate of the Church of England is complicated and ultimately will require endorsement by the British Parliament before any measure can take full effect. It is generally estimated that — assuming all stages of the legislative process proceed without delay — women bishops will not be canonically possible until at least 2014.

Our report from last year’s debate explains further.

David Walker explains it this way:


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