At last, thank God! This has been the cry from a number of people I’ve met this week, following the General Synod vote to allow women to be made Bishop and to make provision for those who can’t accept such a move by the Church of England.
As a General Synod member for Gloucester, in the voting chamber at York myself, the passing of the legislation was a moment that touched some deep feelings. The whole chamber voting together, drove through a two-thirds majority to pass the package, and yet, it was, I suspect, an intensely private moment for each of us there. For me, I was stirred by the feeling that, at last, we could ordain women and men equally as bishop, priest or deacon and begin a new phase in the life of the Church of England. It was also a feeling that at last, the frustration and pain of women and men who have longed for this moment for many years was validated and had begun to be transformed.
There are challenges still for the future and we can’t rely on feelings to meet them. For those who voted against there is a need to be valued. For those who voted in favour, there is the knowledge that women’s ordained leadership is still a long way from being made inclusive in the Church’s life. I pray that the Church can hold together its differences in creative tension and be a sign of hope to a divided world.
Good listening, discernment, and generosity will be needed across the Church of England in the years ahead, but, thank God, there can now be a new confidence in it locally and nationally as we move forward.
The Revd Canon Richard Mitchell, Vicar of Shurdington, Badgeworth and Witcombe with Bentham
Some of my early memories are of Rolf Harris in black and white when we only had the choice of BBC or ITV. Now he is in jail with his memories. We hear of a missing dossier on some very dodgy politicians and leading establishment figures, including churchmen. More scandal awaits, it seems. What lies behind all of these stories is a fundamental and arrogant belief that the powerful and well-known are protected either by their celebrity status or political power.
Jesus said, For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. (Luke 8: 17) These are challenging words to any culture which looks to protect the powerful rather than the vulnerable. This is the reason why it is right to pursue those who use power to abuse and cover-up. It is not that others can claim a moral high ground and certainly not a means of satisfying a prurient gaze into the lives of those we might otherwise envy.
And there is another troubling aspect to this sorry tale, and that is the disillusion with those who should be providing role models in society. When exposure reveals corruption it can easily feed a culture of cynicism where no one dare take anything seriously. And this corrodes all who play a part in public life.
Jesus’ concern was that we should enjoy integrity in our relationships. He said, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. (John 8: 32) Jesus refuses to use power of whatever kind to protect the powerful or to manipulate others. The same should be true of all who claim to follow him.
The Revd Canon Tudor Griffiths, Area Dean, Cheltenham Deanery