An update from Bishop Graham about General Synod / Women Bishops
The vote to do so was overwhelming. The adjournment returns the legislation to the House of Bishops for further consideration. It will return (with possible further revisions) to General Synod in November when the final approval debate will commence again.
Why the adjournment? The House of Bishops made two amendments to the legislation at its May meeting. One of them has brought reassurance to conservative evangelicals and traditional Catholics who oppose women's ordination. It has also caused dismay to some supporters of women bishops.
The controversial amendment relates to the appointment of a male bishop to minister to a parish which requests one in a diocese where the bishop is female. There is provision for this already in the Measure since a parish may request a male bishop "on the grounds of theological conviction". The House of Bishops added an amendment saying that the choice of such a male bishop should be made consistent with the theological convictions expressed. Opponents of the amendment believe this introduces law where grace and pastoral sensitivity should flourish. Supporters of the amendment believe it has given space and honour to opponents of women's ordination on the face of the Measure.
The level of concern was such that it was felt more time was needed and further reflection by the House of Bishops required before the Synod could proceed. In the context of a 2000 year history of the Church a delay until November seems modest. There was a fear that the legislation might be imperilled unnecessarily if we moved to a vote on Monday.
I was called to speak early in the adjournment debate and my speech is available here. Please continue to pray for members of the General Synod and especially your representatives from the Diocese.
The Rt Revd Graham James
Bishop of Norwich