Church of England votes NO on women as bishops

The Church of England General Synod has voted No on the ordination of women as bishops.

Failed in House of Laity.

Voting results are: House of Bishops 44 for, 3 against 2 abstentions. House of Clergy 148 for, 45 against 0 abstentions. House of Laity 132 for, 74 against 0 abstentions

6 votes short in Laity.

BBC report

Episcopal News Service report

Comments (15)

So sad.

The thing here that is most interesting to me and most worthy of study is the fact that it sailed through the bishops, was overwhelming in the clergy, and lost by 5 or so votes in the laity.

It's not even a matter of saying that the boys in pointed hats didn't want girls amongst them---the vote says the opposite, actually.

The Twitter feed for #synod was hugely in favor and most of the comments after the fact have been quite negative. If more of those voices had been voting, though, it would have come out differently.

Wow, imagine that. So now I wonder how the rank and file of the C of E will vote with their feet? Maybe it's time for an Episcopal Church in England?

FWIW--and that's not much right now--some of my women friends in the CofE are reminding one another and us that the issue of women bishops has already been decided. What was defeated today was not *if* but *how*.

Disappointing, yes. But there will be women bishops in the CofE in the not-too-distant future!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

As clergy in another denomination with connections to the Anglican Communion (Yea, Sewanee's Right!), this vote raises questions that I think we will all have to wrestle with.

David Hansen
Brenham, TX

Derek, I have a guess what you mean, but could you expand on your comment.

Wait, people!

This was NOT a vote against women bishops. It was a vote against the House of Bishops who insisted on a compromising amendment which would virtually made women bishops second-class or not-quite-bishops because they would be required (not "asked", not "allowed", not "permitted") to provide alternate bishops to minister to those who didn't like women in miters.

It was England's effort to repeat the failed efforts they made for flying bishops when women were ordained priest.

MANY who support women bishops whole-heartedly voted against this motion——NOT against women bishops.

So, the bishops queered the whole thing by their amendment——and it'll now be five years before anything further can be done—thanks to the pointed heads.

Is there any hint that it was strange bed fellows that defeated the measure in the lay order? That is, traditionalist plus those voted nay b/c women bishops wouldn't be full bishops?

Otherwise the laity are saying no to the unchurched who see the CoE as out of touch.

It seems a distinction without a difference: the simple fact is the COE is maintaining a status quo and will not move ahead, for at least five years. Whether it was the bishops, the clergy or laity who brought it down, the end result is the same.
It is genuinely sad that after all this time the Synod failed to move ahead. Will there be further attrition in the pews because of this?

Good grief, what a farce!

Glad to see Mother Corp. is keeping Christianity safe for patriarchal hocus pocus.


General Synod has already made the decision that women will be bishops. What has been dragging on for a while is the particular legislative process through which it will be accomplished. When the decision was made, the powers-that-be stated that there would always be a space for in the CofE for those who could not accept women bishops on theological grounds (specifically the ConsEvos who feel it violates biblical rules on "headship" and the ACs who deny that women can be ordained at all). *Whether* that promise should have been made and on what conditions is a completely different question--the fact is that it was. The trick, then, was to craft legislation in such a way that the anti-consecration minorities would accept it and yet did not suggest that female bishops were somehow second-class bishops in ways that pissed off progressives. One of the things that we heard again and again on the Synod floor speeches today was that the current text just told the theological minorities "trust us--we'll work it out later."

So--there will be women bishops in the CofE; however, Synod did not pass this legislation as the way to accomplish it and to honor the promises that they had already made.

At least--that's how I understand it and am open to clarification from those better informed!

I listened to most of the debate in the Church of England's General
Synod today, and only turned off when the vote had been announced. The
measure passed in the Houses of Bishops and Clergy, and was lost in the
House of Laity. As I had listened to the debate the number of antis from
the Laity who spoke made me very apprehensive about the fate of the measure.

The matter cannot be brought up in this Synod, so there will be at least
5 years interval in which the matter will again be chewed over by the
Evangelicals, the Anglo-Catholics, and everyone else. The provisions for
those who refuse to admit that women can be bishops, or who reject the
"headship" of women over men, will be examined yet again. I am looking
into my crystal ball and will venture some predictions about what should
happen, and what may happen, or even what will happen.

Bishops will now have a problem on their hands. Their vote was 44 in
favour, 3 against, and 2 abstentions. Obviously the majority of diocesan
bishops were in favour. They have female clergy whom they value and who
are inspirational and fast becoming the majority of licensed clergy (if
the current trends of ordinands hold up). The career paths for their
female clergy are now stopped at Archdeacon and Dean level. They are
allowed to go no higher. And their bishops, who have no responsibility
for the measure's failure, must manage their expections. This has
already become quite urgent. My prediction is that many more women
clergy will move into positions of authority in dioceses such as
archidiaconal positions and Deans of Cathedrals. There may also be some
stealth moving of female clergy into positions equal to Area Bishops in
some way or another.

The bishops will also be lumbered with explaining to a skeptical public
why the Church of England matters in English society. Although they were
in favour, they will have to defend synodical government in general,
this vote in particular, and the fact that, in every other sphere of
life, women (and lesbians and gay men, for that matter) are rapidly
gaining positions of authority and influence while the Church still
avoids consecrating women as Bishops. This will be a difficult task, and
I don't envy them.

Clergy, including Archdeacons, Deans, and parochial clergy will have a
similar, if more low-key, role in managing the expectations of female
clergy and trying to convince skeptical parishioners (and others) that
the Church of England actually values women.

The lay members of Synod, where the vote was lost by only 6 votes, will
have an even harder row to hoe. They will have to stand before their
Diocesan Synods, 42 of which voted for women bishops, and defend their
individual votes. And, more seriously, there will be an election for a
new Synod in 2015. Those who voted against the will of their Diocesan
and Deanery Synods must be held to account, if they stand again.

As those who are involved in churchy affairs and politics will be
wearily aware, church elections are often perfunctory affairs, sometimes
not contested and with woeful turnouts by the electorate. Those who wish
to consecrate women bishops before the coming of the Coqcigrues must
start planning today for the elections coming in three years.

The electorate for General Synod is comprised of the members of Deanery
Synods. The vote is a transferable vote method, where the elector
numbers the candidates from 1 to whichever number they fancy out of the
candidates. A packet of election statements is sent to each elector
along with the ballot. There are usually hustings, or election meetings,
during which electors will have the chance to question candidates from
their Diocese.

The first step is to identify the current members of the House of Laity
and how they voted. This will have to be publicised to the entire
Diocese relentlessly for the next three years. Debates should be held in
Diocesan and Deanery Synods and their members of General Synod need to
be held to account.

The second step is to identify and encourage candidates for General
Synod to stand for office. Those who campaign for women bishops need to
identify candidates who are theologically literate, broadly supportive
of women in the episcopate, and articulate enough to speak and
contribute to debates.

The third step is to encourage, nay, even prod the electorate to vote
when the vote comes along. This step must start now, as elections to
Deanery Synods will happen in the spring of next year and the term is
three years. Speakers must ask to attend Deanery Synods and talk about
the voting records of current representatives on General Synod and make
sure that people are aware of the great importance the next General
Synod election will have in ensuring that the next time women bishops
come up for a vote, the measure will be passed.

The other difficulty is one that all must share. The provisions for
those who object to woman bishops pleased no one. The Archbishops
proposed one which was rejected. The current proposed provision was
also, of course, rejected tonight. The so called "one-clause measure",
which would just have enabled women to be bishops, was also rejected. A
lot of effort and thought has gone into these proposals and all that
work has now been rejected. Justin Welby and John Sentamu (until he
retires) will have to think hard about what to do. Depending upon the
composition of the new General Synod, it is conceivable that a
one-clause measure might pass if enough of those in favour are returned
to General Synod. I think that some may even decide that the "Third
Province" method was better than all this. That would be unfortunate, as
it would be difficult for deaneries, who are the front line of the
Church, to operate in concert if some of their constituent parishes
belong to a separate province.

We shouldn't forget prayer and reflection. This goes for everyone
involved. I am convinced of the rightness of the cause for ordination of
women bishops and I would love to see this happen within the next 5 or 6
years. Thus we will have to pray hard for justice, fortitude,
forbearance, and wisdom to cut this Gordian knot.

@ John-Julian "MANY who support women bishops whole-heartedly voted against this motion——NOT against women bishops."

I hear what you are saying, but the reality is this. The priority has been given to "theological minorities". The problem is that "theological" minorities are not real social minorities.They are men. What we are talking about here are those who are in a solid majority in organised religion circles. Let's face it, there are three camps here. (1) Anglo-Catholics who are locked into some medieval "substance and accidents" hocus pocus when it comes to women. (2) Those who believe that an ancient near eastern mythology from two thousand years ago is the definitive word regarding gender roles and (3) politicians who are "worried" about in house fall out if gender equality goes forward.

If a major semi-arm of government i.e. the "established " church an't stand for gender equality for fear of "upsetting" the lunatic fringe, what hope is there for the kingdom of God in the C of E?

For god's sake, in a world where religious crazies victimize women and girls simply for being women and girls, the church ought to make a clear stand in favor of human rights.

I'm afraid this got brought down by an unholy (though probably unintentional) alliance between those who oppose women's ordination and those who shortsightedly make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Well, the one No vote explanation I've seen

makes it pretty clear that it wasn't because the Measure gave women's ordination opponents TOO MUCH say!

JC Fisher

...once again counting my blessings I'm an Episcopalian. Hang in there, CofE: "the arc may be long, but the universe bends towards justice" (MLKJr).

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