Support the Café

Search our Site

Church of England votes NO on women as bishops

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


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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).

Kevin Montgomery

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.

Rod Gillis

@ 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.

Chris Hansen

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.

Derek Olsen


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!

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café