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WATCH requests no more interruptions

WATCH requests no more interruptions

An Evangelical minister, the Revd Stephen Holland, who isn’t even a member of the Church of England, has now interrupted four consecrations of women in the CoE to the office of bishop. His objection to the consecrations appears to have been facilitated by the Deans of the cathedrals in which some of the consecrations occurred, with him even being provided a microphone to be better heard.

Such interruptions create the perception that the Church is willing to allow a woman who has been called by God and the Church, and appointed by the Crown, to be publicly insulted and undermined. If that is so, it undermines and insults all women; and especially women for whom female bishops are potent symbols of a radical shift in the Church’s treatment of women. “Maybe things haven’t changed at all, underneath,” they might conclude.

Statement from Women in the Church

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.13.59 PM
Stephen Holland outside Canterbury Cathedral before the consecration of the Rt Revds Jo Wells and Jan McFarline.

WATCH stated that the group had been assured that the man’s interruptions would not be facilitated. However, in June of this year, in Canterbury Cathedral, he was allowed to vocally object to the consecrations of the Rt Revds Jo Wells, the Bishop of Dorking, and Jan McFarlane, the Bishop of Repton. Additionally, the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Revd Robert Willis, chatted up the expected objection in his opening remarks. Hilary Cotton, chair of Women and the Church (WATCH) walked out of the Cathedral as the Revd McFarland began his objection, stating, “I resist this expression of discrimination.” A spokeswomen for the Cathedral said that the staff had been informed that there would be an objection at the point in the service where the congregation is asked, “Is it now your will that they should be ordained?” WATCH has since written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the deans of Cathedrals in England requesting that the man no longer be allowed to disrupt any further consecrations.

The question in the service regarding the will of the people that the candidate be ordained was added in 2000 with the introduction of Common Worship. A number of ecclesiastical legal experts have shared their opinion that the question isn’t required  for a valid episcopal ordination. Leaving the question out wouldn’t offer Mr Holland the opportunity to publicly object.

Information for this story was gathered from a Church Times article.
The main photo is during the consecration service of the Rt Revds Jan McFarlane (l) and Jo Wells.
The photo of the Revd Stephen Holland is a screenshot of a video.


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Paul Woodrum

O, Jay. How Trumpian.

Rod Gillis

Cannot the C of E afford the most basic security guards used at rock concerts?

Of course, this is the same C of E which, at one point anyway, replaced the laying on of hands by bishops present with a “circle/arc of ‘friends’ “. And of course, the women nominated by the crown appointments process are all on side with the official position of the C of E shutting out same sex clergy couples. What goes around, comes around. At least women appointees can be ordained after objections by those engaging in attention getting behavior like this guy. Openly GLBTQ folks don’t make it that far.

Ann Fontaine

Here is a liturgy prepared for these occasions!

Dean of the Cathedral: Does anyone have any formal objection to this woman being consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England? Especially remembering she’s not exactly the first and we’ve been through this rigmarole several times now.

Objector: I do.

Dean of the Cathedral: Oh deep joy. Go on then. Let’s hear it.

Objector: Not in the Bible.

Archbishop: Not in the Bible? Listen, matey. My funny hat’s not in the Bible. Having Archdeacons ain’t in the Bible. Calling people “Father” is explicitly banned in the Bible. Cathedrals aren’t in the Bible. Singing “I the Lord of Sea and Sky” at every ordination, consecration, licensing and every service in every Training Scheme since 2004 ain’t in the Bible. This is the Church of England. If we only did the stuff in the Bible we’d sing a couple of psalms, give our money to the poor, and go home to do good works. Of course it’s not in the Bible.

Objector: Just saying. If I’d known you would get so touchy I wouldn’t have brought it up.

Dean of the Cathedral:Does anyone have any sensible objection to this woman being consecrated in the Church of England?

Congregation: No. Can we just crack on? This isn’t rocket science. We’ve done it all before now.

(hymn – I the Lord of Sea and Sky!)

Jean Lall


Jay Croft

Since the Queen appoints the bishops, the proper and only response to such an interruption should be:
“Take it up with the Queen. Now get out!”

Jeremy Bates

Making the candidate comfortable? I think not. Surely a dean’s job is to ensure that the service is conducted according to the prayer book?

The question to the congregation is in the service, as recently rewritten. Even though the Church of England does not elect its bishops.

So the real issue is why is the question even there?

Is it being asked in good faith?

If it is, then the People have a chance to respond. And perhaps the dean’s job is to ensure that objections can be heard and understood, so that everyone will understand why they are then dealt with as they are.

Or is this a case of the Church of England making merely a show of ecclesial democracy?

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