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
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.