LEAD STORY

The Call for Diversity

Members of the General Synod call on the House of Bishops to offer full and proper provision for our constituency

 

REBECCA SWYER on letting all Anglicans flourish

This debate isn’t about what particular individuals or groups want, but about what it means to be the Body of Christ. By necessity, a body has different limbs and organs – it needs that diversity to live. The body is at risk of ailing. Traditionalists like me fear that – at worst – we will become an amputated limb, or – at best – have a painful, debilitating limp. A painful limb in the Church will make the whole body limp.

The figures mentioned earlier showed that a quarter of people in the dioceses are in this position – no small amount and far more than just a little toe in the body! Let’s strive to find a way that doesn’t just allow traditionalists to limp, but a way that enables us to thrive.

Making secure provision will not be an excuse to go off on our own and have nothing to do with the rest of the Church of England. That would be profoundly un-catholic and Congregationalist. Proper provision will instead bring equity and mutual accountability between bishops who are colleagues and partners in the Gospel; doing as much together as their consciences will allow. I’ve been ordained for most of my adult life and am passionate about proclaiming the good news of the Gospel.

I don’t want to merely exist or just about be tolerated because that will compromise my capacity to do what God has called me to do. The Manchester motion gives us an opportunity for healing in the body of Christ and to move away from this issue and so to enable and equip us for God’s mission and to glorify him.

 

EMMA FORWARD on why the Manchester Motion would have helped young people like her

I speak to you today as a young Anglo-Catholic who in conscience cannot accept women as bishops, and who therefore really needs the Manchester motion to be passed. I come not to repeat the reasons why this is so important, but to say thank you.

When the Archbishops’ amendment was lost in July 2010, I, as a young member new to Synod, was surprised at how the will of the majority could be bypassed in a vote by houses as it was. But now, in the light of experience, I realize that to get things right Synod sometimes needs two bites of the cherry.

So, first thank you to the Diocese of Manchester for bringing this back to Synod and to the other Diocesan Synods (Exeter, my own diocese included) who voted for something similar.

Thanks especially to those of you who have no personal difficulty with women in the Episcopate nor with the code as it stands and will function easily with no amendment, but who will vote for better legislation to help those of us who do need it. Thank you.

Thank you on behalf of young AngloCatholics like me who are relying on this amendment to pass in order to thrive and flourish. Ladies and gentlemen, we want to stay and we are grateful to those of you who will vote for this, our best chance to have a future in the Church of England.

 

ARCHBISHOP ROWAN WILLIAMS, during the Synod made a helpful distinction between derivation and delegation

First then – I’d like to pick up some of the questions that were asked yesterday about this question of ‘derivation’ and ‘delegation’, and see if that can be clarified at all for members of Synod. (As you will be aware, attempts by the Archbishop of Canterbury to clarify any theological point are likely to end in its obfuscation! But I hope you’ll bear with me.) When a person is ordained, they receive authority. That’s the language we use in our Ordinal. They receive the Church’s authority to preach and to teach and to minister the sacraments. That’s now part of who they are within the Church. It’s part of how the Church recognizes their calling to a specific ministry. But the Church exists in ordered form – legally and canonically ordered form – and somebody who has received authority in that general sense through ordination, then has (to use a rather crude metaphor) to be ‘plugged in’ to the legal and canonical system. They have to receive a licence to exercise that ordained authority legally and canonically here, here, or here.

And that’s the cornerstone of the distinction between derivation and delegation. Any ordained person receives – ‘derives’ – the authority for preaching, teaching and ministering the sacraments in general as part of who they are before God by the Church’s act in ordination. Ordained persons also receive in various ways licence to perform those functions in a specific context. And that’s where delegation comes in. Because if the context is a diocese where there is a legally, canonically constituted diocesan bishop then that’s the legal authority which lets a deacon or a priest, or another bishop, perform acts within that area. It doesn’t in any sense qualify the authority they receive from the Church at large. It gives them intelligible place, a defensible and legitimate place, within the workings of a Christian family within a diocese. It’s the diocesan bishop in effect saying, ‘Here is my licence to do what I would otherwise do’, and that’s why we say ‘delegation’.

Now, I suspect that if we get that distinction right we might avoid some of the confusion that is around which sometimes seems to assume that delegation must mean you derive your authority as an ordained person from the person who ‘lets you do it’. And just to reinforce that point, you’ll notice that in the draft Measure and in the draft Code it’s quite clear that a diocesan bishop inviting another diocesan bishop to act in his or her diocese, does it by way of delegation. There’s no suggestion that the other diocesan bishop somehow becomes a ‘subordinate’ (in terms of theological order) to the bishop making the request and issuing the permission. Likewise it’s the case that in some circumstances the ordinary authority of a diocesan is exercised by someone who isn’t a bishop. For example in a vacancy-in-see, or in a period between a bishop being confirmed as bishop-elect and being ordained as a bishop.

All of that might sound a little bit full of fishbones but I hope that if we can keep that clear we may avoid some of the misunderstandings that are around, and allow ourselves just a little bit more lee-way in thinking about delegation and why and how it matters. The authority that is received from the Church at large is received in ordination: nothing prejudices that. Somebody has to make decisions about what is good order in a particular area.

 

THOMAS SEVILLE CR reflects on the idea of derivation and delegation

I have problems with the draft Code of Practice; the motion from the diocese of Manchester offers some way of making them something with which I would be content to live. My worry concerns that distinction between derivation and delegation which we find in paragraph 20. This paragraph assures us that episcopal character would remain the same in a bishop who is delegated as it would be in the one who is the ordinary, the diocesan. It could have echoed that fine statement in Episcopal Ministry, the Cameron report of 1990, where it states that ‘a bishop’s ministerial acts derive their character and authority from what is given in ordination’.

Fair enough you might think, but what both of that report and the draft Code of Practice ignore is that that those things consequent upon a bishop’s ordination are not all the same. His capacity to ordain and to confirm can never be taken away from him, for example, but there are other aspects of his office which are dependent not only on gifts of the spirit which may be lost through sin, but also because he is not given due by authority to exercise them. Such gifts of the office of teaching and ruling, what more demotically might be put as ‘going about and doing things’. That ‘ going about and doing things’, that power to enable or to inhibit the mission of the church is something which is mediated through law, as indeed the draft code does note. In the case of a suffragan bishop, what they exercise is regulated through the diocesan and the diocese, very happily and fruitfully as so many of us know.

In the way the draft code of practice seems to envisage, the proper exercise of the delegated bishop’s ministry is unduly limited, a limitation which could potentially reduce him to no more than one who ordains and confirms in a couple of parishes. I hope there is no one here would regard such a bishop as fulfilling that ministry which he does indeed derive from God through the prayer of the church. At the moment it seems that a delegated bishop would be in many ways a poor person’s suffragan, an English version of a cborepiscopus, an episcopal skivvy. What it will not do – what the Code does – is to suggest that derivation is all that matters. There is the authority to be a bishop, but there is also the authority to do what a bishop does and they cannot be divided respectively according to derivation and delegation. It will not work. This is why both authorities need to be established in law, in the measure.

It has been said that law is there to protect the weak. True; but it is put too negatively for our church which is supposed to work together. Richard Hooker, that great teacher about the laws of God and of nature, knew about law protecting the weak, that for him it was ‘a directive rule unto goodness’, something which is there to direct us to God. We need something which will do that for us, in law. It is what Anglicans like me need; better put, it is what is our due.

 

JOANNA MONCKTON calls on Synod to keep the Church of England together

We have a chance now to hold the whole Church together in this difficult question by following the clear lead given by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he spoke yesterday morning, stating that he wanted the Manchester proposals to go through un-amended. For the beauty of the Church of England is that it is a broad Church, encompassing many differing ways of worship and is a Church for the whole nation.

I wonder how many of you think that what is going on in the Church of England is remarkably like the battle fought by the Suffragettes led by Emily Pankhurst when they were demanding votes for women – for then women had no rights at all. It was a battle that women should not be discriminated against. They eventually won the right to vote but they did not deprive anyone of the right to vote by so doing. They merely won the vote for themselves and no one else was disenfranchised.

The fight that is going on here is led by a number of militant women within the Church of England who not only want their own, or their friends’ preferment, but they are quite prepared to un-church many loyal Anglicans who have been promised a place in the Church in perpetuity. This is the difference! Watch and many women clergy are fighting for women to become bishops in exactly the same way as the suffragettes, but at the expense of the significant minority of traditional Christians who are being sacrificed on the altar of discrimination. This behaviour is entirely the way of the secular world and is not the way of Christ. We should remember ‘Love one another as I have loved you’.

For those of you who did not attend the service of reconciliation, and healing of memories with the United Reformed Church last night, I should like to read you part of the passage read at the beginning of the service entitled ‘The Reformed Pastor’ written by Richard Baxter who lived from 1615 to 1691: ‘And, therefore, ministers must smart when the Church is wounded, and be so far from being the leaders in divisions, that they should take it as a principal part of their work to prevent and heal them. Day and night should they bend their studies to find out the means to heal such breaches. They must not only hearken to motions for unity, but propound and prosecute them; not only entertain an offered peace, but even follow it when it flieth from them. They must, therefore, keep close to the ancient simplicity of the Christian faith, and the foundation and centre of Catholic unity.’ Surely we cannot have a repeat of this 350 years after the great ejection.

 

VERONICA HEALD reflects with an ecumenical mind

A few weeks ago, many of us were engaged in the week of prayer for Christian Unity and at the same time, if you were like me, you would have been thinking about the predicament we are now facing in this Synod. I ask you today to think with an ecumenical mind before making your decision and to ask yourselves which of the choices we face today will give the Church of England the best chance of cohesion whilst respecting those with conscientiously held differences.

As a life-long Anglo-Catholic, I know that the goal of unity is a core attitude of mind. Unity is a precious goal; not a luxury, but a duty. We are at present in that condition which Our Lord warned against; we are a house divided. One of the greatest tragedies of recent times in the Church has been the divisions within the English Church and throughout the Anglican Communion. This situation must grieve the heart of Christ and betrays our understanding of the God who was revealed by Jesus as a Communion of Persons.

The search for unity has been our ingrained hope over many decades and I’m sure that the House of Bishops will acknowledge that if we have been tough, we have never been disloyal. We have never deliberately sought division. Division is not in our mind-set and we have always tried to engage with all the bishops in the work of the Gospel in our country. An amendment giving us provision rather than dividing us even further will give those of us who believe in seeking the greatest degree of unity, hope for the future.

We know that we are not able to find a perfect solution to our situation, but the Manchester amendment could be a sign to us all that we are determined to find a way forward together. How determined are we actually? We hear a great deal about being an inclusive Church. Surely then we have an obligation to include those with whom we disagree; our own minority of faithful, loyal Anglicans? Not to do so would be at best ungenerous and at worst un-Christian. I, and those like me, want to remain in our Church; not just remain and be tolerated, but remain and thrive. A truly inclusive Church would not seek to drive us out.

One of the great strengths of our Church has been its breadth; an accommodation of a wide variety of core beliefs, worshipping styles and practices. There are gifts which are born from all traditions – gifts which should not be cast aside. We have before us today the opportunity to put an end to over 20 years of bitter division, and I pray that the Church which I love will draw back from further division.

 

RICHARD BROWN on the important lessons to be learnt from looking at other Church of England organisations

To begin with I would like to especially thank the Venerable Cherry Vann for moving this motion today on behalf of the Diocese of Manchester.

As an ordinand in his second year of training on the Yorkshire Ministry Course I would like to offer some thoughts from some of those training alongside me and my own feelings on the Manchester motion.

YMC declare the following on their website: ‘one of the great strengths of the course is that every theological outlook and Church tradition is represented. This makes for a very rich environment in which to study.’

At YMC we come together from many different walks of life. There are people from different Church backgrounds who come and meet together for prayer, formation, academic study, and worship. We are an inclusive bunch of people with widely differing views but we meet as one community, collectively to move forward in our love for God, our love for his Church and for the sake of the Gospel.

We fully support the Manchester motion, because essentially we are deeply concerned about unity, about the unity of God’s Church and, for us, the unity within our community. We want to remain together as a community. We don’t want division. We see the aim of the Manchester motion in upholding the unity of this Church and therefore keeping our community together.

So why do we urge you to support the Manchester motion? Because there are members of our community who welcome and look forward to the advent of women bishops. The Manchester motion will enable the Church to move forward through this process. It will stop any further major delay.

We do not want any of our community to feel as if they were unable to stay in the Church of England as a result of this particular topic and together believe that the Manchester motion provides the way in which all can stay and grow together in peace, love and unity. It will allow the whole Church to thrive and will seriously advance the mission of God’s Church. It will allow the whole Church to have a working partnership or relationship together. It will allow all people to feel that there is good news in this process and that there is equal light at the end of the tunnel.

It will also ensure that no bishop is second class. All Bishops, whether Diocesan or assistant, will work in partnership together – something that we do regularly on YMC. It will also ensure that the Diocesan retains all of his or her jurisdiction. I want to now go back to the beginning of my speech and commend to you the following declaration which I would like everyone to hold on to throughout this debate today, and that is: ‘one of the great strengths of General Synod is that every theological outlook and Church tradition is represented. This makes for a very rich partnership in our mission to the people of God.’ I urge you today to support the Manchester Diocesan Motion, and in doing so you will ensure that the Church of England remains an inclusive, comprehensive and accommodating Church that is able to focus on proclaiming afresh the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of this land.

After a heated and passionate debate the Manchester Motion was amended by a motion from the Southwark Diocesan Synod; this meant that Synod was not able to vote on the actual text of the Manchester Motion which would have offered a life-line to our constituency. Readers of this magazine will want to offer their heartfelt thanks to the Catholic Group on Synod, to Archdeacon Cherry Vann and all who spoke up for an inclusive and diverse Church of England. ND

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