General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate
Press release from the Church of England following today’s debates.
General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate
11 February 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England has today voted to pave the way for the legislative process to enable Women to become Bishops to be completed this year.
In a series of interrelated legislative and procedural items the Synod held four debates dealing with differing aspects relating to women in the episcopate.
The first synod discussion related to the House of Bishops draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure regulations – GS 1932.
Both the proposed declaration and accompanying regulations were drawn up by the House of Bishops at the invitation of the last meeting of the Synod.
The debate was opened by the Rt. Revd. James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, Chair of the Steering Committee, who moved “That this Synod welcomes the draft House of Bishop’s Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedures Regulations as set out in GS 1932”
The motion was passed by the Synod.
The second debate dealt with the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure – GS 1925A – and Draft Amending Canon No.33 – GS 1926A. At its meeting in November the General Synod voted to dispense with a Revision Committee Stage for the new legislation so that the Synod could conduct the Revision Stage in Full Synod.
After debate the revision stage for both the measure and the canon were completed without any amendments being made.
The Synod then gave preliminary consideration to the draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 – GS 1934.
This motion was passed by 304 votes to 33 with 45 abstentions.
The final debate on women in the episcopate in this session took the form of a procedural motion suspending Standing Order 90(b) (iii) so that the reference of the draft Measure and draft Canon to the Dioceses under Article 8 of the Synod’s Constitution can be concluded within 3 months rather than the 6 months stipulated under the standing order.
After debate the motion, requiring a 75% majority of the whole Synod, was approved by 358 votes to 39 with 9 abstentions.
The legislation now goes to the dioceses for approval. Provided a majority approve it by the 22 May deadline the General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate in July, less than 20 months after the failure of the earlier legislation to secure the necessary two-thirds majorities in November 2012. If passed the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.
An audio interview with the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, about the latest approval of legislation towards seeing Women in the Episcopate is available here.
General Synod – Women in the Episcopate debates
Today (Tuesday) General Synod is holding a series of debates on the legislation on Women in the Episcopate. This article will be updated as the debates proceed.
The order paper for all the debates is here and includes the text of all motions before Synod.
Synod debated and passed this motion:
That this Synod welcome the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations as set out in GS 1932
Clause 1 is the clause that allows women to be bishops. After a short debate Synod voted to include it in the measure.
The amendment to Clause 2 was withdrawn, and Synod voted to include the clause in the measure.
The insertion of the proposed new Clause 3 was defeated.
Synod then quickly proceeded to accept the remainder of the draft measure. this completed revision (without amendment) of the draft measure GS1925A.
After a very short debate a division of the whole synod was called on the draft amending canon. There were 304 votes in favour of the canon, 33 against and 45 recorded abstentions.
The final part of the package is the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This requires another Act of Synod. Synod voted in favour of this new Act (which will require final approval at a later Synod).
At this point Synod broke (a little early) for lunch.
The official summary of the morning’s business is here: General Synod – Tuesday AM.
The draft measure must be referred to dioceses (and a majority of them must vote in favour) before the legislation can proceed to final approval. Synod’s standing orders require dioceses to be given a minimum of six months to respond. But Synod was asked after lunch to agree to a suspension of the relevant standing order so that dioceses could be required to respond in time for final approval to be taken in July 2014.
The suspension of the standing order was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against, with 9 recorded abstentions. Motions of this sort require a 75% majority, which was comfortably met.
Posted by Peter Owen (Thinking Anglicans) on Tuesday, 11 February 2014
What a wonderful outcome from this session of the Church of England General Synod, which now looks forward to the possibility of finalising the proposals of legislation for the Ordination of Women Bishops at the next Meeting of G.S. in July 2014! The Motion will now be put to the vote by Diocesan Synods, to be reported back to General Synod in July, before being promulged by G.S. in November, and then referred on for Government Legislation – probably in 2015.
Of course, for a woman to be ordained bishop in the Church of England, she must actually be selected for that process – from an open list of candidates which would then be freed from gender restrictions but subject to whatever G.S. has by that time decreed would be the constituent qualifying clauses – which, one hopes, might be free from restrictions on the normal episcopal oversight of a diocesan bishop in his or her own diocese.
The overwhelming vote (exceeding the minimum 75% in each House) for the ordination of women bishops – especially after last year’s devastating rejection by a minority in the House of Laity – shows evidence of the tactical inclusion of all parties concerned in the movement forward from negativity to approval of the conditions in which women could be accorded the same status as men in episcopal ministry in the Church of England . This brings the C. of E. in line with most Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion. Our prayers will be directed towards that positive outcome.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand