Saying 'yes' to women bishops
'YES 2 women bishops' (http://yes2womenbishops.blogspot.co.uk) is a website promoting a 'yes' vote in favour of women bishops in the November 2012 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, which takes place in ten days time.
It enables church members to write to their General Synod reps, but is independent of the Church of England and all organisations within it. While supportive of Archbishop Rowan Williams's "Enough Waiting" campaign, it is separate from that initiative, too.
The site was established by the anonymous blogger Church Mouse. The other principal, named contributors are Rebecca Swinson, Jody Stowell, Vicky Beeching and Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne.
YES 2 Women Bishops declares: "There are many 'special interest groups' who have been around for many years loudly voicing their positions. Groups representing particular wings and factions within the Church have made their views known and the arguments have been played out in agonising detail.
"Yet there has been no attempt to let ordinary church members voice their opinions. Surveys have been clear that the vast majority (around 75-80 per cent) of the Church, and the public at large, want women bishops.
"This site does not intend to replay the arguments for and against. It is simply a place for those who have decided that they would like to General Synod to pass the legislation to allow women bishops in November to urge them to do so."
Ekklesia has been asked if it will back the 'yes' vote initiative. We are pleased to do so. Although our directors, associates and core contributors come from a variety of denominational backgrounds with different understandings of ministry (we are not an Anglican organisation), supporting and encouraging the work and leadership of women in all churches is deeply consonant with our values concerning the community of women and men as whole (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/about/aimsandvalues.shtml).
However, it is very much to be hoped that, in the case of the Church of England, the final formula for the legislation is not seen as enshrining further discrimination against women in the way it is formulated with regard to those who oppose the move - as the misguided Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 did in a major way when the decision was taken to ordain women as priests.
There remain mixed views and feelings about the propriety of what is being put forward later this month, as WATCH (Women and the Church) and others have reflected. But the majority view among supporters is that "although not ideal, this package is ‘good enough’ – an acceptable next step on a continuing road towards a Church that fully values and celebrates the gifts of her women."
Our news and opinion aggregator on the specific topic of women bishops can be found here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/womenbishops
Our associate Savitri Hensman has written a number of informative articles about women bishops and the Church of England, including 'Women bishops and the church’s core purpose' (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16229), and 'Mission, unity and women bishops' (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16841).
The full and unfettered ministry of women at all levels of church life is regarded by many inside and outside ecclesial circles as an issue of equality and rights. But it is worth pointing out that from a Christian viewpoint it is first and foremost a theological concern. That is, the church which is intended to be a boundary-breaking 'new community in Christ' impoverishes, injures and limits itself (and its message about God's truly revolutionary love) if it denies the leadership of those who first bore witness to the Risen life that gives it this very shape and purpose.
It is therefore good to hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury elect, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, will be joining his predecessor in urging a swift resolution to the women bishops debate. "I will be voting in favour, and join my voice to many others in urging the synod to go forward with this change," he said at the press conference announcing his election on 9 November 2012.
* YES 2 Women Bishops: http://yes2womenbishops.blogspot.co.uk
* Facebook: http://facebook.com/yes2womenbishops
* Twibbon: http://twibbon.com/Support/enough-waiting-2
* WATCH - Women and the Church consultation results on the proposed legislation - http://tinyurl.com/cuy46db
* Ekklesia news and opinion on women bishops: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/womenbishops
Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.
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