Ahead of a crucial vote on women bishops at the upcoming meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, its governing body, church members are mobilising on social media sites to encourage Synod representatives to vote 'yes'.
The 'Yes 2 Women Bishops' initiative is concerned that ordinary church members have so far had no say in the lengthy process of drafting and introducing the legislation that would introduce women bishops.
The idea for the site was born out of discussions on the social media site Twitter, and now has a website which lets church members email their General Synod representatives directly, urging them to support the change.
The General Synod meets for three days in London from 19-21 November 2012.
The site's founder, an anonymous but widely-read blogger called The Church Mouse, explained: “Archbishop Rowan Williams launched a campaign called ‘Enough Waiting’ to encourage a 'yes' vote in November, as it is believed the vote will be close. Chatting about the issues on Twitter, it was clear that many people wanted to get involved. A few tweets later, and we had a campaign mobilised. I was inundated with offers of support to help get the word out. A few days later and we had engaged hundreds of supporters to spread the word.”
General Synod member Rebecca Swinson has been helping the campaign and said of the idea behind it: “We don’t want to re-hash the arguments for women bishops, or to debate the merits of the legislation as presented. Those debates have already been had. We want to provide an opportunity for those who have watched the debate and concluded that they want General Synod to pass the legislation to have their voice heard.”
Theologian and social media expert Vicky Beeching added: “This is an example of the social media ‘digital revolution’ in full flow; giving a voice to the people, a sense of standing together, and a direct channel to appeal to the decision makers. Our ‘Web 2.0’ world gives everyone the potential to have a voice. We need ‘Church 2.0’ where all those in the pews get to have a say on important matters. Hopefully, Synod members will listen to what these church members are saying.”
Other high profile supporters of the initiative include Jody Stowell from the evangelical group Fulcrum and the Rt Rev Graham Kings, Anglican Bishop of Sherborne.
* Yes 2 Women Bishops: http://yes2womenbishops.blogspot.co.uk
* C of E General Synod agenda: http://tinyurl.com/c2b2bdq
* Ekklesia news and opinion on women bishops: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/womenbishops