A thousand plus for women in the episcopate

A thousand plus for women in the episcopate

Over a thousand clergy of the Church of England signed an open letter to The Independent newspaper on Sunday 18 November 2012, urging the General Synod to vote in favour of women bishops in the debate and ballot today (20 November).

Their case is articulated not in terms of a feeble accommodation to the zeitgeist, but on strong biblical and theological terms. It reads as follows:

We, as clergy of the Church of England, stand alongside Rowan Williams, Justin Welby, and the dioceses of the Church of England, in hoping that the General Synod will vote on Tuesday to allow women to become bishops in our church.

We believe wholeheartedly that this is the right thing to do, and that the time is now right to do it. There are many reasons for this belief, and we highlight just some here.

First, because the Bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God. Just as the churches have repented of our historic antisemitism and endorsement of slavery, so we believe that we must now show clearly that we no longer believe women to be inferior to men.

Secondly, Jesus treated women radically equally. He encouraged them as disciples, and chose a woman as the first witness to His resurrection, at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law.

Thirdly, we have promised as clergy to “proclaim the faith afresh in every generation”. We fear that failing to take this step would do the opposite, proclaiming instead that the church is more interested in the past than the future.

The legislation to be voted on represents enormous compromise from all sides. Those who wish to avoid the ministry of women will still be able legally to do so.

We hope and pray that all will feel able to work together in the future with the trust and respect that should characterise our church.

* The full list of signatories can be read here: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/open-letter-the-biblical-cas...

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