Church of England takes next step to enable women to become bishops

By agency reporter
November 20, 2013

The General Synod of the Church of England, its governing body, has approved a package of measures as the next steps to enable women to become bishops.

In the debate in the morning session in London, the Synod welcomed the package of proposals outlined in the report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation of Women in the Episcopate (GS 1924).

The Steering Committee's package of proposals follows the mandate set by the Synod in July and includes the first draft of a House of Bishops declaration and a disputes resolution procedure. This debate invited Synod to welcome the proposals and the five guiding principles, already agreed by the House of Bishops, which underpin them.

Proposing the package of measures, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester said: "These measures look to the day when the Church of England as an ecclesial entity will have made a clear decision to open all orders of ministry to women and men without distinction, whereby all those so ordained are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy."

The following motion was carried this morning with 378 votes for, eight against and 25 abstentions:

"That this Synod, welcoming the package of proposals in GS 1924 and the statement of principles endorsed by the House of Bishops at paragraph 12 of GS 1886, invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consultation in February a draft declaration and proposals for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure which build on the agreement reached by the Steering Committee as a result of its facilitated discussions."

In its afternoon session, the Synod also voted to progress the legislation to its next legislative stage of revision at its next meeting in February 2014.

As a result of the votes carried today, Synod has agreed to dispense with the normal Revision Committee process and move straight to revision in full Synod which next meets in February 2014, thereby clearing the way for a possible vote on final approval later in 2014.

Lambeth Palace released a comment from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby this evening. He said: "Today's overwhelming vote demonstrates the widespread desire of the Church of England to move ahead with ordaining women as bishops, and at the same time enabling those who disagree to flourish. There is some way to go, but we can be cautiously hopeful of good progress.

"The tone of the debate was strikingly warm and friendly, and a great debt of gratitude is owed to the Steering Committee for the draft legislation, and to those who facilitated the meetings so effectively. The more we learn to work together the more effective the church will be in meeting the huge challenges of spiritual renewal, and above all service to our communities, so as to both proclaim and demonstrate the reality of the love of Christ."

[Ekk/3]

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