Archive for February, 2012

Deacons as Archdeacons

The Chalice tag-line says that we support women as deacons, priests and bishops. A few months ago, the Chichester Diocesan Synod passed a motion requesting that Canon C 22:1, which states that an archdeacon has to have been in priests orders for seven years, should be amended so that distinctive deacons may also be appointed as archdeacons. We have had distinctive/permanent deacons in the Church of England since 1987; and some of these are experienced and capable women and men who could admirably take on the role and tasks of archdeacon.

The motion was set as contingency business for July 2011’s General Synod, but not taken; and then set for Wednesday morning in the Feb 2012 agenda. It however got bounced again, when an important emergency debate on Nigeria was placed on Wednesday, and unexpectedly promptly, was finally popped back in to the agenda on Tues afternoon. This is my [Alastair Cutting‘s] personal look at the debate, and some of its shortcomings.

Below are: (if these links aren’t working from the front page, try the full post)


Alastair Cutting, Chichester, 96

(I was presenting the debate in the absence of Bishop John Hind, who was on duty in the House of Lord’s, as the timing of the debate had been shifted at short notice.)

I had heard of the expected vacancy in the see of Chichester; but I hadn’t expected the bishop’s absence to take effect quite so suddenly… This introduction is partly his – and partly not.

This motion seeks to remove from Canon C22.1 the requirement that an archdeacon must be in priests’ orders, and to clarify that a permanent deacon may be appointed an archdeacon.

The Secretary General has given some of the history.   Now I don’t want to argue about what he has written, although I think some of his statements are questionable.  Although I shall also say a bit about history, my aim is not antiquarian. I am more concerned for the integrity today of the threefold ministry to which the Church of England lays claim, but which has been obscured for many centuries and to some extent still is.

George Metochites

Archdeacon George Metochites

Some members of General Synod may know the lovely Church of St Saviour in Chora in Istanbul. In the inner narthex there is a mosaic lunette dating from about 1320 representing the restorer and donor of the redecorated church, Theodore Metochites, presenting the church to Christ Pantocrator.  Theodore was a statesman, scholar and patron of the arts.  More relevant for our purposes, is that his father was George Metochites, archdeacon of Constantinople in the 1270s and 1280s.  As a deacon, George served as ambassador to the papal courts and was an important figure in the attempts to heal the great schism between the Greek and Latin churches at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274.  A good fairly late example of a diaconal archdeacon of considerable influence.

Thus, while the Secretary General is correct in drawing attention (more…)


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Members of the Chalice group and WATCH have been busy in the last months working hard on various matters. I send brief news about these, and also tell you of two events, the CHALICE LUNCH on April 3rd and a DAY CONFERENCE on May  15th.


As last year, we shall hold a CHALICE LUNCH after the service of Blessing of the Oils at the Cathedral –

TUESDAY APRIL 3rd from 12.30 (or after the Service) in the VICARS’ HALL next to the CathedralBook by email to rachel.moriarty@waitrose.com , by phone on 01243 789985, or by post to 22 Westgate, CHICHESTER PO19 3EU – in any case give a phone number please. Cost £11 each, payable at the door.

This proved an excellent opportunity to meet and talk to people and offer support as necessary.

As before, there will be soup, sandwiches, a flapjack and a glass of wine or a soft drink. However you book please include a phone number or email address for acknowledgement, and if after booking you can’t come, please let me know, as we have to pay for all booked meals after the previous week. Book early as Vicars’ Hall only holds 100 people. . .


Again as last year, Alastair has invited us to meet at Henfield church for another day conference, on

TUESDAY MAY 15th at Henfield Parish Church, 10.00 – 3.00; Lunch will be provided, and there will be speakers and discussion groups – final details to follow.

Do book your conference place as soon as you like, but you may want to wait until more details are available – watch this space. This event was another successful and valuable event and we look forward to seeing many of you there.

We look forward to seeing many of you at these events.

In other news: the Chalice Steering group met last week to discuss important issues: to update you all:

New Bishop: Several Chalice Group members on General Synod sat on the Vacancy in See Committee (John Ashwin, Justin Brett, Alastair Cutting, Stephen France), and Alastair is one of the six elected by the committee to join the Crown Nominations Commission to discuss and select a new Bishop. He will be in our prayers during those meeting in the next few weeks, and we shall also be praying that the person appointed will be sympathetic to the group’s views.  Many of us were part of the large gathering in Brighton in November to meet the Appointments Secretaries, where a good spread of views was heard, representing different positions; many asked for a bishop who shares our aim, to ‘support women and men in the orders of deacon, priest and bishop’. We wait for news, probably in May.

Women Bishops: General Synod has just met for discussion on some issues around the legislation on women bishops, in advance of the final decision in July. It is encouraging to hear that the amendment suggesting the central appointment of bishops for ‘traditionalists’ was defeated; but the majority was small and the draft legislation could still be amended by the House of Bishops.

WATCH members will know of the event on Monday, when 200 or so women priests and supporters spent a most encouraging day in Westminster, hearing and questioning a discussion on Women Bishops from a distinguished panel including two women bishops from the US and Canada, and then, after a service of prayer and dedication, walking in procession to hold a silent vigil at Church House where General Synod members were gathering for their first session. Chichester diocese was well-represented and it was good to be in such stimulating company. Thanks to everyone who could come.

Church House Westminster WATCH Vigil before Synod

Church House Westminster WATCH Vigil before Synod

Love and prayers to you all,


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