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The Chalice Group exists to affirm women’s ministry in Chichester Diocese, and we would like to congratulate General Synod on passing the Women in the Episcopate legislation. This is a great move forward for the Church of England as a whole, and we commend Synod on the affirmative vote. We look forward to working together under the leadership of the Bishops of our Church, and thank God for His leading in this issue.

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This blog post has been hard to write, as I have had to get my head round what took place at Synod via twitter mostly, with a few excellent blogs to help me grasp what the church has done!

What was General Synod doing?(good question!)

As a lay person, by that I mean “lay” as in not understanding how synodical governance of stuff works in practice, I am personally wondering if this clunky form of governance is fit for purpose.  Whether it is our own fault (as an individual communicant member of the church) regarding WHO represents us at Synod, we cannot avoid the glaring truth that the bias of representatives from our Diocese especially among the laity of this Diocese DOES NOT reflect the views and the votes in our own Diocese (despite the views of Chichester from outside).  WE have arrived at this point – in part – because of the part some of our own representatives played in the vote back in November 2012.  The worst thing would be to STAND for Synod simply on a ticket of some kind of partisan desire to MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN that others do not want, OR, to STOP IT . . . my prayer is that THIS Synod (as in, the people elected to serve us until 2015) finish the legislative job of enabling women to join the Episcopate.

What took place yesterday, was the first step in this being done.  As back in November last year the proposed legislation was rejected, the whole process has to begin again – with some alacrity – as we not only stunned ourselves in November, but those watching from outside . . . and, we cannot bleat that MP’s in parliament should not have a view or get involved – it IS what comes with the territory of being the Church of England.  The Established Church has to be prepared to take the occasional brick bats from the “Establishment” (especially as Bishops and senior staff in the Church are increasingly vocal about political decisions that require a Christian and / or spiritual response).

So, before Synod were a bunch of options of HOW we might get where we have long agreed we are heading:

OPTION 1:  

  • a simple measure which removes bars on women becoming bishops
  • the removal of previous arrangements for those who oppose women priests (the old Resolution A & B arrangements, and the Act of Synod which introduced the “flying bishops”)
  • provision for those who cannot accept women bishops by means of either a new Act of Synod or a Declaration from the House of Bishops

OPTION 2:

  • The same components as Option 1, but with reference in the measure to the new Act of Synod, with a clause that provision under these means can only be changed with a special majority in General Synod
  • This option would definitely not use a House of Bishops Declaration, but instead use an Act of Synod

OPTION 3:

  • a much more complex option, which includes the same components as Option 2, but also retains some of the legislation passed in 1993 (Resolution A and B processes) to allow parishes to pass resolutions preventing women priests from either presiding at communion or acting as priest in charge
  • significant modification of the 1993 legislation would be required for this to work

OPTION 4:

  • this option is to put all the required provisions in a new measure, which contains all provision for those who cannot accept women bishops in the face of the measure

The various options above were voted on – the full detail of the work done by the Bishops and others is found in GS 1886 which you can read here.

I tried to follow it through on twitter (whilst in a meeting, so a bit distracting – not properly following what was happening in my meeting, and not properly following what was happening at Synod either).  The upshot though, was the various options were voted on – although, I don’t think option 4 was as the Bishops had said they would not support this option, so it would have been daft to vote on it.  Helpfully, given the tension and the level of disagreement last time – rather than do the vote in “Houses” (Bishops / Clergy / Laity) the vote was done as the whole Synod, with the vote as follows:

(the following taken from the Church of England website):

Accepting the proposal made by the House, the General Synod passed the motion, by 319 votes to 84, in the following form:

‘That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;

(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;

(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;

(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and

(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.’

amendments 45 and 47 in Order Paper V having been carried by the Synod.

So there we have it!  Finally, a couple of thoughts from me:

– Whilst the above notes the majority in favour of Option 1, the amendments bring it closer to an Option 1.75, but not quite Option 2.

– Also, the above vote numbers don’t include the abstentions which were 22 – added to the against and you get 319 for with those either against or abstaining 106 – which gives a percentage “for” of just 75.05% . . . yes, 3/4 but – work still to be done!

Where do we go from here?

The following is cribed from the GS 1886 document, giving the timescale and processes through which this must now be done following the vote yesterday:

1.  November 2013: First Consideration
2.  January – April 2014: Revision Committee considers draft legislation
3.  July 2014: Revision Stage in full Synod
4.  August – end of November 2014: Article 8 reference to the dioceses
5.  February 2015: Report back from the dioceses and Final Drafting Stage
6.  May 2015: Article 7 reference to the House of Bishops
7  July 2015: Article 7 reference to the Convocations and House of Laity
8. Either July/ November 2015: Final Approval

Wow, this is pretty tight in terms of timing!  IF the plans are followed through with discussion and agreement along the way (and the above timetable is only a possible), people listened too and included etc etc – then there MIGHT be a vote on actually legislating in July 2015 – if this is missed, we will have the CRAZY situation of having done all this work with this group of people on Synod (who have also been through the pain of November last year – pain experienced on all sides of the discussions, and have hopefully learnt from that process) only to then expect a NEW Synod to make it law.

Despite this, I am optimistic, especially by the Archbishop’s own comments:

The approach before us is a radical way forward. It provides the possibility of building trust, it gives us space for imagination, and it affirms an inclusive approach that is consistent with our previous resolutions – as I have said, the commitment to ordaining women as bishops on exactly the same basis as men, and the flourishing together of all parts of the church. The approach we have in this amended resolution sets a clear principle combined with a follow-through to the consensus building approach that we are developing.”

So, that was my rather poor grasp of what I think has happened and where things go next – if I have left you feeling more confused, then here is a quick blog roll call of VERY helpful writers / contributors to the picture I have tried to established of what is going on:

Jeremy Fletcher’s Blog – this is really helpful, gives the low down from the floor + the voting information.

Church of England – a quick summary from CofE Media is found here (also note the link to audio if you want to listen to speeches)

Archbishop of Canterbury – this is Justin Welby’s speech, made yesterday.  I refer to his speech above, but read the whole thing yourself (and, also from the Archbishop’s website, it is worth reading his first presidential address – challenging and inspiring us to revolution!)

Thinking Anglicans – Worth a read of stuff here, updates and info – and they reference others who are worth a read too.

Watch – Read the news of what took place here on the Watch website.

YES 2 Women Bishops – A good summary of the options and – mostly – some clarity about what happens next (bits of what it all might mean are woolly at the moment!)

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mar to apr 13 036

The discussion begins, with Bishop Martin (hosted by Alastair Cutting)

Before the meeting (at 2 pm) the Bishop invited the Chalice Steering Group (Alastair Cutting, Julia Peaty, Lisa Barnett, Ann Clarke, Kirsten Scott, Ali Campbell, Simon Holland, Graham Parr, Rachel Moriarty) to meet him for lunch to discuss key issues.
About 70 people attended the meeting, and another 10 or so sent apologies: The Bishop kindly provided tea and coffee as the audience gathered.
Alastair Cutting (AC) chaired the meeting, first as a dialogue with Bishop Martin, and then to introduce questions from members.

* * * * *

Introduction:

AC introduced the meeting and explained the Chalice Group’s purpose, to make sure that ordained women in Chichester diocese know that they are cared for and supported, and to offer support to the Bishop as he realises that aim. He established by shows of hands that those present included laywomen and men, and men and women priests.

Bishop Martin outlined his own experience of working with women, beginning with women colleagues in Leicester, and at Walsingham. In 1992 there was debate about whether the Shrine should remain in the CofE, or join the RC Church; he regretted the subsequent loss of trust and confrontational divisions, and determined to learn to live with difference. At St Paul’s Cathedral he worked with three women Canons and with them developed a ‘model of difference’, which involved honest theological exploration and agreement on the boundaries of dialogue, and a resolve to defend one another’s position. This set a pattern for addressing difference, although on a small scale.

AC Archbishop Rowan Williams had spoken of the need to ask ‘what it is like to be a woman in Chichester diocese’: he wondered if the past year had led Bishop Martin to any conclusions on this.

Bishop Martin said he would hesitate to answer that himself, but he listened to what women clergy said, and had been struck by the graciousness and generosity of the women he encountered; he was aware of past hurts and the need for healing.  He had other concerns too, especially the need to improve pastoral care for all clergy; he hoped to address this in his own Visitation of the Diocese, which was to start this month with Uckfield deanery.

Questions from the Group:

QUESTION 1: Margaret Barr, Eastbourne

How can the Bishop accept a Blessing from a woman priest, but not the Sacrament?

Bishop Martin said that the refusal of sacraments can seem to demean women, but in receiving a blessing from a woman he acknowledges himself as her guest. He recalled celebrating an Anglican Eucharist at Aylesford (RC) Priory, when a nun asked for a blessing ‘for forgiveness’; this, he felt, crossed the ‘inherited divide’ between the Churches, and not receiving sacraments was a signal of that division.  He was anxious to emphasise that this rejection was not personal: there was ecclesiastical provision for it in the CofE, and it was permitted as a wish for ‘sacramental assurance’, and as an ‘ecclesial recognition of loyalty’. It is therefore not personal, but is a legitimate position, a sign of the CofE’s persistent continuity with RC and Orthodox Church traditions – and this always entails a degree of doubt.

AC Could the Bishop pursue that ‘two integrities’ argument?

Bishop Martin said that the word ‘integrities’ is unhelpful, because ‘integrity’ implies ‘a single unity’. As a member of the Working Group charged with facilitating Consultations on Women Bishops, and in particular on the question, ‘is there scope for the CofE to sustain these two viewpoints?’, he feels at present that we should be clearer on what is the ‘normative position’ and what the ‘dissenting view’. A further question might include whether there should be a limited time for dissent before the Church decided on a ‘single view’.

QUESTION 2: Revd Dr John Caperon, retired SCP priest in Crowborough,

How is the idea of Sacramental Effectuality to be grasped in practice, say when a man and a woman priest celebrate the Eucharist in adjacent parishes? Can the Bishop explain what is happening, since he accepts the sacrament of one priest but not of the other?

Bishop Martin quoted St Augustine’s argument on Donatism (C4-5 CE): it was impossible to say that ‘nothing happened’ when they celebrated sacraments, since we cannot judge of God’s grace; this was relevant to this question. The tradition of defining certain concepts only negatively (as in the hymn ‘Immortal, Invisible. . ‘) is helpful here, since it acknowledges a ‘shape’ which eludes positive understanding and explanation.

John Caperon (a supplementary question):

If there is any doubt about women’s presidency, would it be right to express preference for a man?

Bishop Martin said that within the present CofE provision there are no doubts about the legitimacy of women’s priesthood; thus no-one should question the real priesthood of women in the CofE.

QUESTION 3: Rosina Elston, East Wittering

In certain parishes, parish ‘tradition’ means that successive opposing incumbents have presented only one position to congregations; so parishioners’ experience is limited, and their preferences are disregarded even though Resolutions have not been passed. She identified 61 ‘F-F’ (Forward in Faith) parishes in this position.

Bishop Martin said that it is not possible to prevent the appointment of a woman priest unless Resolutions have been passed – but the process of appointment is crucial in cases like this.

QUESTION 4: Geraldine Hamilton, Lavant Valley

If a woman incumbent is appointed to a parish and installed by a bishop and archdeacon who do not accept women’s sacraments, can the Bishop offer assurance that their personal view has no effect on the congregation to which she is duly licensed?

Bishop Martin said that within the present CofE provision women’s orders are not in any sense flawed, and that whatever the convictions of those installing them, the incumbent is properly the appointed priest of that parish.

QUESTION 5: Peter Toone, Churchwarden of N Bersted, with Revd Ann Clarke

It is sad that there is argument over this: but what impression is created when people see their Bishop refusing sacraments from priests whom he has installed?

Bishop Martin recalled his visit to a school where a pupil asked why there were no women Bishops – surely there should be space for all? His reply was that we must ‘challenge the world a little’ on this assumption: surely we should not trample on ‘ecclesiastical conscience’? In dealing with questions and practice about God we are using a complex theological inheritance, which is symbolic and reflects much interpretation. We are the recipients of Tradition on this matter – as we are in matters of gay relationships and marriage – and our symbolism is not always adequate to reflect a non-worldly reality.

mar to apr 13 037

Chalice Group, 70+ in Vicar’s Hall, Chichester – engaging in discussion with Bishop Martin

QUESTION 6: Kirsten Scott, Bognor

How will you foster vocations among young people in parishes where there has never been a woman priest?

Bishop Martin said that it was essential to do this, and he hoped to nurture vocations in a different way from past practice.

QUESTION 7: Revd Alison Bowman, St John the Evangelist, Brighton

It is important that Bishop Martin speaks out and says widely what he has said today; only thus will there be a change of culture in the Diocese.

Bishop Martin felt that the Diocese is ‘hungry for change’ in many ways. After the Chrism Eucharist he had a letter from a woman priest delighted that she could now wear alb and stole for that service: she felt it was ‘like being ordained again’.

QUESTION 8: Kate Baily, Reader, Henfield

Will we have an ordaining Bishop soon?

Bishop Martin said he would in principle say yes; but there must be consultation first. In future he hopes to have two suffragan bishops, one who will ordain women and one who will not, and within the diocesan family he will ordain all to the diaconate, and the Area/Suffragan Bishops will ordain priests, moving across diocesan boundaries so that all can be ordained in their own area.   Consultation with the Dioceses Commission began when Bishop Wallace announced his resignation, but its consent for a new appointment had lapsed before he finally left; besides that, a new Area scheme must be agreed and a new job description for the suffragan Bishop approved. He hoped the new scheme would be agreed at the Diocesan Synod meeting on 11th May, and an appointment to Lewes made soon afterwards, probably by the end of the year.

QUESTION 9: Ali Campbell, Diocesan Adviser for work with children and young people and Youth Officer for East Sussex

Do you think you will change your mind on women’s priesthood?

Bishop Martin This is a question of Reception and Discernment. There has never been detailed theological consideration of the debate and how it is understood, and this has been a serious lack; but there are now some encouraging signs:  One of these is the ARCIC 3 conversations between Anglicans and RCs, which is now concentrating on the decision-making process on both sides, and whether it is fit for purpose. For the RCs, the stumbling-block has been the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) which has inhibited their questions on ethics and society; for the CofE, the failure of the Anglican Covenant means that it is hard to see the Church as a coherent entity. ARCIC talks of making ‘a sign of peace with wounded hands’ and of ‘receptive ecumenism’; this may be a way forward here too.

QUESTION 10: Sue Haines

A new Dean will soon be appointed at the Cathedral: could it be a woman?

Bishop Martin said it would be unsafe to rule that out! He works well with Dean Viv Faull, Dean of York, on Women Bishops and other women Deans.

Thanks and farewells:

Alastair Cutting thanked the Bishop for his generosity in responding to questions, and the difference he had already made in the Diocese. The Bishop in turn thanked everyone for their courage and honesty in asking questions, and said it was clear to him that the Chalice Group must continue to exist!

RM (with thanks to Rosina Elston for her helpful notes)

Chichester, 16th April 2013

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There is a day conference entitled Women Bishops: Church in all its Fullness being sponsored jointly by Fulcrum and Yes2WomenBishops on Saturday 16 March, 10am-3pm, at Christ Church New Malden.

Women Bishops - Church in all its fullness conference

Women Bishops – Church in all its fullness conference

 

Contributors include Jody Stowell, Archdeacon Rachel Treweek, and Stephen Kuhrt.

You can book in for the conference via the venue web site, Christ Church New Malden.

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Chalice Lunch & Update

Chalice Lunch & Update – after the Blessing of the Oils (Chrism) Service in the Cathedral – 26 March, approx 12:30

Chrism Mass

Blessing of the Oils service at Chichester Cathedral

Our annual gathering for lunch and an update on Chalice news across the diocese after the diocesan Chrism Eucharist is on Tues 26 March, Holy Tuesday.

Many of you wrote to say that you felt the price of the lunch at the Vicars’ Hall was too high – so we have changed the venue to

ST PAULS CHURCH, Churchside, Chichester PO19 6FT

Click for maps from Google & Mutimap

St. Paul’s is 5-10 minutes  easy walk from the Cathedral, and there is some parking at the church – or, if you use the Theatre public car-park, it’s across the road. The Rector, Simon Holland, has invited us to use the hall and church, which are all part of the same building, and bring our own lunch – or we can order sandwiches for everyone from Waitrose at something like £2-3 a head if I know numbers. There are facilities for making tea and coffee and a pleasant hall and open space behind.  The church asks for a donation for using the building, and we should pay for our drinks. St Paul’s is extremely well-equipped for anyone with disabilities, but ask me if you have particular questions.

This is an extremely generous offer and we are most grateful to Simon for his welcome and his willingness to let his church be used for activities like this, and I hope we can respond in our donations – as you know, Chalice has no funds. This will make it possible to encourage everyone to come on after the Blessing of the Oils for a chance to talk and meet. We shall need people to offer to help with drinks, setting out tables and clearing up, and are sure you will be ready to do that.

We shall gather at St Paul’s as soon as possible after the service (ends 12.30ish), and the hall is booked until 3 o’clock. Full details and directions will follow.

We now have nearly 200 people on the Chalice mailing list and I shall soon be asking for more formal details from everyone so as to keep proper records, beyond the email addresses I already have. I hope to have forms ready for the lunch – no compulsion, but a proper list would help me. This lunch is open to all, so tell others to apply if they would like to come.

To book you a place for lunch I only need to know

  • Your name – lay or clergy?
  • your email address
  • whether you will bring your own lunch or would like to have sandwiches ordered

Rachel

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Bishop Martin’s office has given us  11th April, 2pm, at The Palace, Chichester for our meeting that had to be postponed. I realise this is during the school holidays. At this stage, would you let me know whether in principle you would like to come on that date, or whether it would be difficult; I’ll collect names formally later. Alastair leaves Henfield at Easter, but will still (just) be with the diocese until the end of that week.

Best wishes to you all, and I look forward to hearing from you soon – meanwhile, a good end to the Christmas season and a fruitful and holy Lent to follow!

Rachel

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Meeting Bishop Martin

Wednesday 30th January 2013,  at 2 o’clock at The Palace, Chichester.

Bishop Martin's Enthronement

Bishop Martin’s enthronement, with the Archdeacon of Canterbury

We are delighted that Bishop Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester, has invited the Chichester Chalice Group network to meet with him.

  •  If you would like to come , please send your name, email address and telephone number, and say whether you are a priest or deacon (or a bishop) or a layperson. It is helpful to us if you give us your postal address too.
  • If you are not on email, send your reply by post to me at 22 Westgate, Chichester PO19 3EU, or ring 01243 789985.
  • Everyone is welcome, whether or not you are on the Chalice list at present.

We do hope to have a good number for this meeting, and apologies if you can’t manage the date.

*   *   *   *   *

In the light of the news about Women Bishops, and developments likely to follow in the New Year, this is a very good opportunity for us to explain our situation and individual views to Bishop Martin, to help him to understand the feeling in the diocese. Chalice is for lay people as well as clergy, and it is very important that lay people make our voices heard too, especially since the vote was lost in the House of Laity (for the detailed voting figures, see analysis on Thinking Anglicans.)

Bishop Martin is our representative in the House of Bishops, and needs to have this information in order to pass it on to his colleagues there. The House of Bishops has recently met and issued a new statement on their position.

He is very ready to receive and respond to letters and views, but a general meeting like this where opinions are shared firmly and openly, in a friendly and honest way, is probably the most effective means of letting him know where we stand. We are grateful to him for the invitation and look forward to an interesting exchange of views.

Our best wishes for a blessed and peaceful Christmas, from Alastair and me

Rachel

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