The Church of England working group on women bishops yesterday announced that it will be making four proposals to General Synod in a month’s time:
It is not yet clear to our team when those proposals and the details of their suggested implementation will become available.
The Together4ward team are grateful for the opportunity we have had to contribute to the working group’s discussions on Christian unity in light of the diversity of opinion that exists regarding the issue of gender and suggested changes to Anglican church order.
We recognise that some have felt real surprise to discover that there are those of us who understand the Bible to teach a distinction in gender roles regarding church order. We welcome those who, even though they disagree with our theological understanding, have acknowledged that this was the position articulated by the church Fathers and the Anglican Reformers, and that until 20 years ago this was the theological understanding reflected in Anglican polity and church structures since Augustine.
In our unofficial discussions with representatives of women’s ministry groups, we are very pleased to have found substantial agreement regarding possible ways forward. In particular, we were pleased to be able to engage with the creative thinking and research of leading female presbyter Lis Goddard, further exploration of which we supported and endorsed publicly in our official contribution to the Synod working group.
While we were disappointed that some of these creative solutions were ruled out by pre-commitments made by the working group at an early stage, we would like to thank them for giving our representative an opportunity to contribute to their discussions. When the detail of the four proposals announced yesterday is released, and we have had time to reflect carefully, we hope to make a fuller statement.
Meanwhile, we continue to encourage parties on all sides to pray for Christian unity at this time, and to that end we encourage the use of the following collect published by Church Society:
Almighty and everlasting God,
ruler of all things in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the prayers of your people.
In the wake of the vote in General Synod,
grant comfort to those who are sorrowful,
rest to those who are weary,
and clarity to those who are confused.
Give to each of us, heavenly Father,
a heartfelt repentance for our sins,
a renewed spirit of grace and love towards our Christian brothers and sisters,
and a shared commitment to seek your will, revealed in your holy Word.
Above all, gracious Lord, help us fix our hearts where true joys are to be found,
in Jesus Christ our Saviour, who died for us and rose again,
for we ask all these things in his name, Amen.