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Women Bishops: Over 13,000 petition signatures call for action whilst Synod dithers November 26, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church, Watching and Waiting.
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HOW LONG, O LORD?

As of this morning, across the four petitions noted over the weekend by Thinking Anglicans — Women Bishops: online petitions — there are now more than 13,000 signatures calling for action in response to General Synod’s failure to ratify its draft legislation for women bishops:

And the official response of the Church of England? Silence and Synod deferred. Yes, a number of bishops have blogged their dismay, but as yet, only silence from those who are in a position to move things along.

To quote Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, from his session answering questions in parliament, this issue “cannot be parked, and work needs to be done urgently to try to ensure that it is resolved as quickly as possible.”

On Saturday the Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, described the decision to delay Synod as “extraordinary”, resembling “a bad case of loss of nerve”:

In Tuesday’s backwash, there was an ominous symptom of attitude in the church that needs examining. We were told that General Synod will not now meet in February but only in July 2013. This is extraordinary. When the nation is in crisis, Parliament is summoned within days to consider it and guide those who have to make rapid decisions in life-threatening situations. When the Church of England is in its gravest crisis for decades, the Synod postpones its next meeting and decides that it will be sufficient to meet in 8 months’ time.

This looks like a bad case of loss of nerve. It’s as if we are in denial that the situation is as serious and urgent as it is. This is how it’s being perceived in the nation. Most significant at a time of trial, it looks like a failure of governance. There is a big reputational risk here. Just when you want your governing body to be there and exercise its proper authority, it vanishes like the Cheshire Cat into the thicket not to be seen again till the sun comes out next summer. I urge the Synod to meet in the next few weeks to show both church and nation that it has noticed what is happening and is doing something about it.

— Female Bishops: on not letting it go

And today, news has emerged of a strong warning to the Archbishops from William Fittall, General Synod’s Secretary General, in which he is reported to state:

Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church-State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.

— Failure to vote in women Bishops risks ‘constitutional crisis’ in Church

Enough dithering, my Lord Bishops: Synod must be recalled sooner not later. Please do not keep us hanging in limbo; the period for quiet reflection is over: it’s now time for action. Failure to respond will only result in further pressure as those campaigning for Bishops to removed from the House of Lords grow in number and measures to enforce equality legislation become increasingly likely. Please don’t wait to be pushed: take a lead.

Thank you.

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Dear Bishops, Synod is broken: have you got the message yet? November 23, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church, Watching and Waiting.
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THANK YOU to everyone who has signed my petition, No Confidence in General Synod: Calling for an Urgent Review: 50 signatures in the first 24 hours and still gathering momentum, approaching 90 as I write. I’m aiming for 500+.

All the distress notwithstanding, the more I reflect on this situation, the more I think the way things have panned out is actually for the best. Daron Medway hits the nail on the head in this twitter exchange:

Not so much a tragedy, then, as an opportunity; but in the meantime, Synod is broken and thousands of people, men and women alike, feel severely bruised and battered by that discovery. We have a voting system that is not fit for purpose — but which can be fixed very simply without compromising on the two-thirds majority principle: 2/3 majority overall backed by a simple majority in all three houses. This retains the 2/3 majority protocol but ensures that a minority can’t hold the whole of Synod hostage yet still allows a majority objection in any single house to veto a motion.

All we need, Right Reverend gentlemen — yes, that’s you I’m speaking to, your Bishopnesses — is for you to make it happen. Call an emergency session or whatever it is you have to do, and fix it. Don’t faff about: just “get with the programme” as a certain other gentleman has expressed it, and mend the broken pipe before it floods us all with despair. In the meantime, I look forward to the day I can address a paragraph such as this to “Right Reverend ladies and gentlemen.”

If my little petition isn’t enough to persuade you that urgent action is needed, please see these other petitions:

Thank you.

The Church of England and Women Bishops: Is General Synod fit for purpose? November 21, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church, Watching and Waiting.
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AFTER THIS WEEK’S DEBACLE in General Synod in which a minority within the House of Laity were allowed to hold sway over the proceedings by blocking draft legislation for women bishops in the Church of England, I find myself asking, quite simply, is General Synod fit for purpose?

How can a governing body that repeatedly fails to ratify the clear wishes of the vast majority of its members be regarded as fit for purpose? Upon what basis does the Church of England continue to allow the tail to wag the dog?

To the majority in the House of Laity who voted in favour of the legislation: I salute you – thank you. But I must nonetheless ask how we have reached the point where the wishes of that majority are so easily undermined? The decision of the House of Laity does not represent the laity at large, and this is fundamentally wrong: a vociferous minority have infiltrated the House and thus done away with the possibility of true lay representation within Synod itself.

I therefore, as a lay member of the Church of England, hereby lodge a vote of no confidence in General Synod until such time as it can bring its affairs into order by effecting a genuinely democratic voting system that gives a fair and proper representation to its members in place of the current inequitable system.

I call upon the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops to conduct an urgent review into the rules of governance in Synod to correct this grossly unfair system; and if the matter is not resolved before his enthronement, I further call upon Archbishop Designate the Rt Revd Justin Welby to make addressing this inequitable situation one of his first priorities following his installation at Canterbury.

If you are with me on this, please sign this petition:

Thank you.

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