The Bristol Diocesan Synod has passed a vote of no confidence in the ability of the General Synod of the Church of England to effect the clear will of the majority of Church members in relation to women bishops.
Members of the Diocesan Synod also reaffirmed its strong conviction that women should be Bishops and called on the House of Bishops to explore every avenue to move this forward with great urgency.
51 members of Synod voted in favour of the motion which was proposed by the Revd Mat Ineson, Vicar of St Matthew’s and St Nathanael’s, Kingsdown. Three voted against and there were no abstentions.
Speaking at the meeting, the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, said:
“There have been no ten days in my ministry quite like the last ten days. To make a masterful understatement, the current situation does not feel good.
“I wholeheartedly believe that the ministry of the Church of England will remain underdeveloped until we get women bishops. We would get a new and different perspective within the episcopate and I believe that new and different perspective would be a gift to the present House of Bishops and to the wider Church. It is certainly a gift I, personally, would love to receive.”
Proposing his motion (video above, full motion at the bottom of this article), the Revd Mat Ineson made it clear that, in passing it, the Diocesan Synod would not be stating a lack of confidence in the individual members of the General Synod but rather in the ability of its systems and processes to reflect the will of the wider Church on this issue. He said:
“In voting for this motion, we are expressing our frustration and disappointment that the clear support of 42 out of the 44 dioceses in this country for the women bishops legislation – including our own, where not one vote was recorded against it – has not been reflected in the national decision-making. The system has failed the people and urgently needs fixing.”
At a national level, the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England decided at its meeting this week that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.
There was agreement that the Church of England had to resolve this matter through its own processes as a matter of urgency. The Council therefore recommended that the House of Bishops, during its meeting in a fortnight’s time, put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July.
The Diocesan Synod also debated and agreed the 2013 Diocesan Budget and a proposal to allow greater participation in budget setting and discussed and noted how it would consider its business and responsibilties over the next three years.
The full text of the approved motion:
In the light of the recent failure of the General Synod to pass the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) measure at its sessions of November 2012, despite overwhelming support for this legislation by this and other diocesan synods of the Church of England, Bristol Diocesan Synod:
1. Reaffirms our strong conviction that it is God’s will that women be ordained as bishops in the Church of England.
2. Has no confidence in the General Synod’s ability to transact the clear will of the majority of the Church with the urgency required to further the mission and witness of the Church.
3. Calls on the House of Bishops to explore, as a matter of great urgency, every possible avenue to effect the will of the Church on this issue.