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Moreof Your Reactions After Synod’s Vote

Media comment and discussion within the Church continues after the proposal for legislation to allow women to be ordained bishops was narrowly defeated in General Synod.

Below are some edited observations and comment from within the Diocese in Europe.

If you wish to add your point of view, send short comments please to paul.needle@churchofengland.org for possible publication on this page of feedback.

Dr Nicholas Deliyanakis a Church Council member from Holy Trinity, Brussels, writes:- “I was drawn at a young age to the Anglican Church from a Greek Orthodox background. What drew me was the feeling that this is a thinking church, a church that values reason as much as scripture and tradition (as a physicist, I would not have settled for anything less). The Synod’s vote was as disappointing and incomprehensible to me as to so many others in our church. We have all seen how the ministry of women has hugely enriched both our church and our society. That was reason enough to go ahead with the consecration of women as bishops. We see all the time how religion is being used to spread intolerance and hatred. But we have also seen, for example, how a committee chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool looked at the Hillsborough disaster and brought a fair verdict and comfort for the victims and the whole nation. This is the church to which I want to belong, not one of pedantry and bigotry, but one of grace and reason. I pray that God will help us always to overcome petty divisions and to be a strong, respected and constructive voice for Christian values and the common good.”

Rev Peter Massey from the ARK Community in France recalls “I happened to be in the UK visiting my mother on the day Synod voted on this measure.  Shortly after the vote, which could be followed live on the BBC blog, I was enjoying a beef and guiness pie in a small pub in Chobham and reading all the comments coming in from all over the world onto that blog.  Whatever their theology and doctrinal positions, in simplistic terms this was undoubtedly a very damaging day for the church and for those such as ourselves, involved in mission which reaches out to the largely un-churched community we live in. When the waitress came to my table I said to her "I am an Anglican minister, and my parliament has just voted against allowing women to become Bishops, what is your reaction to that?"  Her face expressed horror and she replied, "That's horrendous and sexist, how could they do that, what on earth were they thinking of? "  I did not have time to explain to her the complexities of both the argument or the voting system, but I suspect she had not yet encountered Jesus and this vote at synod and it's perception by the people we are called to reach out to is not going to help that happen!.

Two days later at Holy Trinity Brompton at a Fresh Expression conference, I was able to join with several hundred other people in a warm standing ovation for Archbishop Rowan who was giving the keynote address.  He was inspiring, relaxed and clearly passionate about the state of the Church of England and the opportunities for the future mission of the Church despite this devastating setback.  Part of that mission process must be for us "professionals" to be able to bridge the disconnect and explain who and what we are, disciples of Christ called to serve, and to get our priorities right.  May we pray that where there is discord may there be eventually be harmony and trust that God really does move in mysterious ways.

Mary Strømmen a woman priest from Trondheim in Norway writes:- "My own personality and position tends to be very much a sitting on the fence wait and see kind of person. I go for patience and for compromises and for waiting on the Spirit to lead, in fact the kind of leadership that Archbishop Rowan has shown the church is right up my street.

"But talking to my 26 year old daughter after the results of the vote has convinced me that we are in terrible danger now of losing so many of the bright younger generation of our church.- most probably not only the women either. They simply cannot understand what we are arguing about and how women can be discriminated against in this official way. The theology and the diplomacy involved is not comprehensible to them. We do not have many bright young people dedicated to our church as it is. Can we really afford to send them away to other churches or out of the church altogether?

"I do not know what can be done about this but as a public relations and missionary exercise for spreading the gospel to young people in England and elsewhere I'm afraid the General Synod has a lot of explaining to do".

Rev Dr Jack McDonald, Canon Theologian, (pictured here) writes “The Anglican Religious Education Committee in Belgium/Comité Anglicaans Godsdienstonderwijs in België is currently organising a series of five sessions of lectures about the Christian faith as Anglicans live it, our history, liturgy, thought, prayer and life. These sessions are led by the newly-appointed Inspector-Advisor for Anglican RE in Belgium, Ms Birte Day, and by me. During the session on the evening of 20 November 2012, a stir went round the room (there were 22 students present) as the news came through onto people's i-phones (not all the 22 were fully concentrating on the lectures!) that the measure to authorise the consecration of women to the episcopate of the Church of England had been lost in the House of Laity. As the meeting broke for coffee, we all joined hands, prayed the Grace and read together John Donne's holy sonnet "Batter my heart", which Birte had just been discussing.
  
". . .  I am devastated by the failure of the measure to be passed by the House of Laity, and consider this a damaging blow to the Church of England's mission in Leuven, where I work. There are exciting signs of life and energy in the Anglican Church in Belgium - not least in the growth of RE in Belgian schools. These will not be well served in my view by the House of Laity's vote.
 
"But I look to the future with hope and faith. To be Anglican is to follow in the magnificent Christian tradition which we unpacked on 20 November at exactly the same time as the General Synod made its decision. The House of Laity has not approved legislation to enable women to be consecrated bishop. But the tradition of the Anglican giants we studied - Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, Jeremy Taylor, John Donne, George Herbert, Joseph Butler, F.D. Maurice, William Temple and Desmond Tutu - will, I hope and pray, soon enable the Church of England to follow many other Anglican provinces in celebrating to the fullest extent the gifts which the Holy Spirit bestows on women as well as men."