Navigate / search

The discrepancy between Diocesan and General Synods


The list of who voted yes and no in the debate on women bishops (opens PDF) has now been published. Electronic voting systems have their plus points and their negatives, I guess.

The Head of Communications for the CofE has encouraged everyone to “love your enemies” as they look through the list.

I certainly think it is important that people don’t vilify or criticise those who chose to vote ‘no’. That doesn’t help anyone.

I would, however, like to use it to illustrate something of the Read more

Where did it go wrong? Structural issues have done us

A photo of tears, frustration and disappointment at General Synod today

I appreciate that, in the rarified bubble that clergy can sometimes inhabit, it probably feels like the entire world will have noticed tonight that the Church of England has failed at the final hurdle to pass legislation to enable women to enter the ranks of Bishops.

I’m sure the reality is that lots of people aren’t paying the blindest bit of notice.

I’m not going to comment on the why’s and wherefore’s of those in favour and those against. My task now, like all of us in the church, is to Read more

If it was me, I’m starting to think I’d say no…

A word cloud on the subject of women bishops
Word Cloud by Rt Rev David Hamid

Anyone keeping an eye on the Church of England will not need me to tell them that in July this year, General Synod will be given the chance to provide ‘Final Approval’ to the legislation that will finally allow women to be bishops. I appreciate it is likely to be a close run thing anyway and it’s by no means certain that they will get two-thirds approval in each of the houses of bishops, clergy and laity in order for it to pass.

That said, with something of a heavy heart, I think General Synod should say no and reject ‘final approval’ and thus throw out the possibility, for now, that women can become bishops.

Let me be clear. I support women’s ordination. I think that it is self-evident that they should be in the House of Bishops as well. I can construct a solid, biblically-based argument, to say that women have been leaders from the very earliest days of the church and that Read more

There are good men in the House of Bishops

Bishops at General Synod

There are some good men in the House of Bishops.

There, I said it.

With the decision of the House of Bishops to amend the draft legislation for women in the episcopate, all sorts of stuff has been written about this particular bench of bishops. Little of it complimentary.

This is the first of two posts I’m going to make about the proposed Final Approval for women in the episcopate, but before I say what I want to say about that, I want to Read more

When the church is a donut

A photo of my all-time favourite donut from Krispy Kreme

Q. When is the church a donut?
A. When it forgets its lessons from history.

There is something that has mystified me about the debate over women in the episcopate since the church first started debating all this aeons ago.

In recent days, the topic has been in the headlines again because the House of Bishops have made some changes to the draft legislation that will go before General Synod in July.

In this draft legislation (as amended by the House), one of the provisions for the dissenters is that they will Read more

Rt Rev Douglas Coupland please step forward

A cartoon representation of a faceless Generation X Bishop

In the course of my recent efforts to complete my Masters dissertation, I noticed something interesting. You might not have noticed it but in 2009 a quiet, unannounced seachange began in the House of Bishops. It was nothing to do with women or homosexuality. Nope. It started amongst the Suffragans when Paul Williams (Kensington) became the first.

Since then Jonathan Frost (Southampton) joined him in 2010 and Jonathan Baker (Ebbsfleet) has arrived in 2011 to join an exclusive club that is only going to get larger and larger. It probably won’t be long before a diocesan Bishop joins the group and, depending on how you draw your boundaries, Mark Sowerby (Horsham), Mark Rylands (Shrewsbury) and John Holbrook (Brixworth) might also be eligible to join.

What is this mysterious group that seems to cross churchmanship lines and theological traditions? Well, all those Bishops were born in the 1960s and Williams, Frost and Baker are most definitely the first entrants into the House of Bishops from the so-called “Generation X”.

The exact boundaries of a generation are always a bit fuzzy, but following Sara Savage and friends in Making Sense of Generation Y, Generation X are those Read more

Where are the young women?

Today has been my last day of KIME. The photo (left) is a picture of my year group at their final meeting together.

For the uninitiated, when an Ordinand is ordained and becomes a Curate, the Church of England pushes those new, fresh-faced, eager new possessors of a clerical collar through a three year process called IME 4-7 .

You don’t finish training when you leave theological college. Much like a junior doctor, you are ‘on the wards’ now but you’re still learning and IME 4-7 is an important part of that process.

In Rochester, that means meeting up with the other Curates from this diocese and Canterbury (thus forming Kent IME or KIME) on a monthly basis for a lecture programme and series of group projects. There’s plenty I could say about what IME has been like but I’ll refrain for now.

The point of this post and a post title that could be wildly misinterpreted has been prompted by two aligning thoughts as my time on KIME comes to a close. Read more

Synod 3: Interesting comment on Synod elections

Dave Walker cartoon, courtesy of

Following on the theme of Synod-related posts at the moment, I thought I would link to several recent articles that I found both enjoyable and interesting during the election process and now that our new Synod gets ready to be inaugurated:

Synod 1: over-representation in the Diocese of Rochester


How many members of General Synod ought it to be reasonable for one parish church to have? This is the question at the centre of much concern in the Diocese of Rochester that seems to be bubble around under the surface of the water at the moment.

I should add, before I say any more, that I have the greatest respect for some of our Synod representatives. For the others, I simply don’t know them. So this is not intended as a sleight on their abilities in any way. I haven’t named any individual or church in these articles since my point is not about the people concerned, but about the principle of the matter.

However, the publication of the recent election results for our diocese were pretty depressing for many people, me included. Over the next couple of blog posts, I am going to say more about some of the reasons why they have caused such depression.

Read more

Re-writing history

Cartoon image of George W. Bush re-writing history

Just a brief blog post today: A fascinating set of thoughts from ‘the Dark Side of the Moon’ where Yellow Stevens points out the re-writing of history going on in certain quarters around the debate on women in the episcopate.

He notes Forward in Faith (and other groups in similar shoes) like to portray the debate in terms of saying:

“that they have stayed the same and the Church of England has moved. It is now a liberal dying Church that doesn’t believe anything, so they have no choice but to abandon the sinking ship and head for the lifeboats and wait for the Roman rescue liner.”

Read more