Dear Bishop James
Women in the Episcopate.
We are immensely grateful for the hard work that the Steering Committee has engaged in to produce the legislative package in its current form. We are also very pleased that General Synod so emphatically endorsed it.
We assure you of our prayers as you go to the House of Bishops meeting with the Steering Committee, to advise the House on their response to the package, and in particular their discussions of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. We also thought it would be helpful to re-iterate a few areas of concern that remain for WATCH.
The main point we wish to remind the House of, is that WATCH will not support a package that contains any changes to jurisdiction, or the oaths of allegiance, that remove or place doubt upon the jurisdiction of the Diocesan bishop across their whole diocese. Option 1, endorsed by the General Synod last July, did not allow for this, but we note that it was raised again in speeches in the debate at General Synod this time. We trust the House will not re-open this issue.
Three other areas remain of lesser, but still important, concern:
1. Transparency across the wider parish in the making of decisions by a PCC about Resolutions. We hope that you will be able to follow through positively on the mention of this in your introductory speech on the main motion in Synod.
2. Clause 2 of the draft Measure, and possible unintended consequences of the additional clause in the Equality Act. We understand the need for the additional clause, and simply would like assurance that its effects are as limited as necessary.
3. The elevation to the College of Bishops of a Headship Evangelical, simply because he holds those views. This would set a precedent of preferential treatment for a particular minority theological position that dissents from the great majority. Whilst we fully appreciate the good practice of listening to all voices, and the importance of diversity in leadership, the making of such an appointment seems to us an over-compensation.
To re-iterate, The WATCH Committee believes you have prepared a legislative package that will be good for the whole Church of England, and we look forward to being able to play our part in supporting its speedy passage through General and Diocesan Synods.
With all good wishes,
on behalf of the WATCH Committee