As you know, WATCH has been consulting with members and others over the past weeks to get a better sense of whether the draft legislation to allow women in the episcopate has the support of our constituency. Immediately after the September meeting of the House of Bishops, our conversations revealed a very deep and passionate division between those who would continue to support the Measure and those who could not. It appears that over the past few weeks that position has changed.
Our recent consultation with members and others indicates three things very strongly:
- That our supporters Continue to have a number of reservations about the legislation: many expressed concern that by providing such generous provision for those opposed, we are storing up trouble for future years and risk entrenching a discriminatory culture that is deeply damaging to men, women and the health of the Church of England.
- Despite these concerns, a significant majority of those who responded to our consultation would like to see this legislation pass Final Approval on 20th November: they think that the benefits of having women as bishops outweigh the risks inherent in the Measure.
- There is a strong minority view that this legislation is discriminatory and should therefore be opposed.
WATCH acknowledges that those with both views are sincere in their desire to see the full flourishing of women in the Church of England. We understand that individuals may feel compelled to vote in either direction on 20th November. However, the balance of opinion in our constituency is now firmly in favour of this legislation passing and we hope Synod members will take that into consideration in deciding which way to vote.
WATCH has worked tirelessly to ensure that the best possible legislation is presented to General Synod for Final Approval and will continue with this work beyond November whatever the result of the vote (especially in monitoring the development of the Code of Practice). What is on the table now is the product of many years of consultation and detailed drafting work. Now is the time for Synod members to decide whether this legislation is a workable basis for going forward together. It is clear that the majority of WATCH supporters feel that, although not ideal, this package is ‘good enough’ – an acceptable next step on a continuing road towards a Church that fully values and celebrates the gifts of her women.
WATCH therefore welcomes the positive contributions of the Archbishop of Canterbury and others in seeking to persuade Synod members to support the legislation. We hope that other bishops will follow his strong lead. Follow this link for details of Archbishop Rowan’s ‘Enough Waiting’ campaign
We also invite those of our members who want to see this legislation passed in November to follow the link below to a website set up by ‘Church Mouse’ and consider signing the letter asking your General Synod members to vote in favour of the draft legislation.