December 1st, 2017
Legislation for Women Bishops by Revd Canon F.A. Jackson
The following paper is one of a series written by members of WATCH (Women and the Church) in response to proposals contained in the Report of the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group (GS 1685, April 2008) and the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecra- tion and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1708, December 2008).
The papers focus on the proposals, some of which imply an underlying concept of taint with regard to women priests and bishops, and others which, if passed, would further erode the unity and damage the historic episcopacy of the Church of England.
This paper was written for GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) by the now Archdeacon of Llandaff, Revd Canon F.A. (Peggy) Jackson when she was Rector of Mortlake with East Sheen Team Ministry and Dean of Women’s Ministry for Southwark Dio- cese. We give our thanks to GRAS for allowing us to print Archdeacon Peggy’s paper.
We urge General Synod members in February 2009 to stand firm, and keep a close regard for the decisions taken in their own chamber in July 2008 – to keep good faith with the hard- won matters of principle which were actually decided at that time. And, in passing this legislation on to the Revision Com- mittee, to do so with a clear reaffirmed mandate for:
- a simple statement of the eligibility of women for episcopacy on identical terms with men
- special arrangements within existing structures, set out in a Code of Practice, which:
- make explicit pastoral provisions for all existing clergy and parishes who have need of them, on an individual basis
- do not create or perpetuate existing discriminatory structures, amounting to a theology of taint
- do not offer structural provisions to meet the pastoral needs of those entering ordained ministry after the coming into operation of the new legislation
- are framed to be entirely mutual and interchangeable with regard to gender
- are framed in such terms as do not automatically require, nor anticipate a need for, any future revision by Synod.
The Church of England has reason to be especially grateful to those currently serving on General Synod, and the members of the Legislative Drafting Group. They have laboured nobly to try to find a formula, by which the wishes of the majority that women should be enabled to be consecrated as bishops can be met, while causing a minimum of offence to those who in conscience will not be able to accept such a development.