At last, thank God! This has been the cry from a number of people I’ve met this week, following the General Synod vote to allow women to be made Bishop and to make provision for those who can’t accept such a move by the Church of England.
As a General Synod member for Gloucester, in the voting chamber at York myself, the passing of the legislation was a moment that touched some deep feelings. The whole chamber voting together, drove through a two-thirds majority to pass the package, and yet, it was, I suspect, an intensely private moment for each of us there. For me, I was stirred by the feeling that, at last, we could ordain women and men equally as bishop, priest or deacon and begin a new phase in the life of the Church of England. It was also a feeling that at last, the frustration and pain of women and men who have longed for this moment for many years was validated and had begun to be transformed.
There are challenges still for the future and we can’t rely on feelings to meet them. For those who voted against there is a need to be valued. For those who voted in favour, there is the knowledge that women’s ordained leadership is still a long way from being made inclusive in the Church’s life. I pray that the Church can hold together its differences in creative tension and be a sign of hope to a divided world.
Good listening, discernment, and generosity will be needed across the Church of England in the years ahead, but, thank God, there can now be a new confidence in it locally and nationally as we move forward.
The Revd Canon Richard Mitchell, Vicar of Shurdington, Badgeworth and Witcombe with Bentham