TRADITIONALISTS are still assessing what happened at the York General Synod. Although they all expressed disappointment that amendments they proposed failed to pass, they drew strength from the fact that significant minorities did vote for secure provision for those who cannot accept the ordination of women.
In a report to the American Anglican Council, Canon Chris Sugden said the small groups that met before the debate were valuable in helping Synod members to understand each other better. He thought it significant that the Steering Committee charged with the task of producing legislation was increased in size from eight to 15 to include representatives of all the different points of view and suggested that the amendments proposed in the debate drew enough support to be taken seriously by the Committee.
“Space has now been created for those who are concerned that those with traditional understandings of church order in ministry to flourish in the church and engage with the process of framing legislation,” he wrote. “The final draft presented to synod will depend on the agreement of all parties.”
He argued that senior Anglo-Catholic, evangelical and central church incumbents who want to secure a place for traditionalists all saw the outcome as ‘encouraging, hopeful and a breakthrough’.
A statement from Forward in Faith, signed by the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev Jonathan Baker, as chairman, and by Dr Lindsay Newcombe, as Vice Chairman, also welcomed the decision that the Steering Committee should be ‘representative of a broad spectrum of opinion and should draft legislation to which all can subscribe’. “We note the preference expressed by 40 per cent of the House of Laity and over 30 per cent of the Synod as a whole for provision made by Measure or by regulations under Canon,” the statement said.
“In later votes,” the statement continued, “even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25 per cent of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November’s failure.”
The Forward in Faith statement reiterated that it had no desire to prevent women becoming bishops but reiterates its opposition to any legislation which fails to offer the minority a ‘greater sense of security’ than the previous draft Measure.
Forward in Faith also questioned the proposal to end the right of parishes to pass Resolutions A and B, a proposal that was also criticised by Mrs Margaret Brown of the Third Province Movement. She called for retention of the three existing PEVs and
the appointment of an additional evangelical PEV.
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