CSCS News: No 49, Summer 2014


Anthony Woollard

It is not very long since both the Anglican and Roman Catholic hierarchies were throwing up their hands in horror at civil partnerships.  Yet in their responses (see edited versions below) to the recent Government consultation on their future in an age of same-sex marriage, they are suddenly finding much virtue in them.  Now that same-sex marriage is a reality, civil partnerships suddenly become a prized means of keeping clear blue water between Church and State views of marital and quasi-marital relationships.

There is a case for this, as has been argued by our Chair in the last edition.  Simply to convert all civil partnerships into marriages would be hurtful to those same-sex couples who, for whatever reason, do not see their relationship in terms resembling traditional marriage but want the public recognition, legal protection and sense of security that civil partnerships can bring to that relationship.  But, to me, all that this illustrates is the deep confusion about the nature of marriage and other relationships which was so well exposed in our Annual Conference and again reported in the last edition.

No doubt the Bishops of both Communions are sheltering behind a convenient fiction: that civil partnerships (which do not, in law, assume any kind of sexual consummation for their validity) are not really about sex at all.  They are just a way of legal bonding, to which any sexual activity, however defined, is purely incidental (and presumably sinful).  The Anglican Bishops at least are pretty open about this.  In which case, why not extend them to opposite-sex couples?

There are, as we noted at the Annual Conference, many reasons why couples (irrespective of sexual orientation) may wish to bond together without going through the full rigmarole of marriage.  As far as straight couples are concerned, Duncan Dormor’s Just Cohabiting? remains one of the best analyses of this; but even he, like the old Church of England report Something to Celebrate, tends to assume that at the end of the day “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” and that the least unacceptable form of cohabitation is one which eventually leads to the altar. For many of our contemporaries, Christian and other – especially those who have been seduced by some of the more romantic notions of marriage – that may well be the case.  And, logically, if we see marriage as a sacramental state to which love tends, and a boundaried state which protects love, then that is as true for same-sex as opposite-sex couples, and the Episcopal Church in the USA could be right in insisting that coupled lesbian and gay clergy should marry wherever State laws allow them to do so.

But individual circumstances are profoundly diverse.  The Churches may – in parts – slowly be coming round to the possibility that some individuals are not by nature heterosexual and should be given some freedom to express their “deviant” loves.  Many Churches now recognise that the ideal of a lifelong union may not be attainable by all and that some allowance should be made for the possibility of divorce and (straight) remarriage – without thereby threatening the norm of exclusive lifelong sexual and familial commitment.   But at the other extreme, as is hinted at in the responses on civil partnerships, the whole complex business of the sex lives of transgendered people, notably those who transition in the course of a marriage or civil partnership, seems to be viewed as an impossible conundrum (though even here the State now seems to be moving).  And there are others, who may not be commitment-phobic as such, but have become marriage-phobic because of what marriage has come to represent to them, whether through Church teaching, or through experiences of their own or their parents’ marriages, or even just revulsion at the commercialisation of marriage.  (Such people may or may not be civil-partnership-phobic as well.)  Then there are the cases – possibly extremely rare, but certainly extremely threatening! – broadly described as polyamorous, where something other than one-on-one sexual fidelity seems to be genuinely life-enhancing to all those involved…. One does not have to say that absolutely “anything goes” to recognise that human sexuality is a far more diverse thing than any institutions can finally capture.

And this debate throws up some wider issues of theology and spirituality.  I would instance the point made by our Chair in his annual report.  If the Christian ideology of marriage is based on an analogy of the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5), which would hardly appear to be a partnership of equals – whilst one sees one’s relationship with a partner (same- or opposite-sex) as one of equality – might that be a reason to prefer some form of commitment which is not identified as “marriage”?  That raises no end of wider issues.

At the strictly theological level there are questions of the authority of Scripture and tradition. Does Ephesians 5 actually dictate authoritatively what we should believe about marriage, and/or the relationship between Christ and the Church, or does it just reflect the writer’s attempt, based on the culture of the time, to interpret mysteries which may look different today?  It could be argued that the Ephesians passage assumes two things: a notion of Divine (and for that matter human) power based on absolute sovereignty, and a notion of marriage based on clearly differentiated roles of “husband” and “wife”.  Do we have the authority of reason and experience to question these assumptions in a very different world from that of the first Christian century?

At the spiritual and psychological level, exactly how do we apply such concepts as dominance, submission and equality to our relationship with our partners and to our/the Church’s relationship with Christ?  Even C S Lewis, hardly the wildest Christian radical, noted in The Screwtape Letters the possible psychopathology of some of the traditional dominance/submission paradigms, both in humanity’s relationship to God and in our relationships to each other.  The concept of “service” or “servanthood” – which can be adapted to imply mutuality – might be more helpful, not least since it is a central category in much of Scripture; but even that can be misused as a cover for exploitation, mutual or otherwise.  If some therefore feel that a civil contract based on equality is a “cleaner” concept, that is understandable.  In the real world, as Reinhold Niebuhr demonstrated, legalistic and bureaucratic solutions to human relationships may carry greater justice, and even ultimately embody more love, than “ideal” solutions based on “Gospel principles”.

 So I return to the theme of diversity, and the danger of trying to fit intimate relationships into a Procrustean bed, a temptation to which Church, State and wider society are all prone.  That poses an obvious challenge to anyone finding themselves in a pastoral situation, for surprising numbers still turn to the Churches for guidance in such matters.  Hence the considerable effort which CSCS  put in to the conference for theological educators at Ripon College, Cuddesdon on 9/10 July.  Following this remarkable event, we are confident that we will see the generation of new approaches to the preparation of future pastors.  We believe, too, that, as we digest its lessons, it may help to indicate future directions for CSCS itself.   Our Press release following the conference, and the sermon given at the Eucharist, are reproduced below; further details and materials will be in a subsequent edition, and on the CSCS website.

 There are many bodies who have put new thought into issues of faith and sexuality – Inclusive Church, Modern Church, LGCM and Changing Attitude, to name but a few, and other groups which are denominationally-based or else focused on specific issues such as transgender .  Some of these did not even exist when CSCS was set up over twenty years ago; others are of much longer standing.  We have good relationships with most of them, and a number had a direct involvement in the Cuddesdon conference.  But they tend to have a focus which is either narrower or wider than that of CSCS.   Then there are individual academics and others who labour in the same vineyard, some of whom made a major contribution to the conference.   How does this patchwork of interests fit together?  Those individuals and organisations who take a more conservative view of issues of Christianity and sexuality – though they too are quite diverse and not always unanimous – seem to be rather better organized and currently more impactful.  What is the future role of a body like CSCS, which on issues such as the same-sex marriage and civil partnership debate may punch above its weight, but which is, frankly, small and ageing in its membership?  We now have evidence that our website is making a very widespread impact – and not just in the UK either – and we know too that there will be follow-up to the conference; but what should we be doing beyond all that?

 The next event in CSCS’ life, therefore, will be a residential consultation for the Committee and some key friends and supporters to consider the future.  That looks likely to happen in the autumn.

 These two events, the conference and the consultation, should give rise to some further rich material for our next newsletters!

Response from the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to “Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales): a consultation”


1. In the wake of the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 Act the government is consulting on whether civil partnerships should be:

a. abolished and automatically converted into same sex marriages,

b. prevented from occurring in future whilst recognising existing civil partnerships,

c. extended to allow opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships, or

d. retained in their current state.

 2. Now that same sex marriage exists in law, a new issue is being raised. There are those lesbian and gay Catholics who have entered into civil partnerships in order to secure important and necessary legal rights, but who do not wish either to become married in the eyes of the state, or to have their civil partnership automatically ‘converted’ into a

marriage. To remove the legal right of these same sex couples, who do not wish to ‘marry’, to enter into a civil partnership would mean removing legal rights for such people in future.

 3. We have received representations from some lesbian and gay Catholics stating that they would not wish to enter into a same sex marriage, and who fear that their legal rights will be removed if civil partnerships are abolished.

Q1: What are your views about abolishing the legal relationship of civil partnership once same sex couples can marry?

4. Some lesbian and gay Catholics do not wish to enter into civil same sex marriage because of their deeply held belief that marriage is between a man and a woman only, but still wish to have the legal rights that are contained in a civil partnership. The removal of the option for same sex couples to enter into civil partnerships could cause great harm to

those Catholics and others.

5. In terms of the Equality Act framework, it is important that those who share the protected characteristics of sexuality and religion continue to be able to manifest their religious beliefs whilst not being denied the legal protections that are offered by a civil partnership.

6. We are opposed to any automatic conversion of civil partnerships into same sex marriages. The two realities were established differently in law with distinct meanings. Same sex couples who entered into civil partnerships may not wish to have their relationship labelled in this way.

Q2: Once marriage is available to same sex couples, do you think it should still be possible for couples to form a civil partnership as an alternative to marrying?

7. As explained above the continued legal right of lesbian and gay couples to enter into civil partnerships is important to them. Preventing new civil partnerships from being entered would deny them those rights and provide little or no benefit elsewhere.

Q8: Are there any proposals for changes to the legal terminology and processes for forming civil partnerships which are consistent with civil partnership being different from marriage?

8. There should be clear differences in the terminology and processes between civil partnership and marriage, recognizing the distinctive legal characteristics of each.

Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales): Consultation- A response from the Church of England

 Q1 What are your views about abolishing the legal relationship of civil partnership once same sex couples can marry?

We believe that civil partnership should not be abolished.

When civil partnership was introduced, it addressed the widely acknowledged problem that same sex couples, many of whom were in long term, faithful relationships intended to be permanent, did not share the same kind of legal position enjoyed by married heterosexual couples, such as the rights of next-of-kin, inheritance and pension rights and so on. The Church of England recognises that same sex relationships often embody fidelity and mutuality. Civil partnerships enable these Christian virtues to be recognised socially and legally in a proper framework.

The introduction of same sex marriage now offers an alternative way for same sex couples to secure those advantages. It is, however, too soon to know what proportion of people currently in civil partnerships will wish to convert them into marriage and how many people may in future decide to enter a civil partnership rather than marry. And whatever the numbers turn out to be, abolishing civil partnership would pose an invidious choice for those who may, on grounds of religious conviction or for other reasons, not wish to enter a same sex marriage.

Whilst civil partnership and marriage confer effectively the same legal standing upon a relationship, there remain important differences. The differences are especially important for many Christians who accept the churches’ traditional teaching both on marriage and on sexual behaviour. As civil partnership is not marriage and also involves no presumption that the relationship is sexually active, it offers an important structure for the public validation of the relationship of a same sex couple who wish to live in accordance with the church’s traditional teaching. If civil partnership was to be abolished, such couples would be faced with the unjust choice of either marrying (which might conflict with their religious beliefs about the nature of marriage) or losing all public and legal recognition of their relationship.

Q2 Once marriage is available to same sex couples, do you think it should still be possible for couples to form a civil partnership as an alternative to marrying?

Yes. For the reasons outlined above, we believe strongly that the option of civil partnership should remain open for same sex couples who do not believe that marriage is right for them. This is more than a matter of personal preference. In the debate leading up to the legislation on same sex marriage, many of those who opposed the legislation did so on the grounds that, whilst same sex couples should have every legal entitlement that was available to heterosexual couples, the single word “marriage” was being used to denote two different kinds of relationship. That view did not prevail in Parliament, but it continues to be held by a significant number of people in the country and not just by Christians.

 The retention of civil partnership will mean that Christian and other same sex couples who hold the traditional understanding of marriage as being between a man and a woman, will still have a social and legal framework in which their relationship can be honoured and recognised. We believe that this constituency for civil partnership extends beyond those who chose civil partnership over marriage on religious grounds.

 Q3 What are your views about extended civil partnerships to opposite sex couples?

We do not believe that a case has been made for extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. Our arguments for the retention of civil partnership are based on the need to maintain an option for those same sex couples who wish for proper recognition of their relationship but do not believe that their relationship is identical to “marriage”. It is much less clear what comparable disadvantage arises from the absence of opportunity for opposite sex couples to form civil partnerships.

 Q7 Are there any detailed implementation issues which are not included in this document linked to abolishing the legal relationship of civil partnership and converting existing civil partnerships into marriages?

Paragraph 3.19 notes the question of couples in a civil partnership where one member undertakes gender reassignment. They would currently have to dissolve their civil partnership and then marry. We agree that it should be made as straightforward as possible for such couples to translate their civil partnership into a marriage, just as same sex couples currently in civil partnerships will be able to make the transition into marriage once the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act is implemented. Such a couple would have made the transition from being, in law, a same sex couple to being an opposite sex couple, and we see no reason why the category of civil partnership should be kept open for them, for the same reasons that we believe civil partnership should not be extended to opposite sex couples who currently have the option of marriage. However, we believe that, because the relationship remains one between the same two individuals, and where their bonds of affection and commitment are untouched by the gender reassignment of one party, the transition to marriage should be made in such a way as to emphasise the continuity of the relationship.

 Q8 Are there any proposals for changes to the legal terminology and processes for

forming civil partnerships which are consistent with civil partnership being different from marriage?

When civil partnership was the only option available to same sex couples, the desire to make it as alike to marriage as possible was understandable and recognised, but with the advent of same sex marriage, the distinctive nature of civil partnership assumes greater significance for those who may not wish to avail themselves of marriage. It is therefore important that the definition of civil partnership, and the ceremony whereby it is entered into, remains clearly distinct from the provisions of marriage.

 Q10 Are there people who share a relevant protected characteristic other than those

identified above who would be particularly affected by a decision to make, or not to make, one or more of the potential changes to civil partnership highlighted in section 3.1 of this document?

As outlined above, we believe that there will continue to be those, including some same sex couples, who believe on religious grounds that marriage is an institution which is defined as being between a man and a woman. This belief does not negate the fact that Parliament has decided, by large majorities, to extend the definition of marriage to embrace same sex unions. But it is in the nature of a plural democracy that beliefs conscientiously held by minorities should be respected where they do not undermine the practice of the majority. The retention of civil partnership will do nothing to undermine the validity of same sex marriage but will serve to provide a structure whereby those who retain this conviction will not be excluded from the legal and public benefits of their union but will be able to do so without doing violence to their conscientiously held beliefs.

 Living in Prophetic Hope

John Falcone

On Saturday 17 May, St. Martin in the Fields hosted a major conference titled ‘Living in Prophetic Hope.’  The conference was for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender asylum seekers – mostly African – who have fled homophobic persecution in their home countries; and for the allies and supporters here in England who want to deepen our commitment to ‘the sojourners who dwell in our midst’ (Exodus 12:49).

It is our own Christian churches that play a crucial role in supporting homophobic rhetoric and policies of hatred in countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia.  Homophobia is also still very much present in the UK. It is woven tightly into racism and classism. It feeds people’s irrational fears about immigrants, and ongoing repression within immigrant communities. And most sadly, it can be found in Christian pulpits, and in many conversations between pastors and LGBTI Christians who are in need.

The conference drew more than 95 participants – at least half of whom were themselves asylum seekers. (Thanks to the many people, especially at St. Martin’s, who donated time, talent and funds, especially those who sponsored asylum seekers and other low-income participants so that they could attend free of charge.)

We began by viewing the award-wining documentary ‘Call Me Kuchu’ (2012).  The film recounts the story of David Kato (who resisted the anti-gay witch-hunts in his native Uganda and was murdered) and the story of Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (who supported David’s work at the cost of his own exile and persecution by Church authorities).

We also heard the stories of local leaders from Africa and Britain, who have fought for LGBTI and immigrant justice here in London: Revd. Ijeoma Ajibade of the Diocese of London; Godwyns Onwuchekwa, founder of Justice for Gay Africans Society; Revd. Sharon Ferguson of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement; Edwin Sesange, Director of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group; and Jide Macaulay, founder of the LGBTI welcoming House Of Rainbow Fellowship.

After both the film and the leaders’ panel, we broke out into small groups for discussion: ‘Where do I see God at work in the stories of David, Bishop Christopher, and our leaders in London?’ ‘How is God calling me to be a prophet in my own life?’ ‘Where is God showing me hope?’

(For some Biblical reflections on these topics, see Numbers 11:16-17, 24-30 and Jeremiah 1:4-10; each of these scriptures were part of our reflection during the conference.)

The final part of the day was a powerful prayer service led by Sharon Ferguson and the Ugandan choir of Metropolitan Community Church North London.  With singing, clapping and (yes, even Anglicans!) swaying and dancing in the aisles, we all felt God’s powerful Spirit bringing us together in hope and in joy.

The conference was organized by Changing Attitude Greater London and co-sponsored by Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, and a number of other organizations.  We also benefited from the prayers and support of the Anglican bishops of Southwark, Lichfield, Gloucester, Horsham, and Repton, and from the prayers of parishioners and clergy here at St. Martin’s.

As Christians, we believe that God reveals Godself uniquely and powerfully in the lives of those whom human beings have marginalized and oppressed. Let’s continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who are fleeing from homophobic oppression.  Let’s continue to love and support them. Let’s continue to pray that we will learn what they have to teach us about prophecy and hope.

Theological Educators’ Conference, 9/10 July

CSCS Press Release

 “It’s rare to say that an event has been truly ground-breaking, but I’m proud that Ripon College Cuddesdon hosted the Embodied Ministry: Gender, Sexuality & Formation Conference, with such a rich, ecumenical breadth and seriously respectful discussions on issues which are often too neuralgic for all our Churches to consider, not least together.”

So said the Revd Dr. Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon and Dean-elect of Christ Church, Oxford, as this major Conference concluded.

Embodied Ministry: gender, sexuality and formation was sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality (CSCS). The Conference, from 9-10 July, was one outcome of CSCS’s Theological Educators’ Project which has been working on these issues since 2009. The Project was launched to respond to CSCS members’ concerns that so many clergy and pastoral ministers appeared to be ill-equipped to engage in discussion around gender and sexuality issues. Its focus has also been highlighted by the challenges of recent independent reports into sexual abuse and the Churches, where profound fault-lines in the recruitment, training, and ongoing formation of clergy and other pastoral workers were identified.  The project has been identifying common ground in academic curricula on these topics, across denominational ordained and lay ministerial training programmes. It has been exploring good practice in recruitment and support forcandidates both during their training and post-ordination or appointment, not least in terms of on-going support and formation.

CSCS’s Chairperson, Martin Pendergast, said: “This was far from being ‘wishy-washy liberals’ playing doctrinal games and fantasies, but rather a place of rigorous, solidly-based theological reflection. The Conference was graced as a space where honesty could prevail over deception, where our bodies could be celebrated as the many fleshly parts of the one Body of Christ and where, in our prayer and worship, we could ‘sing a new Church into being’ transcending divisions in a new way!”

The conference gathered some 50 people from a range of ecclesial and theological backgrounds, including Anglicans, Baptists, Church of the Nazarene, Methodists, Metropolitan Community Church, Roman Catholics, and the United Reformed Church, as well as two Ugandan gay asylum seekers.

Workshop topics included 50 Shades of Grace: The Crafting of Sexual Wisdom; Sod ‘em, Sod ‘em , like there’s no Gomorrah: Comparing Sexualities Education for Teachers, Doctors & Clergy in the UK; Queering Spiritual Direction; and Redeeming Gender. A wide range of other sessions dealt with trans and intersex experience including gender transition; issues for parents and families; integrating gender, prayer, worship, and spirituality; and encountering God in sexual dimensions of life including celibacy. Speakers/facilitators included Christina Beardsley, Brendan Callaghan, Susannah Cornwall, Sharon Ferguson, Trish Fowlie, Carla Grosch-Miller, Bruce A. Kent, Rachel Mann, David Nixon, Martin Pendergast, Nicola Slee, and Adrian Thatcher.

“We Are Vulnerable” – but “the Kingdom of Heaven Has Come Near”

 In the communion service for the CSCS Theological Educators’ “Embodied Ministry” conference, this was the homily delivered by Rev Carla Grosch-Miller:

 Here are the signs that the kingdom of heaven has come near: unclean spirits are cast out; and every disease and sickness is cured. Jesus sent the twelve out to their own people, with authority to cast out, heal disease and sickness, and proclaim heaven’s nearness.

 Jesus sent them to their own people. We read later in chapter 10 of Matthew that he sent them out without a staff, without the means to protect themselves from wolves, four-legged or two; he sent them out vulnerable to their own people. Not because he trusted that they would have no need to protect themselves, but because vulnerability opens the kingdom of heaven.

We are vulnerable… from the Latin vulnus for “wound”.

We are vulnerable…in our bodies and in our souls, which are of a piece.

 We are vulnerable…in the body that is the gathered embodiment of Christ.

I stand before you deeply wounded, having come from the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, whose current processes prevented the prevailing of the discerned mind of Christ among the majority to permit same-sex marriages to be solemnised in our churches. I have other wounds….growing up female in a rigidly patriarchal family; living in a vestigially patriarchal culture. Sometimes I bleed. Sometimes I curse.  Sometimes I feel dead inside to protect myself from the pain. Often I wrestle the Holy to hear Her call and claim on me. Always I am entirely dependent on God to try to fulfil that call and claim.

Jesus sent the twelve out to their own people. Today’s gospel reading from the lectionary tells us our sent-out task is to put our own house in order. Our mission is compromised when our house is not in order. Don’t we know it. The public response to the failure of the women bishops bill in the Church of England and to Church machinations around same-sex marriage in all our denominations proves it. People are repelled by us. Why would they be interested in a gospel that doesn’t include women’s leadership or the committed love a woman or man has for one of the same sex?

I am aware that there will be, I hope there are, diverse opinions on the topics of which I speak in this chapel. I welcome that. We are all part of the body of Christ; nothing can change that. Our unity is heaven-made, sealed with the baptism in the name of the one Lord. We are bound together, full stop. And because of the profound differences held on these topics – gender, sexuality – we are wounded. The body of Christ is bleeding. Because of the patriarchal and heteronormative contexts which shaped our scripture and our tradition, bodies in the body of Christ are bleeding.

Mary McClintock Fulkerson in Places of Redemption reminds us that

 Theologies that matter arise out of dilemmas – out of situations that matter. … [C]reative thinking originates at the sight of a wound. Wounds generate new thinking. Disjunctions birth invention —    … brokenness in existence [compels] creativity…to search for possibilities of reconciliation.

We have work to do. We need to examine, in depth, what the Bible and our tradition say about gender and sexuality, what other sources of human knowledge may contribute, and what the bleeding in the body can tell us of where the Spirit may be moving us. We need to hone our pastoral response to bleeding bodies. We need to make the space in our training institutions to equip the kind of wrestling that enables wounds to give birth to theologies that matter. We need to harness all our learning about human formation so that we can resource the integration of gender, sexuality and spirituality in those who will lead the body of Christ in coming years and decades. And we need to let Christ hold us together, with all our differences, no matter how painful, how wounding our unity is to us.

We have work to do. Speaking to an idolatrous Israel, the prophet Hosea (10:12) tells the people: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground.  For it is time to seek the Lord that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Our ground is fallow, hardened, parched. It has been a battleground. It has served neither us nor God well. It is time to break it up that new life may spring forth. Rigidity will not get us where God desires us to go.

We turn to the body. Hear this poem:

In the body.

That’s where it begins,

not in the head.

In the body that bleeds,

that struggles and strives,

in the vulnerable body,

the body that cries,

the body that aches.

“Creation is a bloody business.”

Muck and mess,

overflow and expulsion,

rhythm and rest.

In the body.

The chalice is shared in the body,

the body accepted and accepting,

the body cherished and cherishing,

the body freed and freeing.

Love is born

in the body.

Soon we will gather around the table of Jesus, whose vulnerability opened heaven. We will open our hands, like a cradle, to receive him. We will commit our lives to his Way.

God bless our struggling and striving to get our own house in order, for the sake of the world God so loves. Amen.

CSCS welcomes the outcome of the vote in the General Synod of the Church of England on the Women in the Episcopate Measure.

We reproduce here a statement issued by WATCH (Women and the Church).

Synod Voted Yes!

By Ruth Chapman on July 20, 2014 12:36 pm

“there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)

What an amazing week following the historic vote at General Synod in York on Monday.  WATCH is overjoyed that the General Synod has finally passed the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. This marks a new beginning for the church that can now begin to be fully affirming of both the women and men in it.

The Women in the Episcopate legislation passed with overwhelming support and the breakdown is as follows. A further, more detailed report of the day will follow in due course.

House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152 No 45 Abstentions 5.

Much of the tone and mood of the debate on the day was notably different to that of November 2012 and WATCH gives thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly, supported wholeheartedly and prayed deeply for this wonderful day. Thanks be to God!

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said on Monday,

What a historic day. Relief and then joy and then excitement. Yes to women at last. 


This Newsletter is produced for CSCS

The Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality

Chair and principal point of contact:

Martin Pendergast

PO Box 24632


Phone: 020 8986 0807.




Next issue in autumn 2014 – contributions invited by end-September

Please send any enquiries about/contributions to the Newsletter to:

Anthony Woollard

1 Chestnut Walk


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Phone: 01789 204923


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