BREAKING: CoE Synod Approves Women Bishops!

The Guardian live blog of the synod has just reported that all three houses have approved the legislation:

General Synod votes for female bishops

General Synod votes in favour in all three houses:

Bishops: 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 abstention.

Clergy: 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 abstentions

Laity: 152 in favour, against 45, 5 abstentions.

That’s approval rates of 93%, 85%, and 75%, for each of the houses of bishops, clergy and laity, respectively.

This will have been the first vote of three.

From a CoE Twitter account:

about to take first of three votes on women bishops. first vote is on principle, second and third on enabling legislation

UPDATE:

Synod has also voted to amend canon legislation, meaning there will be no distinction between men and women in church law

- Guardian live blog

On the motion

That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

- Thinking Anglicans

More, as further detail becomes available.

Some twitter commentary:

From ProfB 

Hey, it worked! Now I’m even more embarrassed to be Catholic! Thanks, Anglicans.

From 

After 500 years the has finally decided that two X chromosomes is not a barrier to leadership. Well done

In his first report from the synod, Andrew Brown quotes Tom Sutcliffe, previously opposed, who says that

the measure would now bring “episcopal femininity” that would enrich the church.

“Understanding and responding to families of LGBT people”

Report on a workshop facilitated by Bruce Kent,  FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

Bruce Kent,
Bruce Kent, presenting his workshop

Bruce began his workshop by reminding the educators present that there are no “goodies and baddies” despite our cultural and natural inclination to see conflicts in this light.  From watching films about cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers to Star Wars and Harry Potter, media propaganda moulds a willing population into seeing in terms of “us and them”.  He said that, in his ignorance in the past, he once saw gay people as subversives who were trying to indoctrinate our children into becoming homosexuals and he felt antagonistic towards them.  However, now that he understood how foolish that was and that we are all made in God’s image, equally precious in our diversity, there is a danger now of seeing the religious fundamentalists as “the baddies”.  But we should have an attitude of compassion towards them (because they are bound by their exclusivist beliefs) and be willing to help them, whenever they are willing, to learn the truth that will set them free. Continue reading “Understanding and responding to families of LGBT people”

A Lesson from a Real Life “Pastoral Encounter”

At the CSCS “Embodied Ministry” conference, the final plenary session dealt with “Gender and Sexuality in the Pastoral Encounter”, in which three panellists each contributed a short personal perspective. Rev Carla Grosch – Miller focused on the words, “pastoral encounter”:

Carla Grosch - Miller

The word “encounter” is provocative. It suggests the possibility that we will change each other, that our conversation will be converting.

I want to take note of the opportunities inherent in pastoral encounters that touch on gender and sexuality, and then tell a story. My particular interest in pastoral encounters is in enabling a personal encounter to impact the larger setting in which we operate, perhaps to stimulate other encounters and conversations that move the body of Christ towards greater wholeness.

Opportunities in Pastoral Encounters:

· Surface the feelings and truths in the situation

· Affirm a person’s reality and make the space for them to work with it

· Equip and enable the right response for the person and the situation

· Constructively engage all the sources of theology – scripture, tradition, reason, experience

A story:

It was the beginning of the second day. I hadn’t slept well. The first day had ended with a strong statement by a participant that sex belonged only in marriage, God-ordained between one man and one woman. No one had risen to articulate a different view. A heavy silence hung over the class as we disbanded.

I had laboured to make the space safe and open. The participants held diverse theological viewpoints; I had hoped that we could teach each other as we explored this sensitive topic. As I tossed and turned that night, I wondered how, in my striving to make the space safe for all, I had empowered primarily those who kept to the party line.

At breakfast “Michael” approached me. “I’m really angry about how the class ended yesterday. I’ve been angry all night. I felt like I was being told that I was not a Christian,” he said. “Can you say more?”, I asked. He then told me his story: the story of a young man active in church struggling with his sexuality who, when he had his first sexual experience with another man, was full of self-loathing. Michael became strident in his opposition to homosexuality, until he couldn’t bear the dissonance between what his heart knew and what his tradition taught. He went to his pastor and confessed his struggle. The pastor promptly removed him from all church responsibilities. Michael left and continued to wrestle issues of sex and faith. He came to accept his sexuality and discovered a renewed and deepened faith that in time blossomed into a vocation for ministry. I asked him if he would be willing simply to tell his story at the start of the day’s class. He said “Yes.”

I began the class (after psalm and prayer) with a statement that at the conclusion of class the previous day, we had heard a strong articulation of a scriptural and traditional view of the place of sex in human life and asked if there were any other viewpoints, perhaps drawing on other sources of theology. Michael raised his hand and told his story.

The impact of the story was to transform the space, opening and warming it. Some thanked him for his courage. People who held the heterosexual marriage only viewpoint acknowledged that, while their opinions were strong, there was a need for pastoral sensitivity when dealing with this subject. (Indeed, the two most vocal protagonists of that view approached Michael during the tea break to speak with him.) The remainder of the course was marked by great sensitivity, which enabled others later to speak openly about struggles with internet pornography.

Michael later described the experience of the first day as extremely painful, triggering all the hurtful, destructive, unloving things he had heard as a young man. He knew he either had to live with the anger and survive the rest of the course or say something. He would have wanted to say something judgmental and angry, engaging with the issue theologically, but with my encouragement decided he would just tell his story. He couldn’t have done that on day one because “it would have felt like I was playing the victim, changing the discourse to a different, emotional level which didn’t seem fair”. But that second morning, he felt he could offer it in the structure of a conversation about the sources of theology.

When he opened his mouth to speak to the group, he thought “Oh my God, what am I about to do?” He knew that people would see him in a different light forever after. But once he began, the atmosphere in the room changed. He got visual clues of support around the room: thumbs up, smiles, tears. He immediately felt relief – having said all that was on his heart, not repressing or bottling anger. The man next to him, who was theologically more traditional, put his arm around him when he finished.

“The best thing”, Michael said, “was the spirit of generosity, openness and honesty –real listening to each other– treating each other as sisters and brothers, once we got over the hurdles of fear, doubt and hurt…. ‘Hearing’ each other into speech’[1] summed up the whole experience of the course……the Holy Spirit was definitely there.”

2014 July 10 14:45

© Carla A. Grosch-Miller, 2014


[1] I had titled one of the sessions “hearing each other into speech”, a feminist strategy (Morton, 2001, 178 n.1, 209-210).

(Revd Dr Carla A. Grosch-Miller is a minister and theological educator specialising in sex and ministry short courses for various ministry training colleges.  She is the author of Psalms Redux: Poems and Prayers, available from  Canterbury Press Ifollow the link).

Contact Rev Grosch – Miller at cagroschmiller@yahoo.co.uk

 

Intersex and Formation

Presentation by Dr Susannah Cornwall, for the CSCS theological educators’ conference “Embodied Ministry: Sexuality, Gender and Formation”.

(To view the full Power Point Presentation, open this link: Intersex and Formation )

Intersex,title slide

 

Dr Susannah Cornwall is Advanced Research Fellow in Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, and Director of EXCEPT (Exeter Centre for Ethics and Practical Theology). Her research focuses on constructive body theologies, and, in particular, the implications of intersex for theologies of sex, gender, sexuality, and theological anthropology. Her books include Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology (Equinox, 2010); Controversies in Queer Theology  (SCM, 2011); and Theology and Sexuality
y (SCM, 2013).

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

In the communion service for the CSCS Theological Educators’ “Embodied Ministry” conference this week (July 2014), this was the homily delivered by Rev Carla Grosch – Miller:

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

Decisions Announced on Civil Partnerships, Marriage

The UK government has announced its response and decisions, following the consultation on civil partnerships and same – sex marriage. The key points are:

Civil partnerships will remain an option for same – sex couples, as an alternative to marriage.

Couples in existing civil partnerships will have the opportunity to have these formally converted, on request, to marriage.  Such conversion will not be automatically applied to all couples.

(These two points are in accordance with the submissions of both Anglican and Catholic bishops, and of the our own CSCS submission to the consultation .They will be widely welcomed by same – sex couples who support the introduction of same – sex marriage as an option in law, but do not want their own relationships).

Conversion of civil partnerships to formal marriage can begin from December 10th.

Civil partnerships will not be extended to different – sex couples.

For further details and commentary, see:

Related articles

Catholic Bishops’ “Working Document” on Marriage, Family

In preparation for the October “Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family”, the Vatican has released an “Instrumentum Laboris” (or working document), bringing together the submissions from national bishops’ conferences on their findings from the global consultation on marriage and family that was conducted during 2013. The actual conduct and quality of that consultation varied widely across the world. In the best examples, such as the Swiss, it was conducted by expert practitioners in social research. In the worst, lay people were not in fact consulted at all, with the bishops alone responding on their behalf, in consultation only with their priests. In between, bishops simply asked the people to answer the questions that had been prepared by the Vatican, questions that were not designed for lay people, and that many people in fact found confusing or impossible to answer. Nevertheless, Catholics around the world responded with enthusiasm, and questionnaires were completed in vast numbers.

bishops

When the bishops in some countries began to release their own results, it soon became clear what was already known from prior secular research: in general terms, Catholics as a whole simply do not agree with or comply with Catholic sexual teaching, on a wide range of issues, and particularly not on contraception.

The working document just released, largely corroborates that view – but draws from it the rather simplistic conclusion that the reason is that Catholics don’t understand the teaching, and that the Church must find ways to present its teaching more effectively. There is no recognition at all, that the real problem could be quite different – that perhaps there might be flaws in the teaching itself.

For the full text, see the Vatican website:

For news reports and commentary on the document, see:

Mary McAleese Questions Value of Family Synod

Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, has described the Catholic Church “Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family” as “bonkers”, as participants will be limited to celibate men who have chosen not to have children or marry. Instead of the complex and confusing global consultation questionnaire that was circulated last year, she says she has only one question: “How many of the bishops who will be assmebling in October have ever changed a baby’s nappy?”

Mary+McAleese

Ms McAleese, a two-term President of Ireland, strongly questioned Pope Francis calling a synod to review the Catholic Church’s teaching on family life.

She won the backing of the Association of Catholic Priests with some of her comments, which demanded a “new theology of women” instead of an “old boys club”.

She said there was “just something profoundly wrong and skewed” about asking clergy for their views when they were all “male celibates”.

And the mother-of-three questioned how many people who would be taking part in the gathering had ever changed a baby’s nappy.

A world synod of bishops to discuss family life, and whether the church should revise its teachings on the subject, is due to be held in Rome this October.

Ms McAleese questioned the idea of people “who have decided they are not going to have any children, not going to have families, not going to be fathers and not going to be spouses” discussing the matter.

Promoting open and honest Christian discussion of sexuality and gender