I very much appreciate this wise and pastoral response to the failure of the women bishops measure in General Synod. It is from the vicar of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London:

“What do we find to hold onto in such a wilderness moment? Perhaps three things.

One, the wilderness is where the people of God have time and again rediscovered who they are and who God is. Maybe that’s what we have to do now.

Two, if a thing’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for. We can only work and pray that next time round we’ll have a House of Laity in General Synod that’s more representative of the church at large; it could be that if a simpler piece of legislation eventually emerges it’ll be easier and better to work with in the long run.

Three – and here I speak to those who are too angry to think straight at the moment – if the church isn’t working right now, try the kingdom. Throw yourself into life among the least, the last, and the lost and rediscover the church there. St Martin-in-the-Fields is committed to making the church look and become more like God’s kingdom every day. Sometimes when we feel furious with or hurt by the church, the only thing to do is to reinvest in the kingdom. Maybe, today, in this moment of despair, that’s where hope lies.”

Revd Dr Sam Wells
Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields

(Thanks to Canon David Porter for this via FB )

Painting:  Elijah in the wilderness, by Frederic Leighton



  1. Some leaders have a true gift with words and being able to speak to the moment with words that should bring everyone together no matter how they feel about the smaller issues. The biggest issue is for Christians to live for Jesus Christ in this dark world, to be salt and light, to be about God’s work in ‘the kingdom’. Very wise words. Thanks for posting, Gilly.


  2. Best part of the response: “….if the church isn’t working right now, try the kingdom. Throw yourself into life among the least, the last, and the lost and rediscover the church there.” Brilliant! :)x


  3. If only more people would concentrate on the right issues. Wether somebody is a woman or a man sexuality is not what its about, let god be the judge. We go to Church to find peace and quiet. I always found it was the one place i could sit quietly and empty my mind where i could find rest like no place else.xx


    1. Very much so :yes: and so are thousands of other churches around the country. Let’s get on with what I call ‘Kingdom business’ and let the establishment get on with itself 😉


  4. Are we not ‘throwing out the baby with the Bathwater’ on this issue. As I once had acuse to say to an old Rector of mine, ‘I don’t come into the church to worship the priest, but to worship God’.
    I used to be the Treasurer of my then Parish Church, a post I held (often because I couldn’t get rid) for over 25 years. Every Monday I would go down to the church to ‘sort out’ the week’s money, and take it for banking. When I had done my paperwork I would often sit in the church in silence for a period of time. I would not offer a prayer, but simply let my mind empty. That was the time when ‘The peace of God’ became a reality. It didn’t need clergy who, the higher their position, seem to require more pomp and ceremony.
    I would say to all the ladies ‘Don’t worry about Women Bishops, or even Male Bishops. They are simply ‘window dressing’. Our Lord clad himself in a simple cloak. He will find you when you need him, wherever you may be. He came to me, and helped me in a time of great stress and distress, whilst I was wet, black with grime from 6 hours underground and trying to save the life of a mining colleague, a task we failed in incidentally, and I felt closer to him in the coal mine than I have ever done in Church.


    1. I think that last story, Eric, is very poignant and moving, and is an excellent example of what Sam is saying at the end: that we should get on with the work of God’s kingdom, and live with the real priorities.


    1. Thank you, Frank. But it has already been agreed, two years ago, that women can become bishops. That’s not the problem.

      The problem is, the minority who cannot accept women bishops. What should the church do with them? Should they be ignored? or forced out? Or do we try and keep them with us, but with bishops of their own persuasion?

      That is the problem.


      1. Thank you gillyk for clarifying the issue.The minority I feel should not be either ignored or forced out.When a problem like this crops us we should all close ranks and ensure that one and all move in tandem.Prayer will help. Cardinal Newman has said that more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.Let us all,therefore, be united in prayer and soon there will be no dissenting voice.


      2. I really would like to believe that, Frank. But those who dissent, do so with deep conviction that it is wrong to fly in the face of the all the church’s history and of their interpretation of Scripture. They will never believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us to include women in positions of authority. The best we can do, I believe, is to make sure that they are cared-for and supported sufficiently for us to continue to belong to the same church family. Even though we can’t agree, we still need to love and care for each other. I believe God is giving us more time to think and pray. Our times are in His hands.


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