Well, we finally made it, got over ourselves and voted through the Women Bishops Measure in General Synod today.
This is entirely owing to Archbishop Justin’s determination to get it done, and his training in reconciliation. His team is headed up by Canon David Porter, who has a great deal of experience in peacemaking from his days in Northern Ireland, and heads up the reconciliation work for Coventry Cathedral. His team includes the Mennonites who specialise in all forms of reconciliation including church conflict.
The first thing Justin did was to get representatives from all the factions together for discussion. Then his team faciliated discussions in private, in groups of Synod members. This meant that everybody had to listen properly to each other: the Mennonite model will not allow interruptions – each ‘side’ is given as much time to talk as it needs, without anybody butting in.
Result: better relationships, more willingness to respect the other point of view.
This argument has never been about getting us all to agree. That is not going to happen. The challenge for Justin and his team is to how to get the church to disagree in a generous and respectful way. That has now been achieved.
The altered legislation protects those who are against women bishops, respects their opinions and ensures that they still have a place in the church. I agree with this, I think it’s good, sensible and grown-up to say ‘we’ll never agree but I respect the fact that you hold your views as strongly and passionately as I hold mine.’
So the Motion was passed by more than two-thirds in all three houses, Bishops, priests and laity. Which is what is required.
“There is a much greater sense of trust and mutual respect and goodwill than there was the last time the synod voted.” (Canon Simon Kilwick who opposes women bishops).
And about time too.