Monday, 26 January 2015

Historic day - C of E's First female bishop

Today history was made in the Church of England.  The first woman to become a bishop in the Church of England was consecrated in York Minster.  It was a landmark in a long journey and more are sure to follow as the year progresses.  A bishop is a bishop, so while we have been referring to 'women bishops' really there are just bishops, some of whom are men and now some are women.  I rejoice in this and have campaigned for it for decades.  Ministry is enriched when it is shared, and that goes for ordained ministry too.

There was a sour note at the service in York as a protestor objected.  He has form but the response from the minster congregation spoke for the vast majority of the church.  When asked if it was their will that this ordination take place the building resounded with a very loud 'It is'.  Most of the bishops of the Church of England were there to be part of this.  The symbolism is clear, the Church rejoices.

There will be another bishop consecrated next week.  He is from the group that do not receive this development.  The Archbishop of York has said that he will exercise 'gracious restraint' and not lay hands on him - the technical term for making him a bishop.  Whatever he says about this not being a theology of taint, I cannot see any other reason for not joining in if it isn't about the Archbishop being seen as tainted by having ordained Libby Lane today.  If there is no need for it, don't do it.  This undermines the five principles on which we are supposed to be going forward together.  It also means that if this becomes the normal practice then that group will slip into a separate existence from the rest of the church.  That is not what General Synod voted for back in July.  So I think 'gracious restraint' is actually 'mistaken separation'.

That is for next week though.  Today I rejoice at the new normality that now pertains in the Church of England and look forward to hearing of further appointments as the year progresses.

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