Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Women Bishops - Don't expect too much

Today in Canterbury Cathedral Rachel Treweek will be consecrated as the first female Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England - for Gloucester.  The total is currently at 6 and my prediction at the beginning of the year that there would be 5 has already been surpassed, I am pleased to say.  There are more vacancies where a woman nomination would be a very likely outcome.

The media seem to be very interested in these appointments, though the novelty factor is reducing and so it should.  This morning on the Today programme on Radio 4 Rachel Treweek was asked what difference women will make.  It's a difficult question to answer and I would urge caution in expecting too much of them.

I have worked with women colleagues in a variety of church settings and I have found that this enriched ministry through the breadth of experience and perspective it brought.  Quite simply their contribution is that they were women and not men and there are differences through differences of life experience which feed into decision making and approach.  These are beneficial.

The 'but' is that some of the women I have worked with have been outstanding and some have been okay-ish and some have been a walking disaster.  The same has been the case with the men I have worked with.  There is a distribution of abilities and competencies and we should not be surprised to find this amongst women and men equally.

So today I rejoice that the 'new normality' is taking shape.  But don't expect too much - some will be brilliant and some will not.  The overall effect though will be definitely blessing, life giving, through the balance and breadth of perspective that will flow.

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