10 May 2010

The Revision Committee’s report on Women in the Episcopate published on 8th May “provides no adequate framework for recognition of our future ministry in the Church of England and so could lead to a serious squeezing of the pipeline for future ordinands” said Revd Rod Thomas, Reform chairman today.

He continued: "It is very disappointing that the Committee, despite a lengthy discussion of the implications of these decisions, has voted to give no adequate statutory provision to those who cannot accept the oversight of a female bishop on Scriptural grounds.

“We very much hope that amendments will be made at July’s General Synod so that we are able to vote on a piece of legislation that seeks to include rather than exclude our ministries now and in the future.”

As evidence of the strength of feeling concerning this innovation, 100 Reform clergy have signed a letter sent to every bishop in advance of the House of Bishops' meeting next week. This follows a similar letter signed by 50 of the clergy sent in February, and sets out why “the consecration of women bishops would be a mistake and would raise for us great difficulties of conscience and practice, as well as being wrong for our Church as a whole.”

A major practical consequence highlighted by the letter is the pipeline of future ordinands. The 100 churches represented by the letter have sent 286 men into ministry in the Church of England over the last 10 years, of whom 120 were under the age of 30. But these numbers would be seriously squeezed in the future, with Reform clergy encouraging young men to undertake training for ministries outside the Church of England’s formal structures, although within an Anglican tradition.