The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting today and tomorrow. They’ll be discussing the Living Wage, other important matters, and also the latest attempt on legislation to include women in the episcopate.
Here are some things to remember:
1) We have already decided to have women in the episcopate. Whether it is right to ordain or consecrate women is not up for discussion. What Synod is discussing is how we, as a church, go about implementing this in a way that allows space for respectful disagreement. We are (or they, I guess; I’m not on General Synod, thanks be to God!) trying to decide whether this very imperfect legislation is the way to do it.
2) Regardless of the outcome, it’s going to hurt someone. Those of us who long to see the episcopal ministry of women fully recognised and accepted are hurting, fearful and hopeful. Those who do not recognise the ordination of women are hurting, fearful and hopeful. Tempers are frayed, nerves are raw. We all care deeply about the Church of England doing God’s will; we are all uncertain of our own reactions should we conclude, agonisingly, that we are not wanted. Whether or not we think another’s pain is based on misinformation or maladaptive interpretation of Scripture, the pain is real, the fear is real. Please be gentle with one another as we watch and wait and pray.
3) Telling people not to speak, not to pray, not to campaign can be hurtful and silencing. People do need space to voice their hopes and fears. By all means add your voice. By all means engage, as gently as you can; by all means ask people to be considerate. But if all you are really saying is “hush, I don’t want to engage with this further” then consider whether you might read a book, or play with a cat, or do some work. There’s a lot out there that isn’t the C of E.