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 Issues | Women Bishops | Joint Submission

Response to the Guildford Report
from a joint meeting of the Councils of
Church Society, Fellowship of Word and Spirit, and Reform.

1. Introduction
1.1 We desire to see oversight in the churches exercised by men, believing this to be required by Scripture and to be consonant with tradition and reason.
1.2 We would therefore be unable in conscience to accept women as bishops and believe that our three organizations represent most of those evangelicals who take such a view.
1.3 We recognize that the Guildford report has attempted to chart a difficult course between conflicting interests. Our aim was to respond to the report explaining how we believe it could be implemented to provide a viable way forward. We have a particular series of proposals which we believe would enable this to happen.
2. Implementing the Guildford Report
  We believe the following points will need to be met if the Guilford proposals are to be acceptable.

Bishops appointed under these proposals would need to be ecredally and morally orthodoxf. It is not sufficient to focus on just one issue. Therefore the Bishops should:

  • abide by Canon A5;
  • accept such core doctrines as the virgin birth, bodily resurrection and uniqueness of salvation through Christ as straightforward truths;
  • hold to traditional biblical teaching on moral issues, for example as set out in Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 and the 1987 General Synod resolution on sexuality;
  • and agree that oversight be exercised by men
2.2 It is important that Article 6 is honoured. Those who hold to a position in conscience, which is also what the church in the past has clearly held, should not be required to accept something which cannot ebe provedf from Scripture.
2.3 Evangelicals long for and look for oversight from evangelical bishops.
2.4 The TEA bishops would need to have the same status as diocesan bishops.
2.5 We welcome the less territorially rigid approach to episcopacy envisaged by TEA.
2.6 The churches which opt for TEA will need some mechanism by which they can consult and make certain decisions together.
2.7 The churches which opt for TEA will need to know that their conscientious position is safeguarded. Therefore, all these provisions will need to be made in a Measure rather than in a Code of Practice.
2.8 We see pastoral re-organization as a potential problem area. On the one hand adequate safeguards are needed for TEA parishes but equally we recognize the need for reorganization in many cases. One simple way to accommodate this is a general provision that parishes which are financially viable have a right to veto plans for pastoral re-organization.
2.9 Where clergy or laity find themselves in a parish which has not opted for TEA there should be the freedom to request personal oversight from a TEA priest or bishop whilst not expecting that this would in any way be imposed on others. In the case of laity this would include confirmation. Those requiring such personal oversight might include post-holders in certain Diocesan jobs.
2.10 We wish to maintain the highest degree of fellowship possible between parishes which opt for TEA and those that do not.
3. A particular approach.
  We offer the following as a particular way of implementing the Guildford report which would ease many of the potential sticking points, whilst providing a more flexible structure.
3.1 The terms eregionf and ecollegef are used, but if these are too loaded with meaning others could be substituted.
3.2 Three regions would be created (possibly more).
There would be one region in the northern province and two in the southern.
3.3 Each region would have ecollegef of at least three bishops.
The bishops would work collaboratively, though they would need to appoint a chairman.
It may well be that existing diocesan and suffragan bishops also be regional bishops.
3.4 A PCC would resolve to request oversight from the college of their region. Under the legislation this request would be passed to the college which, in agreement with the parish, would decide which bishop should provide oversight.
3.5 An alternative suggested would be to establish a single ecollegef which would sub-divide its work on a more flexible basis whilst still providing oversight in agreement with individual parishes.
3.6 The membership of the college would need to reflect in terms of churchmanship the membership of the region. Initially we would expect that each college would by mutual consent include at least one evangelical and one anglo-catholic bishop.

In terms of process this would probably mean:

  • A period of time (say 6 months) during which parishes pass resolutions to request TEA.
  • A period of time (say 6 months) during which the composition of the colleges is determined and any necessary consecrations take place.
  • A day on which the TEA proposals come into effect, which could be the same day on which other aspects of the legislation are implemented.

We believe that these proposals can be worked into the TEA framework and would make it more flexible and acceptable to those seeking for provision through it.

April 2006






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