Resolutions A, B & C. The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure
provision for opponents and the Episcopal Ministry act of Synod
establishing ‘Flying Bishops’.
In November 1992 the General Synod
of the Church of England voted to allow women to be ordained as priests. In
1993 a Measure was introduced in order to protect congregations who believed
this to have been a mistake, or who, for whatever reason, felt that women should
not minister as priests in their local church. This was a recognition not only
of differing opinions but that such a dramatic change, which was unknown in
the previous two millennia of Church history, needed to be tested and received
by the Church.
The legislation which
permitted women to be ordained as priests also made provision
for those parishes which could not accept this. Two resolutions
were provided which could allow this to be expressed and alongside
this provision in law that these should be honoured.
The third resolution
was not in the legislation but in what is confusingly called an
Act of Synod. This concerned the provision of episcopal
"That this Parochial Church Council
would not accept a woman as the minister who presides at or celebrates
the Holy Communion or pronounces the Absolution."
This sounds too catholic in tone for many Evangelicals. It covers
those actions which are, at present, the preserve of the priest.
This implies a view of ministry that few Evangelicals can accept.
However, not passing this Resolution allows various things to
(a) A woman could be appointed as an assistant minister and made
(b) A visiting woman from another parish could preside at Communion.
(c) During an interregnum, or if the incumbent were ill, the
pastoral care of the parish could be passed to a woman priest
from another parish.
Whether you like the wording or not, you must think through the
implications of this for the life of the congregation as a whole.
"That this Parochial Church Council
would not accept a woman as the incumbent or priest-in-charge
of the benefice or as a team vicar for the benefice"
This is more straightforward, it concerns specifically the appointment
of a Vicar or Rector as incumbent of a parish, or an equivalent
appointment. Some people would argue that the patronage system
and parish representatives can safeguard a parish if it is felt
a woman should not be appointed. Many parishes say they are not
against women as Vicars, they just don't think it right for them.
There are two things to bear in mind.
• In many places considerable pressure is brought to bear
on parishes, particularly through threats of a long interregnum,
this has led to unsuitable people being appointed. In many Dioceses
the Bishops are suspending almost all vacant benefices, this gives
them considerable power over the appointment, but they cannot go
against Resolution B.
• If a parish does not pass Resolution B and then turns down
a woman candidate simply because she is a woman the PCC could be
prosecuted under sex discrimination legislation.
The PCC must decide whether it would wish a woman to be appointed
as Rector/Vicar. Such a person would have the pastoral and spiritual
charge of the congregation, including; the main preaching ministry,
presiding at the Communion, and leading the life of the church.
This Parochial Church Council resolves to
petition the Diocesan Bishop, requesting that Episcopal duties
in the parish should be carried out in accordance with the Episcopal
Ministry Act of Synod 1993.
Few evangelical churches have considered Resolution C. Passing
this resolution does not take the church out of the Diocese.
Instead it indicates that the church looks to those who retain
a biblical and historical view of ministry to exercise the pastoral
oversight which is charged to a Bishop. It will ensure safeguards
against the Bishops imposing people of different views on the
parish. Evangelicals were upset, but not surprised, when the
Church of England first held back on creating the Third 'Flying
Bishop' and then finally appointed a third 'catholic'.
There are special rules governing this resolution and it is
usually passed at a separate meeting.
The changing faith of the Church of England.
In the past many evangelical
parishes have taken a defiant stand against certain trends because
of their utter conviction that the Bible is fully and completely
the word of God and that through His word God governs His Church.
This was the faith of the English reformers who transformed the
Church of England, it was the faith of the Puritans and the evangelical
revivalists through whose ministry God transformed the whole
Today the Church of England is dominated by a liberal mind set.
Many liberals deny the full divinity of Christ, the necessity
of his saving death and the authority of the bible. We do not
have to look far to see where this will lead. In America, Canada
and New Zealand it is possible to see the effects of the ordination
of women 15 to 20 years down the line. In America particularly
it is a nightmare scenario. Practising homosexuals (i.e. those
with live-in-lovers) are ordained and same sex unions are encouraged.
At the same time those who in conscience believe that the ordination
of women is contrary to scripture and tradition are precluded
from ordination or hounded out.
Bishops, such as John
Spong in Newark, has been able to deny almost every article
of the Nicene Creed, whilst at the same time shutting churches
and removing those who opposed him. Not disimilar things
have happend in parts of the Scandinavian Lutheran churches.
The establishment of
the Church of England is a safeguard against American excess,
but for how long? Bishops John Robinson and David Jenkins were
able to teach error and heresy unchecked. In 1993 Parliament
effectively gave the General Synod power to change doctrine without
restraint. The safeguards for those who hold the historic position
of the Church in relation to women's ministry are not part of
the law of the Church and therefore they can be dropped easily.
To stand firm for the
historic and biblical faith of the Church of England will mean
being unpopular. However, truth can never be determined by
the majority nor by prevailing fashions, rather by what the
God of Truth has said. The PCC must not we swayed by pressure
from the Church or from the world. You must come to the clear
conviction that what you do is in accordance with the word
of God, that is what faithful Anglicans have always done.
For two millennia,
the Church of God has consistently and uniformly taught that
the bible precludes women from servant-leadership in the household
of faith. In this last generation or two many protestant churches
of the wesern world have embarked on a process of wholesale change
from Biblical and traditional practice and teaching. It
would be hard to find any denomination which has undertaken this
revisionist agenda and seen numerical growth. In fact,
as the Church has decided to put cultural conformity above the
teaching of Scripture it has lost influence and turned people
To go against the spirit
of the age is not easy and this is particularly so today fof
women who wish to uphold Biblical teaching rather than
the standards of the world. Yet if we would truly honour
God and show our love for Christ, we must be obedient to His
6 : Church Society’s legal action