Women Bishops – What is our church?

25 09 2011

This is the text of a short speech I made to the Manchester Diocesan Synod during the special session called to discuss women bishops. After the Synod had voted overwhelmingly to support the current legislation, I spoke to the following motion. This motion called on the General Synod to reconsider the Archbishops’ Amendment of 2010.


“James Townsend, Hulme deanery and General Synod. I would like you to support this following motion.

Like a steeple, I believe the church must stand to raise our eyes heavenward. It is for us to show the world the love of christ… not in what we say, but in how we behave. Sometimes that responsibility is difficult. But it is when it is difficult that it is most important.

I believe passionately in women bishops – I rejoice that we have just signalled our support for women in the episcopacy. But many people in this Synod have explained that they cannot accept women as bishops, or the provision made for them as it stands. Their argument has always struck me as weak, tenuous and based on wooly thinking.

But that is where they are, and no matter what I think, if I am to be a model Christian in Society, I must find a way to accommodate their position within mine.

If we cannot support this following motion, what are we to do? Do we turn to those in this synod who have asked today for greater provision? Do we ask them to stand up now, and leave?

I am not prepared to do that.

I’m not sure what I think of a church that would do that.”