Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell speaks of shock and sadness following general synod vote against approving women bishops

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell

THE HEAD of the Anglican church in Essex has spoken of his shock and sadness following the vote against approving women bishops.

The Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell said: "It has not been a good week for the Church of England.

"Public trust has been shaken. We look like an organisation that discriminates against women.

"I accept this decision, but I am sorry for the hurt and confusion it has caused. It is not how I wanted things to turn out.

"Nearly one in three priests in Chelmsford Diocese is a woman. Without them the church would be in a very bad way."

He added: "Why would a woman seek ordination in a church which seems to legitimise doubt over their very validity as a minister of the gospel, where opportunity to minister is limited, and where protection from their ministry is sought in law? No other organisation in society is allowed to act this way.

"Thankfully I know the answer to this question. Women seek ordination because they are called by God and with astonishing graciousness bear this painful ambiguity."

The bishop has invited all the women clergy in the diocese - which covers Essex and East London - to join him in celebrating their contribution to the church.

In his invitation he wrote: "I am shocked and saddened by the events of this week.

"I am inviting you to a champagne breakfast, where we can pop some corks, celebrate the ordained ministry of women, discuss what has happened, and then begin to look forward to the ways in which we can respond creatively to, working for that day when men and women can serve equally in God's Church."

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8:04am Sat 24 Nov 12

Isaythat says...

I met Stephen a few weeks ago in Church in Chingford and he told the congregation he was hopeful the vote would go in favour of women bishops. This decision could prove damaging to the christian faith in the long term and I do hope they overturn this at the next available opportunity. It is difficult enough encouraging the younger generation into our churches, how do we get them interested with views like this!
I met Stephen a few weeks ago in Church in Chingford and he told the congregation he was hopeful the vote would go in favour of women bishops. This decision could prove damaging to the christian faith in the long term and I do hope they overturn this at the next available opportunity. It is difficult enough encouraging the younger generation into our churches, how do we get them interested with views like this! Isaythat

6:01pm Sat 24 Nov 12

pan says...

I dont think this has much to do with the lack of interest by the younger generation but if the church now goes against a democratic decision then the church will look even worse.

If your vision is to see progression with the inclusion of female Bishops then you have to accept the pace of progression. Just because some people feel strongly it does not mean that it has to happen right now.

Time will prevail on this issue yet if those who are expressing such dissatisfaction about this vote continue to do so then it will lead to deeper rifts and splits.

This is what the democratic constitution is all about. If there is a lack of acceptance towards a democratic outcome that can not be tolerated then its about time the "progressives" reflected on their democratic principals.

I would support female Bishops, it makes no odds to me what gender they are but not to the detriment of the unity of the church and the respect that tradition does not change at the pace that public opinion does in such a large organisation.
I dont think this has much to do with the lack of interest by the younger generation but if the church now goes against a democratic decision then the church will look even worse. If your vision is to see progression with the inclusion of female Bishops then you have to accept the pace of progression. Just because some people feel strongly it does not mean that it has to happen right now. Time will prevail on this issue yet if those who are expressing such dissatisfaction about this vote continue to do so then it will lead to deeper rifts and splits. This is what the democratic constitution is all about. If there is a lack of acceptance towards a democratic outcome that can not be tolerated then its about time the "progressives" reflected on their democratic principals. I would support female Bishops, it makes no odds to me what gender they are but not to the detriment of the unity of the church and the respect that tradition does not change at the pace that public opinion does in such a large organisation. pan

11:01pm Sat 24 Nov 12

WCBMI5 says...

Seems to me that Bishop Cottrell is, like so many of his fellow bishops' completely out of touch with the British public's perception of the Established Church. Since the introduction of lady priests, many of whom to not measure-up to the standards of their male predecessors, church attendance has continued to diminish - not the fault of the ladies but all part of the disordered values that a series of trendy Archbishops have repeatedly promoted on TV. These good, worthy and upstanding men have been overwhelmed by their own self-importance and are out of touch with most people who would otherwise attend Church every Sunday! The press have not helped to popularize woman priests by headlining the failings of every female Vicar or Stiffkey or Lady Rackety Rector of Rickinghall at any opportunity. Wake up England and the Church of England too!!
Seems to me that Bishop Cottrell is, like so many of his fellow bishops' completely out of touch with the British public's perception of the Established Church. Since the introduction of lady priests, many of whom to not measure-up to the standards of their male predecessors, church attendance has continued to diminish - not the fault of the ladies but all part of the disordered values that a series of trendy Archbishops have repeatedly promoted on TV. These good, worthy and upstanding men have been overwhelmed by their own self-importance and are out of touch with most people who would otherwise attend Church every Sunday! The press have not helped to popularize woman priests by headlining the failings of every female Vicar or Stiffkey or Lady Rackety Rector of Rickinghall at any opportunity. Wake up England and the Church of England too!! WCBMI5

12:05pm Sun 25 Nov 12

pan says...

WCBMI5 wrote:
Seems to me that Bishop Cottrell is, like so many of his fellow bishops' completely out of touch with the British public's perception of the Established Church. Since the introduction of lady priests, many of whom to not measure-up to the standards of their male predecessors, church attendance has continued to diminish - not the fault of the ladies but all part of the disordered values that a series of trendy Archbishops have repeatedly promoted on TV. These good, worthy and upstanding men have been overwhelmed by their own self-importance and are out of touch with most people who would otherwise attend Church every Sunday! The press have not helped to popularize woman priests by headlining the failings of every female Vicar or Stiffkey or Lady Rackety Rector of Rickinghall at any opportunity. Wake up England and the Church of England too!!
Some good points there, I do not think there should be an issue surrounding female priests, Bishops and so on but there has been a "push" rather than natural progression.

The social influence historically has kept women out of the clergy but biblically I see no conflict with women in the church. Many women followed Christ and even though the Apostles were all men there was of course Junia and Paul's statement in Galatians 3:28 "there is neither male or Female for are all one in Christ Jesus"

The problems in my opinion for the church today regarding dwindling congregations is how they conduct themselves in communities. The portrayal of Christian values has become to combined with popular liberalism and in many cases become to involved with local politics and issues.

Rather than standing on its own merit and working off the principal that if you build the church they will come there has become a growing trend of taking the church into social projects and areas where it ends up becoming to selective in who its is reaching out to.

Many Churches have ended up adopting what can only be perceived as fascist Liberalism ( this may seem to be a conflict of terms but is actually a well discussed position)

In my opinion it is this adoption of a firm political position that has brought about a decline in congregations over the past few decades. The church should be able to welcome all but has actually become extremely intolerant and judgemental, this case highlights that now it is even turning its sights inward with its liberal fascism and dividing its own support.

There are many, many people who have turned off from supporting churches because of the attitudes of the clergy not because of the religion, if they cant see this then the inevitable decline will continue and now even divide an already weakening body that is an intrinsic part of our society.

This is a shame but I fear the course has already been set as liberal fascism is a doctrine that is very hard to revert from. I believe it to be most likely that the dye has already been cast.
[quote][p][bold]WCBMI5[/bold] wrote: Seems to me that Bishop Cottrell is, like so many of his fellow bishops' completely out of touch with the British public's perception of the Established Church. Since the introduction of lady priests, many of whom to not measure-up to the standards of their male predecessors, church attendance has continued to diminish - not the fault of the ladies but all part of the disordered values that a series of trendy Archbishops have repeatedly promoted on TV. These good, worthy and upstanding men have been overwhelmed by their own self-importance and are out of touch with most people who would otherwise attend Church every Sunday! The press have not helped to popularize woman priests by headlining the failings of every female Vicar or Stiffkey or Lady Rackety Rector of Rickinghall at any opportunity. Wake up England and the Church of England too!![/p][/quote]Some good points there, I do not think there should be an issue surrounding female priests, Bishops and so on but there has been a "push" rather than natural progression. The social influence historically has kept women out of the clergy but biblically I see no conflict with women in the church. Many women followed Christ and even though the Apostles were all men there was of course Junia and Paul's statement in Galatians 3:28 "there is neither male or Female for are all one in Christ Jesus" The problems in my opinion for the church today regarding dwindling congregations is how they conduct themselves in communities. The portrayal of Christian values has become to combined with popular liberalism and in many cases become to involved with local politics and issues. Rather than standing on its own merit and working off the principal that if you build the church they will come there has become a growing trend of taking the church into social projects and areas where it ends up becoming to selective in who its is reaching out to. Many Churches have ended up adopting what can only be perceived as fascist Liberalism ( this may seem to be a conflict of terms but is actually a well discussed position) In my opinion it is this adoption of a firm political position that has brought about a decline in congregations over the past few decades. The church should be able to welcome all but has actually become extremely intolerant and judgemental, this case highlights that now it is even turning its sights inward with its liberal fascism and dividing its own support. There are many, many people who have turned off from supporting churches because of the attitudes of the clergy not because of the religion, if they cant see this then the inevitable decline will continue and now even divide an already weakening body that is an intrinsic part of our society. This is a shame but I fear the course has already been set as liberal fascism is a doctrine that is very hard to revert from. I believe it to be most likely that the dye has already been cast. pan

3:44pm Sun 25 Nov 12

Helen, Walthamstow says...

As an "outsider", I view the way the CofE is tearing itself apart over this issue with some bafflement.

I belong to a free church which ordained its first female minister in the UK in 1917. Since then the number of women ministers has grown steadily and several have taken on the leading role in the denomination.

How can six individuals in a much larger established denomination bring a bid to move to female bishops to a screeching halt against the will of the vast majority of those voting for the change to take place? Why should anyone value "the hurt" of traditionalists so much higher than the hurt of the women who have given their lives over to their church, which in itself has more women members than men? How will a very slow "natural progression" aid a church which has already alienated so many, both inside and outside its ranks, with its failure to grasp this nettle?

The Bishop of Chelmsford sums up the situation very well.
As an "outsider", I view the way the CofE is tearing itself apart over this issue with some bafflement. I belong to a free church which ordained its first female minister in the UK in 1917. Since then the number of women ministers has grown steadily and several have taken on the leading role in the denomination. How can six individuals in a much larger established denomination bring a bid to move to female bishops to a screeching halt against the will of the vast majority of those voting for the change to take place? Why should anyone value "the hurt" of traditionalists so much higher than the hurt of the women who have given their lives over to their church, which in itself has more women members than men? How will a very slow "natural progression" aid a church which has already alienated so many, both inside and outside its ranks, with its failure to grasp this nettle? The Bishop of Chelmsford sums up the situation very well. Helen, Walthamstow

4:22pm Sun 25 Nov 12

Isaythat says...

With church numbers rapidly diminishing, I expected them to do everything in their power to encourage some positivity within the congregations.
It is a self destructive move to keep this archaic rule and I wonder how much damage they have done to themselves. Instead of showing they are forward thinking and open minded, the message is one of old fashioned, judgemental sexism.
Shouldn't everyone be welcome into a place of God and to take equal positions?, not for any mortal to decide!. Gay, straight, men, women or any other denomination are equal in the eyes of God - but apparently only if a few misquided men give their permission!
With church numbers rapidly diminishing, I expected them to do everything in their power to encourage some positivity within the congregations. It is a self destructive move to keep this archaic rule and I wonder how much damage they have done to themselves. Instead of showing they are forward thinking and open minded, the message is one of old fashioned, judgemental sexism. Shouldn't everyone be welcome into a place of God and to take equal positions?, not for any mortal to decide!. Gay, straight, men, women or any other denomination are equal in the eyes of God - but apparently only if a few misquided men give their permission! Isaythat

6:04pm Sun 25 Nov 12

pan says...

This was a democratic vote. That is why this hasn't just been pushed through.
You can be disappointed, upset, make the decision to go elsewhere if you so wish but a democratic decision is just that if you value democracy then accept the decision.

H.G.Wells summed up this perfectly with his analogy that the liberal utopia will only be forced through by an authoritarian elite.

To disregard peoples opinions when they hold certain positions in a democratic process will be forcing through progression in exactly the manner of an authoritarian elite.

If it had gone the other way you would not cast a second thought for those that opposed it and be heralding it as a success whilst those in opposition would be declaring it as the beginning of the end.

Just because you may think something is right or even have a general consensus of a majority opinion the process of this vote was right and so the outcome must be respected.

I wouldn't worry because in accordance with the push towards unchecked progressivism those in opposition will be sidelined, marginalised, or even lose their positions and the vote will be taken again sooner rather than later in the real style of democracy that we now have. The authoritarian elite have got the upper hand, this is just a temporary blip.

So you will be happy soon enough, until of course you find yourself on the opposite side of an opinion and then you know what to expect.
This was a democratic vote. That is why this hasn't just been pushed through. You can be disappointed, upset, make the decision to go elsewhere if you so wish but a democratic decision is just that if you value democracy then accept the decision. H.G.Wells summed up this perfectly with his analogy that the liberal utopia will only be forced through by an authoritarian elite. To disregard peoples opinions when they hold certain positions in a democratic process will be forcing through progression in exactly the manner of an authoritarian elite. If it had gone the other way you would not cast a second thought for those that opposed it and be heralding it as a success whilst those in opposition would be declaring it as the beginning of the end. Just because you may think something is right or even have a general consensus of a majority opinion the process of this vote was right and so the outcome must be respected. I wouldn't worry because in accordance with the push towards unchecked progressivism those in opposition will be sidelined, marginalised, or even lose their positions and the vote will be taken again sooner rather than later in the real style of democracy that we now have. The authoritarian elite have got the upper hand, this is just a temporary blip. So you will be happy soon enough, until of course you find yourself on the opposite side of an opinion and then you know what to expect. pan

6:10pm Sun 25 Nov 12

pan says...

Isaythat wrote:
With church numbers rapidly diminishing, I expected them to do everything in their power to encourage some positivity within the congregations.
It is a self destructive move to keep this archaic rule and I wonder how much damage they have done to themselves. Instead of showing they are forward thinking and open minded, the message is one of old fashioned, judgemental sexism.
Shouldn't everyone be welcome into a place of God and to take equal positions?, not for any mortal to decide!. Gay, straight, men, women or any other denomination are equal in the eyes of God - but apparently only if a few misquided men give their permission!
Was this not the reason that Jesus decided to turn towards the Fishermen and the workers as the scribes and the Pharisee would not listen and were using the religion to their own ends?

Is this any different today? Were we told to honour and obey self appointed authoritarian movements and businesses?

The bible is there for anyone to read and you do not need to bow down to someone's opinion or worship mere mortals with fancy clothes to follow the teachings of Christ.

More fool those who think this actually has any relevance to being a Christian. Let them keep their "church"

Do not worship false idols.
[quote][p][bold]Isaythat[/bold] wrote: With church numbers rapidly diminishing, I expected them to do everything in their power to encourage some positivity within the congregations. It is a self destructive move to keep this archaic rule and I wonder how much damage they have done to themselves. Instead of showing they are forward thinking and open minded, the message is one of old fashioned, judgemental sexism. Shouldn't everyone be welcome into a place of God and to take equal positions?, not for any mortal to decide!. Gay, straight, men, women or any other denomination are equal in the eyes of God - but apparently only if a few misquided men give their permission![/p][/quote]Was this not the reason that Jesus decided to turn towards the Fishermen and the workers as the scribes and the Pharisee would not listen and were using the religion to their own ends? Is this any different today? Were we told to honour and obey self appointed authoritarian movements and businesses? The bible is there for anyone to read and you do not need to bow down to someone's opinion or worship mere mortals with fancy clothes to follow the teachings of Christ. More fool those who think this actually has any relevance to being a Christian. Let them keep their "church" Do not worship false idols. pan

6:26pm Sun 25 Nov 12

Isaythat says...

pan, All of my life I consider myself fortunate in having a strong faith in God, but I have only recently started attending a church. More for the sake of my year old grandson, so he grows within a certain boundary and guidance. I have always said I do not have a religion but have a great faith in God and life my life by christian values (I am Jewish by birth but not practising).

Once again Helen, its nice talking to you and Pan, to you too. It is always nice to hear other people's points of view.
pan, All of my life I consider myself fortunate in having a strong faith in God, but I have only recently started attending a church. More for the sake of my year old grandson, so he grows within a certain boundary and guidance. I have always said I do not have a religion but have a great faith in God and life my life by christian values (I am Jewish by birth but not practising). Once again Helen, its nice talking to you and Pan, to you too. It is always nice to hear other people's points of view. Isaythat

8:33pm Sun 25 Nov 12

Helen, Walthamstow says...

I accept the point that the vote was a democratic process according to the rules laid down by the church - though if any MP had to gain a two-thirds majority from three different electorates, attendance at the House of Commons would be pretty sparse!

The trouble is that, in this case, the vote came within a whisker of being won, with two electorates passing the testing target and the other virtually there. Even the antis know that it's only a matter of time until the balance changes.

Their solution is to gain the right to set up what would be "a church within a church" with its own rules and conditions. It wouldn't work. It's a dishonest position - to claim to be in, but not really of, the Church of England.

Our ancestors probably got it right. The Great Ejection, exactly 350 years ago, saw those ministers who could not conform to the position of the then Church of England thrust out of its ranks. This left the state church free to follow its own chosen course while the dissenters (nonconformists) were free to worship in the way they thought right in less hierarchical institutions.

This dispute is between the Anglo Catholics who take one view while the majority takes another. Would it really be so terrible to part company? There is no other honest solution because there is no way the two views, for and against having women priests and bishops, can be reconciled without one side or the other feeling excluded and embittered.

At the end of the day, we are all Christians. It's much easier to remain friends when no-one has to bow to another's deeply held convictions on how our churches should function.
I accept the point that the vote was a democratic process according to the rules laid down by the church - though if any MP had to gain a two-thirds majority from three different electorates, attendance at the House of Commons would be pretty sparse! The trouble is that, in this case, the vote came within a whisker of being won, with two electorates passing the testing target and the other virtually there. Even the antis know that it's only a matter of time until the balance changes. Their solution is to gain the right to set up what would be "a church within a church" with its own rules and conditions. It wouldn't work. It's a dishonest position - to claim to be in, but not really of, the Church of England. Our ancestors probably got it right. The Great Ejection, exactly 350 years ago, saw those ministers who could not conform to the position of the then Church of England thrust out of its ranks. This left the state church free to follow its own chosen course while the dissenters (nonconformists) were free to worship in the way they thought right in less hierarchical institutions. This dispute is between the Anglo Catholics who take one view while the majority takes another. Would it really be so terrible to part company? There is no other honest solution because there is no way the two views, for and against having women priests and bishops, can be reconciled without one side or the other feeling excluded and embittered. At the end of the day, we are all Christians. It's much easier to remain friends when no-one has to bow to another's deeply held convictions on how our churches should function. Helen, Walthamstow

9:07am Tue 27 Nov 12

Isaythat says...

Today, The next Archbishop of Canterbury described the vote rejecting the introduction of women bishops as a 'very grim day'. Should we assume he is disappointed, upset, but he will get over it? an unexpected comment !.

It is not a democratic voting system when the majority disagree.

We strive to live in a world of equality and if the church can't manage it, then what message does that send out?
Today, The next Archbishop of Canterbury described the vote rejecting the introduction of women bishops as a 'very grim day'. Should we assume he is disappointed, upset, but he will get over it? an unexpected comment !. It is not a democratic voting system when the majority disagree. We strive to live in a world of equality and if the church can't manage it, then what message does that send out? Isaythat

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