The membership of the Steering Committee to draft the new legislation on women bishops has been announced . Some names are familiar to me but others aren't so I decided to Google and record the results.

The Revd Paul Benfield

Incumbent of St Nicholas, Fleetwood in Blackburn served at chancery bar before ordination. Has given evidence to Constitutional Affairs Committee on serving in a parish under patronage of Lord Chancellor which he did at Lewes in Chichester. And found work through the Lord Chancellor later. He states his opposition to women priests in this evidence. He says:
  3.  There was no difficulty with me expressing my opposition to women priests and stating a desire to serve in a parish which had passed resolutions A & B under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. At that time it was widely felt that many bishops were not interested in appointing those opposed to women priests and so to come to a patron's representative who was acting fairly and willing to embrace all legitimate views within the Church of England was refreshing.
. He also moved amendments in the July 2010 session of synod, but I haven't yet worked out what the significance of leaving out clause 3(10) paragraph (c) would have been.

Represented FinF and the Catholic group in giving evidence to the Working Party.

The Revd Canon Jane Charman

Is the Director of Learning for Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Salisbury. She is @janeecharman on Twitter where I've recently started following her, I think because she was following me. Was recently at Mission and Ministry Conference in Blackpool. Has written about gender discrimination and why she now regrets having supported November's measure as the best on offer. She writes
I have come to understand that what I did was wrong. I was supporting a lesser good at the expense of a greater good. We cannot place the needs and wishes of a small number of our own members above our vocation to declare a gospel of justice and mercy for all human beings. We cannot achieve our goal of having women in the House of Bishops on such terms.

History is being made every day and we ourselves are making it. Each of us plays our chosen part. In years to come I hope to be able to look back on one of the significant issues of my own day and feel proud of the part that I played. I have resolved to vote against any Measure, legislation or provision which is discriminatory against women in any way. That would include the Measure put before us last November or anything of a similar nature. It probably means I will not be able to vote for anything which the new working group or the House of Bishops comes up with next unless it is a single clause measure supported by informal pastoral provision. I will use what influence I have to dissuade others too.  If the result is that the Church of England does not have women bishops then so be it. It will be our loss and our disgrace. Perhaps we are not worthy of them yet.

The Revd Canon Robert Cotton

Also sponsored amendments in July session. Is on Council of Westcott House. This tells me he studied at Oxford (boo) and supports Wales and rugby (yay). More seriously he's on the archbishop's council. He's Rector of Holy Trinity and St Mary's in Guildford where he has a female curate.

Dr Philip Giddings*

Has an entry in Wikipedia . Chair of House of Laity who faced a vote of no confidence after speaking against the last legislation. He's a lecturer in Politics at Reading, did his DPhil at Oxford. He's a conservative evangelical and heads Anglican Mainstream.

Dr Paula Gooder*

A good egg, who I first heard of because my mum did a course with her. Biblical scholar, edited a book arguing for women's leadership on the basis of Scripture after November's vote. Now on Twitter as @paulargooder. She is Canon Theologian of Birmingham and Guildford, and Theologian to the Bible Society

The Ven Christine Hardman *

Another with a Wikipedia article.. She's now retired but was Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich. She was a deaconess for 3 years before being in the first tranche of female deacons and priests. She is Prolocutor of Convocation of Canterbury. The BBC has a clip of her and John Broadhurst on a 2008 synod vote on women bishops, but it's not compatible with my tablet so I haven't watched it.

Dr Jamie Harrison

Is chair of the House of Laity in the diocese of Durham. But that's all I've found so for.

The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair)*

Is Bishop of Rochester. An interview with a local paper after his appointment in 2011 reveals an interest in Affordable Housing.. Lay Anglicana did not find much about himto build profile, other than educated at Oxford (PPE) and St John's Nottingham and the intervieq aboce.. Laura thought he might be Anglo-Catholic due to an ARCIC reference, but St John's Nottingham suggests evangelical to me.

Mrs Susannah Leafe

A lay member of Synod. A Guardian story from last July quotes her as calling for a no vote saying:
"If you wish to be gracious, please vote against because ... this measure does not provide proper provision for those in either the anglo-Catholic or conservative evangelical members of our family. They've made that very clear," 

She is listed in the Working Party report on woman bishops as having given evidence on behalf of Reform and the Church Society (link to Thinking Anglicans html upload of the pdf). This means that she is a supporter of Male Headship. I struggle to understand how a woman who believe in Male Headship can justify voting against the majority of bishops - "I'll follow, if I think you're going the right way". She is on the Council of Reform though listed as Susie there.

The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett*

According to the Southwark Press release when she was deaconed at Michaelmas 04 she was born in Barbados and has a PhD in Sociology and a first degree in history and French. she took over as chair of AffCath last Sept.

Canon Margaret Swinson*

As well as being on synod, where she is vice-chair of the Council of Christian Unity, she is involved in Anglican-Roman Catholic Conversations From Worcestershire, went to Liverpool as a student did not leave.

The Revd Preb Roderick Thomas

Represented Reform & Church Society in giving evidence to the Working Party. He is the chairma of Reform and Vicar of St Matthew's Elburton whose Spring termcard (Jan-April) suggests that it sits lightly to the lectionary. Services are 8am BCP communion, 1030 Morning Worship (Communion 4th Sunday), 1700 Evening Prayer, BCP, with HC 1st Sunday and an informal 7pm service.

The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner*

Former Administrator of the Shrine at Walsingham, then Bishop of Whitby, now Bishop of Chichester. Tweets as @MartinWarner. Forward in Faith. Wikipedia says he trained at Staggers have studied in Durham

The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott

BIshop of Dover.Wikipedia reveals that he studied at St Peter's Oxford as an undergraduate and then trained at Westcott It also mentioned Fitz, but that isn't necesarily a strong link; Westcott isn't a college (and Cambridge doesn't have the PPH category Oxford does) so if ordinands are doing Tripos and if they aren't linked to another college Fitz is the default option.

The Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull (Consultant)*

Those members er s marked * were on the Working Party which met after November
The title of this post is a quote from the Report of the Church of England Faith and Order Commission (pdf) published today. Bishop Alan mentions it in is critical blog response to the report and someone tweeted it as a quote. I responded to this tweet saying " I have so many issues with 'people not asexual, either m or f' from @c_of_e that I don't know where to start." This blog post represents an attempt to start.

The quote appears in a longer paragraph which I will quote in full:
26.Biological differences do not simply cease to matter at the level of personal relationship; persons are not asexual, but are either male or female. Their sex attains a personal meaning, as relationships are built constructively on the endowments and strengths it offers. The relationship of marriage is more personal, not less, as the partners come to it in receptiveness of what only the opposite sex can bring to their own.

I think the basic issue here is the ignorance of LGBTQIA issues that is demonstrated here.

Firstly, Intersex people are declared not to exist as people are 'either male or female'. This just is not true; whilst the majority of people have an XY or XX genotype and male or female genitalia to match, there is a minority who do not fit these categories and have a range of different genotypes and genitalia and are known as Intersex.

Secondly, there are issues around gender and sex which are basically ignored. Where does a trans* person fit in this schema? For some people their sense of being male or female does not match with their genitalia. I am by no means an expert on trans* issues and indeed often struggle to get my head around them and am uncertain of the terminology perferred by those for whom this is personal, but those I know who have transitioned have been a lot more at home in themselves and happier after transition. There are also people who identify as genderqueer who do not define themselves as either male or female.

Thirdly, whilst I can see what they were intending to mean by 'asexual' here, it is a problematic word in this context because asexual is used as a descriptor of sexuality. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network defines an asexual as someone 'who does not experience sexual attraction'. This is the point at which it gets personal for me. I possibily have not send this publically before, but this is who I am. About a decade ago I found myself thinking the prefix to -sexual that most seems to fit me is a- though at the time I had no idea that other people identified like that and was glad to come across AVEN sometime later. As a teenager I just did not get what other people meant by fancying people, it doesn't resonate with anything in my experience. It doesn't really bother me, and it has meant that I have been happily single most of my life. I have had one relationship and there are things that I miss -- having someone to talk to about my day, share stuff with and cuddle up with mainly -- but I've never felt driven by sexual desire. That's just how I am. Now, my first reaction to 'persons are not asexual' was that my Church was telling me I didn't exist, but in fact they aren't talking about people like me at all; rather it is Intersex people who do not exist in CofEworld. But the fact that they used the word 'asexual' shows that they are not aware that there are people like me who identify as asexual and that is disappointing too.

Thus in a report which is problematic for Lesbian and Gay people (and Bisexuals who have fallen in love with a person of the same gender), the CofE has in one sentence also igrnored trans*, genderqueer, intersex and asexual people. There is a lot of information out there about LGBTQIA issues, is it too much to expect my Church to have engaged with them when writing a report on marriage in the context of the proposal to allow people of the same gender to marry?

The final sentence of this paragraph of the report also hints at complementarity 'what only the opposite sex can bring' and indeed the word complementary is used later in the report. This is an issue which is also highly contentious for the other red button issue of the moment -- the full acceptance of women in all rôles of ministry. I would ask my Church to go away and really engage with issues of sex, gender and sexuality apart from the specific issues of whether women can be ordained as priests and bishops and whether marriage is of necessity between two people of different genders. Human experience, that of human beings made in God's image is just not as simple as 'there are men and there are women and they should marry the opposite'.

Interestingly, at the Governing Body of the Church in Wales today announced that it was referring the issue of same sex partnerships to its Doctrine Commission. I hope it does better that the Church of England on this.



July 2017



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