Will Diocesan Bishops meet their clergy before #HofB meet? #synod

What to me is now a rather poignant carving, in the choir of All Saints Church, Cuddesdon

At approximately 5.50pm last Tuesday night (27th Nov 2012), the Right Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, climbed into the pulpit at All Saints, Cuddesdon to preach to the massed ranks of ordinands and their newly resident community of nuns. He looked at his watch, and commented that it was a week, almost to the hour, since General Synod had made a big mistake.

Then, with Rt Revd Michael Perham the Bishop of Gloucester (who was presiding at Eucharist) looking on, Bishop John apologised. He apologised on behalf of the General Synod for making a mess of things over the issue of female bishops, and specifically for making our lives as ordinands, and our ministries in curacy, even more difficult than it is already.

He went on to explain that in the days immediately after the General Synod vote, he had met with 50+ of the 250ish female clergy of his diocese, to try to share their pain and hear their immediate responses.

With the news yesterday that the Archbishop’s Council have this week

recommended that the House of Bishops, during its meeting in a fortnight’s time, put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July

I was set wondering as to whether all the Diocesan Bishop’s will be holding such meetings with their clergy before the House of Bishop gather to consider the next synodical steps in this painful journey.

So last night, with the help of Twitter, I discovered the details I list below.

You may well be able to add to this, and if so, I would invite you to please ‘comment’ the details below, so that those who might not have such meetings planned in the near future, and/or whose Diocesan synods meet this weekend, can have a clear picture of where they fit into the pattern of communication and care provided by the Bishops of their Diocese, to those affected by and concerned about last weeks vote.

  • Durham, St. Albans, Oxford, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Southwark have met with clergy already, in some cases only with the female clergy, though in the case of St Albans all clergy/readers/laity have been asked to write with feedback
  • Bishops in Sheffield were meeting their clergy last night
  • Dover/Canterbury is holding a Eucharist and discussion on Saturday 1st Dec, which is open to all, not just clergy
  • Ely Bishops are hosting Eucharist, coffee and discussion on Saturday 1st Dec
  • Exeter are meeting Monday 3rd December
  • St Edmundsbury and Ipswich meet on 5th December
  • Southwell and Nottingham on 6th December
  • Liverpool meet (with only the female clergy) on 6th December
  • Chelmsford is hosting a Champagne breakfast (not sure when)
  • Gloucester is meeting all clergy next week for Eucharist, with lunch provided for discussions with female clergy aftewards
  • Coventry has planned a gathering for early December

Among the additional comments I received on Twitter last night were the following:

  • disappointment that not all these meetings are open to all clergy, some are just for the female ones
  • in those diocese that have already had meetings, the ‘diary clearing’ by Bishops that enabled them has been much appreciated.


  1. Brilliant post, thank you! I’m also wondering how many Bishops will have open meetings with the laity (and clergy) in their dioceses… I think the laity in dioceses would very much value the opportunity to voice their thoughts and feelings about this as so many people feel confused, let down and angry about the House of Laity vote. I also think this is something it would be good for the General Synod members to be involved with… I think the lay General Synod reps need to hear how the laity in their diocese feel, and as a lay GenSyn rep I would greatly value the opportunity to hear from and talk to laity from across the diocese.


  2. The Diocese of Ely was felt to have reacted quickly and well (to some extent the quick response is part of the feeling it is a good one) by having a letter from the Bishop, the Dean of Women’s ministry (or Advisor) and from all the General Synod Reps up on the website by Tuesday evening or promptly on Wednesday.
    AS for whether to meet in open meetings or selected groups, I think there is a need and a place for both types. Women clergy need to say how it has felt for 20 or more years as well as how it feels right now; and give their thoughts on how to proceed and how fast. Male clergy need to say how it feels for them. some o the first times these are said are easier in groups where we know others are likely to recognise the feeling even if they don’t all share them. There have been to omany occasions when a woman has said how she feels and a man jumps up and says “we don’t all think/act like that” .Similarly, men will also have their own hurts and frustrations, neither worse nor less than those of women, and they they may find harder to express if they feel they are not giving women space and time. And I totally agree about laity- some of those most upset last Tuesday evening/Wednesday were laity who were sayign things like”we let you down” which is not true.
    so it looks at thought the bishops need to clear their diaries for several days……we need to really start talking to each other about how w really feel and think and believe – for 20 years we’ve not been allowed to say that legislating for divisions in the church does not bring unity but entrenched division. And I really, really hoep that +John was apologising for more than messing up the vote on Tuesday – each time the process has been destabilised in the last 2.5 years it has been as result of intervention by the House of Bishops over-ruling processes which had included lay and ordained, male and female. Unlike the HoB….If this is not recognised we’ll end up in another fine mess…..


  3. Thank you to everyone for their responses so far, and it’s good that the overall picture is broadening, even if it is still very mixed, and in places I sense quite hurtful.

    Latest in via Twitter is from Chester: “email (Chester) to say he will be holding open meetings in December – for laity and clergy.”


  4. The Bishop of Rochester used two pre-arranged gatherings (a clergy study day and a joint Watch/theological society meeting) to talk to clergy in the week after the vote, so many had a chance to hear him give his unequivocal support to women clergy there. There is also a gathering planned for immediately after the HoB meeting with women clergy. He has also made it clear that his door – electronic and physical – is open for anyone who wants to talk, and has sent a letter to the Diocese, which is on the website, and which I gave out last Sunday at church. He has been wonderfully supportive and I have really appreciated it.


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