My last blog post concerned the issue on getting blokes into church. As churches, we struggle with that. We don’t seem to have the same problem with old women. For the record, I’m all for old women in church. Love them, can’t get enough of them. My mother is one. And who could be against her? But I’m not talking in generally about wonderful older women, I’m talking specifically about the episcopal variety. Two letters have been written this weekend on the thorny issue of women bishops. They are, of course, by definition ‘older women’.
This one from Jonathan Fletcher, the Senior Minister at Emmanuel Wimbledon, concerns the issues surrounding the Consecration of Women Bishops. [Ex animo, as I learnt to my cost at a recent Reform Southwark meetings, means ‘from the heart’. And there was I thinking it was ‘used to be an animal’.] Jonathan wrote to the Church Times. His point is not that the Consecration of Women Bishops is wrong, though he believes that it is, but that the Anglican Denomination is making no provision for those within it who cannot in conscience accept the oversight of female episcopacy. It’s a brilliant letter. It’s well worth reading not only for the content, not only for the logic of his argument but mainly for the gracious manner in which he writes.
The Times has a letter here on the issue of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, Katherine Jefferts Schori. The issue with her is not simply that she’s a woman, but that she’s a false teacher. Let me quote the letter,
Bishop Schori is well known for her doctrinal statements and practice that are contrary to the teaching of the Bible. She is also well known for initiating many litigations against orthodox congregations within the Episcopal Church and defrocking doctrinally orthodox bishops and clergy, so exacerbating disunity in the Anglican communion. Only recently she defied the instruments of the Anglican communion by reneging on the agreement made by the Episcopal Church to abide by the moratorium regarding the consecration of actively gay and lesbian bishops.
I wouldn’t let her run a Sunday School class. But she’s been invited to preach and preside at Holy Communion at Southwark Cathedral. It’s no real surprise. In the time I’ve been in London, it’s not exactly been a bastion of evangelicalism! Quite the opposite. We ought to expect more from senior officials in the Diocese, but I’ve long given up on that. But good on ‘the boys’ for writing. They’ll get some flak. But if we’re going to remain in such a theologically shot denomination then we need to constantly and loudly distance ourselves from heresy so that it’s clear that those who spout it don’t represent us. Whether it’ll make any difference remains to be seen. I’m not holding my breath. I suspect that they’ll go on gathering round them teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear [2 Timothy 4:3]. It’s just a shame that orthodox evangelical anglicans are paying them to do this.