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Thursday 28th June 2012

REFORM SAYS ‘FURORE' OVER WOMEN BISHOPS SHOWS NEED FOR BETTER PROVISION

Reform Chairman Rev'd Rod Thomas said today that "Reform deeply regrets that we have reached such an impasse on women bishops" with the current House of Bishops' amendments not satisfying the conservative evangelical network's concerns over their future in the Church of England.

Speaking at a prayer meeting attended by almost 200 Reform members in central London, Mr Thomas said: "We thank the House of Bishops for their work. They have tried to find a way through. But their amendments have not succeeded in persuading our members that there is a secure future for those who cannot in conscience accept the oversight of women as bishops. In light of that we will be encouraging our members on General Synod to vote against the legislation as it stands."

Mr Thomas added: "The furore created by some in response to these small amendments reveals most clearly the reason why those who hold to our biblical position need legislative clarity, not just a code of practice if we are to continue to encourage young people to come forward for ordination.

"There is clearly a desire on the part of some to see any provision for us as strictly temporary, despite the fact that we're simply seeking to follow the Bible's teaching about how God wants his Church to be organised. They hope we'll just leave. However, we believe the majority of Anglicans want to honour the promises made to us over the last two decades to preserve a place for us in the Church of England. As it stands, the draft Measure doesn't do this - and we'll be asking General Synod to withhold approval of the draft Measure so that some proper compromises can be agreed.

"We face a very difficult situation, so we are urging our members to pray for the House of Bishops, the General Synod and for the Church's witness in this country to the saving grace of Jesus Christ."

Ends

Background notes

Reform members have been actively engaged in all the debates and discussions on this issue since the Rochester Commission was established in 2001. During these 11 years Reform has done three things:

First, Reform has engaged fully in the formal processes established by the Church of England, making representations to each of the various Commissions. Reform has put forward or supported a number of possible compromise scenarios which would enable Reform members to continue to see a secure future for our position within the Church of England. These have included Transferred Episcopal Arrangements, transferred jurisdictions, establishment of religious societies and creation of a third province. At General Synod 2010 Reform members backed the co-ordinate jurisdiction proposal put forward by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York - a proposal which was less than ideal for us but which we nevertheless supported. Sadly this proposal was narrowly defeated.

Second, Reform has engaged in more informal dialogue with bishops, with those from the Catholic group in General Synod, with other evangelical organizations such as the Church of England Evangelical Council and with those evangelicals who differ from us on this issue, such as the Awesome ordained evangelical women's network, to ensure that there is mutual understanding and respect of positions even where we continue to disagree.

Third, Reform has continued to encourage young men forward for ordination in the Church of England, on the understanding that their ministry was valued and welcomed within the denomination. Since 2001 Reform member churches have sent 300 men into ordained ministry, of whom around 50% were under the age of 30.

Despite this willingness to engage in and encourage others into ministry in the Church of England, Reform members are now left with the prospect of nothing more substantial than a code of practice to guarantee them a future place within the Church of England.

For further information, contact:

Rev'd Paul Dawson, Reform media officer, 07791 495824, media@reform.org.uk

Revd Paul Dawson

St Andrew's, Chelsea

T: 020 7352 1675

E: paul@standrewschelsea.org

W: www.standrewschelsea.org

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