Dean's Blog

The Vote on Women Bishops

 Archbishop Rowan WilliamsI was watching the BBC news yesterday and was a little surprised to see our daughter, Philippa, sitting immediately behind Archbishop Rowan Williams, as he was reflecting on the vote that had taken place on Women bishops the day before and saying that the church will have lost some credibility as a result of the previous day’s decision. I certainly agree. It reminded me of the struggles the Church of England had in coming to a decision to ordain women as priests. We were in the Diocese of Hong Kong at the time, where Florence Tim Oi Li was the first woman to be ordained priest in the Anglican Communion in wartime Macao in 1944, and there were several fine women serving as priests currently in HK.  I remember reviewing a biography of her – Much Beloved Daughter by Ted Harrison – for the Diocesan Echo, the Diocese’s monthly newssheet, in which I highlighted her servant attitude to ministry. And isn’t this the essence of ministry, whether of priest or bishop, derived from Jesus Himself: authority expressed in service? Indeed anyone, male or female, who does not see ministry in the Church in this way, beware! Which makes the decision by the General Synod such a sad one, as in my experience, women in ministry more often reflect that spirit of service than their male counterparts.