Baptist welcome for General Synod vote
Baptists have warmly welcomed the Church of England's "historic" decision to allow women to become bishops.
On Monday each of the General Synod's three houses gave the necessary two thirds approval to legislation introducing the change.
A similar change had been narrowly defeated by the House of Laity in 2012. The new legislation made concessions to those who hold a traditionalist view, with parishes being able to ask a woman bishop for a male alternative, and take any dispute over the process to an independent ombudsman.
BBC relgious Affiars correspondent Robert Piggott said that 'not for more than 20 years has the future direction and character of the Church of England turned so profoundly on a single vote.' Back then the Church voted to allow women to become clergy: women now constitute a third of 11,000 Anglican priests.
A statement issued immediately after the General Synod vote on the Baptists Together website applauded the move. "On this historic day for our sisters and brothers from the Anglican Communion, we celebrate and welcome the decision of the Church of England Synod to allow women to become bishops. We believe that this decision to value the ministry of women at every level, and especially in the oversight of the Church, is both culturally appropriate and biblically based, and will assist the Church of England, with its ecumenical partners, in responding to the many challenges and opportunities that lie before it."
The statement quoted Regional Minister (Team Leader) of the East Midlands Baptist Association the Revd Dianne Tidball, who said: “Congratulations to our Anglican friends on having the wisdom, courage and grace to open the door to women becoming Bishops. We are pleased to learn that the vote enabling women to fulfill all roles within the church has been passed. We are delighted that the wider church will have the opportunity to benefit further from the gifts and experience that women, already in senior roles, will bring.
“We pray for our sisters and brothers in the Church of England for continued generosity to each other, so that as adjustments are made and new patterns of relating and working together develop, the mission of God might be fruitfully extended.”
The Revd Vivienne O’Brien, from the Baptists Together ministries team, also welcomed the decision of General Synod to confirm the appointment of women bishops: “This reflects the Baptist Union’s own policy of full equality of women and men in every sphere of ministry as both biblically-based and culturally appropriate in Britain today.”
The statement spoke about our Union's own journey of Baptist women in ministry, acknowledging both advances and difficulties.
"The Baptist Union in 2012 confirmed afresh through its Council the full equality of men and women in ministry," the statement continued. "With Baptist women exercising regional oversight as Regional Ministers, and through its current General Secretary, the Revd Lynn Green, the leadership of women and men together and as equals is an expression of this commitment.
"In celebrating this, we also recognise that within our own community there is much to be done in making ministry more accessible to women. Despite having ordained women a lot longer, there is still much within our structures and local churches that perpetuate difficulties for women called to serve as ministers with our Union. “The Lydia Question” tells much about this, and we continue to strive towards living out our previous affirmations of recognition of our women in leadership."
Finally, the statement encouraged the churches of our Union to continue to pray for all who are affected by this decision, "and as our sister church seeks to implement the vote, that unity of the church will be maintained. We continue to pray for Justin Welby at this time.