Most Reverend and Right Reverend Fathers in God,
You will soon meet as a House of Bishops to discuss the current state of the Church of England and, particularly, the decision made at General Synod over the summer. As young people training for the ministerial priesthood in the Church of England we have attempted to put into words our concerns and anxieties about the future, and to offer you, in some small way, an insight into our hopes and fears for, potentially, forty years of ordained ministry.
The decision by General Synod in July to consider a Code of Practice, rather than structural alternatives, presents a significant problem for those who are opposed to the ordination of women. Many of this integrity have suggested that it is “too soon to give up” and that something effective can come from the next Group of Sessions. We fear this is unlikely. If the Church of England chooses not to provide appropriate structural solutions, as this resolution by General Synod would seem to indicate, it would be foolhardy - and even disingenuous - to continue to prepare for a life of ordained ministry in the Church of England.
General Synod is the “synodically governed” part of the Church of England’s systems of authority, but there is another: the recognition that it is “episcopally led” is as vital to this discussion, and it is this element that we wish to address. At the July Group of Sessions, Synod decided to disregard the interventions of the two Archbishops and a number of our most senior bishops. This would seem to undermine the authority of the Archbishops, and appears to reflect a distressing disunity within the House of Bishops itself.
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