Synod Vote: Women Bishops

Synod Votes: Women Bishops

A letter to the New Wine Leaders Network

by John Coles

(Printed with permission)

Dear Friends

I would like to express my deep disappointment over the vote in General Synod this week, my belief in women Bishops, my empathy with ordained women in their pain, and my support for them in their current ministry.

At the beginning of the day of the debate at General Synod I tweeted: "Another big day for Anglicans -10 days ago a new Archbishop. Today women Bishops? In my view it’s time to say Yes! But love those who disagree.”

After the vote was announced I tweeted: “Really disappointed re Synod vote against women Bishops. Once again asking women clergy to forgive us & pledging to pray for change ASAP.”

My view and support of them is shared by others in the New Wine Leadership Team:

Mark Bailey, CSW leader, tweeted: “Feels like the C of E has voted for obscurity & irrelevance again with its tragic decision in #synod re women Bishops.”

Mark Melluish, LSE leader, tweeted: “Sad day in the journey of equality in the Church of England. Considering standing for #synod.”

Ian Parkinson, NE leader, tweeted: “Pants!!!” and re-tweeted “This needs to be reversed quickly. We need risk-taking leaders of both genders. Let's start a movement.”

Anne Coles, New Wine Director, tweeted at the beginning of the day: “just watched @sallyhitchener being interviewed on BBC breakfast show-talking about the synod vote on women bishops-great job! yes yes!”

Nadine Parkinson, NE leader, tweeted: “A NO decision will be a stench in the nostrils of the world. A YES decision will be a sweet aroma. Please Lord, stir your people!#synod and subsequently: “#synod overwhelmingly FOR women Bishops - just short of a handful of laity votes to make majority large enough. Sad day!”

These key leaders in the network, both ordained men and non-ordained women, are fully supportive of the ministry of ordained women and are committed to teaching and leading that ordained women are appointable to all positions of leadership, with no stained-glass ceilings.

(We are aware there are some in New Wine who hold other views, but that is inevitable since New Wine is a network and not a denomination with a rigid statement of faith and practise.)

Many people will be processing all sorts of feelings at the moment. Some of that processing will obviously need to happen privately before the Lord, but some may appreciate the help of other like-minded ordained women. So Anne and I will be hosting a gathering in the new year with Jane Morris who is Vicar of St Gabriel’s, Cricklewood, and a member of General Synod. She will give a report on the Synod debate, and bring any updates on alternative ways in which the majority view of Synod in favour of women bishops could be implemented. There will be plenty of time for conversations with each other, as well as times to worship the Lord, listen to the voice of the Spirit, minister healing to each other, and pray about the future.

I am still shocked since this isn’t the decision that I had hoped and prayed Synod would make. But we must believe for a better future, and find ways of praying and working together that could achieve this. In the meantime let’s pray for each other for wisdom and grace to handle the world’s astonished and disbelieving reaction to this unfortunate decision.

And above all let’s pray for God’s grace to continue the ministry to which he has called men and women alike – namely the glorious ministry of reconciliation to God in our glorious Christ Jesus. All the Christmas celebrations will give ample opportunity to speak afresh of the wonder of the salvation he offers to all. This is what we all signed up for when we responded to his call to ordination and when we see people being transformed by Jesus we are caught up with the joy of heaven over every person who is saved. In the end it is this continuing faithfulness in ministry of ordained women which will write a testimony that no-one will be able to refute and result not only in the passing of a motion in favour of women Bishops but in thewelcoming of them to a position of God-given equality in the Church.

With warmest regards,


John Coles
Director, New Wine
Follow John on twitter @johncoles1

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