Reverends from Kent share their views on the ordination of women bishops

PUBLISHED: 13:17 17 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:26 17 July 2014

Members of the Church of England's Synod attend the session. Picture: Nigel Roddis/PA Wire

Members of the Church of England's Synod attend the session. Picture: Nigel Roddis/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Some priests say last week’s decision to allow to allow women bishops was a vital step in the modernisation of the Church of England.

Breaking with 2,000 years of tradition, it was agreed that female bishops can now finally be ordained.

Applause and cheers greeted the vote in favour of the measure, with 152 lay members of the General Synod, the governing body of the Church of England, in favour and 45 against.

According to many, it is a decision that has been a long time in the making, and has been made not a moment too soon.

Others have been more reluctant to accept it, with people of Anglo Catholic or Evangelical Conservative faiths struggling to agree with the changes that this will bring.

The Revd Stephen Varney, of St Mark’s Church, Westmoreland Road, Bromley, sees the news as nothing but positive.

“I think it’s a very good change, and in my view it’s not before time.

“I think its been on the cards for some time. I think in the course of time it would have been inevitable.

“I have worked myself with three extremely good and very different women priests, and they have brought many positive things to their church and to the ministry and I believe that women bishops will bring those gifts.

“In my church I am not aware of anybody speaking out strongly against this. I think that the vast majority of the congregation are either thoroughly delighted, relieved, and if they have any hesitations they haven’t voiced those to me.”

One of the priests that he worked with, the Revd Morag Finch, of The Parish Church of St Mary Forelands, Kingswood Road, Bromley, agreed although she does not feel called to become a bishop herself.

“I am just delighted about the decision. I think it’s good for the Church as a whole.

“I think there’s been some really good work done.

“There’s been some really good conversations and lots of listening as well as talking and I think that’s been really important.

“I think the legislation that was put forward this time perhaps had better provision.

“I think it’s allowed better for different integrity and people to still feel they are all valued members of a church.”

The Anunciation, Chislehurst, is in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, which will be provided for.

Father Paul Andrew Farthing said: “I think first of all the important thing to say is that we recognise that this is clearly the desire of the majority of the Church of England.

“We are simply asking for an honoured place to remain where our concerns will be respected and we believe the legislation provides this.

“It allows us to request a male priest and a male bishop.

“As it stands at the moment I think we are confident that those of us who are in more traditional parishes will be allowed to flourish.

“The Church of England contains a very wide diversity of people.

“It has been the genius of the Church of England that it has found ways of holding that diversity together.

“I personally have never experienced any hostility or persecution.

“We are simply asking for a place that continues to be a part of the Church.”

David Evennett, Conservative MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, sees the decision as a step in the right direction.

“I voted in favour of female priests in 1994, and whilst it has taken the Church 20 years to agree to it, I am delighted that women might finally be ordained as bishops. Women have served our Church for generations and it is good news that the senior positions are now open to them,” he said.

Revd Canon Ruth Oates, of Ash: St Peter & St Pauls Church, New Ash Green, Kent, said: “Its been a long time coming. It was a big mistake then [1994] not making it for priests and bishops at the same time, but it would never have been passed.

“It is one of those things that we have needed to tackle slowly.

“It took time for women to be accepted in other professions to be honest.

“It’s been a great relief now that we have actually got a reasonable response.”

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