Sunday, June 17, 2007

Women in The Church in Wales

Below is a copy of the speech I made to the Governing Body (the 'synod') of the Church in Wales on Female Bishops on 12th April 2007.

Church in Wales Governing Body: 11 – 12 April 2007

Item 18 - Women in the Episcopate Discussion

Your Grace, Chair, Fellow Members of the Governing Body

Christopher Grinbergs, Co-Opted, St. Asaph

Last Summer … as a trainee journalist … I was privileged to attend the sessions of the Church of England General Synod when they discussed this specific issue.

As part of my report and masters dissertation on the subject, I interviewed not only bishops and vicars but also a variety of young people both within and without the church. I want to emphasise some of the points made earlier but from a young person’s point of view.

Now I know I cannot speak for ALL young people … I have a twin brother who is as opposed to female ordination as I am in favour … which has lead to some … interesting … dinner discussions. That said, amongst some of my contemporaries there is a problem of perception.

There is a perception that women are not viewed as full members of the church … as second class citizens … as though they are not allowed to lead within the church.

There is a perception that the church is out of touch and simply going over old ground. Indeed, as I prepared for these sessions, a friend of mine was astonished this debate had arisen YET again.

There is a perception that the church is an institution that is irrelevant due to the lack of female bishops. And this is not helped by my inability to justify why we do NOT have women bishops.

To people of my generation:
· Equal Opportunity legislation is an expected right not a novelty.
· Female vicars are the norm not an exception.
· Women have accessed the top levels of business, education and politics. I vaguely remember a female Prime Minister … but I’m NOT sure she is the best example of what female leadership would do for the church.

These facts create a feeling that the church is separate to society rather than being at the heart of it. There is no single answer to changing the situation but women in the episcopate would act as a step along the way.

So, in the forthcoming discussions, debate and legislations, I urge people to challenge these views and find a way forward so that more young people can more easily relate to the church and perceive … instead of division over women … unity through Christ’s love and an acknowledgement of everyone’s gifts.


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