While I am not Anglican, I am grieving for friends who are - and for those in particular who are training for, or have been ordained into, the priesthood. I never did quite understand why this was not sorted out when women were allowed to become priests in the CofE 20-odd years ago - by 2 votes I believe. Then again, I have never managed to quite get my head around the fact that women being called to ministry is an issue - given 50ish% of humanity are women. We ordain women because we baptise girls...!
The strange technicalities of voting meant that while an overwhelming majority voted in favour of allowing women to become bishops, the motion fell by just 6 votes; each of the three 'houses' needing to have a two thirds majority, which was not what happened in the house of laity. I was reminded of our own arcane ways and processes: of motions proposed at General Assembly and sent down under the Barrier Act, that come back with a resounding 'no' a year later, this often based on the will of tiny presbyteries of 6 or 10 or 12 parishes who have the same power as larger presbyteries of 50, 80, or over 100 parishes within them.
While I am not always convinced that the church should bring things in on a majority vote, neither am I convinced by the checks and balances that have been put in place with the (rightly so) intent to safeguard against whim, to ensure folk with different views don't get trodden on, etc. What I am more convinced about, however, is that the systems in place within our institutions are set up in a default position that mitigates against bringing any kind of change.
No system put in place will please everyone; no system is perfect.
And yet, despite our flawed systems and institutions which seem to be built as monuments to fear, God still manages to manoeuvre between the cracks despite our 'best' intentions to stymie things.
I wonder what building systems based on trust would look like, and how they might work?
Systems designed to work with God and each other in generous grace and mutuality and without the fear that needs to control who is in, who is out, and who gets to make the rules?
In the meantime, came across this courtesy of a friend, which is as fitting a response to what occurred within the CofE this week as I have seen: