Saturday, January 16, 2010

We've (not) done it!

So the SEC – those in Glasgow and Galloway anyway - didn’t choose the first female bishop in the UK. And that’s what the media focus on, just as that was what they focussed on over the whole election. I bet there’s not a cheep out of the Beeb when it comes to the Episcopal election in Argyll and The Isles – not, unless, there’s a number of things which might and might not take place in the electoral procedure before the public stage.

A long, long time ago, when I was young and impressionable and did what Bishops told me, I was on the old Provincial Synod at the time when it was debating the ordination of women. I was, I think, the youngest lay person (not hard – we were in a small minority) and may have been the youngest person there. Just before we were due to travel to Perth for the meeting, Mr B received a phone call from the then Bishop of Argyll. Actually the call was for me, but I was out gadding. The message was brief and succinct: For God’s sake, our bishop said, just tell Christine not to vote for women priests.

The messages here are so glaring that, writing this down, I can scarcely believe it happened. Look at the assumptions: that I would do what my husband told me and what the bishop told me, that a message without discussion would suffice, that there was no need to make more of it because the idea was so crazy anyway. And you know, in that body at that time the idea was crazy. We’ve come a long way since I was the new kid on the SEC block.

But we haven’t come far enough.


  1. I was disappointed that the Beeb focussed on the fact that Alison had not been elected. However, that is what the story is/was. (The comment by R Piggot (BBC) that the liberal SEC might make the 'gesture' of appointing a woman was equally aggravating).
    I am confident that if the Synod thought that Alison was the best person for the job they would have elected her, no matter what her gender.
    The upside of all this was that the SEC got some good media exposure. The Primus was able to say something about how our church works and what our priorities are.


  2. Sadly, it may be some years yet before electoral synods deem women to have enough parish experience to be a bishop. It's early days, and today's vote was absolutely nothing about gender.

  3. Morag9:25 AM

    Surely the aim in choosing a bishop, whether for Glasgow + Galloway or for Argyll and the Isles, is to choose the person that the Spirit has led you to believe is the best one for the job. Regardless of gender!!

    As members of the SEC our job now is to accept the person selected on our behalf and support him in his new role.

  4. I agree absolutely with Kennedy and Kenny. Some of the media treatment of Alison's supposed 'failure' has been thoroughly distasteful.

  5. As an ecumenically open Baptist I gladly attended the ordination in Aberdeen of the first women priests of the SEC. I have several very good friends, men and women, who serve within your communion. Including a friend who is a member of Alison's congregation. Perhaps the relief of her congregation that she was not appointed tells us something important about the quality of her ministry. And yes, the call of God to spiritual service as Bishop is a high calling; but not higher than the service of the people of God in the local churches. As a Baptist you might think I would say that - but I do so as an acknowledgement, even an admission, that to be moved from the service of a congregation to another role, is in an important sense a vocational demotion :)