Evangelicals in CofE want 12 bishops after women bishops vote

Published 13 February 2014  |  
PA
Church Society wants the Archbishop of Canterbury to ensure the appointment of 12 conservative evangelical bishops

A group of conservative evangelicals in the Church of England has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to guarantee representation among bishops once women are allowed to the episcopate.  

Church Society is asking Archbishop Justin Welby to ensure the appointment of at least 12 conservative evangelical bishops.

This message comes in response to the Archbishop's presidential address to the General Synod of the Church of England in Westminster yesterday, in which he called for "gracious reconciliation" in a Church that is deeply divided over issues of gay marriage and women bishops.

Lee Gatiss, the director of the Church Society, welcomed the tone of yesterday's speech and particularly the Archbishop's comments on the need for a "massive cultural change" to see the Church, including evangelicals, flourish.

"I deeply sympathise with him when he confesses that this may be a hard course to steer, but am heartened when he says 'Yet I know it is right that we set such a course and hold to it through thick and thin'," he said.

Mr Gatiss said evangelicals were looking to the Archbishop "in a positive and hopeful way" to follow through on his pledge by making sure that the wider Church is "engaging conservatives in real dialogue, listening in detail to our concerns".

He also asked specifically that the Archbishop be "encouraging and ensuring the appointment of 12 conservative evangelical bishops".

The Church of England has resisted quota systems. A previous move during the 2013 November Synod to guarantee a place for at least one evangelical bishop in the College of Bishops was rejected.

Conservatives had pushed for it out of concern that Anglicans with their views on male headship were getting squeezed out of leadership posts. They have felt under-represented since the retirement of Bishop Wallace Benn.

Gatiss said today that the appointment of 12 conservative evangelical bishops would be a "welcome game-changer in creating trust from our constituency".

"A commitment in this area would convince us, including many young evangelicals exploring vocations, of the sincerity of the House of Bishops' claim that they wish to provide for our flourishing," he said.

"In an episcopal system, to which we are happily committed, this would be a very persuasive sign that we have a future."

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