Forward in Faith to follow conscience in diocesan vote on women bishops

As Church of England legislation on women bishops goes out to diocesan synods, one evangelical group says it will be following their consciences by voting against.

"Forward in Faith believes that synod members should give their votes according to principle and conscience," the group said in a statement.

"For members of Forward in Faith that is likely to involve voting against the Measure and the Canon because, for reasons of theological conviction, we cannot endorse the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate."

Conscience voting was particularly required, they claimed, when legislation is referred to the dioceses "because it touches the sacraments of the Church".

The suggestion is that more negotiated voting is expected at General Synod.

There was an understanding that votes against in this instance would not successfully derail the arrival of women bishops, and would merely be officially registered objections.

"We wish to underline that in making this recommendation we are not seeking to hinder progress towards a final resolution of this issue," Forward in Faith explained.

"This will be the only opportunity for members of diocesan synods to vote on the principle in accordance with their theological convictions.

"We are conscious that at this stage in the process only simple majorities are required."

Forward in Faith were praising of the level of understanding over their position.

"We were encouraged that, when members of the General Synod voted against the relevant parts of the legislation at the February group of sessions, the fact that they felt obliged to do so as a matter of integrity was widely accepted."

Speaking about the upcoming vote, they said, "We trust that similar understanding will be shown in the diocesan synods."