Bishop Philip invited the women clergy of the Diocese to meet with him at Doncaster Minster on the morning of Tuesday 7 February. Thank you to all who held us in your thoughts and prayers. We had the opportunity to hear from Bp Philip personally and many of the women clergy present were able to voice their questions and concerns, others were left in written form. It was a time of great honesty and openness which was also, at times, difficult and painful. Bp Philip left with a great deal to consider, as did the rest of us. We continue to hold him in our prayers. Written notes from the meeting are being prepared and will be available in due course.
As a church which champions diversity we recognise that this Diocese contains a breadth of church traditions. However, the nomination of someone who represents the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic position and who does not ordain women, poses a serious challenge to many here at St Mark’s and in the Diocese.
Bp Philip has made it clear that he is personally committed to working with clergy and parishes across the Diocese to ensure that all continue to flourish in their mission and ministry. He has a good reputation within the Diocese of Blackburn where he is the suffragan Bishop of Burnley. His commitment to social justice crosses theological divides which is encouraging in times of increasing social deprivation and despair.
As we begin to explore what this nomination will mean in practice, both personally and within diverse communities, we stand alongside female and male colleagues and the campaigning group Women and the Church (WATCH), a strong voice for equality in the Church of England.
On Sunday 29 January, celebrated as the Feast of Candlemas, we remembered Anna the prophet. May we follow her example to watch and wait and witness, longing for the liberation of all people.
Revd’s Sue Hammersley, Sarah Colver and Shan Rush