The Commissioning of Dr Colin Podmore as Director of Forward in Faith, St Alban's Holborn, 15 April 2013

Posted on the 1st June 2013 in the category Events



We are not called to be another pressure group, says Bishop of Fulham


More than 300 people witnessed the commissioning of Dr Colin Podmore as Director of Forward in Faith tonight, as the former Clerk of the General Synod pledged to “work for the unity of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ and for its mission in the world”.

 

Members of the organization were joined by former and current members of the General Synod and staff of the National Church Institutions, reflecting what Dr Podmore described as “the breadth of the Church of England, and our commitment to the ‘mutual flourishing’ of its diverse traditions”.

 

Twelve Anglo-Catholic bishops and over 40 representative priests concelebrated the mass at a packed St Alban’s Holborn, in a liturgy drawn from Common Worship and sung to the setting ‘Collegium Regale’ by Herbert Howells.

 

During the service, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham and Chairman of Forward in Faith, promised that the charity would “continue to speak the truth in love about those issues which exercise us, because of their impact, as we see it, on the unity and apostolicity of the Church”.

 

Encouraging those who take a different view on the issues of the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate to hear the organisation’s message “with an equal love”, Bishop Jonathan’s sermon lamented the “tragedy… that the Church of England should have come to this: that faithful Anglicans who are inspired by convictions which the whole of the Church still affirms in her title deeds and carries in her DNA should be perceived by some as disloyal, a fifth column perhaps.”

 

Read Bishop Jonathan's sermon in full here.



Welcome to the See of Fulham website

Posted on the 1st April 2013 in the category Announcements



It is my great privilege as Bishop of Fulham to provide episcopal ministry and pastoral care in parishes across the dioceses of London and Southwark, to those who continue to have theological reservations about the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate in the Church of England.

 

A strong sense of ecclesial identity already exists among both clergy and laity in the parishes comprising the See of Fulham, and it is my hope that this website will help foster still further our common life and mission, as we seek together to witness to Our Lord Jesus Christ both in our worship and in our daily lives.

 

+Jonathan Fulham



The General Synod vote on Women Bishops

Posted on the 22nd November 2012 in the category Announcements



Bishop Jonathan writes

 

After the General Synod failed to give Final Approval to the draft legislation on the ordination of women to the episcopate, I had hoped for a period of calm, prayer and reflection all round; and perhaps some sense of regret, on the part of the proponents of the Measure, that they had not got the legislation right. Of course, as we now know, this was very far from the case: instead, a media furore, and a sense from some quarters that those who had voted against the Measure need to be punished in the future for daring to step out of line.

 

We need to say very clearly, that we understand, and deeply regret, the pain, hurt and anger felt on the part of many women clergy and their supporters; that we value the huge contribution of ordained women to the life of the Church of England; and that we recognise the gifts which God has given in and through their ministries.

However, we also need to challenge some errors and misunderstandings which have been widespread since the vote was taken. 


First, it has been suggested that the draft Measure represented the fruits of work done over many years by representatives of all traditions in the Church of England, and that it was a compromise and the best possible way forward. This is simply not the case, as anyone – myself included – involved in the various processes of preparing the legislation for Final Approval (the legislative drafting group, the revision committee stage, and so on) would have to admit. At every step of the way, provision for the traditionalist minority was withdrawn altogether or significantly watered down. Looking back, we can see a number of decisive forks in the road: when delegation (rather than a transfer of jurisdiction) was adopted as the basis for the legislation; when the Archbishops' amendment for co-ordinate jurisdiction was defeated – by just 5 votes in the House of Clergy – in 2010; when the amendment to Clause 5.1. (c) of the Measure, proposed by the House of Bishops, was withdrawn in the face of pressure from members of WATCH in July of this year. In the light of all this, it seems to me that there is only one analysis of the vote on 20th November which rings true: that the draft Measure was driven 'over the cliff' by those unwilling to agree proper provision for those of us who have conscientious difficulties concerning the ordination of women.

 

The second misunderstanding is that the Synod's processes were somehow abused or manipulated to produce this result. Again, we need to say clearly that this is not the case. Every member of General Synod understands very well what the processes are which are followed in order to pass legislation: processes which, in matters of doctrine, are designed precisely to ensure a high level of consensus, such as is surely appropriate for a Christian community. The meetings of General Synod are always framed with prayer – prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide the hearts and minds of those speaking and voting. It is difficult not to be amazed at the confidence with which many people have rushed to conclude that the Holy Spirit could not have spoken through Synod on 20th November. Having said all that, I would be the first to agree that the Synodical system has not served the church well in discerning the way forward on this matter. Perhaps one thing that the Holy Spirit might be saying to us, is that there might be a better way.

The third thing which I have found puzzling in the last week or so is the growing sense in some quarters that there was an 'unholy alliance' between traditional cathiolics and conservative evangelicals to defeat the Measure. To say this is again, surely, to misunderstand how General Synod works. Individuals vote on the legislation laid before them, and, while it is true (and hardly startling) to say that of course anglo-catholics and evangelicals will have different – often, markedly different – theological instincts and insights, what mattered in this case was only the fact that Synod members from both traditions found the draft Measure wanting. We also know now that a significant number of Synod members who are wholly supportive of women in the episcopate nevertheless voted against this draft legislation; they did so out of concern for their brothers and sisters in the Church of England with whom they disagree, but whose flourishing they desire: surely a model for us all.

 

Where do we go from here? I very much hope that all parties to this debate will resist the calls from some MPs and peers that Parliament should legislate 'over the head' of the Church of England in order to impose a solution. That way cannot be right.


The Bishop of Durham, our next Archbishop of Canterbury, has called for fresh discussions early in the New Year, with a view to preparing the way for fresh legislation on women bishops. I am sure that is right, although I do hope that the desire for haste in some quarters will not squeeze out what I am sure the whole Church truly needs: real listening, engagement, and, above all, mutual charity. We must get away from the whole sense which has dogged us for so long, that this is a zero-sum power game, with winners and losers, and, at the end of the process, first and second class bishops, serving – as Fr Simon Killwick put it so well – first and second class Anglicans.

So what, in our local context, can we – priests and people of the See of Ebbsfleet – actually do? The first thing, obviously, is to pray – and the fact that this is such an obvious thing to say makes it no less true. My late confessor and spiritual director always urged upon me the virtue of praying, consciously and by name, for those with whom I disagreed, had fallen out, or had (in reality or just in my imagination) done me wrong. That was good advice then, and I commend it to all of you now.


The second thing to do is actively to work to maintain the bonds of charity with all those who are your partners in the mission of the Church in your area – clergy and laity of other traditions, male and female, all those involved in the life of your diocese and deanery. Let it never be said that the traditional catholic voice is absent from the life of the local church.

Third, we must all seek renewal in those great gifts which our tradition brings to the life of the whole of the Church of England: our zeal for souls; our liturgical worship; the sacramental life; our incarnational faith, rooted in the community and especially in service to the poor; our deep commitment to the full visible unity of the one Church of Jesus Christ. You can all, I am sure, add other things to that list of equal or greater importance, but there are five to be getting on with!

We have just celebrated the great feast of Christ the King; now we come to prepare for the celebration of the birth into this world of time and space of that same Word of God who is King of the Universe and King of our lives. May each of us be deeply renewed in our discipleship this Advent and Christmastide, and may the Lord stir up in us those supernatural gifts given us at our baptism: faith; hope; love.

 

+Jonathan Ebbsfleet



 

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