County delegate at "landmark" vote on women bishops
A "LANDMARK" vote could this week see a long-fought battle between traditionalists and modernisers in the Church of England come to an end.
Church of England representatives from Gloucestershire will travel to Westminster for the decision on allowing women to become bishops.
Bishop Michael, the Bishop of Gloucester, said 95 per cent of the diocese were in favour of women bishops.
Tomorrow is "crunch time," he said, because it would all come down to the vote on the day.
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The Reverend Sandra Millar, Gloucester diocese's children's officer, said: "We're really praying and hoping this will be the turning point that we're looking for. I think many of us would have liked to see it sooner, but at the same time we work quite slowly because we try very hard to listen to all viewpoints."
Gloucestershire's attitude was refreshing, she said.
"We forget in Gloucester diocese how difficult it can be in some places. We're lucky here.
"I think I've been fortunate, in that I was ordained about five or six years after women could be ordained as priests.
"There have been isolated incidences of prejudice, and I've been very lucky to have not encountered anything hostile, but I know people who have, unfortunately."
Dr Millar said some men in the church had made it difficult. "Sometimes it's as simple as being ignored, or other clergy refusing to be alongside you in the same worship service," she said. "Sometimes parishioners won't come if it's a woman leading." Priest Liz Palin, of North Cheltenham team ministry, was ordained at Gloucester Cathedral in July.
"When the church agreed to ordain woman to the priesthood, I quite naturally thought women would then become bishops because that's the order of ministry in the church – deacons, priests, then bishops," she said.
"To not allow women bishops is creating an impression that women's ministry is lesser, and that's not the gospel I believe in."
She added she was conscious the reality of women bishops would be "quite painful" for some.
Seven clergy and representatives from the county – specifically, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Chipping Sodbury and Chalford – will attend the London summit. Bishop Michael said: "In order for the vote to go through you need a two-third majority in each house of the General Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy, and the House of Laity – it all hangs in the balance."