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Women bishops in focus as Church of England's General Synod meets in York

By Matthew Davies
7/7/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  Women in the Episcopate will be the focus of two sessions at the Church of England's General Synod, meeting at York University, England, July 7-11.

During a July 8 morning session, the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, is expected to move that Synod "welcome and affirm the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church as the Church of England has received it and would be a proper development in proclaiming afresh in this generation the grace and truth of Christ."

Last year, Synod voted to remove the legal obstacles that stop women from becoming bishops over the coming years.

The Rev. Prebendary Kay Garlick from the Diocese of Hereford, chair of Synod's business committee, explained that the Women in the Episcopate debate is separated into two because the first motion would be divisive and painful for some and if that passes, additional debate would be required. The second session is scheduled for July 10, when further motions will be presented.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, addressed Synod on the evening of July 7 about the proposed Anglican covenant and the actions of the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention in responding to the recommendations of the Windsor Report (full text of Williams' address is available at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_76553_ENG_HTM.htm).

On behalf of Synod, which meets through July 11, Sentamu welcomed international visitors, including Bishop Joris Vercammen, Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht, who was the first non-Episcopalian to preside at a General Convention Eucharist June 19 during a service that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Bonn Agreement between the Old Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Vercammen stressed the importance of the role of the Anglican Communion and Church of England in ecumenical affairs, reminding Synod of the significance of the Bonn agreement, and noting that Sentamu recently ordained a deacon in the Old Catholic church, a testament of the full communion relationship between the two churches.

Prayers for the victims of the London bombings and their families were offered by Sentamu. One of the more than 60 international visitors to General Convention, Sentamu will deliver a presidential address on the morning of July 8.