Yes 2 Women Bishops want focus on female opportunities

(Photo: Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori greets a congregant after her investiture as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the National Cathedral in Washington, November 4, 2006. Schori is the first woman to head a national branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion in its more than 450-year history.

Too much time in the debate about senior women clergy in the Church of England has focused on female representation as a problem and not an opportunity says Yes 2 Women Bishops activist Stephen Kuhrt.

This was one of the points he explained at a conference on Saturday in support of women bishops on 16 March 2013 at his Christ Church in New Malden, part of London's Southwark Diocese where he is a vicar.

The event was co-hosted with Fulcrum, a broad evangelical network within the Church of England and Yes 2 Women Bishops.

Before the event Kuhrt explained: "What is now the best way forward for those of us still strongly in favour of women bishops? One major lesson is that the positive value of women's ministry needs to be spelt out a great deal more."

Kuhrt was a keynote speaker and is chair of Fulcrum as well as a member of Yes 2 Women Bishops.

Also speaking were Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney who is a general synod member and Jody Stowell, a priest at All Saints' Harrow Weald, who is editor of Fulcrum, a Yes 2 Women Bishops team member.

The event was to "inspire, encourage and teach on the subject of women bishops, and give us a chance to consider the best way forward now that the Church of England is restarting the legislative process", said the organisers.

Kuhrt said that too much of the discussion around the time of the Church of England Synod vote was centred on the issues that its opponents were concerned about.

"This meant that women bishops was presented far too much as 'a problem to be solved' rather than a wonderful opportunity for the church to move forward to greater fullness and enrichment."

Those who favor women bishops are determined to see the church becoming far more faithful to the Bible and far more relevant in its mission and ministry said Kuhrt.

"The full ministry of women, is, in our opinion, completely critical to this transformation taking place," he said.

"Whilst opponents will obviously disagree with this, they must understand this as the reason why it is impossible for us to agree with many of the restrictions that they want imposed upon women bishops," Kuhrt asserted.

The Church of England and others in the Anglican Communion are divided on the role of women clergy.

As did his predecessor, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop Canterbury Justin Welby voted in favor of the consecration of female bishops. The measure when voted on in November 2012 did not, however, get enough lay members' votes to pass, despite having sufficient support from bishops and clergy.

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