News from General Synod usually filters through the secular media, which has the advantage that it comes in an easily digestible, deliberately simplified form. February’s discussion of the Rochester Report came to the conclusion, so we were assured, that ‘the Church of England could see its first women bishops in 2010’.
It is an attractively simple idea to grasp: forget the complexities and the legalities of the process, for that is the job of bishops, synod members and the mandarins of Church House; forget the procedural details, for all these will become irrelevant once the goal has been achieved; concentrate only on the timetable.
Some time in 2010. I imagine it during the summer (for no particular reason). This means that when this year’s liturgical cycle is complete, I can begin my solemn countdown towards the end (or new beginning, when I am feeling optimistic). We shall face just five more seasons of Advent, five Christmases, five seasons of Lent, five Holy Weeks and only five more celebrations of Easter, before the Church of England as we know it ends, and our place within it.
I realize that it is more in keeping with the traditionalist position to say, ‘No, it will never happen in my lifetime,’ as so many did in England in 1992 or in the US in 1976, and there is much truth in this. Nevertheless, there is also something rather exhilarating in the thought that we could be thrown out into the street in just five years time. Or, God willing, step into the awesome challenge and responsibility of serving in a new province.
Five years is not long. After a decade or more, we have become quite comfortable living under the present regime. Life in a C parish is rather pleasant. I rarely envy my colleagues in deanery chapter; the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence; I rather enjoy not being part of the established structure, and the lack of responsibility.
Only five years. This needs planning. General thoughts on general themes are now irrelevant. The time for occasional sniping is past: this is a battle and we must fight. I doubt whether I am up to the task, but even defeat seems more exciting than the present phoney war.
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