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The Revd Janet Appleby Saves the Day (DV)

Time for a little rapture, I think. Calm, cool and collected Anglican rapture, of course.

Oh, in case you haven’t heard this morning’s news, the Reverend Janet Appleby, a member of General Synod, has come up with a means of extricating the Church from the pit it had dug itself into over women bishops. The Church of England issued a press release yesterday:

The House of Bishops has today by an overwhelming majority settled the text of the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England. The House of Bishops made clear its desire for the draft legislation to be passed into law when it goes forward for final approval to the Church of England’s General Synod in November.

Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke as follows (you can hear him here)

“…the Bishops have discussed the measure again and are now bringing forward a new text that expresses both our conviction of the need to see this legislation passed and our desire to honour the conscience and contribution of those in the Church of England whose reservations remain.

“It is particularly significant and welcome that the new text emerged not from the House of Bishops itself but rather from a serving woman priest. [my bolding]…

“I am convinced that the time has come for the Church of England to be blessed by the ministry of women as bishops and it is my deep hope that the legislation will pass in November.”

The press release continues:

‘At its meeting in July the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to reconsider a provision in the legislation – Clause 5(1)(c) of the draft measure. The new amendment submitted by the Rev. Janet Appleby during the consultation process received overwhelming support from the House of Bishops in both their discussions and in the final vote. In discussion the Bishops welcomed the simplicity of the new text, its emphasis on respect and the process of dialogue with parishes that it will promote.

The final text proposed by the House of Bishops is:

Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):” the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3″ ‘


This is extraordinary on at least two counts. First, and of course very important, it should enable us to have ‘women bishops’. This is the first step, of course, in having simply ‘bishops’, but that will have to develop from the first crucial step.

But secondly, looking at it from a lay perspective, the House of Bishops has just handed an area of decision-making over to PCCs, in other words, the laity. In the long run, if I have understood correctly what has happened (and maybe I haven’t?), the hierarchy of the Church of England has agreed to be influenced by what Lord Baden-Powell called ‘the boy’, inverting the normal decision-making pyramid.

Has a chink of light broken through?

So who is the Reverend Janet Appleby? Well, she is delightful. She seemed a little surprised when I telephoned her this morning but agreed that it was indeed her in the above photograph (the one with the dog collar, in case you were wondering!).

Here is Crockford’s:

* APPLEBY, Janet Elizabeth. b 58. Bris Univ BSc80 MSc81 Newc Poly BA90. Cranmer Hall Dur 01. d 03 p 04. C Newc H Cross 03-06; TV Willington from 06; Dioc Ecum Officer from 12. 

Her degrees are in Mathematics and English, two equal loves, apart from her theological degree from Cranmer Hall, Durham. Now in her early fifties, she became a deacon in 2003 and was priested in 2004, only eight years ago.

She is a member of General Synod. After the meeting in July, GS members were  asked for input for the meeting of the House of Bishops which has just been held: seven different options were suggested. Here I think she was helped by her logical brain (the mathematics), her experience as Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, and the fact that she had not been priested for long enough to fail to see the wood for the trees. For whatever reason, she could see that the key was involving the PCCs concerned, on a case by case basis.

Janet, if I may, we hereby award you one of our ‘Lay Anglicana Lollipops from the Laity’ , and our eternal thanks.

Now, General Synod, the House of Bishops have played their part, please please agree the Appleby Amendment in November!

As Bugsy Malone said, You give a little love, you get a little love and it all comes back to you: a vision of November General Synod:

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