Bishop James argues for continued unity as the Church of England continues to debate Women in the Episcopate.
The Right Reverend James Jones spoke about the debate on Women in the Episcopate in his address to the Synod of the Diocese of Liverpool. Within it he talked about the need to continue this debate in the “unity of spirit in the bond of peace” stating that “This year ahead will test our trust in one another”. He urges that “As we travel let us walk in the shoes of those who differ from us so that trust will follow in our footsteps”
The Bishop stated that “I love the Diocese of Liverpool for many reasons not least its unity and it desire to go on learning as disciples of Christ”. He talks about the fact that the communion cannot be impaired by this issue as communion is “something that is totally and completely given by God which we cannot amend or qualify”.
Bishop James recognized those priests and parishes in the Diocese who cannot in conscience receive ministry from a women priest or Bishop but stated that this “is something we contain within Christ”.
The Bishop also explains his reasons for voting against the Archbishops’ amendments at General Synod. Stressing his gratitude that this was not a test of loyalty he stated that “the problem with the Archbishops' amendment was that if the ministry of the nominated Bishop was not by license from the Diocesan Bishop then you would have two separate jurisdictions within the one Diocesan boundary.” This would end up with “two competing oversights in the one Diocese.”
The Bishop commented “I am clear in my own mind that a Diocese needs clear lines of jurisdiction and accountability for it to move forward in the Mission of God” and said that he wants to explore a number of ideas with those who cannot accept the ordination of women and those who are strongly in favour to find a pathway through the differences.
The Bishop affirmed his commitment to maintaining unity by saying “In all of this I am determined that the Church of England in the Diocese of Liverpool will continue to embrace Catholic, Evangelical and Liberal traditions. These three are vital to our mission as a church for the nation. The fact that I did not vote for any of the amendments should not be interpreted as a lack of commitment on my part to embrace the diversity of traditions within the Church of England. On the contrary, all that I have stood for with you in the Diocese of Liverpool over the last 12 years has I hope been characterised by this biblical desire, to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
Read the Presidential address here