The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby on the Church of England giving approval for women bishops

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Justin Welby became the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2013. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in history and law and following this he worked in the oil industry, becoming group treasurer of a large British exploration and production company. He stood down from industry to train for ordination in 1989.

Justin Welby

Justin Welby

On 14th July 2014 the General Synod of the Church of England gave its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England. This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year. 

Approval for women bishops

To pass this legislation is to commit ourselves to an adventure in faith and hope. Like all adventures it carries dangers; we’ve been reminded of that eloquently today. Uncertainties. And full success will require perseverance, integrity and courage.

Committed to each other’s flourishing

Today this legislation allows us to move forward together, all of us as faithful Anglican Christians and all of us committed to each other’s flourishing in the life of the church. We must mean it, not just in what we say but in how we now live and work together in the months and years ahead.

That is as true of those who find this difficult to accept as it is for those of us who rejoice in it. An independent process to hold us to account for the promises we have made to each other allows us to take the risks necessary to build trust.

The House of Bishops must act on their words – on our words… You don’t chuck out family, or even make it difficult for them to be at home: you love them and seek their wellbeing, even when you disagree.

Long period of culture change and start of a great adventure

If this passes, especially in the light of the debate, we are going to deliver. But to make these principles real will require practical steps of training and development, and a long period of culture change so that we learn in practice what it means to love, to struggle for truth, and to do so in the mists and sometimes darkness of disagreement that derive from our fallible humanity.

Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.

Continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree

The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds… As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all… It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.

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