Thursday, 21 October 2010


Ed: A note from Crockford's Clerical Directory to the writers of this press release: Deacons and Priests may be referred to as (a) The Reverend A B Smith, (b) Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith (unless it is known that some other style is preferred--the title Vicar or Rector is acceptable only if the person so addressed really is the incumbent of the parish where you live or worship), or (c) The Reverend A B Smith at the first mention, and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith thereafter.
BUT never, ever Revd Smith (or for that matter, Revd Thomas).

Reform members have voted to back the creation of a religious society within the Church of England for conservative evangelicals who want to promote the church's mission but are opposed to the consecration of women as bishops.

Speaking at the network's annual conference yesterday, attended by over 170 members, Revd Rod Thomas, the Reform chairman, said: "This is a very positive move not just for us, but for the wider church. The creation of a society can both provide a model of how the church can change to become more focused on mission, not maintenance, and a way forward through the dilemma it faces over women bishops."

"Reform members are involved in innovative ways of reaching into local communities with the good news of Jesus Christ. Many are in churches with a good number of younger men and women being trained for future gospel work. We have a mission-focus which brings health and life that is good for the wider church, and a religious society would enable us to continue that focus."

"In light of the recent results of elections to General Synod, our proposal takes on even greater weight," he added.

Revd Thomas revealed to the conference that analysis of the election results showed that over one third of the house of laity and just one member short of a third of the house of clergy would now vote against women bishops unless changes were made to the draft legislation. These figures are critical, as the legislation requires a two-thirds majority across all three voting houses (bishops, clergy, laity). If such a majority is not achieved in just one of the three houses, then the whole legislation would fail and have to be re-visited.

Revd Thomas said: "The recent elections provided the first real opportunity for grass-roots members of the Church of England to have their say on women bishops. There are many who remain firmly opposed to the idea, because the Bible says that there should be different roles for men and women both in the family and the church. For them the current proposals provide no firm guarantees, and therefore are completely inadequate. So there is now a real incentive to find a way of making appropriate provision, otherwise the whole legislation could fail. A religious society with a clear statutory role has not been fully considered, and could provide a way through."

Although some senior figures within the church are known to be broadly supportive of the creation of a religious society, Revd Thomas said that there is "a lot of detail to be worked out" as to the exact way such a society would operate, but reckoned that within 6-12 months the framework could be clear.


Editors['] note:

Evangelical and Catholic groups on General Synod have swapped lists of candidates and analysed the results. The analysis shows that in the House of Clergy, 66 Clergy would block the current legislation being sent down to the diocese[s], (i.e.32.10%) and 77 laity would block the current legislation being sent down to the diocese (35.46%). Only 34% is needed to block the legislation when it returns from the dioceses. So in the house of laity a blocking minority already exists and in the house of clergy only a further 1.81% is needed, just one person.

Reform has over 1,700 members, of whom more than 350 are ordained clergy.

For further information contact:

Revd Paul Dawson, 07791 495824

Anonymous users wishing to paste in the comments box need first to select 'preview', then close the preview box. When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted.


  1. Your opening comment on protocol is quite correct. Unless, of course, I'm playing Cluedo

  2. Alas in the latest version of Cluedo which we bought they have ditched all the titles - so it is just "Green" (or "White" or "Mustard") sans any title whatsoever.

  3. More 'Reservoir Dogs' than 'Murder at the vicarage', then.

  4. I am alas, confused. I don't think the General Synod elections are the first chance for grass roots CofE members to express their views. It is the first chance for diocesan synod members to express their views, is it not? So still at several removes from actual polling of the position on this issue from the faithful as a whole.

  5. I noticed you signing off over at Church Mouse as Revd John Richardson. This is either very postmodern humour, or I'm completely lost.

    I'm a bit concerned at various votes being claimed months before they are actually cast. Sounds more like the Trades Union movement than the church of England.

    I voted for someone with different views to my own, because I wanted someone on Synod who would a) try to encourage a settlement that enabled everyone to stay within the CofE b) saw the gender of particular office-holders within the CofE as a second order issue, compared to more important thing like mission. The rhetoric may be that the SAS is focused on mission, but we all know that it's principally set up on grounds of church order and theology. I know of several mission-minded clergy who have steered well clear of this whole debate because we viewed it as a distraction from the main business of the church.

  6. DMK wrote, "I noticed you signing off over at Church Mouse as Revd John Richardson. This is either very postmodern humour, or I'm completely lost."

    Please explain!

  7. Your church mouse comments are headed 'Revd John Richardson', but your opening paragraph here suggests you have an issue with the abbreviation 'Revd'

    and as I forgot last time, David Keen in Yeovil.

  8. DMK, now I understand! The problem is not with "Revd" (or even "Rev"), but with the (mis)use of the title with the surname, as in Rev Richardson (which I hate) rather than Rev John, or Rev J, Richardson (which is the correct form).

    Even if one is referring to a minister of religion, the proper form with the surname alone is "Mr" (or Dr, etc): hence "Revd John Richardson", but "Mr Richardson".

    The "Rev Smith" use is common in America - but that is there, not here.

    Hope this clarifies, and I'm sorry if it is pedantic, but it's a bit like "who" and "whom" - once you're aware of it, it becomes hard to ignore!